‘May Day, 1889-1924’ by Charles Rappoport from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 36. April 28, 1924.

‘May Day, 1889-1924’ by Charles Rappoport from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 36. April 28, 1924.

Thirty-five years ago, I had the good fortune to take part in the first Congress of the second International at Paris, where the transfer from America to Europe of the celebration of the first of May was voted on. As always, those who proposed it could not have foreseen all the consequences of the revolution. Some presented it as a holiday of labor. Others looked on it as a pledge of international solidarity, of proletarian brotherhood. Still others did not wish to see in the first of May anything more than an occasion for renewing the memory of according to public authority, by a legal and correct proceeding, the formulation of the workers’ demand. It is interesting to notice that it was precisely in France, where the Congress took place which introduced May 1, we could take a hand in this paradox. The French Marxists, the Girondists, good theorists and excellent propagandists, but mediocre men of action, typical representatives of the Second International—that is to say, revolutionists in theory and opportunists in practice, —the French Marxists at Paris, to celebrate the First of May by impeccable steps, according to public authority where the program of workers demands was laid down. In revenge, the revolutionists, those who followed Allemane, one of the militant members of the commune thought that the first of May, not summoning to arms, did not have revolutionary value. The historical truth, —and France itself jeers at both (Ideas).


The First of May of 1890 witnessed a bloody fight—a class fight, and notably at Fourmy, a town of the Industrial and proletarian region of the North. The French bourgeoisie fired Lebel guns—then the new thing—on the workers in celebration. This slaughter contributed to the development of class consciousness in France and even to an electorial success of Paul Lafargue, the son-in-law of Karl Marx,—the first Marxist in the French parliament. For thirty five years the world proletariat has not stopped celebrating the first of May. Useless now to compare one meaning of the proletarian holiday with another. The first of May is a proletarian reunion. It is at the same time a workers’ holiday, a demonstration of the fight against capital, an act of international solidarity, and of a review of our world forces. The first of May has survived all the proletarian crises. It is celebrating at present its first great victory. A country forty times as big as France is celebrating the first of May in the name of the proletariat in power, by a working class which has abolished Czarism and —let us hope for ever—has done away with Capitalism. In present day Russia, the first of May enters into his home, into his house, and into his stronghold. Proletarians of all countries, look with joy and confidence to Russia. It is the country of hope in a better future, which is no longer a hope, but an accomplished fact.

The proletariat there Is celebrating the first of May as a victory over capitalism and the powerful builder of a new world.

Whose turn is it next?

The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/dailyworker/1924/v2n036-apr-28-1924-TDW.pdf

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