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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 18, 19, April 29 & May 6, 2023 (Double issue)

May Day 2023 | Kobad Ghandy

Saturday 29 April 2023, by Kobad Ghandy


On this day we commemorate not only the struggles of the working class but use the occasion to take stock of the communist movement worldwide and draw conclusions for its growth and development.

To briefly recapitulate in 1889 an international federation of socialist groups and trade unions designated May 1 as a day in support of workers, in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago (1886). Five years later, U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland, uneasy with the socialist origins of Workers’ Day, signed legislation to make Labour Day—already held in some states on the first Monday of September—the official U.S. holiday in honour of workers. Canada followed suit not long afterward. In Europe May 1 was historically associated with rural pagan festivals, but the original meaning of the day was gradually replaced by the modern association with the labour movement. In the Soviet Union, leaders embraced the new holiday, believing it would encourage workers in Europe and the United States to unite against capitalism. The day became a significant holiday in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern-bloc countries, with high-profile parades, including one in Moscow’s Red Square presided over by top government and Communist Party functionaries, celebrating the worker and showcasing Soviet military might. In Germany Labour Day became an official holiday in 1933 after the rise of the Nazi Party. Ironically, Germany abolished free unions the day after establishing the holiday, virtually destroying the German labour movement.

So mere commemoration is meaningless unless it is a true symbol of proletarian struggle and change. Where do we stand today. There are barely any communist movements in the world and what ‘left’ exists they are mostly revisionist or social democratic (as in Latin America). And this too at a time when the gap between the top billionaire club and the masses of people worldwide have never been so wide.

In the 37th annual Forbes list of the world’s billionaires of 2023, the list included 2,640 billionaires with a total net wealth of $12.2 trillion. The combined fortunes of the world’s 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion in 2019 — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people. And the gap keeps widening every day. And these are the official figures the actuality must be far worse. Basically, it is this handful of daemons who run the world, and even the erstwhile socialist world has turned capitalistic with oligarchs and billionaires at the top.

What are the communist doing to narrow this gap? What are they doing to resist the daily attacks on the working class movement and oppressed peoples’ rights. In India for example while rallies are taken out on a routine basis every May Day the draconian labour laws are passed without a whimper and nearly the entire working class are employed as contract labour working long hours and for a pittance without any security.

Yet nowhere are the true communists to be seen. Either soaked in economism or factionalised into groups each claiming to be greater (or purer) revolutionaries. This supposed purity is nothing but in the Brahminical mode. If we are to restore the glory of communism and the values they represent we will have to start from scratch with the following agenda:

1. Evolve genuine communist circles based on the Anuradha Model of values, built on freedom/democracy with a goal of happiness.
2. Evolve a counter culture to the deeply Brahminical values in our midst, of superiority (based not only on caste but also ego and intellectualism), cunning, manipulativeness, one-upmanship, etc
3. Build a structure of cooperation against any form of competitiveness gradually evolving commune-like structures as our immediate goal.
4. Draw clear lines of demarcation between enemies (and their hangers-on) and friends, isolating the handful and targeting them with the full force of a united peoples’ resistance.
5. Avoid sectarian groupings based on individuals and their egotistical superiority; seek to unite with all forces that can be united.
6. Be open an above board in one’s dealings with others, avoid intrigue, pretences, scheming, etc

This may take a lot of effort as much of the past values are deeply imbedded in our sub-conscious mind since our childhood days. We have to work on this false consciousness and slowly eradicate the termites within us and evolve as natural beings not the “crippled monstrosities” that we all tend to be. Any liberalism in countering this rot or pushing it under the carpet will only act to perpetuate the status quo.

So, on this MY DAY 2023 let us pledge a new life, a new consciousness and a new set of relations starting with our immediate circle and slowly growing beyond.

Kobad Ghandy

May 1 2023

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