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May 1st general strike, a socialist dream

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Demonstrators march down Broadway during a May Day protest on May 1, 2012 in New York City. Occupy Wall Street demonstrators joined labor groups in a march to protest economic injustice and observe International Labor Day. (Photo by
Jonh Moore/Getty Images

In his preface to the for the German edition of the Communist Manifesto, which he wrote on May 1, 1890, Engels, reviewing the history of the international proletarian organizations, calls attention to the significance of the first International May Day.

“As I write these lines, the proletariat of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is mobilized for the first time as one army, under one flag, and fighting one immediate aim…The spectacle we are now witnessing will make the capitalists and landowners of all lands realize that today proletarians of all lands are, in very truth united. If only Marx were with me to see it with his own eyes!”

Activists of the Occupy movement called for a “general strike” for May 1st. In Oakland several demonstrators tried to force some businesses to comply with the strike. The police intervene and the businesses continued to serve the public.

In Los Angeles less than three thousand people took the streets to protest about anything and everything. From Hispanics pushing for immigration reform – read amnesty – to anarchists calling for a stop of corporate greed, protesters do not have a specific message or cause.

Most of them do not know the significance of May Day. They ignore that the movement is closely related to the struggle of the workers in the 19th century for fair pay and most important for an eight-hour work day. It was adopted by proletariat organizations as a “demonstration of the determined will of the working class to destroy class distinctions”.

The organizers and leader, on the other hand, know well about May 1st and they want to capitalize on the discontent of the masses – as Marx would say – to impose the international socialist celebration of the day of the worker.

Most of the Occupy organizers – although they deny they have organizers, but claim it is a spontaneous grass roots movement – are anti capitalist utopians, and they dream May Day celebrations the way Lenin wrote in one of his leaflets: “They assemble at great mass demonstrations where speeches are made recounting the victories over the bosses.”

Lenin also wrote how May Day celebrations “can become great political demonstrations…the mass participation of the workers in the strike, the huge mass meetings in the streets, the unfurling of red flags, the presentation of demands indicated in the leaflets and the revolutionary character of these demands…”

Two hundred protesters here, three thousand there, the masses are not mobilizing like the occupiers would like, –they would like to see movements such as the ones in Spain, or Greece – but the American people are better than that. Only the radicals and the ignorant are involved in these protests.


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