Acton Institute Powerblog

Why I worked this May Day

Today, I am working from Rome. It is Labor Day here–La Festa dei lavoratori–one of those many guaranteed Italian holidays which we are not supposed to spend in the office. It is the day, ironically, that some of us like to sneak into the office. It is the day I love most to work: to freely celebrate my vocation for thinking and writing without a boss or anyone higher up on the totem pole telling me that I have to. Today, we are like St. Joseph the Worker, whom the Roman Catholic calendar of saints also recognizes as today’s memorial feast.

I have never understood why we don’t work, at least a little, on the first day of May, especially if we are blessed to live out our unique professional vocation. I am one of those who is blessed to do so, so it’s not so bad to produce a little sweat and blood on Labor Day.

Part of my allergy to resting on Labor Day–the Soviet-inspired International Workers Day–is that I in no away want to collude with cultural Marxism, which promotes class struggle and canonizes workers as co-redeemers in utopian political and economic plans for salvation. This was part of, if not the main reason why this public holiday was instituted all over Europe beginning in the late nineteenth century. Marxism promotes pipe dreams that should not and never will be.

I’m grateful that I enjoy maximum freedom of speech to express my most ardent positions. In the following essay–“Today is not Labor Day,” which I published this morning in the Italian outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidana–I mince no words.

I celebrate, not the workers of “Joseph of Moscow,” but the workers of “Joseph of Nazareth” who labor modestly and with a deep sense of calling to do God’s heavenly will on earth. I remind them they must remember they are not working for the state, but for God, unless they want “other lords” to take care of them from “cradle to grave”:

As dark clouds drape most of Europe today on May 1, no conscientious objector under economic house arrest should be grilling sausages and bruschetta. Today, the political powers that be on earth have dampened their coals. Today, you the worker have a forced day off after already suffering an unbearable 40-plus days wandering economic deserts.

Today, you the worker are not resting but rather atrophying your vocational muscles. Your despots rely on your softness, just like your dear old friend of liberty Alexis de Tocqueville had admonished and prophesied in the nineteenth century.

Today, you laborers of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, do not relax and celebrate your non-working status. Unless you want other lords to take care of you, from cradle to grave.

I invite them to reflect on the consequences. Workers should not become cogs in the wheels of any ideology, deep state, or a Huxlean Brave New World:

They must silence the deafening applause of the elite, who cheer the arrival of their beautiful Black Swan whilst they, the honest and faithful workers, wring their hands in a dystopian Dark Night of the Soul. They who are called must stand tall and confident, like a Joseph of Nazareth pitted against a Joseph of Moscow.

I further implore all workers to consider themselves to be “the saintly progeny” of Joseph and Mary in order to find the spiritual “force and freedom to return to their labors of love.” If they have “invested their entire professional careers to co-create with Jesus their Son,” to help save the world from becoming a living Hell of abject poverty, then May 1 is a veritable day of reckoning. They must rise up and face the brute facts of an almost irreversible economic crisis before it is too late.

You can read the full article here.

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