Today is Labor Day. But it is worth remembering, “Labor Day” in most other countries is May 1 — also called “International Workers’ Day.”
One thing to be thankful for on our American Labor Day is that we can celebrate labor — perhaps, like me, you will celebrate it by working! — and not have it serve as a celebration of communism.
For yes, it was the socialists and communists who cooked up the original May Day labor celebration, in part to commemorate 1886’s workers’ protest gone horribly wrong, the Haymarket debacle. In the 19th century, much of the impetus for collectivism came from workers themselves, under the impression that they could do better if they rebelled and expropriated the capitalists’ holdings and “worked for themselves.”
For some reason these activists rarely struck out on their own, becoming entrepreneurs.
Nowadays, alas, many top-level entrepreneurs lean toward socialism, and it is the non-government working people who resist more government, and thereby the socialist program. Indeed, the most enthusiastic clade of socialists in America today seem to be in the ranks of the unemployed.*
Oregon was the first of these United States to make an early September celebration an official Labor holiday, in 1887. Seven years later, the federal government got on board. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law soon after the disastrous Pullman strike, to promote a more rule-of-law friendly celebration of workers, and avoid thinking about rioting and murder and police violence.
So, even folks like me, who labor in the vineyards of the people’s politics while still supporting private property and freedom of contract, can celebrate.
Or take a last summer nap.
Without any communists hiding under the hammock.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* In less than two centuries, socialism went from proletarian to Lumpenproletarian. Karl Marx? Rolling over in his grave.