April 28th, The May Day You Probably Don't Know About
Hannington Dia | 5/2/2012, 2:47 p.m.
While millions around the world were celebrating International Workers' Day May 1st, the Communist Progressive Labor Party held their own May Day celebrations in Flatbush last Saturday.
Known for its ongoing struggles for a wageless and classless society lead by the working class, PLP members gathered at the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue. Here, participants expressed their anti-capitalist, anti-sexist and anti-racist rage, explaining how their version differs from the one Americans are familiar with.
"This is not asking for the bosses or people in power to give us crumbs," said Jonathan, a PL member from Crown Heights. "This May Day, we're telling them that we're gonna take it all. That's our plan."
Jonathan also explained his view on what it will take to accomplish revolution. "We have to fight to overthrow the system. The system can't be changed from the inside. It has to be overthrown and smashed. We can't rely on these politicians of any kind or these union leaders to really give us what we want. What we want as a whole working class is unity and an end to the constant suffering that happens every day."
A marcher named Jessica linked the neighborhood to the importance of this particular May Day. "We want people in this community to get involved rather than just the people in Manhattan," she said. "People know about that May Day. Bringing it here to people who aren't as familiar is always helpful for us because a lot of us live here. This is our community. We don't have an agenda. This is for the working class people to come out and unite for the most part."
Lead by a sign advocating class war, the PLP'ers began their march down Flatbush Avenue, chanting "They say cut back, we say fight back!" and "The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated!" through turns on a compact megaphone. Flatbush Councilman Jumaane Williams made a brief appearance right before the group's departure, taking a copy of PL's newspaper Challenge being handed out.
Even though it shares the same origins from the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, PLP's May Day analyzes racial ideologies in ways the traditional one doesn't, according to a veteran member. "We are the ones who are really struggling to unite all races," said Mike, who is celebrating 10 years as a member of PLP. "Other groups don't really hold a strong message on what racism is and what the concept of racism is. We want to destroy that concept; we want to explain to everyone that it's a social construct that's basically a way of controlling and manipulating people and confusing them to believe their enemies are with each other when our enemies are people who oppress us and the ruling class."
The Cold War and Red Scares of the 20th Century haven't endeared many Americans to support Communism. Ask most what they think about the political system and you're likely to hear responses along the lines of, "It's an evil, dangerous system where people have no rights" or "Look at how China and Russia fared under Communism." But to Progressive Labor's fighters, these viewpoints are nothing less than typical misconceptions.