May Day greeting by labour leader Eugene Debs, who had recently been released from prison for opposing World War I. A significant thinker, organizer and speaker,
he was one of the fundamental early leaders of the labour movement in the United
States – helping to found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the American
Railway Union (ARU) and the Socialist Party.
Once more we celebrate May Day, the international holiday of the working
class! With heads erect, with spirits undaunted, and with hearts attuned to the
future we hail our proletarian comrades of all lands and send our greetings to
the sons and daughters of toil all around the world.
For eight long years the revolutionary movement of the workers has been on
trial for its life. It has withstood the fire and slaughter, the ruin and dissolution
precipitated by capitalism, the archenemy of mankind, upon the world, and
today it faces the future with its militant hosts once more in battle array, their
crimson banners unfurled, and with supreme confidence in its power to conquer
the forces of despotism and darkness and triumphantly fulfill its mission of
The appalling savagery let loose by capitalism upon the world could but
temporarily halt the majestic march of the revolutionary movement of the
masses toward the dawn. It is true that its ranks were shaken in the fierce
red tempest that swept and devastated the earth, but only that they might
be reorganized more compactly and wrought of the sterner stuff of which
invincible warriors are made.
Throughout the world the proletarian movement is today readjusting itself to
the chaotic conditions created by the world upheaval. Capitalism is bankrupt
and in ruins and socialism is mounting to power to rebuild the shattered social
fabric and save civilization.
Internal differences growing out of the war are being composed, and the bitter
antagonisms engendered during that tempestuous period are subsiding. All
these tests and trials, however severe and costly, had to be met and overcome.
It is in this process that the rank and file are tempered and fitted for their
revolutionary mission, and before another year we shall have a more thoroughly
unified, aggressive, and uncompromisingly revolutionary international than we
ever had before.
When we come to see the process of events with clear eyes, with discerning
vision and understanding hearts, we must realize that all things that come to
pass, even the seemingly most adverse, feed the fires of revolt and foster the
forces that make for the social revolution.
All hail, then, to the International Proletariat, to the industrial and political
solidarity of the workers in the class struggle, and to the triumph of the social
revolution throughout the world!