Category Archives: May Day

There is One God, One Faith, and One Church

On 1 May, International Labour Day (except in the USA),1 I happened to see the current prime minister of Portugal proclaim on television the next stages of the policing that began with the proclamation that the world was in the midst of a “pandemic”. He explained that masks would be obligatory in schools after they are reopened, that restaurants would be permitted to reopen in a limited fashion starting 18 May and gave other details as to how public movement and economic activity would be ruled in the foreseeable future.

Of course, opening on 18 May only applies to those businesses that have survived that long, without going bankrupt. Portugal is remarkable in many respects, for example, that it is almost entirely “chain-free”. One reason is that multinational restaurant chains — like those that have replaced virtually all restaurants in the US — are simply too expensive for ordinary Portuguese citizens. The other reason is the loyalty of the population to its own fine food culture. Portugal is one of the few places in the West I know where the food eaten by the rich and the poor is essentially the same — and by that I do not mean the fast food monotony to which Andy Warhol very poignantly referred.2 A city like Porto is still full of family-owned restaurants where the chipped potatoes are peeled and sliced in the kitchen and not poured from a bulk package manufactured by some Nestlé subsidiary. McDonald’s has had to compete not only in price but even in the style of bread used, yet is still too expensive for people whose average monthly wages are less than EUR 1,000. One has to wonder which restaurants Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa has in mind when he says that they will be permitted to open again after more than two months closure. Do we see here the result of another act to subordinate the last elements of Portuguese entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in a country whose elite has always profited from Portugal’s quasi-protectorate status?

I do not have any new answers to that question. However, I have tried to surmise or by means of judicious investigation identify the rational criteria, which would compel those who have ordered this international quarantine to end it.3 Alas, in vain. At the end of four months there is still no evidence published anywhere that the progression of the so-called “pandemic” has in any way approached that of the seasonal influenza casualties of 2019 or any year prior to that. It stands to reason that if this were more deadly than the seasonal flu, then in the same period we would have to record far more deaths than in the previous year. Even with all the fraud and forgery, the death toll has not reached that level year-on-year. Nor have any truly new and impossible conditions arisen since then, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus can explain — unless one considers the obvious mental derangement and hysteria among the supposedly educated segments of the population.

The favoured argument among the “moderates” — those willing to listen to doubts expressed by ordinary citizens — is that all these steps are necessary to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing. In other words, the people who have been subjected to this covert state violence are themselves to blame for the inadequacy of the healthcare system. This was not the fault of parasitical corporations, bribery, privatisation, insufficient or no funding and resistance to any change of policy that would channel money away from investment banks to blood banks (unless, of course, those blood banks were also run for profit) — all abetted by elected and appointed public officials.

If responsibility is considered for any policy failure, however, it is only the lack of masks, HAZMAT suits and emergency equipment not the failure to maintain a solid general healthcare system including preventive, curative and palliative medicine. In other words, the “counter-terrorism” model is the only one available to government. Such emergency measures are just like the futile instructions to airline passengers about procedures that are virtually useless when an airplane crashes. I wonder seriously for whom is the emaciated healthcare system to be protected after more than thirty years of wanton destruction by those who claim their sudden concern. The defensive arguments and criticism can be compared to a group of arsonists advising the homeowner whose house they have set in flame that it really would have been a good idea to have more hoses and paid for more insurance coverage. What this really means is the State (actually those who manage it on behalf of its owners) wants us all to stay at home so that none of them has to accept responsibility for massive criminal negligence. Meanwhile we are burning with that very house they have torched.

In contrast the Chinese government built a hospital in two weeks to take up the slack in a city of some 11 million inhabitants, dismantling it once the mission was accomplished. While in Europe and the USA there are no public institutions left capable of delivering even the ordinary mails in under two weeks, let alone build a hospital and staff it.

There being no rational basis for the Western style of international quarantine, that leaves only two other mutually inclusive options: corruption and religion. For years I have argued that political science and many other academic disciplines practiced in Western universities are defective because of their failure to analyse the institutional foundation of the West: Roman Catholicism. Except in Catholic institutions, my assertion is usually dismissed. The basic sophistry used to ridicule my advice is that while the churches, and even the Church still exist today, they have an entirely subordinate role. Nobody believes that the pope in Rome has temporal authority, let alone universal power. Church attendance is just a private matter. The Reformation curtailed the power of the Roman hierarchy. These arguments even come from people who have read Michel Foucault or  Gramsci4 and therefore with a second thought or three ought to know better.

