>In villages across Austria, May Day is the day when the Maibaum (a tall smoothed tree trunk with the branches left on only at the very top) is, um, erected (think big phallic symbol being planted into Mother Earth), marking the unofficial beginning of summer and cause for traditional folk music and grillparties with beer.
But that’s in the villages.
In Innsbruck, however, it’s THE RED SCARE!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! No, not really, but the assorted left-leaning parties celebrate International Workers’ Day with small parades and outdoor events.
This is the Democratic Ecology Party (Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei), which was founded, I recently learned, by a former member of Germany’s CDU (Christian Democrats, the party of Helmut Kohl et al) who had broken away to help found the Greens, and then broke away from them as well.
Marching with them are members of the Federation of Democratic Workers (DIDF), which is made up mainly of workers with Turkish and Kurdish backgrounds.
Above: a brigade of young marchers about to join up with the Kommunisten, who had gathered in front of the museum before their own parade.
And yes, they had The Banner, which never ceases to amaze me.(I’ll give them a pass for Marx and Engels. Lenin, not so much, and Stalin and Mao, jeesh, what can one say? There’s really no excuse for it.) But everyone was friendly, no one objected to my photographing them, and even the police, lounging nearby around their van, were laid-back and cool with the whole thing — no alpha-cop tension or aggression anywhere.
I can’t imagine anything like this in the States. Even if the marchers were Grandmothers For Peace, the mere presence of police would, I feel, add a level of unneeded tension to the event. Not that Austrian police are angels, far from it (as we learned from the Marcus Omafuma case) but perhaps the lack of rampant violent crime keeps their stress levels lower. Aggression and fear, which seem to reflect and feed on each other, were not visibly present today.