||Issue No. 136||17 May 2002|
Interview: Licking the Wounds
Industrial: The Accidental Tourist
Unions: Stars And Stripes
International: The Un-Promised Land
History: Mate Against Mate
Politics: Reith's Gong
Poetry: You've Got a Friend
Review: War on Terror: Now Showing
Satire: Burmese Regime Makes Genuine Commitment To Pretence Of Change
The Locker Room
Week in Review
More May Day Hate Mail
What Women Want
Chucking a Wobbly
Is Caustic Costello the Despot of Despair?
East Timor: Independent Or Mendicant?
Letters to the Editor
More May Day Hate Mail
Your Editorial of May 3rd on the so-called "Hijack" of May Day is a disgrace.
I understand that your commentator Peter Lewis was not present at the blockade or Unity Rally - a point that should speak for itself - when considering the quality of his commentary.
As a participant I can say unreservedly, that the deployment and reaction of the police at ACM / Wackenhut was out of all proportion to the peaceful nature of the protest. By my count 200 police hemmed in the 800 or so protestors who had linked their arms around the offices of ACM and whose crime consisted in spirited chanting in support of refugee rights. (A further 150 cops hemmed in the Unity March later in the Day when it engaged in the provocative action of sitting down in the Martin Place and listening to speeches).
For those who were not there, I will note that these are not quite the same police usually seen wandering around the streets. They were dressed in military style outfits, complete with Jackboots and leather brawling gloves, and engaged in military style control tactics. Unlike those at the MUA picket which I attended the following week, these cops arrived with an attitude, in an obviously antagonistic frame of mind even before they took action against the assembled youth, workers and activists - no light hearted banter on their shift!
Clearly the cops had their orders to 'go in hard', despite the fact that the ACM picket was notified and legal action under the Summary offences Act.
But all these facts are evidently no concern to Peter Lewis. He shows even less concern for considering the ramifications of this militarisation of the police employed in civil protest for the rest of the labour movement.
His problem seems to be in be-wailing a half-dozen marbles that some frightened youth may have thrown under a charging 900kg horse as he was being pushed around like a sheep in a paddock, and the effect that this may have on "Public Opinion".
What your columnist, Mr. Lewis might like to remind himself, (and as was seen most recently in the Tampa affair) is that public opinion is in large part informed by the commentaries that are read in ALL the media. When a publication that likes to portray itself as tribune of working class issues produces such a jaundiced rant as to make it indistinguishable from an article penned by an Ackermaan or Deviine then the publication is doing itself and workers a serious disservice.
If the Workers Online is as concerned for the sanctity of May Day as is claimed, you might care to moderate Mr Lewis's pronouncements by sending a Reporter to gather first hand information next year. Better still, you may wish to temper your reports by attending the organisational meetings that preceed the days (M1 and M5). There you may witness for yourself the long considerations for ensuring security on the marches and demonstrations, the desire of many genuine rank-and-file Trade Unionists and officials for mobilising the as-yet uninvolved masses of workers in both events, and importantly the steps being taken to link in a real way the protest actions of May 1 with the traditional (for this state) rallies and marches held on the following Sunday (M5). Perhaps it is unnecessary to repeat that it is essential in any democratic process, to have participation as well as criticism.
May 1 is International Workers Day. For historical reasons in this state, the May Day flag has been kept flying for all these years by people dedicated to the ideas of internationalism and solidarity on days other than May 1.
Now the historical opportunity exists to reclaim May 1 and build on their conviction and their tenacity.
Mr Lewis might also like to ask himself - is it a task that he is up to?
I've read your article 'The Hijacking of May Day', and quite frankly, it was embarrassing, petty and offensive.
OK, first of all, the 'M1' event was supported by the AMWU and CFMEU among other people. How can you possibly say that these guys are 'hijacking the union movement'?
Second: the ACTU's 'May Day' march has for years been on the next weekend after May Day, not May 1st. For years, the only real May Day event was the (usually) small anarchists commemoration at the 8 hour monument. The unions started participating in the actual May Day, after the WEF blockade.
May Day was originally started to remember 8 anarchists - the 'Haymarket Martyrs' who were framed for murder as a way of trying to stop the campaign for an 8 hour day.
So you're accusing us of hijacking a day that was started to remember some of us, which you didn't want for years.
Finally, let's look at some of these hijackers, these middle class bludgers and ratbags that have nothing to do with the traditions of May Day, these people that you're so dead set against. Let's see, off the top of my head, a few of the anarchists I know...there's Ian, the roadie and labourer. Keith, the AMWU delegate. Dave the welder. Vaughan who does data entry. Jarrad, the apprentice carpenter... they're going to have to make champagne a lot cheaper before we can be chardonnay socialists.
To read your article, you'd think that we were the 'enemy of the working class', and the police and media were your greatest friends. That's much more "marginalised and counter-productive" than we could ever hope to be.
anarchist and CPSU delegate.
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