The Marxist Origins of Labor Day Populist Propaganda and Flag Waving At Its Best

labor day

For most Americans, Labor Day is nothing more than another day off. We get to spend an extra long weekend with our friends and families, drinking a few brews, and cooking some meat on the grill. For the youngsters, its one final vacation before the school year really kicks in. Almost no one thinks about the true meaning of Labor Day, and probably for good reason. It’s origins are deep rooted in Marxist ideology, class warfare, and the pitting of the worker against the employer.

In an article published in the New York Times, the origins of Labor Day being with,

“In the late 1800s, many Americans toiled 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often in physically demanding, low-paying jobs. Children worked too, on farms and in factories and mines. Conditions were often harsh and unsafe.”

Well, yes. This is true. The conditions of those times were harsh compared to our standards in modern America, but as economist Thomas Sowell so often asks, “Compared to what?”

We must always ask ourselves why our ancestors chose the jobs they did. Did they do so because they were compelled by a government order, or by some local mandate that force otherwise prosperous Americans into unseemly work houses?

No. Our ancestors worked these hard jobs because, as hard as they were, they were better than the alternative of returning to the fields to harvest another year’s crops. It paid more to work in a rough factory, despite the poor working conditions, than to pick cotton or tobacco. Americans fled TO factories, not from them.

Yet on September 5th, 1882, 10,000 workers paraded in the streets of New York City. These workers celebrated themselves, who they saw as the true vessels of business, commerce, and the economy. They didn’t know it then, but their message was that of the founder of communism, Karl Marx, who saw a great divide between the worker and the owner, the laborer and the factory, the employee and the employer.

It wasn’t long after the marches began that President Grover Cleveland, wanting to secure another term, gave in to the popular interest and declared the first Monday of September a federal holiday.

It was shortly before this time that a German philosopher and economist, Karl Marx, was spreading the teachings of a book that would pit workers against their employers. The Communist Manifesto taught readers that there were two distinct classes of people. The proletariat (the worker) and the bourgeoisie (the employer).

Marx wrote,

“The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of the feudal society, has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other – bourgeoisie and proletariat.”

Marx of course failed to recognize the role of the capitalist. The capitalist is the one who puts off his immediate wants, in favor of investing in the future. Capitalists provide the capital needed to even start a business. The worker has a guaranteed pay check. The capitalist does not.

Yet it is this misunderstanding that labor unions have utilized to populate their ranks. Workers regularly assume that they are doing the “work”, and therefore they should be entitled to the profits of the business as a whole. Workers too often do not realize that they are an expense, the same as a machine, a monthly bill on the factory, or the electricity payment.

Labor is no different than any other expense that a business needs to pay. The fact the humans are the source of labor does not elevate them above any other expense that a business sees on its expense sheet. But don’t tell that to a member of a labor union.

Labor unions have been fighting the very people who provide them with work for over a century. Labor unions have forced businesses to pay higher wages, offer greater benefits, and provide better safety. Although some of these pushes have resulted in better conditions for workers, they have also posed a tough decision for companies. Stay in America and agreed to the unions’ demands, or move overseas.

The areas where unions were most prevalent, manufacturing, for instance, have moved to countries where unions aren’t a problem. Detroit was once the manufacturing capital of the world, but is now nothing more than a graveyard for factories whose employees are gone, along with their payrolls.

This is the ultimate effect of communism, and labor unions. They push up the price of labor, thereby driving business away. Labor Day celebrates labor, but the United States ought to make a holiday celebrating entrepreneurs, who are the people who invest their time and money to make a business that can ever hire labor.

About Tim Preuss

Tim Preuss is a political commentator and host of the Tim Preuss Podcast, available Monday-Friday on the Liberty Radio Network, Talk America Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, and everywhere else. The show focuses on news and politics and has featured world-renowned libertarian minds such as Jeffrey Tucker, Walter Block, Jeff Berwick, and many others. Email – Tim@PreussPodcast.com