Some 20,000 protesters, mainly radical youth, gathered in Berlin for “Revolutionäre Mai. 1”—Revolutionary May First. Recent events have roiled the country: millions are deeply concerned in particular about the war in nearby Ukraine and where things there could lead, and the German government’s response to all this—its dramatically stepped-up military spending alongside the U.S. and its rabid revival of the pursuit of the glory of Germany and the country’s hitherto thwarted global ambitions. The spectre of thousands of youth out of control in the streets of the country’s capital in this critical situation led to a sharp attack by the authorities, who issued dire threats against the demonstration and mobilised thousands of police, many hundreds of them in riot gear flanking the protesters along the entire march.
It was in the midst of this defiant outpouring of resistance and rebellion that a small contingent of ardent supporters of the new communism from half a dozen countries rallied around a large four-meter-wide banner prominently featuring the slogans of Revolutionary May First (see photo). The contingent’s message struck a powerful chord. One young Russian woman studying in Berlin expressed the state of many who feel desperately trapped in the current dynamics: “I cry almost every night, in anger and despair and frustration. I hate this war. I hate what my government is doing. I want so much to do something. But I don’t see what to do that doesn’t just make things worse.” An Italian-German woman said much the same. She told us how she had been looking for a programme for “human shields” to place themselves between the warring parties in Ukraine, and expressed her deep frustration that so many people around her were getting caught up in the flood of pro-war propaganda, or just being passive in the face of all this. How vital was it for these young women and many others like them to show tremendous amount of interest to the analysis and outlook reflected in the materials distributed, with almost 3,000 copies of the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group (RCMG) leaflet distributed. A lot of discussions opened up in the shadow of the banner engaging with the possibility of breaking with both sides in the war. Many took interest in Bob Avakian’s analysis of the rare times that we are living in, with growing recognition of how the very dynamics that threaten such catastrophe can indeed compel millions to question the way things are as never before. Many came around to ask questions in order to understand better the outlook of the RCMG and the other banners. The possibility of crucial transformations in people’s thinking and the urgency to act differently seemed to make sense and resonated in the discussions. Seizing on this to actually forge a way out depends so critically on people just like them stepping forward to engage with this analysis and become part of a force that can impact the current disastrous trajectory of the war… and go on to actually begin to change the way millions think, about the war, and about the possibility of a whole new way of being for humanity. The German version of the three articles in “A Basic Principle on the War in Ukraine” was a critical tool for this, and was also given out broadly.
The importance of this orientation and the way it is concentrated in our slogans became even more apparent to us as the May First weekend went on. A pre-May Day demonstration of some hundreds mobilised under the slogan “No War but the Class War,” which was similar to the call of the much larger Revolutionäre Mai. 1 demo itself, which was heavily marked by a Klassenkampf (Class Struggle) bloc of autonomen and different oppositional political trends, many of them influenced by anarchist thinking. These forces sharply denounced the way that the pandemic and the steep rise in energy prices resulting from the war were disproportionately hitting poor people, and there were militant cries of opposition to how Germany’s stepped-up military spending was intensifying this. But sights needed to be raised much beyond this to how all this misery and the far larger dangers looming on the horizon flow from the workings of the global capitalist imperialist system itself. What was urgently needed was not focusing the attention of these radical youth on the fight for a better deal for the German people within the confines of the existing order, but looking at the war in Ukraine and all the other horrors inflicted by this system from the standpoint of emancipators of humanity. As the RCMG leaflet put it, “Today, as inter-imperialist rivalry intensifies and the German imperialists try to throw off the shackles of shame for the unspeakable horrors of its criminal history and join the other imperialist warmongers in the rush for empire, with Die Grune cheering for a Green war machine, will we just watch and allow themselves to be ‘good Germans’ once again—or will we stand firmly with oppressed humanity and step out boldly to oppose their war moves as never before!?” The critical importance of raising this battle cry stood out sharply for us the next morning, as Der Spiegel, Germany’s most important weekly magazine, hailed the “coming out” of Die Grune as naked champions of German warmongering with a cover photo of the Die Grune leader in the Bundestag and the sarcastically celebratory headline, “The Olive-Greens” (playing on how the environmentalist Green Party has turned into wearing the khaki-green uniforms of the German war machine!).
Revolutionary May Day 2022 in Berlin, Germany
This approach also underlined the importance of taking up the struggle of the newly emerged revolutionary communists from Afghanistan. The call by the New Communism Movement of Afghanistan (JAKNA) to the Ukrainian people was available in five languages, French, English, German, Turkish and Farsi. Its heartfelt call to learn from the Afghan people’s own bitter experience to forge a way out against the imperialist monsters of both Russia and the US/NATO also aroused intense interest, and hundreds of copies of the statement were distributed. People also grabbed a lot of revolutionary literature by the Communist Party of Iran (MLM) and were intensely interested in the way it voices the revolutionary perspective of the new communism in this key part of the Middle East. Its battle to deal with the horrors that the imperialist system and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism have been inflicting on its long-suffering people and its efforts to forge a way out of the stranglehold of these two monsters was a shining example for all of the spirit of revolutionary internationalist May First. The revolutionary musician from Afghanistan Shekib Mosadeq delighted and roused the crowd with two fiery internationalist songs.
Many people also flocked to the beautiful banner of the International Emergency Campaign (IEC) and took photos of its portraits of a number of the political prisoners in Iran – who were celebrated by the contingent as heroes of our times, frontline fighters for a better world. Our entire supply of leaflets was depleted even before the march ended.