|May Day in NYC|
While some cities might have had exciting May Day celebrations, the one in New York City was the same except that there were fewer people. The bad weather might have been one reason why the crowd was smaller However, after listening to most of the speeches, my feeling is that the Socialist movement here might be suffering from attrition. For the speeches will do little to attract more members.
Now some conservatives might respond with a "what do you expect from socialists?" remark. And the answer is I don't expect Socialists to sound like every other group in America including its two major parties.
The strident all-or-nothing speeches were designed for the choir. Unfortunately, the choir is an already small audience. For any movement to grow, it must reach out to others. And for all that those speeches did, they didn't reach out to others. While the speakers said some horrible things about police officers in general, they were speaking to the choir. I have asked a couple of officers what they thought of what was said about them they counted what was said as just words.
As the speakers spoke against Capitalism with great anger I wondered who of my friends would stay around to listen. It was a rhetorical wondering.
While the speakers described how immigrant families are targeted by officials or about how the US is interfering with the domestic concerns of other nations, I wished that my friends could be there to listen. But they would have never made it past the angry words spoken about the police.
In short, the speakers at May Day resembled, in general, Democrats or Republicans when they talk amongs themselves. They also resembled the Conservatives I talk to on the blogs. What is the similarity between all of the groups? They all talk about needing to win control over all other groups. In other words, the two major political parties, many of the religious and political conservatives I talk with, and my fellow Socialists are acting like authoritarians. And for as long as we do that, Democracy will be dead because Democracy is about sharing power, not seizing it. And until my fellow Socialists of many stripes, except of course for the Stalinists who are irredeemable, continue to speak that way, they will never make any inroads into other groups and thus will never grow to a critical mass that could make a difference.
I was interviewed two times. While being interviewed, I was asked about whether electing Trump would set our cause back. I had to say 'no' because we were to small and insignificant to be set back any further. However, the nation will pay dearly regardless of whether it is President Hillary or President Donald. So while the speeches fire up the crowd, because they are written for the choir, they accomplish little if anything.
Now before someone is ready to just write off the authoritarianism that I witnessed, we should note that not only do the two major parties speak in the same way, the leading candidate for each major political party are authoritarians themselves. And this says something about our nation. Democracy is dead here because we don't want it; we prefer to be saved/led by hero leaders. And if Democracy is dead, Socialism doesn't have a chance.
For an alive Democracy would mean our involvement, participation, and constant vigilance. And neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton are calling on Americans to exhibit those behaviors. Rather, each one is telling us that they alone have the qualificatoins that would enable them to get the job done.
In addition to speaking to fellow Socialists and listening to speeches, I spoke with some police officers and with counter demonstrators. The police I spoke to did not seem to fazed by any of proceedings. Their desire was that the celebration and march would be violence-free and I shared that wish. And for as long as I was there, there was no violence.
The counter demonstrators I spoke to were enthusiastic, easy to talk to, but they needed to do more thinking. As I talked to one counter demonstrator, we both agreed on workplace democracy and how places of employment should be run democratically by the workers. However, this person seemed unaware that such an idea is a Socialist one. I also mentioned that Rosa Luxemburg's criticisms of Lenin's "Communism" was that it was really a bourgeois dictatorship because workers were not the ones in control of the government.
I talked to another counter demonstrator about immigration. I ask him if he thought foreign policy issues and trade bills should be tied to our immigration bills. I then mentioned that the 3 top nations that have produced the most illegal immigrants in America are nations where we have either overthrown their government or made a disastrous trade agreement with. That was not his concern because he was focusing on the idea that the rule of law not kept by the government in terms of how they fail to legally handle immigration can be a gateway policy causing government to ignore other laws as well. I then asked what good is a law if people have to break it in order to survive violence and starvation.
Despite the kinds of speeches being made, it was certainly worth attending this year's May Day celebration. However, for as long as we Socialists are content with preaching to the choir, I am sorry to say that, for the foreseeable future, May 1 will be the only day I will get to celebrate with my fellow Socialists.