May first, the day that symbolizes the potential strength of the workers of the world, is a thing of the past. Once there were May Days when men and women put down their tools, left their machines, and came out from the factories into the streets imbued with a spirit of defiance. The political and economic masters of the world were told in prose and in verse, “today is yours, but tomorrow is ours.”
Those were the days when people were still hoping and fighting for a better world. A world with all freedoms, not only four! They were fighting for a society in which “might would not be right”. They were fighting for a new life.
Today, unfortunately, it is the odd one who dares to raise his voice above the chorus of universal submission and dares to voice his opposition to the present day organization of society. We do not come out openly like the Haymarket Martyrs did in 1886 and proclaim to the world our ideas of social and economic change. A mass meeting similar to the one that took place in Haymarket Square, May 4, 1886, is hardly conceivable today in the United States.
Yet the development of the organized labor movement in this country was given impetus by that fight for an eight hour day. Unionism meant the solidarity of all workers for a common cause. The issues were clear cut and there were no political entanglements to divert and dissipate the energies of the workers. The people were militant; furthermore, they were idealists and were willing to die for their beliefs.
Out of this struggle came May First. And from 1887 on each succeeding May Day presented a tremendous threat to the existing scheme of things. Each May First was really a prelude to the ultimate general strike which will be the turning point for all the workers of the world. This will be the moment when all the human parasites will be dispossessed and society will be rearranged by its members for the benefit of all.
Well, let us not fool ourselves. The preludes have temporarily ceased. Tradition has been broken. Very good! May First was beginning to mean nothing but a fanfare and a grandiose display of the Communist Party and all its satellites. The Communist Party did a thorough job of corrupting the meaning and purpose of May Day. One year Red Flags swung in the breeze on May Day and the next year “Old Glories were up there”, one year the Yanks were not coming and the next year they were already “over there”. The Communists did to May Day what they did to every other decent working class institution: they exploited it for the sole benefit of the Soviet Union.
It is time that we all started anew to build the type of world that the original May Firsters attempted to inaugurate; a world without economic, social or political classes. A truly classless society! And as our eyes turn to the May Firsts of the future we do so with a fervent hope that the beginnings of a new social order will somehow arise from the ruins of the post-war world.
Taken from the issue digitised at http://libcom.org/files/Why%20Vol.%203,%20No.%201%20(April-May%201944).pdf
From: Why? : a bulletin of free enquiry v.3, n.1, Apr.-May 1944.