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May Day Parade in Cork - Photos

category cork | history and heritage | news report author Wednesday May 02, 2007 00:44author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.author email corkwsm at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

While others canvass to gain entry to the Rich Man's Palace....

While others canvass to gain entry to the Rich Man's Palace, there were others that remembered that every May the 1st is the day to remember workers' and working-class communities' struggles across the world and throughout history. The electoral Left can go play with Bertie, Inda, Pat, and Trevor 'the sustainable capitalist'. The rest of us will make do with a small, yet determined and vibrant parade this Tuesday evening, starting shortly after seven at Connolly Hall (the most pointless building in the city, methinks) and finishing with speeches at Daunt Square. This was followed by by music from Intinn and DJs, which was still going when I left at 11.

This year, with the electionbollocks called on May Day weekend, the absence of large contingents from Labour (well, to be true nobody misses them), the SP, & so on was indeed noticable (some comrades may say refreshing!) at the march was sad but somehow predictable. It was as if two hours of knocking on doors of empty houses (out of a possible total of 576 hours to May 24th) was too much of a sacrifice to make in common cause with other socialists, communists, anarchists and trade unionists in proudly expressing our shared identity and celebrating our long history of struggle, little of which was bound up with those beguiling ballot boxes.
Another sad note was the absence of the Congress trade unions in the Cork march. Are they having their own 'celebration of Partnership' on another day? Answers, if any, to this thread.
To paraphrase James Connolly from the essay 'The Axe to the Root', "You may have the One Big Union, and you may be successful in getting candidates returned to the bourgeois assemblies, but without fighting spirit across our class,and the will to confront our class enemies in open industrial conflict, then these organisations and parliamentarians will serve only to manage us workers in agreement with the bosses." There are those on the Left who find Bertie's mind games more alluring than building for revolution and reminding our class of the very real power we hold - we make everything, tend everything that grows and no arse remains unwiped by us. We even do all the thinking (yes we do! Have you ever seen Deirdre Clune? Inbred toff if ever there was one, and surprisingly low-wattage!), dreaming and consuming. That is our real power, not the State's false deal on that polling card.





author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 00:49author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here's more from the march!






author by Ray - Cork WSMpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 00:54author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I did take quite a lot of them, you know!






author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 00:57author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

The happy-snapping never stops!






author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 01:01author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes, folks, there's more!






author by Trade Unionistspublication date Wed May 02, 2007 01:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ray your contribution is childish. The Cork May Day march is a farce and has been for years. It is an embarrassment to trade unionists. In Dublin the march this year was on Sunday and the Belfast march is this Saturday, and they always have thousands. Cork march - 7pm on a Tuesday night when the streets are empty! Its always the same a small group march through an empty city centre - pointless. The demo also has become dominated by middle class trendies pissed out of their heads and play acting at being anarchists. In a few years they will join their Daddy's business!

author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 01:08author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm sorry I can't help meself.






author by d'otherpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 01:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah the bauld auld trade unionist comes on and lays down the workers' law against these play acting anarchists. What particular school of acting did you attend to entitle you to don the beard of struggle and piss and moan at those that go to the bother of archiving/reporting even the smallest trade union mobilizations - even those of the damp squib variety? Can we expect more contributions from this dab hand at polemic, versed in the imagery of anarchist cliches and tabloid accusations?

author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 01:10author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors



author by Kevinpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 09:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Trade Unionists" (sic) is obviously a bit miffed that some people care enough to remember May Day and what it stands for ... and be able to get out and march too! When the Cork Council of Trade Unions ran the march in Cork over many years, it was certainly no better that what was seen in Cork yesterday evening. Indeed many will tell you that at least now we don’t have to listen to meaningless speeches from the Connolly Hall Labour hacks (at the end of the march) – hacks who have sold us out so many times it doesn’t bear thinking about it.

