the Disillusioned kid: We should do this every Monday!
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We should do this every Monday!

May 1st been a key date in every activist's diary since the 1880's when the American state directed its repressive machinery at the anarchist movement in Chicago. The day's history has not always been entirely glorious - one recalls the images of massed ranks of Red Army soldiers marching through Moscow. Nevertheless, the spirit of the day lives on. This year's seems to have been particularly memorable.

In the States, immigrants and their supporters held a "General Strike" to protest against the US crackdown on immigration and legislation such as HR 4437. Hundreds of thousands - perhaps even millions - of immigrant workers failed to turn up for work, and there were huge protests across the country. Protests appear to have been largely peaceful, although there were some clashes. This is the third in a series of nationwide days of action around this issue and one assumes that it won't be the last.

There were solidarity demonstrations throughout Latin America (whence the vast majority of the US's immigrants originate). Many Mexicans observed a "Day Without Gringos"," a total boycott of all US produced goods. There were also a number of demos outside the US Embassy in Mexico including one attended by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos the charismatic spokesperson of the Ejercitio Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN).

Elsewhere, Iranian workers in Tehran rallied outside the headquarters of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company in support of their ongoing struggle with the management. In India, 4,000 sex workers held a silent march through Kolkata, the state capital of Marxist-ruled West Bengal to protest government plans to ban prostitution. Bolivia's Evo Morales chose Mayday to send troops to occupy the country's gas fields - an apparent precursor to nationalisation. In the Philippines, demonstrators demanded the removal of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Meanwhile, Germany witnessed the traditional Mayday riots as anarchists and autonomists fought pitched battles with Neo-Nazis.

The annual TUC organised march is a venerable institution, but proved to be rather less exciting than many of its foreign counterparts. The march attracted a few thousands activists and unionists who formed up at Clerkenwell Green. The march is famous for its diversity and in this respect I wasn't disappointed. There were participants representing parties from around the world. The proliferation of hammers, sickles and images of assorted glorious leaders was less than encouraging, but it was one of the loudest demos I've been on for a while with a wide range of music playing from the word go.

Not wanting to associate myself too closely with the assorted hodgepodge of commies, Trots and re-heated Stalinoids I tagged along with the Autonomist Bloc. Truth be told, I'm not 100% sure what autonomism actually is, but then I'm not sure most of the other people there were either and the ubiquity of red and black flags suggested that a sizeable chunk of my autonomist comrades were most likely anarchists. We certainly seem to have attracted the attention of the attendant coppers and I could have sworn that the vast majority of the bobbies at the march were escorting us.

Inspite of the heavy police presence the march was largely uneventful - some might even say dull - right up to the end. When we got to Trafalgar Square things suddenly became confrontational. There was some pushing and shoving and at least one person seemed to get dragged off, albeit with a number of others trying to "de-arrest" him. It appears that things kicked off after the fuzz tried to stop us taking out sound system into the square. The excitement didn't last long, perhaps two or three minutes after which we relocated to the corner of the square for an open-mic. At this point I toddled off for a wander which seems a good place to end this piss-poor excuse for an acount, although those of you who haven't fallen asleep already can marvel at my photographic record of the day's "events" here.

It also merits note that yesterday was Blog Against Disableism Day. This is clearly an important issue and one which receives much less attention than I think it deserves. I had intended to participate, but with one thing and another, never got around to it. All being well I intend to write something on the matter in the next few days, although I wouldn't hold your breath. In the meantime go check out what other people have to say.

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