Because May 1st is “a day of rebellion, not a day of rest,” because May 1st is the day of celebration of revolution, and May 1st has been developed and expanded over more than 130 years, becoming a day when class conscious workers, revolutionaries, of all countries assess their situation, make plans for the following year, celebrate proletarian internationalism, and declare their determination to take their struggle to the final goal of communism throughout the world.
In many countries there is struggle to recover the tradition of revolutionary struggle of May 1st, after years in which the phony revolutionaries and other fellow travelers have suppressed it or have ripped out its fundamental heart, turning it into an event to vent all kinds of economic demands and sometimes limiting it to the just commemoration of the struggle that was used to pick this date: A general strike that broke out throughout the United States in 1886 and was bloodily repressed.
This May 1st coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, in which the working people, exploited, impoverished and degraded for so long, rose to take power and establish a new form of association between people. The Paris Commune “existed only in that one part of France, and which lasted for only two short months, but which represented, in embryonic form, a communist society in which distinctions of class and oppressive divisions among people would be finally abolished.” [RCP, USA, COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE]
Even before the Paris Commune, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels had scientifically established through their work the possibility of a radically new world, without exploitation or oppression. As Marx himself said only a few years before the Commune: “Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice.”
The Paris Commune was a first great attempt towards human emancipation, and was a harbinger of the future, “but it lacked the necessary leadership and was not guided by the necessary scientific understanding to be able to withstand the inevitable counter-revolutionary onslaughts of the forces of the old order and then to carry out a thoroughgoing transformation of society, in all spheres: economic, social, political, cultural, and ideological.” [ibid.] Since then, revolutionary communists have drawn these and other invaluable lessons applied to a great extent largely in the two great experiences of building socialism in the twentieth century, after the triumphs of the Russian revolution in 1917 and the Chinese revolution in 1949. Among the working masses and other sections of the people buzzed a desire to follow the inspiring examples of the many achievements of their counterparts in those societies which unleashed a potential that most did not even know that they had and came alive to the extent that was in tune with the revolutionary leadership. For many, “all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions [broke] down before their collapse in practice,” and in their eyes the reactionary system was delegitimized and the revolution legitimized.
After the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union (1956+) and China (1976+), which completed that first stage of communist revolution, and especially after the collapse in 1989-1991 of the Soviet Union and its imperialist bloc, the capitalist-imperialist system encompassed the entire planet, more fully integrating China and Russia, and launched an ideological offensive that largely succeeded in extinguishing the hopes of the majority of the exploited and oppressed around the world in a completely different kind of society, as a transition to a society without exploitation or oppression... and without social classes. The capitalist-imperialist system not only sucks people dry but devours them by turning off their spirit.
The world is a horror for the vast majority of the more than 7.8 billion people. And with the COVID-19 pandemic that horror has intensified greatly: The domination of imperialism, with food dependency and wars for empire... and impoverishment, unemployment and moral and intellectual degradation of the people... degradation, dehumanization and patriarchal subjugation of women and all oppression based on sexual or gender orientation... degradation and destruction of the environment... war against people with massacres, forced displacement and criminalization of youth... discrimination and oppression of indigenous and black peoples, all kinds of racism and xenophobia... suffocation and persecution of dissent and critical and scientific thinking, and promotion of all kinds of superstition... all these concentrations of contradictions which within the current system are impossible to resolve in favor of the interests of the masses of people, of that vast majority of humanity, constitute enormous cracks—fractures or fissures—all over the foundation of today’s society. And in the struggle to end each and every one of these outrages also lies the potential for a truly revolutionary transformation, if these struggles are gathered together in a single knot towards the goal of building a completely different and better society. And in each of these concentrations of contradictions it can also be seen how in the era of imperialism the international arena and the changes and events at that level are more decisive and determining of what happens in one country than the “internal conditions” taken by themselves.
These are not abstract, very vague formulations taken out of a magician’s hat, people are very aware of clear examples of each of these outrages. As recognized in a recent “Open Letter to States” of a global network of NGO followers (ICVA [International Council of Voluntary Agencies]): In the world people “are not starving, they are being starved,” hundreds of millions of people “are being starved by conflict and violence; by inequality; by the impacts of climate change; by the loss of land, jobs or prospects; by a fight against COVID-19 that has left them even further behind” and “it is women and girls who suffer the most.” And, as for the country [Colombia], an article from April 29 in the New York Times points out some obvious aspects of the situation: “The moment is critical: Colombia exceeds the number of people infected and killed by COVID every day, unemployment is soaring, inflation and poverty are growing and official aid is not able to alleviate the crisis... [Colombian president Iván] Duque promotes a tax reform that does not solve the historical inequalities in Colombia... The noise of the saucepans that many bang on at night is the clear cry of millions of people... The toll as of now offers negative results: A vaccination rate below our capacity, a peace agreement without support, the habitual violence associated with drug trafficking, and a trail of murders that continues every week.”
The situation is grueling. Along with the deterioration of material life, a right-wing tsunami has swept the world, even consolidating fascist trends... religious fundamentalism, anti-science, superstition of all kinds are on the rise. And even more this has led many people into dead ends, often begging for a better “place at the table,” which will only reinforce the existing system of oppression and perhaps benefit the few at the expense of the many. Reformism constitutes a more paralyzing shackle, creates false hopes in something that will never happen... because this does not get to the bottom of things.
People need to look below the surface and understand that this system is responsible and this system is what influences the thinking and actions of people. You need science. For anyone who yearns for a radically different and much better world, they must get a scientific understanding of the nature and scope of the social and class changes that have taken place in society in recent decades: Their material roots and their political-ideological manifestations in order to be able to identify their bedrock forces and their broader forces and also to be able to recognize and act on the potential and the obstacles to making this revolution. This society is the society which a radical and truly liberating revolution must transform... “as part of advancing the world revolution to emancipate all of humanity.” (Raymond Lotta [Imperialist Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: An Exploration of Trends and Changes])
We need a revolution, an actual revolution. This revolution is not only “a good idea”—in reality it is not only necessary but possible. But the path to a better world is not, and will not be, easy—it cannot be achieved without determined struggle and, yes, without great sacrifice. But continuing on the current path, under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism, implies a continuation of the horrors that are already being perpetrated in the world today, the much worse horrors that threaten to arise in the immediate future.
This also focuses on a question that we posed to the whole movement: Are we going to just be a residue of the past (last wave of proletarian revolution) or are we going to be a vanguard of the future? The conception and, therefore, the practice of proletarian internationalism have an enormous impact on these two possibilities, these two paths: Being a residue of the past or being a vanguard of the future.
And for the revolution that is needed, in this new stage, we have the enormous advantage of having today the new communism developed by Bob Avakian. Revolution, guided by the new communism, is the only true alternative to this system of capitalism-imperialism and all its horrors.
May 1st is the day we proclaim that our struggle is a deeply international struggle, we are part of the world revolution. We share with millions of exploited and oppressed people around the world the same enemy and many of the same forms of oppression. Furthermore, we share the same burning desire to eliminate this hell. And, in that sense, we must call today for solidarity with the political prisoners in Iran, who face the possibility of executions... which underlines the urgency of international mobilization to stop the murderous plans of the Iranian regime against political prisoners.
This May 1st, we renew this unwavering commitment and call on the people to join us: We are ready to fulfill our internationalist responsibility: To lead the masses of Colombia to make revolution here and do everything possible to support world revolution.
We demand from the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran: Release all political prisoners NOW!
We are human beings—We refuse to accept any form of slavery!
Humanity Needs Revolution and the New Communism of Bob Avakian