The May Day march last night in Cork was one of the better ones in many years IMHO – many campaigns banners; lively and diverse. The people I saw on it were all workers and trade union members and a lot of them are active in their unions too. I think it was particularly notable that the Cork Women’s Right To Choose group were there in numbers (or does "Trade Unionists" (sic) thinks that that’s a ‘middle-class’ issue too). Worth noting as well that a member of the CWRTC actually spoke at the end of the march about the current ‘Miss D’ case. Let’s face it during the all ‘old days’ when the Connolly Hall ran the Cork May day march, there would be no chance of that happening. All ‘very controlled’ back then – what! Well done to Ray as well. Good photos.

author by pat cpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 10:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Ray your contribution is childish. The Cork May Day march is a farce and has been for years. It is an embarrassment to trade unionists. "

I think the opposite is true. A bright colourful march was held with banners representing contemporary struggles.

"In Dublin the march this year was on Sunday and the Belfast march is this Saturday, and they always have thousands. "

Thats a downright lie. Its been many years since there was even a thousand on a Dublin May Day march. This year as usual it was just a couple of hundred. If it wasnt for the left it would have been a total washout.

Someone else can comment on Belfast.

Congrats to the Cork Comrades for a Great May Day Celebration.

Congrats to Ray on a great photo essay.

author by socialistpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 10:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"This year, with the electionbollocks called on May Day weekend, the absence of large contingents from Labour (well, to be true nobody misses them), the SP, & so on was indeed noticable (some comrades may say refreshing!)"

Delightful. With this level of sectarian separatism, I'm sure anarchism will do well in Cork. Ah what matter where everybody else is - the workers? - as long the handful of us reeeeal revolutionaries can hang together!

Much as I respect the WSM, this contribution by one of their Cork members was, in my opinion, accurately described above as 'childish'. It's exactly that.

author by Dafpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 11:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have to say I agree with Socialist. Just look at the selection of photos Ray includes. His sectarianism is glaringly obvious. We all know it is anarchists who make the most use of indymedia, and fair play to them for doing so. But you will always notice a disproportionate number of red and black banners in their photos while they will in text denounce and criticise others as sectarian or opportunist. I also have quite a bit of respect for WSM, for example nobody could question their commitment to Shell to Sea. But really Ray you are an embarrassment to yourself and your comrades.

author by pat cpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I have to say I agree with Socialist. Just look at the selection of photos Ray includes. His sectarianism is glaringly obvious."

Really? You mean the photos of these banners: SWP, Shell2Sea, Travellers, IWU, Republican Youth, Womens Right To Choose, Sinn Fein, Free The Old Head of Kinsale, OSF.

How very sectarian of Ray!

author by Goblinpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 11:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What an extraordinary position for Daf and Socialist et al to take. That a large collection of Left organisations, anarchists and activists is Sectarian? What part of the political spectrum was marginalised exactly? It looks like a good turn out to me and that everyone was accomodated.

I feel these guys have a gripe maybe with one of the organisers or maybe are unreconstructed Stalininsts who weren't allowed the limelight in the Parade they felt their years of revolutionary struggle entitled them too. Would explain the bile reserved for what they perceive as drunk middle-class wanna be anarchists.

Sectarianism? Pot, Kettle, Black?

author by barpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 12:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its a disgrace that mayday was not a bank holiday, people should be celebrating their value to society

author by socialistpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 12:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I had nothing whatsoever to do with the Cork May day parade. I'm referring to the remarks made by Ray in his commentary.

With regard to the turnout, yes, it is good to see activists get together for a march, but it is senseless to think that this constitutes a successful May Day demonstration. Where are the workers? How many people actually attended? 100? 150? And this in a city of 200,000. Meanwhile, Ray shouts "good riddance" to sections of the labour movement that should have been there. Uh huh.

I'm not blaming anybody in particular for the lack of participation in the march, but Ray's remarks about the Labour Party and Socialist Party are hardly constructive. The far left is a marginal entity and it does itself no favours when it wallows in its marginality.

