Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/390/4424
Why we celebrate May Day
MAY DAY (1 May) has historically been celebrated as a day of international working-class solidarity and struggle. It has added significance this year as workers and young people confront a globalised capitalist system attacking our working conditions, polluting our environment and killing thousands of men, women and children each year through war, starvation and preventable diseases.
These struggles are reflected in the greetings from workers and young people in this edition of the socialist.
The origins of May Day lie in the struggles of the American trade union movement in the late 19th century for a maximum eight-hour day. 500,000 took part in demonstrations and the first national general strike in US history on 1 May 1886, winning their demand with no loss of pay.
Today, across Europe, workers are being forced to work longer hours as the bosses aim to squeeze even more profit from the real wealth creators, the working class.
The bosses' global offensive will need an international challenge from the workers' movement. The solidarity shown by millions of ordinary people for the victims of the tsunami disaster, in contrast to the meanness and hypocrisy of capitalist governments, gave a glimpse of the potential to unite working people across national boundaries.
Recent years have seen mass international movements by hundreds of thousands of young people against the warmongers Bush and Blair and capitalist institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF. But it will be the struggles of the working class in defence of wages, against job losses and privatisation that will be crucial in the battle to transform society.
The celebratory May Day solidarity demonstrations of today will tomorrow be transformed into an international struggle for socialism.
In The Socialist 28 April 2005: