Hamilton May Day: Causing some shit and wearing our politics proudly

Anonymous submission to North Shore

Anti-Authoritarian & Anti-Capitalist Mayday 2019 Reportback

Anyone who lives in Hamilton knows that JSquare is truly a temple of precarious jobs. Maybe you’ve put in your hours sweeping yellow skittles off the theatre floor or selling cigar boxes at one of the telemarketing firms; maybe you have a friend who pushed data plans at one of the cell booths or slung Mooseheads at the Honest Lawyer. Whatever your experience of Jackson Square, you can perhaps imagine how satisfying it might be to march with a crew of 40 radicals through the mall, spreading May Day cheer and working class solidarity to all those stuck working on this International Worker’s Day.

This year’s May Day began two months prior with an attempt at coalition organizing. It was a real possibility, but for the presence of a small yet committed group of authoritarian communists (working under different banners of the Revolutionary Communist Party) whose behavior during the meetings rendered the word “solidarity” meaningless. Thus proving once again that there can be no solidarity with those who seek power over us, those who worship the murderous dictators of history, those who follow party lines instead of their own ethics. And so anarchists went our own way, calling for an anti-authoritarian & anti-capitalist march on our own terms. We would gather in Gore Park with the Unions to demonstrate our solidarity, but leave thirty minutes afterwards.

At 4pm, we wished the labour march farewell as they marched west on King St. Those who yearned for something more than a slow rolling street march held back, blasting radical hip hop from a stroller and holding a black banner that simply read “Fuck Ford”. We watched with glee as all twenty of the cops who had been surrounding the park followed in the wake of the union march, leaving us unaccompanied. By 4:30 we had more than 40 people gathered and huddled up to discuss our plan. With little fanfare and a booming stereo we set out across the main thoroughfare of Hamilton and directly into the mall.

Security stood dumbfounded as the mall came to life with people cheering, handing out flyers, dancing, and shouting “Happy Mayday” into the stores. We moved quickly and loudly through the mall until we came to the Standard Life Building where we stopped to send a message to the thirteen floors of government offices and telemarketing companies rising around us. A local IWW member spoke about the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce slashing workers rights, the WSIB betraying injured workers, and reminded us that we can never rely on worker compensation systems or employer policies to protect us when we are in vulnerable situations.

We know that the only meaningful way to force these bastards to respect our existence in this brutal world of work is to talk to each other and confront our bosses. It’s also important to identify our enemies for who they are, and target them in large groups where they feel safe, which includes their homes and offices”

We emerged from the mall with no arrests or tickets, cheering and roaring with joyful laughter, just in time to join up with the Union march. We took the street with them and unfurled a second banner, this one 30 feet long that read: “May Day: No Bosses, No Prisons, No Borders, No Cops”. With great satisfaction we took in the stunned faces of cops who realized the mistake they had made.

As we marched across York Blvd we heard from a comrade from the Sex Workers Action Program (SWAP):

We do not believe our liberation will be reached through a permanent position within capital, to then be exploited in more efficient ways. We do not want to be legalized. We are against both economic exploitation and state regulation of economic exploitation. The more legitimized our labour becomes by the state and capital, the more we are forced to work. We want an end to criminalization, an end to work, and an end to capitalism altogether. We want to prompt conversations about how sex workers can organize material solidarity and care networks that build community while also undermining the state’s ability to hold us hostage in its many ways.”

The march ended at a local bar with free food and music put on by USW 1005 & the Hamilton District Labour Council. We were greeted  by the labour march organizers and all cheers-ed to a rowdy Mayday over a pint (or a soda). We were honoured to carry on the long-standing anarchist tradition of May Day, causing some shit and wearing our politics proudly. If nothing else, this year was a good reminder that we don’t have to organize with false friends.

Happy International Worker’s Day and hurrah for anarchy!

8 thoughts on “Hamilton May Day: Causing some shit and wearing our politics proudly”

  1. It wasn’t the Communists who rendered solidarity meaningless, it was the Tower’s sorry attempt at petty dictatorship of others.

    1. The Tower wasn’t involved in May Day organizing. I know you like things to be named organizations, but it was just some individual anarchists representing themselves who were at those meetings. They said clearly they weren’t going to march with images of dictators, and they didn’t. No one stopped you from having silly politics about loving tyrants, they just said it wouldn’t be in the demo they’re organizing.

      1. They literally stated they were representatives of the Tower. No one refused to bring images of Mao or Stalin, as was stressed repeatedly.

        1. new anarchist hopping in, from out-of-town, but I’ve hung out in Hamilton a bunch

          I can imagine that some people who are involved in the Tower collective might mention that, and I can also imagine that a dinosaur commie would exaggerate, lie about, or simply misunderstand what was going on, because they can’t imagine that anarchists don’t do things like they do.

          that said, I don’t know who went to what meeting, but I’m skeptical

  2. This demo sounds great, thanks for the report back!

    There’s one point I find genuinely confusing. You write, “there can be no solidarity with those who seek power over us, those who worship the murderous dictators of history, those who follow party lines instead of their own ethics” in reference to the RCP, but it’s also clear there were efforts to work with and show solidarity to the Steelworkers and the Labour Council.

    Why are revolutionary communists worse than reformist trade unionists? Don’t the unions usually eventually fuck us over too, either because of their internal hierarchies or nationalist leanings? Does this situation reflect a consistent political strategy or just the bad behaviour of individual Maoists?

    1. Anarchists – who left the Mayday meetings after the RCP insisted that the coalitional slogan be their party slogan – also decided that we did not want to bend to the will of the trade unions, but that we had no real objection to their plan for a slow march and barbeque. They had organized the same event last year. We organized our own march according to our own politic, with our own speeches, but did choose to end at the same place as the union as a nod to them trying to rekindle a spirit Mayday within the union culture. We don’t want to march alongside Canadian flags any more so than portraits of Mao.

      I don’t find solidarity with USW 1005 as a union, or the Hamilton District Labour Council as an organization, but they aren’t asking for that either. The HDLC is not trying to assert that anarchists need to work with them on a regular basis, stand in solidarity with their politics, or help promote their organization; the RCP is. Since the RCP arrived on scene in Hamilton a few years ago, they have consistently asserted their “right” to co-host Mayday for no apparent reason except they can’t pull numbers to do it on their own. They consistently assert that we are comrades because we both seek revolution, even though their politics envision a world where anarchists would find no freedom.

      In the three years or so that the RCP have been in Hamilton, many anarchists did advocate working together strategically. We let them use The Tower, some of us attended HAF meetings, and we showed up when they called demos. Over time, however, consistent bad experiences have led many of us to revoke our trust and comradeship. It is an unfortunate truth that we have learned that they only operate as a party and when they form relationships with people outside of their party it is for generally two reasons: recruitment or gathering information.

      I stand by my conviction that – as an anarchist – I am not aligned with the RCP. I will show up to their actions when they serve a real purpose and are not just platform building, but I will not be a body on the street that onlookers count as another authoritarian communist. I’ll still stand by anarchist comrades who see them as friends, but I caution them to look again. Read their manifesto, ask around for people’s experiences, and then make an informed decision.

      1. Seconded. I had nothing to do with may day stuff, but this reflects my experience trying to work with them. I have no desire to sabotage their work, I just don’t want to organise together in any way.

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