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Upcoming Gigs

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Supporting Jollyboat, Knaresborough: 22nd June

Brig-Aid Fundraiser, Fruit, Hull: 23rd June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Verse Matters, Sheffield, 5th July

Say Owt @ Deer Shed Festival, 21st July

Say Owt @ Great Yorkshire Fringe, York: 25th July

Working Title, Lancaster, 26th July

Nerd Punk, Edinburgh fringe @Banshee Labyrinth 19.50 13th August

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cages & Wages: Thoughts on May Day

It’s May 1st, May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day across the world.  This Saturday will see marches and actions to celebrate this day in the left-wing calendar.

What are the origins of May Day?  Many fought in the 1800s fought for many rights we now take for granted, and one such battle for the fight for the 8 hour day (8 hours for work, 8 for recreation and 8 for rest).

May Day has come to represent those battles, for better pay, working conditions, pensions, the weekend, sick leave & pay, material leave & pay etc etc.

But we need to be careful not to ‘romanticise’ elements of the working class movement.  Trade Unions are still hierarchical organisations with power structures.  I believe in the power of a Union, but we have to be careful when we sing “The Union keeps us strong” because sometimes the Union bureaucrats sell us out in negotiations.

I am also aware of the language of the socialist working class movement is, obviously, about working.  It’s very macho, male-orientated and has a focus on ‘pride’.  Sometimes uses this word ‘hard-working’. 

But let’s not forget, work steals from us.  Work steals our time, energy, resources, dignity.  It puts us into boxes, categories, makes us competitive, gives us a reason to mistrust immigrants, women and be at the mercy of the managers and economy. 

We are wage slaves, our cages & chains built with the things we want and need.

Be wary that ‘hard-working’ and ‘pride’ are also the language of the Conservatives and the Right-wing.  They tell us to be proud of something which steals from us.  Be proud of earn a living.  Be proud of earn a wage.  Proud to climb the ladder.  Be proud of these chains and cages. 

This is their trap.

And this focus on ‘working’ as a sense of identity in your class means those who don’t or cannot work don’t always fit into this working class struggle.

I want to quote from the preamble to the Industrial Workers Of The World Constitution:

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system." http://www.iww.org/culture/official/preamble.shtml

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