I’ve known about the Occupy movement’s May Day General Strike for ages, ever since a good friend, an activist in Denver, posted an excellent promotional poster back in the middle of February (see the bottom of this article), and while I didn’t need any reminding about the date, as I’ve been a May Day supporter for my whole adult life, I had intended to post something about it sooner than the day before.
However, I’m sure you know all about what can happen to the best-laid plans — and it’s not like I haven’t been busy! — so here, just in time, is my supportive message for all workers — the employed and the self-employed — to down tools tomorrow, along with everyone else who is part of the 99 percent — parents, children, the unemployed and the disabled, as well as those who have retired — to let the 1 percent who still lord it over us from their tax havens and gated communities, and in board rooms and parliaments, know that the inequality that caused the Occupy Wall Street movement to spring to life last September and to become an international phenomenon last October has not diminished in the last seven months.
Governments may have acted to shut down the extraordinary Occupy camps in public spaces, in coordinated raids across the United States at the end of last year, and by various means elsewhere, but it remains as true now as it was last year that you can”t kill an idea, and also that, if you’re part of the 1 percent, you can’t get away with presiding over a program of endless enrichment for those who are already rich — when doing so involves increasing unemployment and destroying the middle class — without some people deciding to fight back, and others waking out of a slumber of self-obsession and materialism to realize that all is not well with the world, and that those who claim to be in charge bear the lion’s share of the blame that they’re trying to shift onto us instead.
I have maintained since last year that Western capitalism’s ability to try and justify itself depends on certain lines not being crossed, and on that measure we are in the grip of an unstoppable decline in the trustworthiness of those who purport to be qualified to lead. The lines that must not be crossed involve providing sufficient work for those who, for example, buy into the system by getting in debt to secure university degrees with the understanding that there is a functioning and worthwhile job market at the end of it, which has begun to fail on a spectacular basis, with youth unemployment at record levels — 50 percent in Spain, nearly 1 in 3 in Ireland, and over a million young people (over 20 percent of the total number of young people) in the UK.
Governments’ responsibilities also involve not introducing selective austerity — for the poor, and not the rich — while lying that it is absolutely necessary and that “we’re all in it together” (as has been the Tories’ despicable approach in the UK), and, by crossing them, our leaders have demonstrated that, especially since bankers crashed and almost destroyed the world economy in 2008, through unfettered and unregulated greed on an almost imaginable scale, the illusion of a bright future for all but the very rich has vanished.
Where we’re headed, as the social compact that was the greatest achievement of the 20th century is deliberately smashed, and the state strangled for reasons of inflexible ideology, is not yet known. Those who have permanently cast off their rose-tinted spectacles see various dystopian possibilities hinted at by the strangling of Greece and Spain by bankers and politicians — a return to the Victorian era, or perhaps the wigs and pox of the 18th century, or even the serfdom of the middle ages, as our leaders, economically suicidal as national figureheads since the 1980s when outsourcing became a great maximiser of profit for the few, but a harbinger of widespread unemployment and marginalization for society as a whole, reveal on a daily basis that they have no ideas whatsoever about how to adapt to new realities and revive our economies.
Thinking outside the box involves, very obviously, a recognition that the huge disparities of wealth between the 1 percent and the rest of us are simply not sustainable if we are to prevent any of these dystopian futures from becoming a reality, and if we are to even begin to treat the rest of the world with anything resembling fairness — and this movement, lest we forget, was directly inspired by the revolutionary movements last year in Tunisia and Egypt. And so, tomorrow, I hope as many people as possible will be on the streets, raising their voices in dissent, and talking to each other to work out how to revive the Occupy movement for a long summer of challenging the status quo and campaigning for meaningful change.
Below, with lots and lots of lovely links, is a cross-post of Occupy Wall Street’s authoritative article from last week identifying all the protests across the US, and other protests worldwide, that will be taking place tomorrow. Let’s make them the start of something big this summer!
While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in U.S. history. Building on the international celebration of May Day, past General Strikes in U.S. cities like Seattle and Oakland, the recent May 1st Day Without An Immigrant demonstrations, the national general strikes in Spain this year, and the on-going student strike in Quebec, the Occupy Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012. This in and of itself is a tremendous victory. For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 U.S. cities will stand together for economic justice.
