01 May 2008

May Day

Among the very first papers I ever published was one that discussed the "invention" of May Day as a coordination device for working class movements in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. In a book he co-edited entitled The Invention of Tradition historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote engagingly about this political invention (amongst others) and it seemed to me - then and still - to be a perfect example of the sort of strategic move Tom Schelling analyzes in The Strategy of Conflict. While it was proposed in 1890 by leaders of the Second International, May Day almost immediately, and quite spontaneously, took on a life of its own. This is a holiday that proved to be politically useful in oppositional ways. It was not all singing and dancing and carrying on, although it was that too; May Day became a crucial device for coordinating a robust international campaign for the eight hour day. Pretty remarkable in our era when most people simply assume that employers can and should dictate hours and working conditions. Imagine calling that into question.

In any case, it is May Day and Michael Franklin sent this announcement of festivities coming up this weekend in St. Charles, Missouri. Unfortunately, I am not in the neighborhood!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is too bad, i'm looking forward for that festivity though... same here i won't be able to witness it at all.


01 May, 2008 16:10  
Blogger AMEN said...

Hey man, thanks so much for posting this! You are there in spirit and i will send you pics of the day, hopefully ones without cops in them. Listen in my show too, once a week, and call in if you want, www.blogtalkradio.com/RABBLE and look for your bag in the mail next week.

be well,
Michael Franklin

02 May, 2008 00:10  

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