The working class, as a class, has largely disappeared. May 1st has become a commemoration, not a day for true political manifestation.
The worker still exists, of course, but not as part of a culturally defined class. Exceptions are England, and, perhaps, France. But mostly the days of workers’ clubs, workers’ evening classes, and worker as a class identity are long gone. The inadvertent genius of populist movements from early on and until today is that they address the concerns of workers as individuals, not as a class. And as concerns are shared across class boundaries the net of populist movements becomes much bigger. Most social democratic parties still believe in class interests, and that class interests are best addressed in class terms. Of course, they are becoming a dying breed when few identify as part of the working ‘class’ rather than as a worker. Witness the slow and tragic death of unions in most countries.
So, on May Day let us shed a nostalgic tear for the bygone working class. And let us raise our glasses to moderate and progressive politicians who understand that workers’ interests must be addressed empathically on the specifics, not on a class basis. The working class as a cultural phenomenon is gone!
See also: The Bane of Rapacious Elites
The Bells of Trieste