(Also at Huffington Post at this link.)
This year the USA celebrates the 200th anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics, inspired by the battle at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, and it officially became the National Anthem in 1931. Notoriously difficult to sing (my favorite rendition is Whitney Houston’s, complete with combat jets at the end), it’s a song of resolve and resilience suffused with images of battle, which only makes sense given the conditions under which it was composed.
Along with the National Anthem, the other patriotic song most commonly sung at sporting events and other official gatherings is God Bless America. Penned by Irving Berlin in 1918 and made famous by Kate Smith’s renditions, it’s usually performed today without its placatory preamble (“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea/Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free/Let us all be grateful for a land so fair/As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer”). Most performances that I hear today are neither solemn nor placatory; they’re boastful in the sense of suggesting that God uniquely blesses America, that of course God blesses America. We’re so great — how could He not? Here I recall the saying of Abraham Lincoln that we must not presume God is on our side, but rather we must be concerned we are on His side.
A third and unofficial anthem for many Americans today is Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, with its refrain “And I’m proud to be an American,” the popularity of which is consistent with the strongly affirmational qualities of the National Anthem and God Bless America.
What I miss today are three other patriotic songs from my youth: America the Beautiful, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, and This Land Is Your Land. Of course, these songs are still performed, but at least in my experience they are far less common than the preceding three.
Why is this? I think it’s because these three songs are less bellicose, less boastful, and more insistent that the defining qualities of America are national beauty and brotherhood, liberty and freedom, and equality of access for all, rather than of bellicosity and boastfulness about being uniquely blessed and favored by God.
The most contrarian is Woody Guthrie’s “This Land.” Most people have never heard the stanzas that Guthrie included in the original version that highlight inequality and suffering in the USA. Yet even without those, Guthrie’s song stayed with me as a youth because it stressed that the land was made for you as well as me: that we share the land together as a form of commonwealth.
Here are the original stanzas to Guthrie’s song as he composed them in 1940:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me that endless skyway,
And saw below me the golden valley, I said:
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling;
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
This land was made for you and me.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
This land was made for you and me.
Recalling that my father and his family went hungry during the Great Depression, and remembering my father’s saying that the rich have no use or sympathy for the poor, I think he would have appreciated the honesty and integrity of Guthrie’s song.
On this Labor Day weekend, patriotic songs will be in vogue. But let’s not sing just the first three above; let’s sing the final three, including Woody Guthrie’s. Let’s stress, and stress again, the importance of national beauty and brotherhood, liberty and freedom, and equality of access for all.
24 thoughts on “Six Patriotic Songs for Labor Day Weekend”
Ah, yes. Whitney Houston. Common wisdom is that one should not deprecate the deceased, but here’s my Whitney story: I bought her first LP (you old-timers remember those, right?) when it came out. In a world awash in Disco crap, I thought she had a genuinely good voice. But then came the first US war against Iraq and Ms. Houston lashed herself firmly to the back of the great leviathan known as the Pentagon. It seemed like her appearance, wrapped in the ol’ Red, White & Blue, wherever the war machine was displaying its deadly proficiency against other peoples was absolutely mandatory. Needless to say, that was the end of my fondness for Whitney Houston. Seems like this marketing maneuver on her part failed to bring satisfaction to her soul and so she descended into the deadly pool of alcohol and other drugs. (Forgive my delving into amateur psychoanalysis!)
Concerning the lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”: the 4th stanza is usually sung something like “…But on the other side, it didn’t say nothin’; That side was made for you and me.” You may well have accurately reproduced the original version here; I’m simply recounting how I have pretty well heard the words most of my life. Oh, and on the subject of having “God” on one’s side, a certain fellow originally from rural Minnesota who came to call himself Dylan covered that subject about as well as can be done. Included is the statement “…if God’s on our side, He’ll stop the next war.” In the early 1960s this referred to a nuclear World War III. Me, I’m still waiting for any deity to stop any war. That would be truly refreshing.
