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Henry Judd

May Day Celebrated All Over the World

(28 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 17, 28 April 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

May Day is, before everything else, an international holiday of the world working class. Over a period of many years, this holiday has come to mean more in the life of the world labor movement than any other event. In this sense, the scope of each particular May Day, the spirit and militancy with which it is celebrated, is an important index of the status of the la’bor movement internationally. The ruling groups of every country, be it capitalist or totalitarian in character, has long been aware of the significance of May Day for the exploited workers of all lands. This is why, for many years now, every possible effort has been made to divert, or pervert, the historic meaning of this holiday of labor.

Stalinist Demonstrators Destroy Deep Meaning

Hitler took over the German workers’ May Day and tried to convert it into a holiday for Nazi imperialism. Now, for the first time since 1932, the German workers are attempting to return this day to its true meaning, despite many obstacles. Stalin corrals his mass of downtrodden Russian workers and forces them to parade through the great Square at Moscow, under chauvinistic banners and in the name of the Russian totalitarian regime. In the Russian occupied countries, the same reactionary and shameful perversion of May Day takes place.

In the capitalist democracies, every possible effort is made to belittle, conceal and hinder demonstrations of workers in behalf of their freedom. Where demonstrations do take place, they will generally be under Stalinist leadership, with sadly deceived workers participating in gatherings whose purpose is solely and exclusively to assist in the mobilization of support for Russian imperialism and its policies. Such May Day meetings likewise destroy the true meaning of May Day since they are on behalf of a totalitarian power, Russia, which denies its workers every elementary right that labor needs or desires.

On May Day of 1947 it is not difficult to foretell, unfortunately, the character of many of the demonstrations that will take place. Wherever the labor movement has managed to substantially retail its independence and its freedom of control from reactionary influences – both from the Stalinist and “democratic” camps – in such places, we will witness militant, independent and free demonstrations of masses of workers. Such places, unfortunately, are not very numerous. But they exist, and the whole future of the labor movement lies in their capacity to grow and expand. Elsewhere, regimented workers in countries like Poland, Yugoslavia, Russia, etc., will march bound by the Stalinist machine. In still other countries, like France, England, Germany, etc., many workers will march in Stalinist-sponsored and organized demonstrations, but with still every possibility of breaking away from the influence of that force.

Mightiest Demonstrators in Colonial Countries

It is safe to predict that the mightiest demonstrations will take place in those countries that have, over the past year, been in the forefront of struggles for freedom and liberty. These are the colonies of the world – countries like India, Indo-China, Indonesia, Burma, Ceylon, etc. Here demonstrations will take place not only in the name of the labor and workers’ movement, but also in the name of definite political ideas – ousting of foreign imperialism, national independence and freedom in such colonial lands, the workers are the vanguard of the people in these struggles. Similar demonstrations, directed primarily against American imperialism, will take place throughout the countries of Latin America.

In other countries, whose labor movement has revived since the days of Hitlerism and since the end of the war – or where the working class is in process of reassembling themselves – there will also be significant May Day demonstrations. The French working class will show its power, above all in the industrial centers of Paris, Marseilles, Lyons, Clairmont-Ferand, etc. In Germany, it is not yet known whether the Allied occupants of this country will permit May Day gatherings, but if they do we shall witness huge demonstrations, above all in the cities of . the Ruhr Valley, attesting to the increasing revival of the German working class. In England, the British Labor Party conservatives will attempt to divert labor’s holiday to a demonstration in support of the Labor Government and its policies.

Everywhere, wherever they are and wherever there are labor demonstrations, the Trotskyists will be found participating. In India, in Germany, in Indo-China, in England, in America, the Fourth Internationalist organizations honor this day by taking part in its actions and ceremonies. In this difficult period, where the greatest traditions of labor are turned to the most anti-labor and reactionary purposes – above all others, by the Stalinists – it is the Fourth International movement alone that attempts, by its slogans and ideas, to restore to May Day its original meaning. For May Day is the day of the working class; independent; unhampered in its freedom of organization, ideas» and program; ready and eager to express itself against both capitalist and totalitarian tyranny; and able to reaffirm its fight for freedom.

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