On May Day, YCL Southern branches celebrated in London – here is a transcript of the speech
This year is an historic year, our 100th year. A year to look back on our century of struggle and the struggle of those who came before us.
When the very first London May Day demonstration was held in 1890 thousands answered the call to down tools and demonstrate for the 8-hour working day and “the class demands of the proletariat.”
It was a display of class power, inspiring all those who were organising to tell the majority who were yet to be organised that the working class was stepping up, and getting ready to take what was rightfully theirs.
They suffered from terrible working conditions — they didn’t have legal unions, and they didn’t have the rights and protections we have today.
However, what they did have was the element of surprise.
Because in those early days the workers were only just discovering their power — and the ruling class had no idea how powerful we would become or what we would be capable of.
It would be only 30 years until the first workers state was established.
But we don’t have the element of surprise today.
We have the rights, often only on paper, that we gained through a century of strikes, occupations, militance and political campaigning, but these rights are also guaranteed by a threat — the threat of socialist revolution.
Guaranteed by the success of revolutionary struggle across the globe, from Russia to China, from Cuba to Vietnam.
Now the ruling class know that this is our end goal.
They know that we intend to obliterate their entire system of privilege.
They know now that this is the end point of the class struggle: total abolition of the rule of capitalists, bankers, financiers, money men of every lazy, worthless kind, and their replacement with the dictatorship of the workers government, by and for the workers.
They know it — and so should we.
We cannot act like its 1890 and we can calmly build our forces pretending we just want a better deal: they know the score.
Having seen the threat of communism, having seen one third of the entire globe turn red in the 20th century, the rich are waging a comprehensive war against us until we don’t even know ourselves, our history or our mission — until everything, even our identity as workers, is gone.
The only way to fight back is with equal clarity of purpose and total dedication.
This is why we don’t live simply in an era of class struggle – but an era of revolution.
Our organising is toothless if we are not organising for revolution.
That is why, on this May the First, our 100th May the first, the Young Communist League comes to the streets not just as class-conscious workers, but as proud communist revolutionaries.
Our day to day tasks in the class struggle must be working towards revolution.
Because we in this country know perhaps more than anyone what asking capitalism nicely to reform itself in our interests leads to: defeat and despair.
Since the 80s we have faced a project to wipe us out: neoliberalism.
First they came for the nationalised industries that we could rely on to keep us in work, to keep this country powerful and productive – that everybody used to accept were a good and necessary thing.
And once they’d changed the paradigm, perverted the values of this nation, they said:
What about the houses? What about the hospitals? What about the schools?
This is what happens when our class enemy gains any small advantage: they press on it, they build on it, they take the initiative and try to take away everything we have, knowing the chaos, crime, poverty and pain that it will cause.
We have to have not the same level of initiative, not the same level of ruthlessness, but more.
They have brought us low, and the only way to rise is to say: we are the communists. And we are here to destroy you.
All those that we rally now to our red banner must know this, that this is our mission, and that this is our life now.
That our banner is red with the blood of those who fought and died for this, the greatest struggle humanity has ever known.
Those martyrs are with you now, today.
It is to them this day, our day, May Day is dedicated. And it is to them we dedicate our lives. Under the red flag of communism, we will conquer the future.