What many seem to forget is the Counter-Reformation or the Protestant witch burning, including the practices of Puritan New England. Moreover, the Christian churches together and in Europe the Roman Catholic Church in particular belong to the largest landowners in the West, usually tax-exempt, and often concealed through corporate shells.5  In any realistic appraisal of a political system ignoring major landowners like the Church is either a sign of incompetence or mendacity.

Elsewhere I have said 1984 has to be one of the worst books ever written.6  That is not so much a reflection of the author as it is of those who have read it over the past 70 years since it was published. Orwell created some modern terms to describe ancient phenomena that have been forgotten. Properly speaking they have not been forgotten but concealed. Given the explicit and insidious collaboration with the fascist aggression by the two Pius popes in the 20th century, including WWII, it is understandable that explicit references to the original totalitarianism of the West would be discouraged. In fact, much of the treachery and viciousness of Pius XII was only disclosed after his death and amidst the greatest of resistance both in the Church and beyond.7

It is helpful to recall that for most of Western history even possession of the mythology volume, known as the Holy Bible, was restricted entirely to clergy.8

Unauthorised possession or reading it among unauthorised laity could be treated as a capital offense. The Holy Office, also known as the Inquisition, had emerged not only as a central and secret police force for the Roman Catholic Church but a major economic player in every Christian dominion.9

To be accused of heresy or some other violation by the Inquisition was the same as being guilty. An accused forfeited all rights immediately — the right to own property, to conclude any kind of binding business or legal transaction — and was subject to confiscation of all property, real and personal. Those who spoke in favour of an accused could be punished as abetting heresy with the same penalties. The only appeal was to the pope in Rome — very difficult to lodge when one was chained to the wall of some dungeon and anyone who acted on one’s behalf could suffer the same fate. It would go too far to explain all that could and did happen under this regime. The curious are referred here to Henry Lea’s multi-volume works; e.g., The History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.10

However, it is very important to distinguish between the popular and incorrect view of the Inquisition — that its primary job was enforcing doctrinal conformity. The Holy Office was established to control population and population movement and to assist those who owned the Holy See in their efforts to enrich themselves and the Church. The Inquisition was an espionage system that recorded every detail necessary to identify, observe, and pursue its targets throughout Christendom — that is most of Europe and the overseas possessions of Catholic princes. Heresy was punished — rather heresy was the pretext for punishment and control. Denying that one was a heretic was impossible. The only hope was that no one had motive to make a denunciation. To escape incarceration meant only that one became a legitimate target — like in the notorious “free fire zones” in Vietnam.11

My point is that Orwell did not discover or describe anything new or modern. In fact, as a propagandist in the service of His Britannic Majesty’s government, he was simply describing his working environment with the language of the day — albeit in a kind of roman à clef. Blair (Orwell) was for all intents and purposes Winston. He probably could not have written a story with the ancient foundations of Christendom at the centre.

Despite the heinous conduct of the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century, it actually recruited successfully. Both the famous and the infamous have joined or returned to Mother Church.12  And a son of the fanatically Presbyterian Dulles family was even raised to the cardinal’s dignity.13  One can only guess why.

The (previous) pontiff emeritus was head of the Holy Office before his coronation. There should be no surprise that an obedient member of the Hitler Youth would make a great career in a Roman Catholic province governed by pro-fascist prelates under a fascist pope. Joseph Ratzinger went on to lead the persecution of heretics in Latin America, collaborating deniably with the death squad regime that murdered Bishop Oscar Romero while disciplining every important member of the clergy who opposed military dictatorships installed and maintained by the US regime. The ubiquitous corporation, which Ratzinger would then head as Benedict XVI, is recognised for having the oldest espionage organisation in continuous operation.14 Orwell could not have described the way the Church exercises power without drawing attention to those who still held it and whose successors hold it today.

Now I am not saying that the present condition — the crusade that is being preached throughout the Western Empire — is a creation of the Vatican State or the Roman pontiff, also a Jesuit. (At the same time I would not rule out their active, if discrete, participation.) It is surely an accident that one of the most fanatical and greedy prelates preaching this crusade is also a product of Jesuit education.15

What I am saying is that if we want to understand the structures, the rhetoric and the discourse along with the kinds of measures and the force being applied, we should look very carefully at the most fundamental institution that defines the style and substance of Western beliefs and statecraft. That original multinational corporation contains the blueprint — or to use fashionable genetics jargon, the “DNA” of the corporate state in which we live today.