Hi Greg: Yes, there are slightly different versions of “This Land” by Guthrie, and apparently he sang it with different words from time to time. I like the version that has, “That side was made for you and me.” Very telling — even inspiring.
“I can always hire half the working class to kill the other half.” — Jay Gould, railroad robber baron and financial tycoon
“Patriotism. n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name.
Patriot. n. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.” — Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Expatriate ex-patriots expectorate
When REMFs proclaim how much they love the troops:
Those loyal dupes and tools who for a pittance kill,
In service to a penis pride that droops
Each time a petty presidential potentate
Ignites a war, and in his panties poops.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” copyright 2014
Mike: I think of patriotism as critical love of country; thus a patriot is one who sees his country for what it is, recognizes its failings and follies and false promises, and works to change his country for the better. Your characterization reminds me much more of the jingo nationalist rather than a thinking patriot. Just my opinion.
Put differently, I don’t want to accede the label “patriot” to the “my country, right or wrong” crowd. We can be patriots too, even though I think you’d reject the label.
Patriots or pugilistic parrots? It pays to distinguish the two; but in my lifetime — going on sixty seven years now — I have yet to see much effort made in the United States to do so. However many “critical patriots” America may have, it doesn’t have nearly enough of them. The continued drift towards economic neo-Feudalism and militaristic Fascism continues practically unabated, regardless of what political faction occupies the seat of government at any given time. As George Orwell quoted G. K. Chesterton’s priceless wisdom: “‘My country right or wrong’ is on the same moral level as ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'” I see pretty much nothing but amoral drunken mothers at the wheel of the United States, careening down the road towards one disaster after another. The few “critical patriots” in America really don’t seem too awfully effective at getting the national car keys away from her. In fact, from what I’ve read, the United States seems poised to elect one of the most notorious amoral mothers President of the country in another few years. “We came; We saw; He died,” she cackled gleefully when U.S. supported jihadis overthrew the Libyan government and publicly murdered its leader, Moammar Gaddhafi, on You Tube. Ask this motherless cretin and her supporters, though, and they will most assuredly call her a “patriot.” Not me.
Personally, I do indeed consider the United States a nation characterized more by jingoistic nationalists than “critical patriots,” but I rarely, if ever, come across mainstream press or media outlets using the term “nationalist” in any meaningful way. For example, as Orwell wrote in his classic essay, Notes on Nationalism:
“By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
When I witness a debate in the U.S. Senate or on one of the Sunday Morning talk shows — which I rarely watch because of their bovine inanity — clearly laying out the definition of “nationalist” and “patriot” and then directing the discussion towards the appropriate target, then I’ll believe that the United States contains enough “critical patriots” to matter. Until then, I’ll go on regarding the meaningless noise “patriotism” as just an Owellian euphemism for “belligerent, aggressive nationalism” in precisely the correct sense that Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce called it “combustible rubbish, ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate their name.” The time has long since passed for making excuses for sloppy American “thinking.”
I know that you personally do not intend to condone, much less promote, rabid nationalism as the true meaning of “patriotism,” but I don’t see where defending the meaning that you wish patriotism had has much effect. A concerted attack on what “nationalism” means, I think, would better serve the purpose of getting at the truth of things.
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Mike: Orwell nails it again. That’s what I’m talking about. And we should fight to maintain the idea of critical patriotism. Patriotism is too strong of a concept to cede to the jingo. Besides, I’m tired of unthinking Americans who think that any criticism, no matter how valid or how well-intentioned, disqualifies one from being a patriot. They don’t set the meaning of the word; people like Orwell do.
At the conclusion of my memoir recounting the details of my opposition from within the US Army to the War against Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos I present the argument that the world can no longer afford the additional damage wrought by devious fools who wrap themselves in “patriotism.” I propose the following as a replacement for “The Pledge of Allegiance” that we recited at the beginning of every school day when I was growing up. COPYRIGHT GREGORY G. LAXER 2014, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED TO THE AUTHOR. Notwithstanding the preceding, I hereby grant permission for republication of the following provided proper attribution is given. And now, I offer the world:
A PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE FOR AN ENDANGERED PLANET
I pledge allegiance to no flag,
but to our planet’s fathomless diversity,
the preservation of which is our sacred duty:
one great web of life, Nature’s love, one Earth,
where we must either thrive or perish.
