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May Day - beyond a mere celebration…


24 April 2012 09:48 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The great philosopher Fredrick Engels has said that man has been created by 'labour.' He said this considering the 'labour' has fulfilled within the process that spread out from the primeval ape to the creation of modern man.  On the other hand just as 'labour' created man, the force behind all that man created is 'labour' as well. It is millions of unnamed masses who shed their physical as well as mental labour that created everything from Pyramids in Egypt to the 'Discovery Shuttle' of the USA.
 However, billions of such people who shed their labour for such creations have been denied the fruit of their labour. This was the reality experienced throughout history in slave, feudal and capitalist societies.  However, it doesn't mean that this was a smooth social process the labourer endured without any struggle. The unceasing struggle from Spartacus during slave period to the modern day worker is a demand for a value and right for labour.
 The struggle demanding an 8 hour working day by thousands of workers who assembled at Chicago's Haymarket Square on 1st May, 1886 ended with the usual suppression. The white flags carried by the protestors turned red  with their blood affirming that red should be the colour of struggle.  Simultaneously, struggle of working people throughout the world spread out,   getting 1st May declared as the International Workers' Day. Since then working people throughout the world, trade unions and political parties celebrate the International Workers' Day.  
In spite of the trade union movement in Sri Lanka introducing the commemoration of the May Day to the country, the workers were not politically educated to think beyond listening to fiery speeches of trade union leaders. On the other hand the workers' day was celebrated not only by political parties of the left. Even today the capitalist class pretends to commemorate the International Workers' Day on the pretext of 'appraising labour.' However, these political parties never accept, as a policy, the creator's right for the fruit of his labour. Celebrating the International Workers' Day by such political parties exhibit their shamelessness.
Days have been set aside in the calendar to celebrate various events. There are day for mothers, fathers, lovers etc. Celebrating May Day merely as a day to appraise 'labour' of the working people would be not sufficient. The International Workers' Day should become a day that apprise working people of their rights, educate them regarding challenges and one that gives a vision that would make them realize they could overcome those challenges.
It is no secret that May Day celebrations where Indian artists were brought down to make the worker enchanted to make him forget the reality of his doom were held in this country. Today this has been modified into 'May Day' stages where working people are baffled by patriotic marketing of 'Country first' by rulers who bend their knees before imperialists but feign an anti-imperialist path.  
Capitalism is confirming that it is unable to progress as a social system.  This is not only from the economy that is confronted with crisis after a  crisis; or from the number of masses who are forced out of their work  places, children made to die of hunger and related diseases, elderly people whose lives have been made miserable due to slashing of welfare. Events have shown that private possession of the fruit of labour without giving it to its creators is an obstacle for world's progress. Why did the creators of Wikipedia blacken the website and carried out a day's protest? Its objective was to protest against the attempt by the USA to prevent, through an   'intellectual property rule,' the knowledge gained by the human race throughout its history being shared by everyone.
 Windows Operating System is not a gift given by some deity to its creator Bill Gates during his sleep. This embodies physical and mental labour shed by thousands of humans for nearly a century. Doesn't labour of workers who look for liquid crystals in dark 'unfathomed' mines in Central Africa involved in such a creation? How many workers assembling computer components in Katunayake Free Trade Zone have computers in their homes? How cannot the ownership of the product created (without giving the due value) by a whole human society being owned by an individual be an issue? The world of computers could be accessed only by paying thousands for an operating system and for software. A right the society should own has been made a privilege. The richest man in the world has to be made richer to get this privilege. If it is so, can we say everything has been fair by the working people in the world?
Sri Lankan working masses who are engaged in a struggle to win fruits of their labour have to fight on two fronts. They are the global neo-liberalist capitalism and its local agent, the Rajapaksa government.  While  neo-liberalist capitalism brings forth ideological and cultural  interpretations that attempt to make the worker forget that he is a member  of the working class, the Rajapaksa government preaches that workers should  not ask for any increase in salaries as the 'country' should come 'first'  to defeat 'imperialist conspiracies.' However, the worker has to bear up when the government slashes welfare, increase prices of fuel, devalue and float the rupee and raise loan rates on recommendations of imperialist monetary institutions. The state sector employee asking for a salary increase of Rs.10,000 and the private sector employee demanding a 40%  salary increase become conspiracies then!     
It is evident that the working people could win their rights only by a political struggle that goes beyond a mere change of government. It should be a social change that brings value to labour shed by human beings throughout their history, where everyone contributes his/her labour and ability without any greed. It is a social system that shares equally the fruits of the labour of its masses. Whatever name it would have in the future at present we could call it 'socialist social economic system.

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