It does not matter that the word “infection” is used instead of “sin” or that the intelligent, fact-based suspicions of the official story about the “virus” are called “denial” and not “heresy”. Orwell would have called these doubts “thought crime”. The infection is just as invisible as sin. The definition of health risk lies solely at the discretion of the clergy, wearing white coats or HAZMAT suits instead of cassocks. Although neither Mr Tedros16 of the WHO nor a medical official can order an arrest, incarceration or torture, they can advise or instruct “the secular arm”17 to act “in the interest of health” (i.e., in the interest of the Faith). As argued elsewhere recently, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals has assured us that we just do not know if we can ever prevent sin, whether we will ever have a chance of salvation, even if the auto de fé of vaccination is performed.18.

Social distancing, then (Photo 1) and in the “modern” age (Photo 2).19

Many people, who would refuse to hear a priest or minister who advocates witch burning, lend all their attention to clerics dressed like physicians or hospital technicians — reading from inscrutable reports devoid of consistency, coherence or any other base in reality. For example, when the Portuguese prime minister declares that restaurants will be allowed to open on 18 May, one could just as easily ask — why not 17 May or 19 May? The answer is that there is no substantive reason — at least none to which the public is privy.

Now we are approaching —  if we have not already passed — the point where the secular arm can no longer retreat. The crusade has been declared for the health of Christendom. Whoever fails to make the sacrifice will be punished. For the secular arm to admit that it has erred is no longer possible without hastening its own demise. Hence like a thousand years ago, the secular arm — the princes of Christendom who owe their allegiance to the spirit of mammon, to that same god which ordained every pontiff and is the pinnacle of the great chain of being to which we are all subordinated — must continue to punish us or risk being punished or even destroyed by those whose lives it has ruined.

The inquisitors were well aware of this risk. That is why they were permitted anonymity, hired protection (paid from the profits of confiscation) and an absolute immunity from Rome. Our princes have their inquisitors and have equipped them with modern privileges, immunities and authority.

It seems therefore appropriate that a key dogmatic proclamation be revised to reflect the few minor but functionally significant changes in the 700-odd years since it was first promulgated.

Promulgated this time in Geneva,

Unam Sanctam

(Ecclesiam catholicam et ipsam apostolicam…)

Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church (read State) is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,’ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3] (Capital). In her then is one Lord, one faith, one test and vaccine [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide; i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

We venerate this Church as one, the Lord having said by the mouth of the prophet: ‘Deliver, O God (Capital), my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog.’ [Ps 21:20] He has prayed for his soul, that is for himself, heart and body; and this body, that is to say, the Church (yes, the corporate state), He has called one because of the unity of the Spouse, of the faith, of the sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is the tunic of the Lord, the seamless tunic, which was not rent but which was cast by lot [Jn 19:23-24]. Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Italians, or others should say that they are not confided to Peter (e.g. the WHO or other high offices of the Lords of Capital) and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’

We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church (in the State), since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered _for_ the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest and doctor of medicine; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest (banker and doctor of medicine).

However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual (and medical) power. For since the Apostle said: ‘There is no power except from God (Capital) and the things that are, are ordained of God’ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual (and medical) power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: ‘Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms’ and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual (medical) power; but if a minor spiritual (medical) power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God (Capital, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like any sane person alternative explanations, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for health (salvation) that every human creature be subject to those who control the World Health Organisation.

This bull****, slightly updated, was promulgated originally 718 years ago in November 1302 by the reigning Roman pontiff, Boniface VIII (1294 – 1303), less than a year before his death. Could he have died of a coronavirus?

