May Day General Strike posters

Hugh sez, "Check out Eric Drooker's latest May Day poster -- he has a bunch that can be downloaded here as well. I've got one as well on my Flickr page.

(Thanks, Hugh!)


  1. 1) Some of them look like KMFDM album covers. (BRUTE! FTW!)

    2) Eh… not sure what a general strike would do to further any agenda (never mind the link to  communist labor org that sort of ick me out).

    3) ETA – I like the design of the green one a lot.

    1. What “communist labor org” are you talking about?  I wouldn’t claim that there are no communists involved in the May Day General Strike, but it’s overwhelmingly Occupy people organizing it.  And if Occupy is anything, they’re steadfastly anti-authoritarian.

      1. May 1st is “International Workers’ Day” and former Soviet Bloc countries had everyone come out to mandatory parades to show off their military and high end officials.  You will still find modern Communists using it as a day to rally (although their numbers are very small).

        I guess I see these Occupy posters barrowing from them,. With the Occupy movement already out of focus, and people not knowing what they stand for, adding more confusion I think doesn’t help the cause.

          1. re: McMe and AvramGrumerI am aware that May Day is older than Communism, and that  there are other celebrations of IWD that have nothing to do with communism.

            But, when you have posters that, in my mind, emulate the bold poster designs of Socialist art, and you have some of the same mottos, it is easy to draw parallels.The first image of the skate boarder and maybe some others like the school bus one don’t have this same feel. Some of the others certainly do. (I realize you can’t always quantify a feeling.)

            The overall point I am making is that the Occupy message is already muddy, why not set this apart so there would be no question about what they are trying to do. Because in my mind these posters dig up negative feelings – with the date being a big factor in it. Then again my MiL has recounted lots of shitty stories living under Communist rule in Poland, so maybe I am over sensitive.

        1. May 1st has been International Workers’ Day since the late 19th century, well before the USSR even existed. It’s originally a commemoration of the 1886 Chicago Haymarket Massacre. 

          Every time someone refuses to associate with their fellow workers for fear of looking like a communist, they’re doing the bosses’ work for them. 

        2.  If you look at the posters of the radical labor movement ca. 1890-1910, you’ll quickly see that the underlying theme is real working class struggle, regardless of whether or not that struggle eventually got co-opted by apologists for Stalinism.

          By way of contrast, a cute tween girl skateboarding is an excellent metaphor for how much real working class involvement is characteristic of Occupy in general.

          1. While I agree that the posters are way too ‘twee’ for my taste:

             Different times, different struggles.  I am decidedly working class and support the movement. 

            Whether or not factory workers are involved or not, doesn’t diminish that the message and grievances are real.

            And at least here in Chicago, Occupy and the progressive / labor movement, community groups and so on, are very much in cooperation. So yes there are thousands of working class people, of all colors showing up on days of action.

            In regard to this endless “helpful” criticism of the movement, I think Angela Davis said it best a while back in Oakland:

            “Rather than worrying about reaching conservatives, organize your natural allies and let them feel left out”.


        3. I’m a Norwegian social democrat, part of a vehemently democratic organization that has built a country that by nearly every sensible metric is the best in the world, and I, as do my comrades, celebrate the May Day parades. I don’t care too much about your silly guilt-by-association.

      2. Best have  a read of Das Kapital and you will see the similarities (understatement) of the two. The struggle does indeed continue and this time without the greed heads of 1918 (as of yet).

    2. Not really communist labor, but anarchist socialists. The original May Day was to commemorate the Haystack affair which involved a large number of German anarchists and socialists. They might have had marxist leanings, but at the end of the day they were just fighting for an eight hour workday.

      That said, communist countries did cart out the people for 70 years every May Day, so maybe it is more correct to say that it was appropriated by communists.

      1.  “Haystack”

        That’s “Haymarket”.  Sorry, as a Chicagoan I just can’t let it pass.


  2. Beautiful work even if it’s not entirely clear how many of those images are supposed to relate to the Occupy movement.

