Sunday, September 01, 2013

Celebrating the Proletariat: Labor Day 2013

From Marx and the Proletariat (Philosophy & Philosophers)



workers or working-class people, regarded collectively ."the growth of the industrial proletariat"
synonyms: the workers, working-class people, wage earners, the working classes, the common people, the lower classes, the masses, the rank and file, the third estate, the plebeians; the lumpen, the lumpenproletariat. derogatory: the hoi polloi, the plebs, the proles, the great unwashed, the mob, the rabble.

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. ~ from
A Brief History of Labor day
This weekend—Labor Day Weekend—is the one time each year Americans celebrate the hoi polloi, the plebs, the proles, the great unwashed, the mob, the rabble. Sometime in the last 119 years since the first Federally affirmed Labor Day, the meaning has been lost to picnics, beginning of school, a few parades, and lots of alcohol consumption.

For a lessening few, this is a time to remember and celebrate the working men and women of the United States. I suppose there are many ways to this; I rather prefer the music of the proletariat to any other.

Woody Guthrie

 There are all sorts of songs: some are humorous; some are motivating; some celebrate heroes; some remember tragedies. Below are a few that I was able to locate as videos on the Internet: 

HUMOROUS: High Sheriff of Hazard (Tom Paxton)

MOTIVATING: Which Side Are You On (Pete Seeger)

Tragedies: Ludlow Massacre (Woody Guthrie)

HEROES: Joe Hill (sung by Paul Robeson)

That’s all for this Labor Day weekend post. If by chance you are interested in learning or hearing more, may I suggest:



No comments:

Post a Comment