Demonstrating classes fail to halt another materialist day

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Capitalism was alive and well this morning, in spite of May Day marches and demonstrations highlighting its shortcomings around the world.

In the United States, scores of marchers chanting "People before profit" marched through New York's financial district under the gaze of hundreds of police officers in riot gear. The New York Stock Exchange said it planned to stay open for business.

In Chicago, the Mercantile Exchange shut its public gall-ery to prevent anti-capitalism protesters from disrupting trading. Outside, a crowd bore placards referring to the world's oldest futures exchange as "The Boad of Traitors".

In Germany, May Day protests by left-wing groups were aggravated by neo-Nazis who blame foreigners - not globalisation - for their economic ills. At least 21 police officers were injured in Hamburg when neo-Nazi marchers charged at anti-fascist protesters. In the east Berlin district of Hellersdorf, 2,300 police in riot gear struggled to keep apart the extreme right and anti-fascist supporters. More than 140 people from both sides were arrested.

Police in Zurich fired tear-gas and rubber bullets at "revolutionaries" against capitalism who smashed windows and damaged cars at a BMW showroom during a May Day protest. Police also used water cannon to break up small numbers of rioters who broke away from the official May Day parade, which police claimed drew 5,000 people and which organisers said drew 13,000.

In the capital, Berne, some 30,000 people demonstrated in a protest organised by labour unions, which demanded higher minimum wages.

Brazilian workers protested over a range of problems, from poverty and high road tolls to the desperate inequalities of land distribution. Truckers went on strike over the proposed toll charges, while other workers complained about a new £84-a-week minimum wage, and poor rural workers occupied land. The new head of the Democratic Rural Union, an organisation for landowners, warned that "blood will run if the landless invade the wrong farm".

And on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, tens of thousands of Turks used May Day to protest against the International Monetary Fund, to which the country is indebted after negotiating a three-year, $4bn loan tied into assurances that it will introduce a privatisation programme which may cost jobs. "Damn the IMF, long live socialist Turkey," they chanted, in marches that went off relatively peacefully.