The worker reads history on the very first day of May every year. It is called MAY DAY. Its genesis is related to the sweat of the proletariat. Yet, its spirit seems to have been robbed by the capitalists in the course of time. The drastic consequence is that the sacred meaning of the word has almost become a misnomer. It’s another glaring daylight robbery in the very presence of the rightful heirs of the day.
The gravity of the of this scenario was first brought to the focus of the international labour-loving community by Bertolt Brecht of Germany. He was an ardent follower of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was veritably able to translate the Marx’s theory into practice. No one can deny the surgical value of his theory because he did the academic pursuits with regard to the topic at the universities for more than 18 years. It is said that he had been the first in the queue to the library and the last to leave it every day during his research period. Engels, Trotsky, Stalin, Che, Mao, Castro and the literary figures such as Maxim Gorky and other Russian writers and Bertolt Brecht and Fedrico Gancia Lorca stand tall in this long saga of the proletariat revolution for the uplift of the concept of dignity of labour. The bitter irony is that not a single name of this noble list is mentioned by the so-called demi-gods of the working class today.
Not a single political party has a legitimate right to use and display the photograph of the above mentioned iconic figures in their rallies or demonstrations in Sri Lanka because they have loudly and publicly declared that they no more advocated the mode of armed struggle to grab power from the capitalist class. That is a gross violation of Marxist principles. Hence they have no right to display the Red hammer and sickle at their rallies. Almost all the left political parties in Sri Lanka are the dupes of the capitalist class.
The history of Sri Lanka’s left movement could be roughly traced back to the early decades of the 1900s. Yet, they have failed to establish socialism in Sri Lanka. They have exploited the sweat of the proletariat to gain political mileage. The worst betrayal of the traditional left parties could be attributed to the political pact they had with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) just to gain a few portfolios for their survival. Now, it is high time to hold a postmortem examination with surgical accuracy by rational-minded intellectuals in this regard. The worst consequence of the sudden impulse of the socialist stalwarts is that their parties now have virtually become three-wheeler parties. Today no worker would listen to their request to attend their May Day rallies. Let’s wait and see. The remaining few members of the politburo will be Waiting for Godot. The radical new left spearheaded by the People’s Liberation Front also at the last convention reiterated that they also had done away with the original Marxist Leninist theory of the proletariat revolution. Thus Sri Lankan workers are in the lurch with regard to their political aspiration. Some ill-organized sporadic workers’ strike wouldn’t pave the way for a workers’ regime. It is very palpable that they also have become the prisoners of the parliamentary system . Lenin crystal clearly pointed out that the parliamentary system was only a means to reach the destination, yet it was discernible that they enjoyed questioning and getting answers while the rank and file were left disgruntled. At the grassroots level not a single activist is found. Once in a blue moon a person comes with an old copy of a newspaper showcasing the May Day speeches of the leaders of the working class in the days gone by.Their oratorical skills were excellent, their speeches logical and meaningful. There is little or no hope for the workers today. The writer is keeping a vigilant eye to see how many genuine workers would participate in the May Day rallies. The status quo seems to be that May day has become the day set apart for fraudsters, murderers, tender benders, bankrupt and frustrated politicians, political sons and daughters,
some literary fossils, pseudo intellectuals, saffron-robed youth, henchmen and goons. Worker representation should be the focal point. Their menu is included with hot drinks and so the fragrance of the sweat is forgotten. The main boast of the pseudo working class leaders are about the number of participants and about wining the next election. Major political parties seem to have forgotten the workers’ rights and have given a new impetus to regaining power or remaining in power to enjoy the parliamentary perks and riding on the shoulders of the proletariat. The vociferous speakers of almost all the political parties who swear to die for the sake of the underdog have their own factories and tea estates. It is an open secret how they treat their own workers in their estates. During the May Day week I would like to remind them to peruse through the vast literature written by the iconic figures of the workers’ movement to renew their spirit. poncia’s character in ‘The House of Berarda Alba’ will enlighten such interested parties to a great extent.
In the tapestry of English literature there is many a gem very pertinent to this discussion. One such poem is ‘A WORKER READS HISTORY’ by BERTOLT BRECHT. In this fine piece of poetry, he very sarcastically questions the historians why they had not mentioned even a single name of the workers who sacrificed their sweat to erect great monuments. The writer would like to list an array of the great works stated in his poetic work: Seven gates of Thebes; Babylon; Lima’s houses; Chinese wall; Imperial Rome and Palaces
These monuments have been built with the blood, sweat and guts of the workers while so many of them had died. It is said that some tyrannical rulers had cut off their hands and fingers even legs not to build such creations thereafter. They have carried craggy stones. Gallons and gallons of honest sweat they have poured into their labour. It is very pathetic and poignant. Have the rulers given due recognition to their sweat. Let’s see what our Sri Lankan fakirs would do to our workers on May Day .
Caesar’s wars were fought not by him, but by his brave soldiers. In the Atlantis legend it was the slaves that saved the lives of the kings and nobles. The kings and nobles have never given any handshake to the slaves, by have mounted their shoulders to save their lives. Have the historians mentioned even a single name of such brave slaves in history? Did young Alexander conquer India alone? Not even a name of a cook in the army has been mentioned in history. It is said that when Philip of Spain lost his fleet of ships in the sea he had not shed a single tear for the crew members. The seven-year war was won by Fredrick the Great, but not a single name of a brave soldier has been mentioned by the historians.
The above description drives home one single truth to the rational-minded intellectuals. Human history has to be rewritten by giving the devil his due. No one has paid the piper. The kings, the rulers, the saviours and the demi-gods of the proletariat have only offered pipe dreams to our comrades. We have to relaunch a genuine struggle by the workers for their rights. False prophets have to be driven away. History has left only so many particulars and so many questions to the brethren of the working class.
“Sadukin pelenawun dan ithin nagitiyaw
Anthima satanata sarasiyaw
Anthima satanata, anthima satanata
Anthima satanata sarasiyaw’
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.