(Oh, and before you starting shouting 'SPer', 'SWPer', 'stalinist!', 'satanist!', I'll fess up to being an ISN supporter.)

author by RogerCpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 12:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't understand the thought processes of some people. Why take the time to snipe and criticise in such an unpleasant and unkind way. Fair play to all who organised the parade, which looked great and was on the actual "Mayday" a point a lot of the detractors seemed to miss. I know it's a long way but I hope some of the contributors can make their way to Belfast this weekend. My point to the detractors stop complaining and do something constructive like err maybe helping to organise a bigger and better parade next year.

author by Rosie - Nonepublication date Wed May 02, 2007 12:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As someone who is not affiliated to any party of the left and who attended both the march and the street celebration afterwards, I thought the May Day events were more lively and energetic than in the past. (And I have attended many a previous march, may well be 'middle -class' although I am also a worker without much of an inheritance to look forward to, am a committed trade unionist, and a convinced socialist)
Ray's photos do give an accurate sense of the range of banners that were present. Later on when the band started playing a large number of young and not so young people danced in Daunt Square. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and there wasn't any trouble.

I think it is important that May Day itself is marked as both the traditional day of workers's protest and as Bealtaine. There may be practical reasons for merging it with the bank holiday, regardless of the date, but some of the symbolism is definitely lost. Of course there could and should be more people in attendance and my sense is that activists in Cork will try to build on this year's event and actively seek to encourage a broader range of participants.

author by socialistpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 12:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's good to hear that and I'm sure its true. Certainly sounds like it was a lively event.

Again: my comments related primarily to the remarks made in Ray's commentary not to the event itself which I'm sure was a great effort.

author by Black Guard Detachmentpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Daf, I think your getting ahead of yourself about Ray’s pictorial take on the day. He was not the ‘official photographer’ – he went and did it off his own bat. And of course, thanks is surely due first and foremost. Over the years I have seen plenty of different photographers highlighting their own particular angle – it’s natural in one way. At last years protest against the Israeli attack on Lebanon, a very similar thing happened – the photomontage didn’t fully reflect the diverse range of people and groups and political traditions there. There were plenty of anarchists there with flags but no one photo. C’est la vie.

And ‘socialist’, come on: there was a glaring lack of the ‘electoral’ left represented there yesterday, let’s not kid ourselves. Maybe the Ray’s observation is anecdotal but on the other hand a lot of us with functioning memories are quite aware of how the ‘electoral left’ abandons the struggle when there is a sniff (and only a sniff) of power about.

author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers. cap.publication date Wed May 02, 2007 16:01author email corkwsm at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Before I start I suppose in fairness I did neglect to mention that there was at least one member of the Socialist Party attending last night's march. It is good that the SP was at least there to participate. Unfortunately, by my reckoning no more than two SP members were with us, and no visible presence. A pity, since they could have embraced the event, added to its overall impact, and maybe showcased the good work many SP members actually do for advancing the cause of fighting unionism within the unions they're members of. That good work is supported by class-conscious anarchists, and also again within other Left organisations and parties. Such good work that militants of other left-ideological organisations etc. are hopefully complemented and consolidated by the work that us libertarian socialists do. Despite doctrinal differences, there is much for us to co-operate over in advancing the struggle of our class. We share one common enemy. We have a world to liberate from the tyranny of Capital.

Please note that I said aspects of the event were refreshing; I also said that there were aspects that were sad.

In my pissed-offedness at the beyond-invisible Congress union (i.e. Cork Council of Trade Unions) presence, I failed to note that a number of members of said unions and officials too I wager were there, but in other capacities. This does not, however invalidate my criticisms of the CCTU and its member organisations. They were there for the Irish Ferries march. Yet the same abuses of workers both native and immigrant happen today and nothing but the mildest of indignation and no protest from Congress. True, the situation today is an indictment of us all, but I'd counter that whatever resistance exists is being given sustenance and the tools to win by those who advocate and work to support campaigning unionism and community struggles. I will be much happier when institutional organised labour here concedes that point. It's one of the days that I live for on the way to the revolution.