Reblogged this on Vox Populi.
In my “umble” *opinion LABOR DAY is not the time to talk abut “patriotism, it is a time to talk about LABOr. That is the people who once had real jobs in this country that provided them with a living wage and the opportunity to buy a home in which to raise children who could either join a union and get a decent wage or go to college and lead a better and more thoughtful life. The government once provided that opportunity for a better education following WW II with the GI Bill but we still could get a well paid union job to supplement that. Let’s start talking about jobs and working people not the shallow words of patriotism.
* thnak you Uriah Heep
Yes, I thought about that. And you could put together a good list of work-centered songs for Labor Day. But I decided to write this article because I wanted to highlight the decline of certain patriotic songs that I grew up with. Also, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land” is an anthem for ordinary people, including the working classes of America, and its decline (amid the constant renditions of “God Bless America” and “God Bless the USA”) is a sign of how we’ve allowed the roots of labor to wither.
“SIX PATRIOTIC SONGS FOR LABOR DAY” is not the way to honor LABOR in a country that has succeeded in destroying unions, eliminating the middle class of working labor and exported all of their jobs to undemocratic countries that exploit the labor of their citizens.
Patriotism has absolutely nothing to do with the reason we have a “Labor” day. Labor Day used to be a day that all of the unions, the Elecrical Workers, the Steel Workers ( which I beionged to ) , the Construction Workers, the Miners, etc. would proudly march through the streets of their cities in celebration. Today if there were any unions strong enough to march in support of unionism the war armed police would be ready with water cannon, rubber bullets, and full battle regalia.
That’s well put. And a great opening for your next article. How about one for Labor Day, with some memories of the days when unions had teeth?
As the son of an Okie father and Hoosier mother who migrated from the midwest for Oregon with hopes of finding a job and place to live there, I have my own favorite Woodie Guthrie song:
Pastures Of Plenty
(Lyrics by Woodie Guthrie)
“It’s a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed
My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road
Out of your Dust Bowl and Westward we rolled
And your deserts were hot and your mountains were cold
I worked in your orchards of peaches and prunes
I slept on the ground in the light of the moon
On the edge of the city you’ll see us and then
We come with the dust and we go with the wind
California, Arizona, I harvest your crops
Well its North up to Oregon to gather your hops
Dig the beets from your ground, cut the grapes from your vine
To set on your table your light sparkling wine
Green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground
From the Grand Coulee Dam where the waters run down
Every state in the Union us migrants have been
We’ll work in this fight and we’ll fight till we win
It’s always we rambled, that river and I
All along your green valley, I will work till I die
My land I’ll defend with my life if it be
Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free”
Up until the last two lines, Guthrie had a real, true-to-life song about migrant labor in the Depression-Era United States. Unfortunately, he spoiled a good piece of work with the phony “patriotism” bit at the end about fighting and dying for the landowners and their property. I understand that the Fascist business interests of the day regarded any organized labor as “communist” or worse, and so those like Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie who sympathized with low-wage migrant labor — or any pro-labor issue at all — felt compelled to assert their “patriotism” in pro-active self-defense. I get the sense that some of this hyper-sensitivity to anticipated Fascist brow-beating and Red-baiting (by both Republicans and Corporate Democrats) lies at the root of Professor Astore’s attempt to associate “true” patriotism with American labor. I sympathize, but I don’t think the Fascist oligarchs give a damn what laboring people want for themselves or their families and will never respect anything but countervailing power in the form of large numbers of unionized, politically militant worker-voters. As we can see from the decades-long history of business out-sourcing of jobs and “globalization” of tax-evading profits, the ultra-wealthy oligarchs have no country but profit. It therefore should go without saying that appeals to their “patriotic” nature have proved historically impotent.
