Noam Chomsky on May Day, 2009: Labor History and Anarchism (repost) + May Day Started Here

Chomsky at the World Social Forum (Porto Alegr...

Chomsky at the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre) in 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dandelion Salad

Posted previously. Updated below.

with Noam Chomsky

June 29, 2009

David Buccola (Buddhagem) interviews Noam Chomsky on May Day about labor history and anarchism.

May 1st, 2009, at his MIT office, Cambridge, Mass.
Recorded by David Buccola, Charngchi Way
Edited by Charngchi Way

Special thanks to Bev Stohl, and Professor Noam Chomsky

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Added April 30, 2012

May Day Started Here

by Noam Chomsky
April 30, 2012

People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called, “Law Day”—a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labor movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement’s organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.

If you’re a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population is implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They’re not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values.

Secondly, on strategic grounds, you have to show that there are limits to reform. Perhaps sometimes the system will accommodate to needed reforms. If so, well and good. But if it won’t, then new questions arise. Perhaps that is a moment when resistance is a necessary step to overcome the barriers to justified changes. Perhaps the time has come to resort to coercive measures in defense of rights and justice, a form of self-defense. Unless the general population recognizes such measures to be a form of self-defense, they’re not going to take part in them, at least they shouldn’t.

If you get to a point where the existing institutions will not bend to the popular will, you have to eliminate the institutions.

May Day started here, but then became an international day in support of American workers who were being subjected to brutal violence and judicial punishment.

Today, the struggle continues to celebrate May Day not as a “law day” as defined by political leaders, but as a day whose meaning is decided by the people, a day rooted in organizing and working for a better future for the whole of society.


Chris Hedges: People are caught in the vice of unregulated corporate capitalism – with no escape

Chris Hedges: Our True Power Comes From Our Powerlessness

Noam Chomsky On Anarchism + Chomsky speaks to Dutch activists on various topics

Noam Chomsky on Occupy Protests, democracy, reform v. revolution, anarchism, and human nature

Liberty, Anarchy, Property, Democracy and Power by Andrew Gavin Marshall

from the archives:

The Haymarket Riot: “It is a subterranean fire” by Elizabeth Schulte

May 1st around the world + May 1st parade in Reykjavik + France: Up to a million people