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New Communist Party of Britain

May Day - The Workers Day

The New Communist Party of Britain and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) held a joint May Day celebration in London's Marx House on 6th May. The following is the speech made by NCP General Secretary Andy Brooks at that meeting.

Dear Friends and Comrades,

This week has seen momentous demonstrations and celebrations all around the world marking international workers day. In the socialist countries it was marked by meetings and holidays, in the struggling world by the militant demonstrations of the organised working class not least of all here in Britain with a historic march in London on May Day which must have been one of the biggest in decades, one which brought together communists, trade union militants, the anti-capitalist activists and the representatives of the ethnic minorities and the national liberation movements of the world.

Though origins of May Day go back to hallowed antiquity when it was a festival for the ancient gods it has always been a day for working people. But for us it marks the struggle for the 8 hour day in the 19th century and the strikes in the United States and Canada called on May Day 1886 by the Knight s of Labour which ended in the murder of six strikers by the police in Chicago and the deaths of eight police the next day when a bomb exploded during a protest in the city’s Haymarket Square.

Eight trade union leaders were held responsible and four, Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engle and Adolph Fischer were convicted on trumped up charges and executed by the State of Illinois. In 1889 the First International, the International Working Men’s Association, declared May Day an international working class holiday to commemorate the Haymarket Martyrs and the red flag, representing the blood of working class martyrs - the martyred dead of the Labour’s onetime anthem - was adopted as the international symbol of working people.

Now in one form of the other May Day is celebrated in every country of the world with the exception of the United States and Canada and it is fitting that we should be here together, as British communists, not just to honour the generations that have gone before us, but to look to the future with confidence and determination.

Confidence because we know as Marxist-Leninists, that socialism will prevail in the 21st century and steadfast because we also know that only through iron discipline, a firm grasp of theory and a determination to build a mass communist movement can the revolutionary movement succeed.

In the opening words of the Communist Manifesto in 1848 Marx and Engels said “A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism.” That spectre is still there, despite all the twists and turns of the past 150 years, and now it haunts the entire globe.

The ruling class, the industrialists, the capitalists and the big landowners, rejoiced when the counter-revolutions they had worked so long to achieve, took place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Their paid dons told us socialism was finished and that history was dead, their paid politicians told us that we were entering the era of the “Third Way”.

Yet still they fear socialism, because socialism is still charting the future in Asia, in Democratic Korea, People’s China, Vietnam and Laos and of course, in the beleaguered island of Cuba.

Their politicians and their paid religious leaders preach about the superiority of the capitalist system, which they call freedom. But it freedom only for the exploiters to continue to rob and plunder working people across the globe to ensure that a tiny handful of parasites can live the lives of Roman emperors on the backs of the millions upon millions of working people.

They claim they stand for intellectual freedom but it is the freedom of the straitjacket and the dungeon. They preach this freedom with their Stealth bombers, their special forces and their economic blockades against all those who dare to stand up for themselves. We see what the ruling class mean by freedom in the rubble of Jenin in occupied Palestine, in the hills of Afghanistan or the streets of Baghdad.

They say we have free speech and live in a democracy but its democracy and freedom only for them. It’s true that a man in a monkey suit has won the election for Mayor of Hartlepool on a platform of free bananas for schoolkids and its true that anyone can stand for election if they can afford it.

But if we really lived in a democracy we would expect to see the majority of our representatives in parliament and local government drawn from the majority of the population - the working class. In fact you could count the number of workers in parliament on your fingers.

In fact bourgeois democracy is democracy only for the exploiters. It’s dictatorship in all but the formal sense for the exploited. Bourgeois elections, when they are held, are used so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes. Parliament no more makes the real decisions of this country than do the councils in the regions.

New Labour tells us we have the best economy in Europe and the lowest unemployment in the developed world and where there is inequality it can be remedied through education, education, education. You would think we were living in a modern paradise under New Labour.

We have a ruling family that is one of the richest in the world and we are told they have no power at all. Yet when the Queen Mother passed away you would have thought a saint had died given the orchestrated mourning in the media and the mobilisation of more troops to escort the cortege from Westminster Abbey than have been deployed by the entire British Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan. How the founders of our brave little republic in 1649 would have laughed at such a thing.

While millions of people scrabble to earn a living just to keep a roof over their heads a tiny elite live lives beyond the reach and often beyond the imagination of most workers.

The NCP says, “make the rich pay” and the RCPB says, “stop paying the rich” - as short-term counters to the anti-people budgets of our bourgeois governments. But what we both want is to get rid of the rich once and for all.

Now it’s a fact that all the wealth of Britain and all the wealth of the world is produced by workers slaving away in the fields and mines, or pushing levers in factories. What is also true is that outside the remaining socialist countries, working people receive only a miserably fraction of the wealth that they produce every day of their lives.

Only socialism can end this. Only through socialism can the will of the masses, the overwhelming majority of the people, be carried out. Only socialism and mass democracy - not the sham democracy of the bourgeoisie, not the fraud of the Third Way and the myths of the social democrats, end the class system and free working people from their slavery.

Under socialism there will be no exploitation. Everyone will have decent housing, a job, good education, a truly free national health service and a decent pension when the time comes to retire.

There will be no more slums. No more poverty, racism, discrimination or bigotry. There will be culture, sports, arts and entertainment for all, by the masses and for the masses. The old decadent culture of selfishness, individuality and competition that pits worker against worker will go. Workers in their plant, office or collective will have an important role to play.

The destruction of the environment by capitalism will be replaced by planned sustained production for use, not profit.

There will be no more white-collar and blue-collar divisions and no more dead-end jobs because every job will have a value for society. Hours will be less and workers will have more recreational time; time to appreciate life, to discover and debate, to play or travel, time to ponder, time to create.

Socialism will unleash the great potential of working people to build a new and better society for themselves and the generations yet to come.

Marx and Engels spent much of their creative lives in Britain as practical revolutionaries as well as great thinkers. They knew they would never see socialism in their own lifetimes but they never doubted the inevitability or the necessity for change. And the torch of freedom that fanned the fires of the Paris Commune and blazed in Chicago lit the flames of the 1917 Russian Revolution that continues to blaze in Asia and the Caribbean.

The lesson of those epic struggles is that socialism can only be won through revolution and that revolution can only be led by a revolutionary party. It can’t be done through elections because when the bourgeoisie is threatened it reaches for its gun and abandons all trappings of democracy. It can’t be done through general strikes alone because they can so easily be defeated or diverted by our rulers.

It can only be achieved through the mobilisation of the masses - the working class who have still to realise their strength and there must be a leading Marxist-Leninist Party around which the class can close ranks around.

This is the meaning of May Day for us and together we are starting the march forward again. Whether we live to see the day of victory is not important what we can be certain of is that day will surely come and that future generations will thank us for laying the foundations of the new era on British soil.