I forcefully put my anarchist's criticism of electoralism into this report because it was direcly relevant - it did affect the outcome of the march, though it is doubtful that the involvement of the left will much affect the outcome of the General Electionbollocks. The radical left will always find itself outvoted and outmanoeuvred in the Dail, Houses of Parliament, etc, and being habitually in the presence of class enemies in such places creates personal sympathy for such people. Stockholm Syndrome for socialists - that's why 80 years of social democracy in Ireland and Britain has generated such obscenities as partnership - a process that fails the vast majority of our class, galloping social inequality, and the crisis that the working class finds itself in today. Consequently, the parliamentary left have failed to defend us from the advancing tide of market fascism, or neoliberalist imperialism if you prefer. We have lost ground as a class over the last quarter-century - representation has failed. The mass-movements of social democracy's past have worse than failed - they are now the vehicles of poison and slavery, and in the case of Britain's 'new' Labour, murderous imperialism across the globe. Across the rich world, we have the shaming sight of our class voting for its enemies in numbers! How does any of the above imply that electoralism works or can work? And do we prioritise the enemy's institutions over our own?

The weakest point of our class' organisations has always been the leadreship cadre - all too often they've been bought over, corrupted by divers means or 'lost their way'. Sometimes they have been liquidated by the enemy, or even from within. In any case we get either the demoralisation and loss of initiative that working-class people in Ireland feel today, being at the mercy of every passing capitalist fad and scam (or 'state socialist' ones too). We get repression and amnesia if we've been particularly unlucky in what class 'leaders' we have gotten.

Still with my anarchist hat on (and yes I do have one), this is my point to all Leninists: I want to work for the conquest of the world for my class, and not for the conquest of the state for my party. The two means and the two ends can be neither mixed nor confused.

Furthermore, please note that I cannot help but be colourful of expression when I write - it's a syndrome of some sort. And anyway why do some people affect to despise Rhetoric while at the same time admiring Joe Higgins?

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie
author by Cork Workerpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 16:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry to bitch but recognise nearly 70% of the 30 who marched from the photos. (up 10% on last year). Sorry to report that about 10 actually employed presently. Anyone who suggests that this was a a serious worker's protest need to wake up and smell the Beamish. More worker's in Cashman's bookies at lunchtime.

author by Underemployed and proud - nonepublication date Wed May 02, 2007 17:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Oh, feishise the 'workers' why don't you.... So a demo 's only legitmate if those who participate have come in from a full 12 hours on the factory floor? What percentage attendance of genuine working people would give the march true authenticity? 88%, 99%, or maybe 110%.

Yawn Yawn, it's that old cliche of the Left,
'when I look around at this meeting I find that this group, that group and the other aren't here, we have no mandate because the workers of the world won't unite.....'

Any of us, unemployed, workers, part-timers etc , can express solidarity with any group we choose, so why is that a problem for you? Whatever their work status, 100% of those in attendace were people with a commitment to 'left politics', in whatever shape or form that emerges. At worst we might be a ragtaggle bag of vagabonds and wasters, but at least we spoke up for Mayday and for other campaigns too. At best we might reflect a diverse and open ended approach to left activism. Who knows? I'm not claiming it's a new jerusalem, but it's no titanic either.

And you know, it's also possible to celebrate Bealtaine, and back the ponies too.

author by Never Kissed an Anarchistpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 17:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Agree with Cork Worker. And what about the Independent Worker's Union? Seemingly they organised this march yet I count about 10 behind the banner. Cork is the HQ of this 'Union' and they claim about 800 membership in the area. Six behind the banner!!!. Some performance from this so called radical union. If they can't get their own members out...
Just shows how insignificant they really are. Time for them to disband quietly methinks.

author by Underemployed and proud - Nonepublication date Wed May 02, 2007 17:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've a better suggestion, why don't all of us who were at the march publicly self-flagellate and commit mass suicide because we failed to pave the way for socialism in a single night...

