The Corner

History

May Day Is a Communist Holiday

One suspects that Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman doesn’t see any irony in launching his new capitalistic subscription-based website with a tweet noting the celebration of May Day, a nefarious and un-American tradition.

In 1901, May Day (the one for “workers,” not the Catholic one) became a mandate by the Second International Socialist Congress that proletariat groups “energetically” celebrate the advent of the eight-hour work day.” Leon Trotsky was one of May Day’s greatest champions. In his 35th anniversary speech for the holiday, this contemptible despot, whose only problem with Stalin’s genocide of the Ukrainian populace was that it wasn’t sufficiently “militarized,” stressed that it was a holiday to commend “red militarism.”

Indeed, May Day was inspired by the 1886 Haymarket incident in Chicago, in which an anarchist and terrorist threw dynamite at policemen (the police had killed a protester the day before), sparking a riot. By the end of the day, seven police and four more protesters had been killed.

It was an ugly incident. But while American workers would one day benefit from capitalism in ways that would have been unimaginable to the 19th-century Chicago striker, the ideological progeny of the May Day organizers would go on to kill tens of millions of people and ask millions more to work a lot more than eight hours a day in the Siberian Gulag.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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