Introducton to Reflections on Mayday.
The June 18th demonstration in the City of London was a ground-breaking achievement. It inspired a wave of protests that effectively shut down meetings of the World Trade Organisation and IMF in both Seattle and Prague. Meanwhile hack in London, it gave an impetus to those anarchists and communists who wanted a follow-up up lo the Bradford May Day '98 conference.
With Peoples Global Action (an international coalition initiated by the Zapatistas) also calling for action, May Day 2000, a festival of anti-capitalist ideas and action was born
Diverse groups came together to organise events in Bristol, Sheffield, Cardiff, Manchester and elsewhere. In London the main events were a conference followed by a Reclaim the Streets action on 1 May. Both events were very successful. However the considerable number of arrests and the media onslaught after May Day encouraged us all to question where this wave of 'anti-capitalist’ protest is going.
Many of us had hoped these protests would lead to more discussions on how to oppose not just ‘globalisation' but the whole capitalist system. Instead they have led to more agonising over the issue of 'violence' on demonstrations. Many of us had hoped these protests would lead to a complete break with the old statist left. Instead much of our movement still has illusions in Leninist parties, Ken Livingstone or Castro’s dictatorship.
Most importantly, many of us had hoped these protest[s] might inspire new struggles from the working class. Instead they seem to have contributed to a mood that has led to unprecedented direct action from small business-people over, of all things, petrol prices!
This just goes to show that we are living in a society riven by complex class divisions – a society where people’s frustration with lives over which they have no control will inevitably express itself in forms with a variety of positive and negative aspects – whether it’s window breaking on demos, supporting old left politics or joining fuel depot blockades. We are still some way from a time when people will express their frustration by making a world-wide revolution that replaces capitalism with a truly human society. But, if nothing else, the petrol protests show how quickly things can change. (You may well have different views on this or any of the other opinions. in this publication. in which case please send contributions to the compilers of a Prague 'Reflections' advertised at the back.)
Reflections on May Day consists of diverse views from every corner of movement. We lacked the resources io publish everything that was submitted, so we reluctantly shortened some contributions, for instance, if they repeated points in other articles. Everything will hopefully be published at www.freespeech.org/mayday2k at some point.
Individuals funded this publication in the hope that they would get their money back to fund further projects. So please send donations payable to 'Mayday 2000' to PO Box 2474, London N8 0HW (any surplus will go towards the Prague 'Reflections’). Please also contact the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group on 0208 245 2930 if you witnessed events, such as police violence, at J18, N30 or May Day -whose reporting might help those arrested. Thanks for all the articles. Let the debate continue: