It’s the May Day public holiday here in Queensland, transformed, like every other public event by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most obviously, there is no May Day march for the first time in many years (possibly since the first march in the 1890s, I haven’t been able to find out for share).
More significantly, ideas associated with May Day that seemed to belong to a distant past have suddenly become crucially relevant. The most important of these is the injustice, inefficiency and absurdity of a society where those who do the most vital work are underpaid and disregarded, while the biggest rewards go to a class that turns out to be of no use when it really matters.
There is already pressure to ‘snap back’ to what was seen as normal in the recent past as soon as, or even before, the pandemic is controlled. But the message of May Day is that a better society is possible, and that the achievements of the workers movement over the past century can and should be defended and extended.
Among the many changes we need is a push to reduce inequality through both predistribution (changing the way the market rewards work) and redistribution (taxation and transfer payments). In practice that means higher minimum wages, higher wages for those who provide us with the basic wages we all need, and better funding for public services of all kinds. For those at the top of the income distribution (including professors and the many senior administrators who outrank us) that implies lower market incomes, and forgoing the tax cuts promised (and legislated) for the future.