Or maybe I ran around all day because of my research. Because I am here in Stockholm conducting research for my dissertation, I convinced myself that going out and trying to photograph as many May Day celebrations as possible would be an important cultural experience and one that would be relevant to my work. My research focuses on Swedish women immigrants to the United States and the way they created a sense of identity by writing about, among other things, work and the labor movement. I think. I think that's what my dissertation about. Research is hard.
Anyway, the main person in my dissertation, a woman by the name of Signe Aurell, was an IWW member and a poet. She also translated songs by Joe Hill from English into Swedish. Which is interesting, because Joe Hill was actually Swedish. He started out as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, was born in Gävle, and headed over to the US in 1902. In 1915, he was executed (most likely wrongly) in Utah. He's credited with saying "Don't mourn. Organize!" He did say that. Kind of. But that phrase has been translated into Swedish. In fact, it's been translated with a little artistic license by plenty of people. Including Signe Aurell. So you'll find it in Swedish as "Sörj inte. Organisera!" Or even "Sörj ej. Organisera!"
And organize the Swedes did. And because of that organization, we're going to try something different today. A photo journey of May 1, 2015, in Stockholm, Sweden. I managed to see bits and pieces of rallies held by Feministiskt initiativ, Kommunistiska Partiet, Socialdemokraterna/LO, Syndikalisterna, and Vänsterpartiet.
We'll start at the beginning. It's as good a place as any to start. So first up, the Syndicalists. They started the day by marching down Kungsgatan. There were probably a thousand or so people in the crowd. Much younger than the others, these folks were loud.
|If only I had timed it a little bit better, that black car would |
have been right next to the red car. Just like the syndicalist
flag. Maybe next time.
|Marching next to Kungsträdgården. On their way to Gamla Stan. |
Where they would pass the Royal Palace. And eventually set up camp
next to the church where the royalty gets married. Why not?
|Admit it. You kind of want to drive that thing.|
|Look at the conveyor belt. And the faceless people. And the cogs. |
So much symbolism.
Next up? The Social Democrats and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. This was, by far, the biggest group of the day. Maybe 10 000 or 15 000? Big numbers are hard and while they didn't fill Humlegården, they put a dent in the park. An impressive feat, considering it takes up an entire city block.
|Setting up shop behind the National Library of Sweden. Fun fact, books |
and temperance were a big part of the early labor movement.
|Four signs that didn't make the final cut. These were left behind as |
Humlegården emptied out.
|One band leaving, three to go...|
|Interestingly enough, the EU flag helped lead the way. |
Further back were the anti-EU signs.
|That's an entire city block filled with people. |
And that's just the beginning.
|Just enjoy the signs. All of the signs.|
|I'm guessing that there weren't too many signs like this back in 1902.|
|Joe and Olof, together at last.|
|H&M's swimsuit models were not impressed by the turnout. Not. Im. Pressed.|
|No word on Karl XIII's views on communism and socialism, but the |
seagull perched atop his head was clearly there in support of the Left.
|And seven of them were chanting "No more nukes!" That's not true. |
But they totally would have, if they were Americans.
|Teddybears. Pronounced TeddyBEERs in Swedish. In case you were |
wondering, their eyes also glowed red.
The Feminist Party's rally! Probably my favorite stop of the day, the feminists were working to turn the park pink. The rain made it a little tough to show off some of the color though, because it turns out Swedes don't own too many pink overcoats. (I did see one pink umbrella. From IKEA, no less.)
|That kid to the left is rocking it. A pink jacket. In Sweden.|
|Splashes of pink on a dreary day. Even the dog is |
ready to bring down the patriarchy.
I didn't stick around long enough at any one rally to get a good feel for the political nuances of each party, but several themes kept coming up again and again. Refugees. Migrants. Jobs. Equality. There was talk about the plight of so many around the world, around Europe, around Sweden. There was mourning for lives lost. But these parties weren't going to fix those problems today. In fact, they weren't even going to mourn those problems today. Today, they were going to organize.
Welcome to Sweden. I hope I did my farmor proud.