Tomorrow is May Day, an occasion that’s never meant a thing to me. But this year, tomorrow is the May 1 General Strike, a Day Without the 99%, centered in New York, as much as anything manifested by Occupy Wall Street could ever be centered anywhere, and I’ve come to see such actions in a very different light. I’ve written a long essay that frames much, though not quite all , of my thinking on the events of the last seven or so months called “Have We Done all We Could?” It was posted in four parts, starting last Friday and running through this morning, on mathbabe and Naked Capitalism (where it seems to have elicited a fair amount of commentary that I haven’t yet had the courage to read). I’m posting it all in one piece here for the Longreads folks, should they, or you, be interested.
Tomorrow may be a big day for all of us, one way or the other, and I’m more than a little anxious about it. I don’t know if it’s that it might rain, that my day starts with an endoscopy to confirm what seems to be an ulcer, or that the banks and police have been training in counter-terrorist techniques for months now, but I’m viscerally uneasy. I’ve been to and participated in many other Occupy Wall Street events since it began, and I’ve never felt the least bit threatened. I’ve found the bonhomie intoxicating, and the police’s apparent unease with it amusing, but I trust the police less and less. People seem to be a little more edge. Or maybe it’s just that I know that if tomorrow doesn’t build some momentum toward some legitimate change, that change may never come, and that possibility is just too grim to contemplate. So I hope tomorrow is a beautiful day, filled with hope and happiness, that everyone steps away from the crushing tedium and mediated alienation of their daily lives, steps out into public spaces, and revels in each others’ community. Good, bad, or indifferent, we’ve only got each other. And even if you can’t take the day off, spend some part of it thinking about where money fits in your life and what it’s done to it, of those who have all the money and those who don’t have nearly enough (groups that I hope include none of you). Give a thought to how you’d like things to be and what you can do tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year to make it so.