author by Never Kissed an Anarchistpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 17:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All of you who were at the march can do what ye like, so long as it doesn't frighten the horses but what you are not entitled to do is to suggest that this was a legitmate worker's demonstration. It most certainly was not.

author by SIPTU memberpublication date Wed May 02, 2007 18:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is a disgrace that the leaders of the Cork Council of Trade Unions do not organise a May Day march anymore. And the leaders of the big unions in the city should hold their heads in shame that they don’t mark May Day in anyway. IWU has been organising a march for a few years and they deserve credit for this, but unfortunately it isn’t very well organised.
I agree with an earlier statement that it is "farcical" that the May Day march takes place at nighttime on 1st May. It isn’t a good time for people who have just finished work, are feeding children, doing homework etc. It is also a bad time because the streets of Cork are nearly empty as all the shops are closed and people have gone home for the day so the march does go through a deserted city centre. Ninety nine per cent of the population of Cork probably don’t know that a march took place yesterday.
I went to the march last year and it was a sad affair. Just before it was about to begin there was only about 30 – 40 people and a few banners. Then a group of about 25 – 30 mainly young people turned up with sound system in tow. They were a reclaim the streets type crowd with some WSM people present. Many of them were drunk and were drinking cans etc. In fairness to them they gave the march extra numbers and some colour. At the end there was music and dancing in Daunt Square and more drinking. There was little about the march that could be described as a workers demonstration. A majority of the marchers were probably not members of unions and it had the look of a "crusties" night out on the town.
I decided that I wouldn’t go back this year because it was a waste of my time and I didn’t want to be associated with some of the people who were on the march, i.e., those who were drunk and drinking. I don’t think that it appropriate behaviour on a demonstration.
A better march could be organised if a May Day organising committee was put together involving other unions, political parties like the SP, WSM, CP, WP and so on, anti-war groups and whoever wanted to be involved. Maybe then we could agree to have the march on a Saturday afternoon when you would get a lot more marchers and the streets of the city would be full. Maybe then the May Day march in Cork might be dominated by workers and trade unionists like it should be.

author by Bob the builder - personalpublication date Thu May 03, 2007 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I basically agree with a lot of the comments above. There isn't a broad enough range of unions or workers in attendance What sticks in my craw though is the efforts to knock those who actually did turn up. The insults are coming in hot and heavy - 'crusties' 'drinkers', non 'legitimate' workers - whatever they - and middle classes.

I'm sure the so called official left would love me, as I'm a brickie, a man and am approaching middle age. But maybe politics needs to move on from 'workerism' or 'prole cult'. Instead of a bit of respect for those who get involved, there's abuse.

For the record, absolutely no one who went on the march was drinking as they walked. No one was 'pissed up' and no one was abusive to anyone else. Later in the night a band played. Lots of the original marchers had departed for their homes, families or god knows where. Lots of new people came along and danced. As the night progressed some people produced cans - most of which were covered in brown paper bags. But by that stage it was 10pm, a time we might traditionally associate with going to the pub or a night on the town. Despite some drinking, the atmosphere was great. Not quite loved up, but happy for sure. A paddy wagon drove by occasionally but felt no reason to get involved because the atmosphere was positive. At around 11.30 a couple of guards stood by as people gathered the rubbish into bags and the band got their bits and pieces together. Those attending trotted home in good spirits. Maybe some were tourists, young people, crusties, students, people on low incomes, or to use the hacknedy terms members of the lumpen proletariat, but what if they were. Maybey they don't kno everything about the left or that much about May Day, but they participated in a mayday event. It mightn't be much, but it's no worse than self-interested union participation, or paper membership of a political party. And it's certainly better than my site 'comrades' who tell me that they will be voting for Noel O'Flynn. A lot of our may day participants may lack 'authenticity' but by god at least their politics is leaning in the right direction.

author by SIPTU memberpublication date Thu May 03, 2007 13:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bob my comments were not about this years May Day march but the 2006 March and my account is accurate.

author by Hugh Murphy - Sacked by ITGWU and Belfast employerspublication date Thu May 03, 2007 14:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear SIPTU member you should be ashamed of yourself.