  1. It is always worth recalling in the context of American exceptionalism that Labour Day in the US is the first Monday in September. Everywhere else (apart from Canada) Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May, in commemoration of the Haymarket massacre in Chicago! During a labour demonstration on 4 May 1886, a police provocateur detonated a bomb. Eight labour activists were arrested and tried, four were executed by hanging; one committed suicide and the remaining three were pardoned after six years in prison.
  2. Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and back again), (1975).
  3. Quarantine, originally meant 40 days (from the Italian quarantana, OED) applied by the Venetian authorities to ships arriving from abroad. 40 days is also the span of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter or the traditional period allocated to mourning for the dead in which a widow could remain in the home of her deceased husband. In Portugal many thought the economy would just be closed until Easter. This is no longer a quarantine but a form of massive house arrest.
  4. For those who have not the relevant titles are Madness and Civilisation (1961), The Birth of the Clinic (1973) and Discipline and Punish (1975), Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) Prison Notebooks (posthumously 1947).  Gramsci, who was one of the founders of Italy’s Communist Party, devoted considerable thought to the problem of latent power (hegemony), particularly conspicuous because of the role played by the Roman Catholic Church in Italy — even after Italian unity. He especially analysed the function of intellectuals and culture in regime maintenance.
  5. I have read but unfortunately cannot find the citation that the Roman Catholic Church directly and indirectly still holds about a third of all land in Western Europe. In Germany it benefits from a church tax collected by the State. In some jurisdictions of Germany, the Church is still compensated with tax revenues for secularisation of property in the 19th century! Church property is generally exempt from taxation. There are schools, hospitals, and innumerable institutions operated ostensibly as charities and privileged financially or politically by the State; e.g., payment of staff salaries. This state support assures that the spiritual arm retains its capacity to share power with the secular arm.
  6. Looking for the Thought Police? Try looking in the mirror“, (1984 is probably the worst book of the 20th century) by T.P. Wilkinson/August 25th, 2017.
  7. Karlheinz Deschner, Die Politik der Päpste in 20. Jahrhundert (1991) also in God and the Fascists (2013).
  8. Canon 14 of the Council of Toulouse (1229): ‘We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.’

    ‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission, may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).

  9. Originally known as the Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, since 1542 it has been called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Previous to the establishment of the papal inquisition, the church police power was concentrated in the dioceses and exercised by the episcopacy (1184 – ). The papacy used the Roman inquisition (1230 – ) to suborn the episcopacy, especially in France, and as an instrument to establish papal supremacy. Popes deployed the so-called mendicant orders, principally the Dominicans and Franciscans, because their independence from episcopal authority or monastic discipline and their mobility made them ideal shock troops.
  10. Henry C. Lea, The History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages (1888) also The History of the Inquisition in Spain (1887).
  11. See “The First Circle” by T.P. Wilkinson,  April 24th, 2020; and A Fly’s Eye View of America’s War Against Vietnam, especially Part 3, 30 April 2015.
  12. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the first noxious example that comes to my mind.
  13. Avery R Dulles, SJ (1918- 2008), son of John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State and brother to Allen (CIA director), became a Jesuit priest, created a cardinal in 2001.
  14. The papal nuncios, Vatican ambassadors, prelates in various orders, especially the Society of Jesus, and what one writer identifies as the Santa Alleanza, the clandestine service to have been formed by Pope Pius V in 1566, all comprise an ancient espionage capabilities extending throughout Christendom and wherever the Roman Catholic Church has entry. The Holy Office itself managed an enormous network of spies and collaborators. This prolific espionage apparatus profits from cooperation with the secular espionage and clandestine services, too. The long-time head of counter-intelligence in the CIA, Catholic James Jesus Angleton, was reputed for his close relationship to Vatican offices.
  15. Anthony Fauci, the notorious promoter of the corona “pandemic” and profitable pharmaceutical products, is a graduate of the Regis High School in New York City and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; both are Jesuit institutions.
  16. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, the secretariat of the World Health Assembly, located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  17. The Inquisition was formally an investigating and policing institution with judicial but not enforcement powers. Condemnation by the Inquisition could incur penitential measures; e.g., compulsory pilgrimage, castigation, compulsory clothing marks (wearing a cross as a symbol of condemnation, lending another sense to the colloquialism: having “one’s cross to bear”) and incarceration. However, execution of the condemned was reserved to the State. Hence when the Church’s penitential measures were deemed inadequate, the “spiritual “ Inquisition could order the condemned remanded to the “secular arm”, a euphemism for the enforcement of the death penalty by the State.
  18. See “The First Circle” by T.P. Wilkinson,  April 24th, 2020.
  19. The dunce cap is very similar to the coroza those condemned for heresy were forced to wear in their auto de fé.

