And the official poem goes as:
...Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope:
Raise the Maypole aloft with its garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope....
...Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull, strong and united:
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.
When the World's Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life--not for others,
For the earth and its fulness is theirs.
Walter Crane, The Workers' Maypole. 1894
(Workers' May Pole)
Despite the fact that the Proletariat in Australia started organizing the first series of demonstrations in the mid 19th century, May the First stands for a glorious day, a day of solidarity, sacrifice, and a moment of real action. Ever since the workers demonstrations in Chicago at the Hay Market of Chicao on May the first 1886, the whole world will change special thanks to an activist called Eleanor Marx, and her two comrades Edward Aveling and Fredriche Engels. Eleanor Marx never realized her focus on May the first incidents would transform the first of May massacre into the first global solidarity campaign three years later. The motion was submitted in the same month of May in 1886, and after three years (remember the communication level was so inflexible those days), the first demonstration, on a global scale, encompassed the workers from China, to Russia, to the whole of Europe, to North America, and Australia. I should also note, that since that day, the Red Flag rose in the honor of the Proletariat who were butchered (or those who were given capital punishment in a wrong manner and took the whole blame).
(Australian Proletariat poster rallying for their demonstrations during the mid-fifties. )
The naive Neo-Cons who keep attacking the Marxists as dictatorships and link Marxism to Stalinism, well they forget what Marxism is really all about: Emancipation of the Proletariat. It is about the workers organizing their rank and file to stand against their oppressors, who enslaved them for almost free or simply free wages with bad work conditions.
Ever since the sucess of May Day, every nation witnessed turmoil and chaos as the oppressor witnessed massive demonstrations against his (then mainly his)/her iron claws.
Rosa Luxemburg writes: "The first to follow the example of the Australian workers were the Americans. In 1886 they decided that May 1 should be the day of universal work stoppage. On this day 200,000 of them left their work and demanded the eight-hour day. Later, police and legal harassment prevented the workers for many years from repeating this [size] demonstration. However in 1888 they renewed their decision and decided that the next celebration would be May 1, 1890."
The Chicago Demonstrations were called first upon by the Anarchists, as Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling wrote in their article: The Chicago Anarchists. The resolution was introduced in 1889 as an International Day for universal demonstrations by Comrade Raymond Lavigne at the Paris SocialistCongress. The motion says:
(Denouncing the atrocities committed on the behalf of the workers of the Hay Market)
A great international demonstration shall be organized for a fixed date in such a manner that the workers in all countries and in all cities shall on a specified day simultaneously address to the public authorities a demand to fix the workday at eight hours and to put into effect the other resolutions of the International Congress of Paris.
In view of the fact that such a demonstration has already been resolved upon by the American Federation of Labor at its convention of December 1888 in St. Louis for May 1, 1890, that day is accepted as the day for the international demonstration.
The workers of the various nations shall organize the demonstration in a manner suited to conditions in their country. (link).
When the Bolesheviks and the Proletariat won against the reactionaries, the Central Committee announced May Day as a National Holiday. The ever-intellect, Comrade Lunacharsky describes the atmosphere on May the 1st 1918 as follows:
"Yes, the celebration of May Day has truly been made official. It has been celebrated by the state. The might of the state was evident in many ways. But is it not intoxicating to think that the state, until recently our worst enemy, now belongs to us and has celebrated 1 May as its greatest festival?
And yet, take my word, if this festival had only been official, it would have produced nothing but coldness and emptiness.
But no, the popular masses, the navy, the Red Army all true working people put their efforts towards it. And we can therefore say that this festival of labour has never been so beautiful." (Lunacharsky's diary), Lenin wrote a tiny article on May Day in Kharkov. Malinovsky describes the preparations for the first May Day official celebrations in the Soviet Union in 1918. The minutes are available over here. Leon Trotsky would write on the 35th anniversary of May Day over here.
Ever since the 2nd International confirmed May Day as the day for celebrations, revolutions occurred, historical tides switched, and May Day continues to this very day scare the capitalists of any sudden insurrection. Portugal went in the mid 70s into a revolutionary stages.
Bottom Line: the demands made in the late 19th century are still applicable to these days:
- Eight hours work per day
- Good Work Conditions
- The Right of the Workers to Defend their rights
Moreover, the reactionary tried to limit of May Day by transforming it into a Capitalist Labor Day, where the workers would simply have one day off from everything. Not in a life time they will take away our holiday.
The revolutionary wave already reached Lebanon. In 1925, the first to demonstrate in Modern "Greater Lebanon" were the comrades in Lebanon and Syria. The Demonstration took place in the Burj-Square, whereby a huge number gathered under the estimation, according to the French: 7000 demonstrators (According to Political Parties of Lebanon: the Lebanese Communist Party). The event witnessed the sudden participation of the Armenian Comrades to such a glorious event, who already brought with them (in exile due to the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottomans officials and their Sultan) the modern experience of organizations, through the (one and only) Spartakus League, headed then by Artin Madayan (Grandfather of Rafi Madayan). On that day, comrades from the Lebanese, Syrian, and Aremenian nationalities, adopted internationalism and decided to build the Communist Party in both regions. Technically the roots of the Lebanese Communist Party as we know it began on May the First 1925. The French already having bad relations with Petrograd, decided to persecute the comrades and they were shoved into hiding.
Now a decade later, a dogmatic figure, under the name of Antoun Saadi, will establish the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), whose fascistic (Greater Syria Nationalism) perspectives would challenge May Day in Lebanon. He would support the concept of the reactionary Labor Day, under the logic of honoring work because if there is no work, there can never be workers. He fails to capture the logic of the workers, work conditions, what ought to be demanded, and he even demolishes the concept of Trade Unions, since in the first place he does not support the notion of Class Struggle, rather "Nationalism Struggles". The term "If there is no work, then there can never be workers" is illogical, reminds us of the reactionary revisionists, under the leader of Edouard Bernstein who said that the end is nothing but the road to the end is everything (which also means nothing). Assa'd Herdain, ex-minister of Labor - Member of the SSNP demolished what is called Workers' Day (in Lebanon) and his faction considered that they were one step closer to their "sacred goals" when he called it Labor Day; and the SSNP naively try to take over May Day as Labor Day and promote as their own holiday (unaware of our REAL holiday).
The sad part about our comrades in Lebanon, that most of the comrades do not know the origins of the holiday. They think it came out of the blues as Workers Day, and start arguing using Marxism 101 (Capitalist Manifesto read for the first time only), instead on dwelling on the real reasons behind First May Day, the day forever and ever be the Day the Proletariat shall stand for their rights, the day of revolutions, and of course, the reality of the situation where reactionaries hiding under the banner of the left appear as the real right-wingers. As for the SSNP who still celebrate May Day as Labor Day, you shall never ever steal our holiday, specially you blindly repeat what they taught you at the "Moderieh" or as far as the "Youth" section, this is our history, and this day belongs to us, the Proletariat, and never to you.
A lot of information is present on the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) May Day section, ranging from historical documents, to meeting minutes, to poems, and as far as drawings and songs. All pictures taken from the sate link as well.
Till the Proletariat stand Victorious, and Happy May Day to all the comrades and the oppressed through out the world (and May the memories of all those who died remain enlightening our hearts for a new battle against the oppressors).