What about the corruption that your union leaders are covering up?

Obviously you're a union small-pin who want to be a King-pin and sees the way to do this in SIPTU is to SUCK your way up the ladder.

I have detailed on indymedia Atgwu Siptu unity, and Trade Unionist...? - the absolute corrupt behaviour of Proinsias De Rossa at the conference in Liberty Hall last Friday.

Obviously, SIPTU member you couldn't comment on this as it would spoil your chances of getting anywhere in the union.

SIPTU member, I now ask you COMMENT on your Union's corruption... and give your name.

author by Bob the builderpublication date Thu May 03, 2007 14:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I know that you were referering to last year's event but you are using that experience to knock this year's event and the people who participated in it. By all means aspire to something better, but lets stop trying to suggest that only a narrow range of 'workers' can legitimately participate. Otherwise we are doomed to failure, because it is very hard to mobilise them. Most of the lads I work with couldn't give a monkeys about unions and don't particularly identify with the 'worker' label.

And as for the street party, I happen to think that the reclamation of public space is an important political issue. Particularly in a city that is increasingly moving towards being owned by one man.

This thread is really beginning to depress me - if I wasn't off sick already, it'd certainly make me want to take to the bed.

author by SIPTU memberpublication date Thu May 03, 2007 14:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your rant has nothing whatsoever to do with what I was talking about. I am opposed to social partnership and hate with a passion the leadership of SIPTU so don't come on here and accuse me of careerism and being a lickspittal. I have no position in the union I am a member and have no intention of ever standing for any position not even at branch level. If you read properly what I wrote I criticised the leaders of the big unions. i.e., SIPTU for not participating in or organising a May Day march in Cork.
And to the other commentator, I have no problem with anyone who wants to attend the May Day march but I don't agree with people drinking on the street during a march which did happen last year. And your cynical attitude towards ordinary trade unionists I can understand a bit but the reason why more workers don't attend the May Day march is because the unions don't properly organise to mobilise their members and also because of the unions being involved in social partnership means that a majority of union members see their union as being irrelevant.

author by Ptrick Mpublication date Thu May 03, 2007 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I fully endorse what SIPTU member has said. Fair play to him.

