Dora B. Montefiore 1919

May Day, 1919

Source: The Call, 1 May 1919, p. 1
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.

William Morris wrote of them; Walter Crane drew them in exquisite black and white; and every voicer of the people’s aspirations who has spoken on May Day platforms in any part of the world has foreshadowed them, these wonderful coming May Days of the first quarter of the Twentieth Century, when, the historic mission of the people being accomplished, the last slavery—wage-slavery—shall be done away, and the joyous earth, teeming with the fruitfulness of which the month of May is the promise, shall offer to all her wealth in turn for communal labour, to be distributed for use and not for profit.

These forerunners—“poets, craftsmen, Socialists”—built up in every land the soul of the movement; but it is the people—the workers, the soldiers, who have been hired by their masters to slay one another—who are busy now building its body. The lead has come from Russia, the most autocratically and cruelly treated of all the proletariats of the International, who are to-day celebrating their second May Day of power they have seized, and are now busy organising and concentrating under the Soviet régime.

The administration of the Soviet means decentralisation of power, linked up to a Central Soviet which is as sensitive to the stimuli of the exterior Soviets as the brain is to the stimuli of the nerves. Only workers vote for the Soviets, and all will be workers in the dawn of the New Day. Our shop steward movement has the same ideals, and inspiration. Our South African International, the organ of the International Socialist League of that country, writes of the probability of Soviets being formed by the native workers, who are exploited in the making of railways, the building of houses, the working of mines, and in dozens of other skilled and unskilled trades.

The Irish Labour Party, cemented with the blood of Jim Connolly and other Irish comrades in the cause of industrial freedom, sent its fraternal delegate to our recent Conference of the B.S.P. telling us how the people were gradually taking control over there in Ireland, and asking that there should be understanding and cooperation between the workers, even though there was military oppression from the Government. Hungary, Austria, Germany, Bavaria, though crushed and beaten from the militarist point of view, yet feel within them the pulse of a real and human spring awakening, while their proletariats gradually divest themselves of baffling bourgeois alliances and stand up in their own strength as administrators of the wealth and the opportunities which life affords. India and Egypt with their exploited proletariats, are wakening to the May Day call, while the Government of the United Kingdom seeing the handwriting on the wall, is attempting to buy off its own workers with doles, and doles, and yet again doles, which are about as futile as Mrs. Partington’s mop in stemming the oncoming tide of those who claim, not only bread, but Power.

Just as Lenin and Trotsky led the workers of Russia out of the wilderness of the unprivileged, so John Maclean and Robert Smillie are setting up the signposts here that shall guide the feet of the British workers out of a similar wilderness. Peer mine-owners are, at the call of the miners, to produce their title-deeds and give the amount of their incomes derived from royalties! The Yellow Press stands aghast, but it is told to lie down and keep quiet, as nothing must be done at this juncture to ruffle the spirit of the workers.

And so it goes on. With the acquisition of power comes the possibility of real education for all, which education will be the rock on which our new Social Order will be built. At a meeting last October of the All-Russian C.E.C. it was decided there was to be one class of schools only, to be divided into two grades, the first for children from eight to thirteen years, the second for children from thirteen to seventeen. These schools are to be co-educational and secular. The number of scholars to one teacher may not exceed twenty-five. We bring our children in Western Europe to our May Day celebrations, so that they may know the hope that inspires their elders. Will it be May Day, 1920, that we shall be able to put into their hands this Children’s Charter of Education on the lines that the Soviets have devised?

Things are moving rapidly; the people’s hour is striking; the peoples, brought together by the capitalists from the ends of the world for purposes of destruction, are learning to understand their common destiny and to reconstruct life on the lines of a Human Co-operation.