Speaking of phoney “patriotism-mongering” and the Democratic Party that used to represent Labor before the Clintons “triangulated” towards — i.e., “capitulated to” — the Big Money oligarchs who already own the Republicans, Ezra Klein has a short blog posting at Vox about the Democratic National Committee attacking Republican Senator Rand Paul for opposing the corrupt, ruinous “interventionist” policies of the Obama administration — something that a so-called anti-war “Left” in the Democratic Party ought to have already done, but hasn’t. Klein quotes the “Tail-Gunner Joe McCarthy” DNC line of attack:
“Simply put, if Rand Paul had a foreign policy slogan, it would be – The Rand Paul Doctrine: Blame America. Retreat from the World.”
Then Klein comes up with a really marvellous phrase summarizing the rotten “we can do Fascism, too” heart of the Democratic Party which hasn’t got a minute to spare for working Americans:
“This is the brain-dead patriotism-baiting that Democrats used to loathe. Now they’re turning it on Paul.”
As I noted above, many well-meaning persons — including Woodie Guthrie — have reflexively tried to inoculate themselves politically from “brain-dead patriotism-baiting” by feebly asserting that they would fight and die for Big Money, too, even if that meant destroying their own power base in organized labor. Thomas Frank, in his book What’s The Matter With Kansas, has a great line about how the dispossessed farmers, small businessmen and workers of the midwest have somehow managed to become the biggest boosters of the moneyed-interests that have betrayed and impoverished them, marching upon the gated-communities of the wealthy shouting: “We hate you, and we’ve come to lower your taxes!”
My widowed, working-class mother taught me back in elementary school in the 1950s that “A vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself.” I miss her terribly, but I would not want her to see what has become of the Democratic Party she once trusted to champion her working-class interests. It has become little more than a feeble carbon copy of the Wall-Street-owned, war-agitating Republicans, to the extent that even a Republican like Senator Rand Paul can strike a more “leftist” note upon occasion. As George Orwell noted in “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” (the book-within-a-book in 1984), permanent war has only one purpose: namely using up the productivity of the economy without raising the General standard of living. Therefore, permanent war — espoused by both Republicans and Democrats — does not consist so much in fighting against hapless foreigners so much as it manifests a war of the uber-wealthy oligarchs against the working-class people of the United States — a domestic war to keep themselves on top and us on the bottom. So anti-war policies, by definition, serve to promote the interests of domestic Labor, and the lack of any large anti-war demonstrations on this Labor Day only serves to highlight how brilliantly the two factions of the Permanent War Party have connived to divide and enfeeble working people by the simple, rhetorical device of baiting them with the “unpatriotic” canard. The Labor Movement of my parent’s generation would have simply responded with a word you seldom hear any more:
Powerful words, Mike. But I’m not trying strictly to associate “true” patriotism with labor. I’m trying to associate patriotism with liberty and freedom, a celebration of national beauty and brotherhood, and ideas about equality and fairness, as captured in Woody Guthrie’s “This Land.” That’s the article I wrote; that was the main point I was trying to make.
Sadly, as I said in my article, patriotism today is associated with bombs bursting in air, God blessing America, and pride in … something.
We need more songs — more honest ones — like the other song you cite by Guthrie, even if the ending is compromised.
Mike Murry–I think you’re a tad harsh toward Messieurs Guthrie, Seeger, et al. Being politically awakened individuals, they perceived Mussolini, Hitler, Tojo and their ilk as genuine, potentially IMMINENT threats to whatever freedoms Americans were able to enjoy “…from the Gulf Stream waters to _______” (wherever). They were not calling on the working class to take up arms in defense of the fat cat capitalist class that exploits us, but literally (in their own minds) to prevent hordes of foreign fascist troops from overrunning the streets of Everytown, USA and our “Pastures of Plenty.” World War II was considered “The Good War” and even Paul Robeson sang “patriotic” songs; his reward for his efforts, of course, was to have his US passport rescinded and to be vilified as a dangerous Communist “from sea to shining sea”!