    Sadly, I’ve noticed that some of the other imagery around the protests bear an unfortunate (if unintended) resemblance to some of the anti-banker (that is, Jewish banker) propaganda posters of the 1930s. I’ll happily take wreath girl over cigar-smoking rat or evil octopus just to avoid any risk of those associations.

      1. These are some of the kinds of cartoons I was thinking of, it’s a common theme to this day in many parts of the world. Again: I don’t think the Occupy movement intends any association with those hateful groups but I still think it’s an unfortunate resemblance.

        Granted, as Navin points out below the octopus has also been used to represent many other perceived threats over the decades, from monopolies to unpopular minorities to American imperialism to the Nazis themselves. But in my opinion that just supports the idea that we could use a more original iconic image.

        1. No I mean a link to Occupy posters with said anti-semitism (overt or not). I’m not claiming you’re doing this, but in the fall there were a lot of baseless accusations against Occupy for being anti-Semitic. I’m also a contributor to Occuprint and Occupy Design (the two prominent occupy propaganda sites) and haven’t seen anything like this. Please inform.

          1. I haven’t seen any Occupy posters which I’d consider antisemitic, just ones that bear some unfortunate and (presumably) unintended resemblance to antisemitic propaganda. For an example, compare the movement’s “Vampire Squid” below  (which actually looks nothing like a vampire squid) to the second image in my previous post.

            I agree that the accusations of ACTUAL antisemitism in the movement seem baseless. No point in giving the nuts on the other side any fuel for those claims, though.

          2. I’ve also seen the Japanese octopus straddling the Pacific in WW2. That was a popular one. 

            But if you want classic propaganda imagery, OWS was certainly described in terms straight from Nazi propaganda like “The Eternal Jew.”  Calls to clear out OWS sounded like they could have been describing the Warsaw Ghetto.  Weren’t Jews also stigmatized as filthy, promiscuous, parasites, drug peddlers, diseased, and a threat to the virtue of good Christian girls? 

            Attacks on OWS went straight to the antisemitic propaganda playbook.

    1. I would like more of that actually.  These kind of twee, lovey dovey posters look like they should be advertising a ‘renegade craft fair’ or a knitting/cupcake party.  Just my preference.

      I have always thought the ‘octopus’ you’re referring to was usually symbolic of “trusts”, Standard Oil etc.

  3. It’s not a strike if you announce in advance that you’re only taking a day off. And when a movement is made up largely of unemployed or part-time workers a strike is a pretty weak tactic anyway.

    1.  Well, no, it’s not like it’s going to actually bring the system to a halt like a general strike is supposed to. I certainly can’t muster any enthusiasm about a “general strike” that doesn’t involve a lot of unions. But  I just keep reminding myself that this whole thing is most valuable as a learning experience for the people who are new to radical politics. It’s like a fire drill, you have to do it every so often or everyone forgets what to do.

  4. Nice poster, but sure the hell wish she was out doorbelling or working the phone tree or ANYTHING other than skateboarding in a damned tutu.

    1. You and Preston seem to be strangers to symbolism.  It just represents “youth and action”, IMO.

  5. Sorry I’m just tired and grumpy this PM. 

    Last year the media made celebrities of a couple obnoxious NYC street people as the face of OWS, even though those people had been there making a nuisance of themselves long before OWS.

    Not to detract from everything that was accomplished last year, I hope the tactics will change substantially this year since the script to discredit OWS has already been written and distributed. 

    1. Last year the media made celebrities of a couple obnoxious NYC street people as the face of OWS

      Who was that specifically?

      1. There was the guy making antisemitic comments who seemed who was the subject of various cell phone videos screaming at other street people, not at OWS, I think he was just a particularly loud time Time Square hustler.  He seemed to be pretty well known as a very obnoxious street punk.

        And there was the black guy with the antibank sandwhich boards who has apparently been there a couple years. 

        But nationally, the right wing media tried to build these guys up as being representative of OWS. They will comb the homeless shelters for incoherent crack heads who they will prop up as representatives of OWS, not to mention the LaRouchies and other grandstanding infiltrators.

        The grand prize will be any sort of violence, hoping to simulate the the unrest of 1968 which of course gave us Nixon in a landslide.

