Monday, May 7, 2012

May Day! Mayday! M'aidez!

The annual May Day shenanigans took place last week. Traditionally May Day was the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. It has since morphed into International Workers' Day (kind of a spring time Labour Day) for a variety of reasons.

Mayday is also the traditional distress call used by sailors and airman which comes from the original French: "m'aidez," literally "help me."

The idea of "help me" links the distress call, to the current economic malaise and to the indebted employed and unemployed worldwide, through International Workers Day (IWD). Whether one is lost at sea or deep in debt, assistance is needed.

May Day has offered the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement the opportunity to restate their case this spring. What is their case? That seems to depend where you're looking.

In the United States the OWS May Day protests are complicated. America seems to be in perpetual state of war and has been in an economic depression since the last days of Bush 2. This video link to ReasonTV is indicative of how complicated their protests are.

Many of my libertarian friends see OWS as a grassroots movement, one that we need to embrace and get in front of to help our cause. I don't think so. I think this story is like the early days of the Tea Party in the US.

American libertarians jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon, until it was clear that it was just a neo-conservative revival, and not libertarian at all. The Tea Party has blended into the GOP wallpaper.

I believe that will happen to OWS (they will blend somewhere), but calling OWS neo-collectivist may be a bit of a stretch. Collectivism is already the dominant political force in most Western democracies. The only thing that is "neo" about OWS, is that it seems to be led by the young. Their "new ideas" linked to International Workers Day last week, still clings to the Marxist idea that workers of the world are oppressed somehow by capitalists, and that the workers can break their chains and demand their rightful position as rulers of themselves (and the capitalists). OWS claims that they are the majority (99%), and by virtue of that fact, deserve a bigger share of the wealth owned (they say) by the 1%. It's an old idea.

So far in Canada, Occupy protests are relatively peaceful, though some of the protests have become more violent in the States where the economy is worse.

The Soviet era May Day Parade picture I've included, shows that Marxism was never benignly peaceful, and OWS by extension is not either. The occupation of someone else's property is a violent act, even if it is "public" property. No one should be under any illusions that somehow OWS is benign, or that they are on the side of liberty. They are still a confused rabble, but I believe they will be brought to heel at some point, and show themselves as the collectivists they are, despite the confused press they are getting.

The three month old "student strike" (oxymoron anyone?) in Quebec is a demonstration of the neo-collectivism in action. Post secondary students in Quebec have the lowest tuitions in the country. They have been given a cheap ride for many years. A Quebec budget proposal of small incremental increases in tuition prompted violent demonstrations in recent weeks. For the students in Quebec the cheap ride was not enough, they have demanded the keys and the entire car too. So it is with collectivism, once the moral argument is accepted that we are all responsible for the "wants" of one another, then property is irrelevant and what's yours is also mine. M'aidez is no longer a request for assistance, but a demand.

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