Dora B. Montefiore 1917

MAY-DAY: The Symbol of International Labour Solidarity

Source: The Call, 10 May 1917, p. 7
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Perhaps there has never been another May Day of such supreme importance to the workers as the symbol of their international solidarity, because there never was a May Day when capitalist interests were more solidly welded and soldered together in international exploitation of the workers than they are at the present moment. Why, otherwise, has the United States of America thrown aside the Monroe Doctrine and other nineteenth-century impedimenta to join the world-struggle, and thus frustrate the hopes raised by the Russian proletariat in the throes of a political revolution, which the more class-conscious among them desire to turn into a social revolution? Revolution is a catching complaint, and some of the workers in every country exploited by capitalist Governments and capitalist financial interests have a very clear idea of what they are out for, when, with well compact political and industrial revolutionary organisations, the moment will come to take over the tools and instruments of production, and thus accomplish the twentieth century adventure of the Social Revolution. For this reason representatives of every country suffering from capitalist exploitation are welcome on the platforms of the People on May Day, there to renew their bonds of international fellowship, there to tell how the struggle waxes in class-consciousness and in definiteness of attack and of aim, and there to lift up from millions of wafted voices the great song of hope and of endeavour which “unites the human race” in sacramental aspiration.

In Ibsen’s play of “The League of Youth,” one of his characters tells of a dream, when: “I thought the Day of Judgment was come upon the world. I could see the curve of the hemisphere. There was no sun, only a livid storm-light. A tempest arose; it swept from the west and drove everything before it: first, withered leaves, then men; but they kept on their feet all the time, and their robes clung fast to them, so that they seemed to be hurried along sitting. At first they looked like townspeople running after their hats in a wind; but when, they came nearer they were Emperors and Kings, and it was their crowns and globes they were chasing and catching at, and seemed always on the point of grasping, but never grasped.”

That is what is going on at the present time, because war and pestilence and famine, started by capitalist rivalries, have got out of hand, and the peoples of the world, driven by hunger pangs, are rising like a tempest, and are sweeping before them “withered leaves and men.” That is why Alfonso of Spain trembles when he fears that he also may be forced to come into this very draughty war, which threatens to blow off so many crowns. That is why the great financial interests of the United States have had to hustle President Wilson up against the Hindenburg line, for so many Yankee loans were left lying about, and so much capital was invested close up against that line that it would never do to leave it unprotected by the Stars and Stripes. That is why in England the Tory Democrats have been allowed to have their way, and are trying their experiments of cheap reforms on the British workers. That is why certain Trade Unionist leaders have been brought into the Governmental fold, on the understanding that they are never to demand what organised Labour demands, but that they shall keep the capitalist Government informed how little the organised workers may be persuaded to take. If anyone doubts the absolute accuracy of this last statement, let him read what Mr. Wardle had to say in Parliament on the occasion of the congratulations sent from Westminster to Russia after her successful political revolution. Mr. Wardle, as reported in “The Times” of March 23rd, said, when referring to the Special Labour Electoral Conference, over which he had presided the preceding week: “Universal suffrage was the message we heard (from Russia), and it was rather difficult to persuade our people to take anything less.” No doubt the electors of Stockport will take note that Mr. Wardle conceives his duty as a Labour Parliamentary representative is to “persuade our people” to be fools enough to take less than they have by resolution after resolution demanded.

For this reason we revolutionary Socialists, who celebrate May Day in the spirit of international comrades throughout the world, are content to leave reforms to Tory Democrats and hired Labour mis-leaders. We know that the more the workers are organised politically and industrially on a revolutionary basis, the faster and the thicker will reforms be piled up. They are the sandbags that defend the trenches of capitalism. But the workers will ere long be “attacking with the dawn,” and when that great moment comes it will indeed be a fight to the finish for the ending of capitalism and of militarism.