          1. They should get out more, but many of them are J.D. Saligner’s Fat Lady, and you shine your shoes for the Fat Lady. 

            “…….Seymour’d told me to shine my shoes just as I was going out the door with Waker. I was furious. The studio audience were all morons, the announcer was a moron, the sponsors were morons, and I just damn well wasn’t going to shine my shoes for them, I told Seymour. I said they couldn’t see them anyway, where we sat. He said to shine them anyway. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but he had a very Seymour look on his face, and so I did it. He never did tell me who the Fat Lady was, but I shined my shoes for the Fat Lady every time I ever went on the air again — all the years you and I were on the program together, if you remember. I don’t think I missed more than just a couple of times. This terribly clear, clear picture of the Fat Lady formed in my mind. I had her sitting on this porch all day, swatting flies, with her radio going full-blast from morning till night. I figured the heat was terrible, and she probably had cancer, and — I don’t know. Anyway, it seemed goddam clear why Seymour wanted me to shine my shoes when I went on the air. It made sense…..”

  6. Let not our feelings over OWS and the media’s coverage of it distract us from the fact that modern workers need to stand up and display their power in the marketplace, wether they be blue or white collar.  In these times when people repeat the refrain “just lucky to have a job” its more important than ever; we’ve seen an erosion of a 40 hour work week and a lack of universal health care that is holding a lot of people hostage… These are basic rights that we should still be fighting for for everyone.  Hopefully some 9 to 5ers will participate.

    1. Right, and that was done intentionally by the government to reduce international coordination/solidarity. Used to be on May 1.

      1. Actually Labor Day was first proposed about 5 years *before* the Haymarket affair, not after. It was first adopted by Oregon in 1887, the year after the Haymarket affair.

        By the time the Federal government had anything to do with it, 30 states had adopted it instead of May Day completely unrelated to reducing international coordination.

        Yes Grover Cleavland was worried about mixing it up with the Socialists/Anarchists/Communists celebrating on May 1st, but it was adopted by most of the US prior to that.

        1. If I may regurgitate Wikipedia, one state (Oregon) took it up in 1887, a year after Haymarket, but it didn’t become a Federal Holiday until 1894.

          1. Yes, but the “done intentionally by the government to reduce international coordination/solidarity” was a *Federal* rationale by Grover Cleavland.

            By the time he had it, Labor day was celebrated by the majority of states before it became a Federal holiday and well before the idea of preventing solidarity happened.

            Hell, Labor Day in November was supported by the Knights of Labor who were largely responsible for the Haymarket affair in the first place.

    1.  Yep, this is certainly an image that strikes fear into the heart of plutocrats everywhere, innit??

  7. More skinny white girls! Perfect!

    This will certainly shut up those critics of Occupy that say it is by, for and about privileged white people.

    1. More skinny white girls! Perfect!

      Skinny girls, yes. But white? The girl in the first poster is blue and the one in the second is represented in silhouette. Either could be white, but that has more to do with your assumptions than the way they are depicted.

        1. Flowing hair and pointy noses are not exclusive to white people, and the hair on the silhouetted girl looks like it could just as easily be dreadlocks. You’re probably right that neither was specifically meant to look like an African American girl, but that doesn’t make them racist.

          I like to think that if you knew more about what I do with a living and the people I work with every day you wouldn’t assume I was one of “those people.”

          1. I don’t know anything about you, which is why my comment was about the art and what you wrote.

            Don’t further muddy this by accusing me of an ad hominem attack I didn’t make.

    2. Well Zoe Saldana was that color in Avatar, so blue doesn’t translate directly to Caucasian, does it? 

    3. I don’t think it’s out of line to have a white person on a poster with one person on it.  I’d be more concerned if it resembled a promotional poster for 90210.

  8. I feel like the artist must have had that illustration lying around and then decided to slap the Occupy May Day on it. Other than depicting NYC (which is still certainly the center of the now-global movement) I really can’t imagine someone thinking “I’m going to make an Occupy May Day poster” and coming up with this. I do like the art, though :)

    And, I’ll certainly participate in any general strike, but I haven’t got a job, so…

Comments are closed.