author by John B - CAZpublication date Fri May 04, 2007 12:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There´s an important debate to be had here, it would be good if people would lay off putting each other down. I´ve got a lot to say on a subject that I feel passionately about, so much so that I´m interrupting my holiday to do it. I hope that this thread is still hot enough for folk to check. Let me declare myself first for those who don´t know me. I am from a middle class background, I am able to live cheap through luck and choice ( no dependants, cheap rent) and I work to support myself as little as I can get away with (as a gardener/landscaper) so I can spend more time working for social change and I have spent much of the last 12 years developing various useful and interesting skills and experience towards this end. I have immense respect for those who have to work full time at crap jobs to support families or whatever but I see nothing to be gained in working for money to buy status symbols or simply because it´s everyone does, in my limited experience of this it leaves a person with little time or energy to enjoy life or to analyse what might be wrong with it, let alone do anything to change things, which of course suits capitalism just fine. If we are serious about revolution or even simply changing things we have to lose the idea of work as a necessary evil and make sure that what we do to make a living affirms us as much as what we do in our leisure time.
Now Mayday. I have been involved in the Mayday celebrations in Cork on and off for the last few years and for me it has always been a time for celebration and protest. In my opinion it has its roots as a fertility festival from a time before there were factories or political parties or trade unions and possibly even workers and bosses. It was a time when people would lay down tools, dance get drunk and make love in the woods. Anyone with any sort of connection to nature will be aware of a quickening in the air and the blood around this time of year that makes a person want to do this. I think it likely that it became a workers festival because later on, when people had been largely forced off the land into factories by emergent capitalism around the time of the industrial revolution it was still too strong to be crushed and so Bealtaine celebrations became what we now know as Mayday. Unfortunately the dehumanising effects of working day in day out with machines away from the sun and the rain also reduced people´s capacity to feel and celebrate and dance and so it became a rather more serious affair presided over by dignitaries; marching and speeches took the place of dancing and shagging, and the urge to celebrate, suppressed by external forces like cops, soldiers and laws together with our own internalised oppression, was twisted into more violent forms as people struggling to be whole took the opportunity to fight these oppressive forces.
The Reclaim the Streets type events that are an international phenomenon are an attempt to get back to the roots of what Mayday is about and have a long and honourable history. When Emma Goldman said "If I can´t dance I don´t want to be part of your revolution" she hit the nail on the head. Capitalism dehumanises us, makes us serious, sombre unable to fully express ourselves; when we come together and dance on the streets, creating our own space to celebrate outside of the pubs and clubs that are all owned and regulated we recover an essential part of ourselves without which we cannot hope to bring about a just or equal society and certainly not a joyous one. To all those who criticise or are made uncomfortable by the Cork Mayday celebration I would suggest you take a look at yourselves and ask yourselves; just how much have you been adversely affected by the lives you have to live under capitalism? how much of you has been denied for so long that you have forgotten it once existed? and I would suggest that rather than knocking those who are trying to do something different, imaginative and innovative and maybe even a bit dangerous you embrace the discomfort, embarassment or whatever it is and come join in the fun, bringing your own unique contributions to the event.
Yes it´s a tiny event, yes, it should be way bigger. For that to happen it has to be enjoyable, it has to give people something they don´t get in the rest of their lives. It has to show that radical politics is affirming, exciting, sexy and creative. I´m sorry I missed it this year. Big Love and Respect to all those who put energy into it, I´ll be there next. Lets all of us get together no matter what our particular ideology and do it LARGE.

author by Rosie - Nonepublication date Fri May 04, 2007 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What great response to the above debate; it captures perfectly the essence of May Day. Well done!!

author by leftiepublication date Fri May 04, 2007 14:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...unless you think May Day is the new Woodstock.

May Day is meant to be a moment of solidarity between those in the labour movement and beyond. The way I read the above, we are supposed to view it as some cuddly hippie dippy day out in the sun. This is just middle class, liberal rubbish that shows no appreciation of class conflict as class struggle.

This is what happens when the middle class lefties begin to see themselves as representative of your average worker, which of course they are not. A self-employed gardener from a middle class background is a petit bourgeois with an entirely different take on life to those of us who have grown up in and continue to live in working class communities. I work to live and yes that includes "luxeries" every now and again to improve our quality of life.

author by Rosiepublication date Fri May 04, 2007 15:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear leftie,
Check out the following text by Eric Hobsbawm that talks about the many traditions of May Day . By the way Hobsbawm is from the Old School Leftist tradition, and doesn't immediately spring to mind when the abusive term 'hippy dippy' is invoked.
Hobsbawm, E (1983) ‘Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe 1870-1914’ in E Hobsbawm and T Ranger (eds) The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The fact that there are many may day traditions does not mean that we abandon the language of class consciousness or class conflict. Instead it allows us to establish some ground for solidarity - tentative perhaps - with other progressive causes and campaigns.

Furthermore, nowhere in John's email does he claim to speak on behalf of anyone else, in fact he is absolutely honest in terms of his own background and his identity.

You may well have priviliged access to the mindset of the 'average worker' - whoever that may be - but let's also remember that there are lots of different kinds of worker and not all of their labour is rewarded by payment. People working as carers, in the service industry, or as houswifes often get discounted.

author by Curiouspublication date Fri May 04, 2007 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Where's the event this Monday?

author by Cathalpublication date Sat May 05, 2007 18:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why, according to you, are people who come from a middle-class background not allowed to want to create an egalitarian, libertarian society?

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