Cuba: May Day in the Year of the Pandemic

Photo: Bill Hackwell, Havana, Plaza of the Revolution

This photograph depicts how the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana usually looks on May 1, International Workers Day (IWD). Every year since 1959 when a revolution, whose backbone was made up of workers and peasants, was victorious against a brutal US-backed dictatorship, millions of Cubans and international friends fill Paseo from the Malecon to the Plaza to celebrate this day that honors all workers around the world. The march has also come to honor Cuba for holding out and even advancing against US Imperialism being symbolized in this moment by the heroic efforts Cuba’s doctors are contributing against the global pandemic.

The power that one feels when they participate in this march, that starts punctually at 8am before the sun is too high, defies description. It is a streaming current of optimism with a vision of a better world without oppression, hunger and poverty. It is an uplifting expression of the common masses that make and produce everything good in this world and more and more it is a march for Socialism. Cuba is the host of this event every year (with the exception of 1994-95 when it was suspended for the special period) and they share it broadly. Every year the march, organized by the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC), has a different feature, last year it gave tribute to Cuba’s medical brigades who were represented at the front of the march representing the 400,000 Cuban medical professionals who have gone to 164 countries since the early 1960’s  when Fidel Castro started offering them to the world. As he explained this is something we can offer, “The world’s technologies is important but more important are human beings”.

It is important to remind ourselves that it was in Chicago in 1886 when the IWD was founded in the struggle for the 8-hour day. From that point on as the rest of the world celebrated it the ruling rich of the US, as a class, has done everything in its power to disparage it or hide its obvious appeal to the vast majority like some skeleton in the closet. In 1958 the Eisenhower administration tried to erase it from sight and mind by proclaiming May 1 Law Day, whatever that might mean.

This year the Plaza of the Revolution will not look like this due to an abundance of caution and the importance of physical distancing in the struggle to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. While the Cuban government has cancelled the march in the Plaza and mass public demonstrations in all the municipalities on the island,  that does not mean International Workers Day will not be celebrated on the island. Cuban flags will be hung in all the houses and buildings and at 8am, to coincide when the march would normally begin, the Cuban people will come out on their balconies or stand in the street and collectively sing the Cuban National Anthem. Simultaneously it will take place on all the radio and TV programs along with social media. “At 8am we will all come together to sing the National Anthem and also give the applause that all workers deserve, in their posts, in their homes or in the world, working tirelessly to defeat the pandemic”, wrote Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel.

While creative expressions of working class consciousness will be taking place all over the world it is a time to realize that May 1 has never been quite so significant. The widening cracks in the hegemony of neo-liberal capitalism and its inability to meet even the basic needs of society are an opportunity for a new world to take its place. Long Live International Workers Day!

May Day is Red and Green

May Day, or International Workers Day, is celebrated with marches and rallies every May 1 to lift up the working people and their demands for freedom, equality, and justice. That is the Red tradition of May Day. But there is also an older Green tradition in which cultures the world over celebrate as Spring arrives in temperate and arctic climates or the wet season arrives in tropical climates. This Green tradition of May Day celebrates all that is free and life-giving on the green Earth that is our commonwealth and heritage. These Red and Green May Day traditions are complementary.

Historian Peter Linebaugh, in his The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day, provides an evocative description of the Green tradition of May Day:

Once upon a time, long before Weinberger bombed north Africans, before the Bank of Boston laundered money, or Reagan honored the Nazi war dead, the earth was blanketed by a broad mantle of forests. As late as Caesar’s time a person might travel through the woods for two months without gaining an unobstructed view of the sky. The immense forests of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America provided the atmosphere with oxygen and the earth with nutrients. Within the woodland ecology, our ancestors did not have to work the graveyard shift, or to deal with flextime, or work from Nine to Five. Indeed, the native Americans whom Captain John Smith encountered in 1606 only worked four hours a week. The origin of May Day is to be found in the Woodland Epoch of History….

Everywhere people “went a-Maying” by going into the woods and bringing back leaf, bough, and blossom to decorate their persons, homes, and loved ones with green garlands. Outside theater was performed with characters like “Jack-in-the-Green” and the “Queen of the May.” Trees were planted. Maypoles were erected. Dances were danced. Music was played. Drinks were drunk, and love was made. Winter was over, spring had sprung.

The Red tradition of May Day developed in response to the rise of capitalism, which undermined the Green tradition of May Day that people the world over had celebrated for millennia. Beginning in the 1500s in a process that continues to this day, landlords and capitalists have increasingly dispossessed working people from their land, their tools of production, and thus control over their means to life.

