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The Jewish Daily Forward: May Day [View All]

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-28-07 04:44 PM
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The Jewish Daily Forward: May Day
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May Day

Fri. Apr 27, 2007

Springtime, the season of renewal, is a time of expectation and remembrance, a time for looking forward to natures rebirth, while thinking back on the winter just endured. We fill the season with holidays of hope and memory, mimicking the earth in its drama of reawakening: Passover, with its memories of exodus and promise of liberation; Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Day, recalling the Nazi horror and vowing never again; Israel Independence Day, celebrating a millennial moment of rebirth; Memorial Day, honoring those who fell for freedom and pledging to carry on for them. Each holiday unites us as a community or a nation, reminds us of the values we share and of the promises yet to be fulfilled.

This coming week, a holiday of hope will pass almost unnoticed, and we will be the poorer for having forgotten it. Next Tuesday is May Day, observed in most of the world though not in North America as Labor Day. Unlike our own September version of the workers holiday, the Labor Day observed on other continents is typically marked by open celebration of the rights of working people and the poor. The streets are filled with union members, activists, idealists and not a few scoundrels carrying banners and singing songs of justice and hope. Speeches are made, and politicians pay obligatory homage to the ideals of economic democracy and the dignity of the common man. We dont do that here.

Worldwide, it is true, the scoundrels usually outnumber the idealists. The banner of social and economic transformation the red flag of socialism was long ago seized by dictators who used it as a bludgeon to subjugate the very working people they pretended to champion. Trampling democracy, law and basic decency, these self-anointed vanguard parties set about to create what they called a dictatorship of the working class. What they built was nothing more than dictatorship. For many of us, the flag has come to symbolize that legacy of oppression, and the name of socialism has become synonymous with the worst of its claimants.

This has been our loss. There are others who fly the same flag, and do so in the name of democracy and freedom. But these parties, the labor and social-democratic parties of Europe and points south, too often find themselves on the defensive, ashamed and apologetic. The cataclysmic end of the Cold War is understood to be a victory of America over the Soviet Union and of capitalism over socialism. The very idea of economic justice has become suspect among the chattering classes of the West. In its place have come the triumph of the markets and the dictatorship of the investing class.

But the democratic socialists of the West owe no apologies. In England, Sweden, Holland, Israel and dozens of other democratic nations, parties of social democracy have won power over the decades by earning voters trust, and they have used it to improve working peoples lives in countless ways so obvious that they are now taken for granted. Because of them, much of the industrialized world enjoys universal health care, living wages and decent old-age pensions.

FULL article at link.

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