Boris Souvarine

The Communist First of May

(Special to the “Call”)




Source: The Call, 29 April 1920, p. 5 (448 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid




Since the foundation of the Communist International, containing all the revolutionary forces of the world proletariat, the international manifestation of May Day has taken on a character of working-class solidarity which it never possessed before.

Previously, when the Second International had resolved to choose the first day of May as the occasion to affirm the universal fraternity of the workers, the annual demonstration of the exploited of every country was a luminous symbol. But the Second International shed itself of its revolutionary spirit, and sunk more and more in opportunism, whilst the general strike of the May Day also lost its revolutionary spirit, for which was substituted an overweening concern for the “practical.” And during the war when, more than ever, the solidarity of the proletariat was a pressing necessity, when Imperialism intensified the oppression and the exploitation of the producing class, the International backed out, and its weakening parties traitorously renounced the traditional celebration of May Day.

In the dark days of the war, which saw the submission of the peoples to their dominant oligarchies, the Russian Revolution, voicing the international popular demands, sounded the awakening of the proletariat, resuscitated its class-consciousness, and stimulated its energies. May Day 1917 saw in Russia an inspiring manifestation of which the echo has resounded through the two worlds. In 1918 the First of May was for the first time celebrated by a people master of their own destinies. In 1919 the world’s working class will commemorate the historic day by a general stoppage, which presents in the` several countries a revolutionary aspect under the influence of Communism.

But May Day 1919 was also a day of grief. The exploited of all the world were powerless to succour their brothers in Russia who had heroically fought for more than a year as the advance guard of the Social Revolution. The conquering militarisms fell furiously upon the Republic of the Soviets already surrounded by furious enemies The armies and the fleets of cosmopolitan reaction threatened the complete overthrow of the Russian people, already weighed down by privations, epidemics, and famine. The most sublime effort for the emancipation of the proletariat was about to be crushed .

No! The will and the sacrifices of the Russian Proletariat have vanquished the ferocious reaction. And the sun of May 1920 bursts upon a Europe with the Revolution pursuing its victorious march, and precipitating the bankruptcy of the bourgeois States.

Above the ruins, accumulated by the imperialist devastation, the Communist International raises a flaming torch, which is at once a source of terror to the exploiters and a symbol of solidarity to the exploited.