In the pre-capitalist era, May Day was a pagan ritual celebrating the advent of spring. But under modern capitalism, the origin of May Day is bound with the struggle of the working class against capitalist exploitation, which began with the demand for a shorter workday – a demand of major political significance for the working class. On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets in a general strike throughout the entire United States to force the ruling class to recognise the eight-hour working day. Over 350,000 workers across the country directly participated in the general strike, with hundreds of thousands of workers joining the marches as best they could.


In what was later called the Haymarket riots, during the strike action in Chicago, the heart of the U.S. labor movement, the Chicago police opened fire on the unarmed striking workers killing six workers.  May Day thus also commemorates the sacrifice of American workers for decent living conditions.  After a few years, in 1889, May 1 was adopted as the International Socialist holiday, and each succeeding year, members of the working class, men and women, demonstrate on that day to demand from a capitalist world greater political and industrial freedom and better conditions of livelihood. In most countries May Day is celebrated as a workers’ holiday.


A hundred years ago, in 1913, the great socialist revolutionary, Rosa Luxembourg, wrote: “And the more the idea of May Day, the idea of resolute mass actions as a manifestation of international unity, and as a means of struggle for peace and for socialism, takes root … the greater is our guarantee that out of the world war which, sooner or later, is unavoidable, will come forth a definite and victorious struggle between the world of labor and that of capital.” Insaf Bulletin pays tribute to this vision by reprinting in its May 2013 issue below a path-breaking article on the rationale for Socialism by the world-renowned physicist Albert Einstein.


INSAF Bulletin Salutes the Workers of the World on the Occasion of MAY FIRST

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