In the 1500s, rich landowners, with the support of the state, began to appropriate and take exclusive ownership of ancient public lands and forests, enclosing them for their own private profit-seeking purposes. Peasant communities lost their communal use of common fields and forests for grazing animals, hunting game, and gathering food and wood. This process continues today in many parts of the world.

The next stage of dispossession developed with the rise of the factories of industrial capitalism, which underpriced the handcrafted products of artisans, who then became dependent on capitalists for employment in the factories. In the U.S., the American ideal of republican liberty grounded in the economic independence of a free citizenry of small farmers and artisans gave way to a more inequitable class society of many workers and increasingly fewer capitalists, alongside a moderately-sized middle class of professionals and managers. The working people no longer had their freedom grounded in the economic independence provided by their own land and tools. They were now dependent on capitalists for their means of livelihood. When they crossed the threshold of the workplace, they entered a dictatorship where they had to work as directed and surrender their political rights to free speech, press, and assembly in the workplace. They received a fixed wage, while the owners took all the additional value that their labor created. They soon began to call their oppressive and exploited condition “wage slavery” in a conscious comparison to the conditions of African slaves on southern plantations.

The workers’ movement that arose in response began to organize labor unions and political parties around a program of cooperative production where workers would democratically manage their collective work and workers would receive the full fruits of their labor. They reasoned that economic democracy in cooperative production was the only way they could restore their freedom and achieve a decent standard of living under the conditions of large-scale production. The first political party in the world to raise this program – which soon became known as socialism – arose in Philadelphia and New York City in 1929 when labor unions organized the Workingmen’s Party. The “Workies” elected the president of the carpenters union to the state Assembly of New York.

The author of the Workies’ platform resolutions, Thomas Skidmore, soon penned a book called The Rights of Man to Property! He argued for common ownership of large-scale means of production, universal public education, a debt jubilee, and land redistribution. He called for the abolition of private inheritance with estates going into a public fund for distribution of a share to each person upon adulthood. He called not only for the abolition of slavery but for reparations, for land and a share of the nation’s wealth to the former slaves to help them get started on their farms. He called for citizenship for American Indians and suffrage and equal rights for women. With an eye to environmental protection, he decried the destruction of the planet’s resources that would eventually result from capitalism’s promotion of the unrestricted use of unlimited private property.

This Red tradition of socialism can be seen as a way to recover the ecological sustainability that the Green tradition of May Day rejoiced and sanctified. It will take the full political and economic democracy of socialism to give the people the power to choose ecological balance instead of being powerless subjects of capitalism’s competitive structural drive for the blind, relentless growth that devours the environment. Hence Green Party activists often describe their perspective as ecological socialism.

The Red tradition of May Day emerged in the 1880s in the United States. It arose out of the worker’s movement fighting for the same kinds of demands that the Workies had raised in 1829. The immediate impetus came from the Haymarket Massacre in 1886. On the night of May 4, 1886, 176 Chicago police attacked about 200 workers who remained after a day-long demonstration for the 8-hour day. The police fired live ammunition, killing four and wounding 70. Somebody threw a stick of dynamite. Eight of the labor organizers were charged and convicted. Four of them were hung to death. One of the Haymarket martyrs, Albert Parsons, a white former confederate soldier married to Lucy Parsons, a former slave of African, Indian, and Mexican descent, said at this trial, “What is Socialism or Anarchism? Briefly stated it is the right of the toilers to the free and equal use of the tools of production and the right of the producers to their product.”

Lucy Parsons campaigned across the United States and Europe to have the worker’s movement commemorate May 1 as International Workers Day. Many workers’ organizations supported her call, including the American Federation of Labor, which then urged its adoption by the Second International of socialist parties. The first international May Day celebration in 1890 was a big success. The demonstrations worried the establishments across the world. After Coxey’s Army descended on May 1, 1894, in the first mass march on Washington, D.C. to demand public works spending to employ the unemployed in the midst of severe depression, President Grover Cleveland got Congress to declare a federal Labor Day holiday in September in a move designed to divide the labor movement.

Green Party members will be joining with other working people’s organizations to commemorate International Workers Day this year online given the social distancing we must practice in this coronavirus pandemic. What Greens can do to bring to these events is an understanding of the connections between the Red and Green traditions of May Day.

Conservatives try to red-bait Greens as “watermelons – green on the outside but red on the inside.” But we don’t take that as an insult. We will be on the ballot line in November as the Green Party, but there is plenty of Red as well as Green in our platform.