See below for what we believe to be the most comprehensive list yet compiled of cities where Occupy May Day events are being planned, as well as other resources. Note: This is a living document. Check back for updates! If you have any additional events, please let us know in the comment section of this article. You are encouraged to share this page in as many ways as possible!
Key City-wide May Day Sites
Show Your Solidarity!
Find a nearby city with planned actions:
A – B
C – D
E – L
M – N
O – R
S – W
Note: May 1st is a nationally-recognized holiday (International Workers’ Day or May Day) in over 80 countries. It would be impossible to list every demonstration worldwide. The following list only reflects May Day events organized by Occupy-related groups in direct solidarity with #OWS.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Rina Nursanti wrote:
Oh same day I was born…
Happy birthday, Rina. I will be thinking of the workers – and the unemployed – everywhere tomorrow, including Indonesia!
Ruth Gilburt wrote:
May Day – a day for all
Thanks, Ruth. Full details of Occupy London’s statement below:
On 1 May, people around the world will strike. They will demand their right to decent working conditions, secure employment and pensions.
This day is for all people. It isn’t just for workers lucky enough to have unions to represent them. It is for parents and carers whose work is often not seen as productive, for people forced into workfare schemes, for students whose only way to employment is unpaid internships, for those who can’t get their foot in the door of the workplace because of their nationality, gender, disabilities. It is for all of us and our right to earn a living for a decent life.
The numbers of people claiming unemployment benefits is rising, with unemployment at levels close to their highest for a generation (much as the Government likes to constantly move the goalpost in their favour to massage the figures). Many with a job are forced to comply with unacceptable conditions, due to not having realistic alternatives, and their work is not as valued as some. The income gap between the highest and lowest is growing more quickly in Britain than other economies over the past three decades. Topping the inequalities off, we’ve seen average pay rises for FTSE 100 executives at 43%, with ‘top’ directors at 49%, all of whom can use their status to avoid tax. It is time for these inequalities to stop.
This May Day, strike with your union if you have one. Call in sick, take a holiday, don’t show up. Join actions and marches in your city, bring your community together and talk about the issues in your area, make some noise. Remember, you are not alone and that together we can make a change.
This May Day Occupy London will be out in support of events on the day and is planning some actions of our own:
Morning – Occupy the tube!
As May Day is a day for all workers, Occupy supporters are planning ‘Occupy the tube’, a fun and inspiring event starting on Tuesday morning in the centre of the City of London. All will be revealed that morning but look out for white flowers.
On the day, meet from 7am at the Finsbury Square occupation, or 8am at Liverpool Street Station. Wear your best workwear and bring white flowers. Musicians, performers and artists also welcome, as are donations of white flowers, which can be left at the Finsbury Square occupation prior to May Day.
This event is for everyone, including – and especially – those who have followed Occupy over the last seven months but have never felt able to participate in any direct way.
Expect other surprises around London too. More details on the new Occupy London website (currently in beta) and on Facebook:
On the day follow @occupylondon on Twitter and hashtag #occupymay for updates. Important updates about Occupy May events are also available for free via SMS – simply text Follow @occupylsxsos to 86444.
11.30am – Assemble at Paternoster Square for May Day march
From 11.30am, supporters of Occupy London will gather at Paternoster Square, just by the London Stock Exchange and St Paul’s Cathedral, in preparation for then joining the thousands of people coming together for the main May Day March in London.
Moving off at around 12.30pm, Occupy London will join the main march as it makes its way to the rally point at Trafalgar Square. More info about the May Day march and rally at
and new facebook event at
2.30pm onwards – Against Workfare
Post march, Occupy London supporters plan to support the anti-workfare actions against companies participating in the workfare schemes, which have been called by North and South London Solidarity Federations. More information and map of targets will be at
Strike, march and occupy. See you on May Day.
Upcoming dates for your diary
Thursday 3 May – The Big Six Energy Bash- MASS ACTION! (Climate Justice Collective event)
Saturday 5 May – Londoners Connect The Dots (Occupy London Energy, Equity and Environment Group)
Saturday 12 May – 12M / Meet the 1% / Global Spring
Tuesday 15 May – Drought of Democracy: Flood the British Bankers’ Association!
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Sylvia Martin wrote:
Thanks, Sylvia. Good to hear from you.
OCCUPY THE PLANET!
I’m with you, Jan, my friend!
I’m heading into central London now, and will report back later!
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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