Why Wasn’t the Climate March Held on Mayday?

Bums me out that they didn’t make the climate march on Mayday. Here’s why they should have done so.

1) It would involve a de facto general strike. As Nelson Lichtenstein recently observed, all significant protests until the antiwar protest of the 1960s were held on weekdays to insure that there would be at least a partial work stoppage. That meant that the elites who call the shots (i.e. capital) would be spoken to in the language of diminished profits which is the only one they can understand. The coalition behind the climate march didn’t understand that fact. Or they have deliberately ignored it.

2) It would also establish a connection between, on the one hand, climate activism, which, as Naomi Klein argues in This Changes Everything, is fundamentally anticapitalist, and the long and frankly bloody history of labor’s inherent and irreconcilable relationship to capitalist exploitation on the other. That’s what Mayday is understood to mean to this day, although this is buried deep within the collective unconscious.

It’s a shame that this opportunity to establish the connection was missed, yet again.


Update: In a KPFK interview, organizer Jane McElevey also asks “why the climate change march wasn’t held on Mayday?”  The answer to that question may tell us a lot about why the left remains so profoundly dysfunction-at least, that’s what I’d suggest.

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4 thoughts on “Why Wasn’t the Climate March Held on Mayday?”

  1. I certainly agree with you, though I also wonder how much workers’ current financial plight would reduce attendance. This was obviously something workers had to find a way to deal with in the ’30s, though probably less of a widespread problem after.
    It’s my understanding that the current Brazilian land reform movement helps to provide for its members’ survival needs. Both labor and environmental movements should give more thought to that here.

    1. After listening to the interview and upon further reflection I realize that if 90 prcnt of a workplace is striking, the protection comes through strength in numbers. But I doubt that would be the case at the workplaces most of the climate marchers are employed. A long way to go, ,obviously.

      1. Yes. Strength is in numbers. Which is why combining the climate, immigrants, and workers’ rights marches would have been key, had they managed to negotiate an alliance. Unfortunately, forging alliances is what the activist left has consistently, and conspicuously, failed to do over the past decades. We need to understand the reasons why if we are going to be able to succeed in the future.

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