Labor Day / May Day
In the opening words of "The Communist
Manifesto," Karl Marx and Frederick Engles describe the "specter
haunting Europe_ the specter of communism." Since those words
were written in 1848, this specter_the conscious organization of
the working class into a revolutionary force_has haunted the exploiting
classes in every corner of the world.
Before the working class seized state power in the Soviet Union,
apologists for the bosses and bankers ridiculed communism as utopian
and terroristic. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the defenders
of capitalist rule tried to use defects in the Soviet Union as proof
that communism couldn't work. And after the collapse of the USSR,
communism was once again deemed a hopeless utopia.
All of these "refutations"
of communism are born from the utmost fear of the working class.
Revolutions around the world_in Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba,
and others_ have shown that capitalist rule is not secure. The workers
Every year, the ruling classes around the world are again reminded
of their vulnerability and of the power of their gravedig-gers.
On May 1, the world working class displays its strength in demonstrations
and strikes. May Day_ International Workers' Day_is a reminder to
the ruling classes that their days are numbered.
How did May 1 become a day recognized
around the world as a working class holiday, a day of solidarity
between workers of all nationalities? Why do the captains of finance
and industry still fear the celebration of May Day?
May Day was born from the struggle for the eight-hour day. That
struggle, in turn, emerged as part and parcel of the working class
Working classes have existed since the development of agriculture,
about ten thousand years ago. Serfs, slaves, tradespeople and others
were forced to turn over the fruits of their labor to an exploiting
But the modern working class_the class of "free labor,"
whose exploitation is hidden by the wage system_is only several
hundred years old. Although its exploitation is masked, it is no
less brutal. Men, women and children are forced to work long hours
in miserable conditions just to eke out a bare subsistence.