Incidentally, I had the extreme privilege of attending the January 1968 “Tribute To Woody Guthrie” at Carnegie Hall. Just recalling the incomparable Odetta’s rendition of “Pastures of Plenty” after you introduced that song into this discussion caused the hairs on my arms to stand up! This concert was recorded but due to legal wrangling about rights to use some of that evening’s performances caused a delay of about 25 years in the audio being released on CD (the legendary Vanguard label). Probably hopelessly “out of print” now, but perhaps available on the Internet as a used/collector’s item. I urge anyone with a serious interest in Woody’s life to check into this.
Greg … On the front of his guitar, Woodie Guthrie had the following words prominently displayed:
“This machine kills Fascists.”
Personally, I would have amended that to read: “This machine kills their Fascists for our Fascists.”
The United States never had any problem with Fascist Spain, for example; and after WWII, many prominent Nazis found a warm welcome in the United States. Today, the United States Government — the world’s leading weapons salesman — can’t do enough to re-militarize Germany and Japan and just about any other country willing to fight someone else for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all. I really don’t think that Woodie Gurthrie knew much about Fascism, especially the American variety.
I don’t consider any war “good.” I consider all wars “evil.” The Civil War slogan “Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight,” pretty much sums up my attitude to all wars. And anyone who could maintain that music kills, has serious moral and ethical problems, in my estimation. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” may sound wonderfully “patriotic” in Church, but it ranks pretty much near the bottom of my musical/lyrical tastes. Woodie Guthrie should have stuck to singing about American labor. Pete Seeger pretty much did.
As I believe I have made abundantly clear, I just have no use at all for belligerent militarist nationalism, no matter who thinks it sounds acceptable in verse or music. You and I can certainly remember rampaging “hard hat” construction workers and those nasty little red-neck anthems of hate, like “Okie from Muskogee,” bashing and baiting anti-war Vietnam protesters back in the Sixties. In our youth, the big organized labor outfits like the AFL-CIO provided some of the most thuggish storm troopers for the Big Money Fascists who easily turned them against their own fellow citizens. When Jay Gould cynically said that he could hire half the working class to kill the other half, he proved that he knew his American Fascism much better than some well-meaning folk singers. My WWII-veteran Okie dad pretty much preferred Hank Williams and that whining, “cryin’ in your beer,” shit-kicking stuff. He didn’t live long enough for me to ask him, but I don’t think he ever heard of Woodie Guthrie or would have appreciated him if he had.
Mike–You and I are in fundamental agreement…and similarly “hard-headed”! I still think you are underplaying the role of the context of the atmosphere in which Woody, Seeger, et al. wrote their anthems. I am sure they had a “gut grasp” of what fascism looks like for the common people, having been beaten, run out of numerous towns or at least threatened with having their brains dashed because of their political views. Hell, it seems there were few more fascistically thuggish in conduct than the railroad “bulls” (private cops/vigilantes) trying to keep free riders off the trains during the Great Depression. These guys made Nixon’s “hard hats” look like creampuffs!!
As for the inscription on Woody’s guitar (later used, in modified form, on Seeger’s banjo), the idea of course was that the songs would help rally the working class to greater self-consciousness to combat the very IDEA of fascism, so they wouldn’t be duped into supporting it when it comes knocking, draped in Red, White & Blue. And yes, to fight back physically in self-defense when push came to shove. As I’ve pointed out previously, the greatest triumph of American Capitalism in the post-World War II era–and thus the saddest phenomenon for us on the left–has been the virtual extinction of class-consciousness in this country. It is equally farcical and tragic that the Republican Party now “owns” the phrase “class warfare,” which they trot out whenever the growing gap in income between rich and poor is brought up. Any suggestion that the uber-rich are not paying their fair share of the tax burden is dismissed as an attempt at waging “class warfare.” I guess this makes Warren Buffett a “class warrior”! Truly, black is now white, up is now down and slavery is freedom.
I’m trying to associate patriotism with liberty and freedom, a celebration of national beauty and brotherhood, and ideas about equality and fairness, as captured in Woody Guthrie’s “This Land.” (last post)
I think Mike M. is trying to say that “patriotism” has nothing to do with freedom, liberty, and all those other good things. Patriotism is a word that those in power use to flummox the masses into supporting policies that are not in their best interests but in the interests of those with the power. That is Orwell’s fundamental point in most of his writing. Be very skeptical of the words that those in power use..
The direct way of talking about “freedom. brotherhood, fairness and all those liberal ideas” is to come out and say that they have been stolen form us and the “patriotic” songs were mostly written and popularized by people who did not understand the long standing struggle between the powerless who have not achieved the full benefits of those freedoms, etc.
Good point. But is patriotism so compromised, so exploited, so tainted, that we have to abandon the concept? I hope not. There is such a thing as a thinking man’s patriotism — a critical love of country, as opposed to flag-waving, feel-good, unthinking jingoism. Isn’t there?
I’m not prepared to surrender the field of patriotism to those who have despoiled it.
For what it’s worth, I defined what I mean by patriotism in an earlier article. Here it is:
What is a patriot? To my mind, someone who stands up for the best of America. Someone who remembers that the government serves the people and not vice-versa. Someone who knows that democracy and freedom are based on transparency and honesty. And someone who is willing to sacrifice, even to risk it all, in the name of protecting hard-won freedoms.
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Well, what do you do when the government no longer functions as a democracy with transparency et al?
Sieg Heil! The Germans were very patriotic and look where it got all of us.
Americans should honor the “rule of law” that the founders of this country envisaged.. Imperfect as they were, they left room for improvement but unfortunately the elite have in recent years used that room to make us an oligarchy.
‘Patriotism’ is a ‘catch all’ term that should be stricken from the dictionary of a true democracy. Honor the democracy, and be skeptical of those in power, never let the word “patriotism” slip from their lips. .
Bless you, “b. traven,” you are one radical dude! My own argument in my forthcoming memoir is that in a world becoming more overpopulated and poisoned with each passing year, with natural resources being depleted (yes, Thomas Malthus had it right!), peoples are more interdependent for mere survival than ever. We need to discard the notion of “my country/nation” and think in terms of “our world/planet.” Of course to publicly express such a concept in the US since the founding of the UN will instantly fill the streets with crackpots screaming about the “One World conspiracy” that body represents, black UN helicopters descending to round up Libertarians, UN troops poised to invade Texas to seize citizens’ firearms, etc….so be it. Nor do I expect the human race to wake up and follow my advice in my own lifetime–“A prophet without honor in [my] own country”? But I feel a need to keep the idea on the table.
Since this whole discussion started with the fact that Monday is Labor Day in the USA, apparently the burden falls on me to point out the following: the purpose of designation of the first Monday in September as a day supposedly honoring the working man and woman was to divert attention from the fact that most of the rest of the world already had such a holiday. It’s called May Day; perhaps you’ve heard of it. And the greatest irony of all, naturally, is that this tradition was founded to honor the Haymarket Square Martyrs, immigrants accused of being the alleged anarchists who blew up some cops in Chicago, Illinois–yes, in the United States of America–and hanged for said offense around 1886 if memory serves. The police in question were violently suppressing a workers’ demonstration in favor of the 8-hour workday. In recent decades I recall May 1 being designated in the US as “Loyalty Day” and “Law Day.” I don’t even know what it’s called now, nor do I care, for personally I will never celebrate a day that honors loyalty to the regime of the exploiters (i.e. our so-called republic or democracy) and the laws that serve the purpose of keeping the exploiters at the top of the pyramid at the expense of those, the vast majority, on the bottom.
I recommend these songs to celebrate the true meaning of Labor Day, as delivered by Peter, Paul and Mary into a powerful medley:
You Gotta Go Down And Join The Union
Put It On The Ground
We Shall Not Be Moved
Which Side Are You On?
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