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Remembrance of May Days Past

Science Fiction author, and naturalized American, Sarah Hoyt, recalls the May Days from her youth in Portugal when Portugal was ruled by a far left government, and the celebrations of the might of the Soviet Union that occurred every May Day:

 

Turned out we were wrong, of course.  But it is almost impossible to convey to those who didn’t grow up in Europe at the time, how little sure we were of that, and in fact, how sure we were of the contrary.

We — my generation of Western Europeans — watched the Berlin Wall come down in as much shock as we more recently watched the returns of the 2016 presidential election in the US.

And then the horrible truth was revealed, of what a hollow shell the USSR had been.  Those missiles they displayed, at least those that were sold to other countries after the fall of the USSR, had a tendency to fall back upon those who fired them; the tractors and cars were – if functional at all – pieces of archaic and inefficient machinery that made the landboats of the 70s in America look like technological marvels.

And the workers that the “International Worker’s Day” was supposed to celebrate, were at best serfs, in a corrupt system which pretended to pay them while they pretended to work.  The free health care to which the workers of the great and glorious socialist republic were entitled included such things (we heard of a group of Russians come to one of our civic clubs to beg for syringes and other medical supplies after the fall) as disposable syringes being used over and over again, no access to modern medications, and the terrible and funny story of the group of men who all shared a condom and – because they worked at a rubber plant of some sort – patching it up when they needed to.

Sure, they made a brave display when passing before those stands, because who would dare not display their enthusiasm when the result could be death?  And anyway, they read only the controlled press, and thought Americans had it worse.  They had to have it worse, or else why would all the soft heads on the left here praise the USSR?

May Day, a celebration of labor, instituted by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago, was supposed to be a boost for laborers, and for those who worked – mostly in manual industries – for a living.  It was supposed to show them their own strength and aid them in acquiring more benefits.

It was supposed to be all about Marxism being a boon to such people; to communism and socialism being governments of “the workers.”

The display of tanks and armaments told the other story.  It is possible that Marx — who was rather soft-headed by all accounts — actually believed that workers would be in charge of this utopian regime he foresaw.  In reality, workers, particularly the new factory workers, proved amazingly difficult to weaponize.  Sure, they’d smash and grab when pushed to do it and they’d take advantage of the nationalizing of factories to work less and at least attempt to get more.  But they really just wanted a middle-class living and came to resent those who didn’t work at all in their numbers.  When there was no opportunity for decent work for decent pay, they traded on the black market and did what they needed to do to survive.  The farmers were worse, attached to land and tradition, and mouthing the words but looking askance at the political officers who couldn’t tell a cow from a bull.

And as for all that international brotherhood of workers?  The Soviets might dress their wars abroad as “liberation of workers” but everyone knew them for what they were: acquiring from abroad that which they could not produce at home, and keeping the population at least contented enough they didn’t rebel.

Which is why the “International Workers’ Day” looked much like a military parade.

Of course, they marched and saluted when told to.  What else could they do, die?

Communism and socialism talked pretty about the rights of workers and used that pretty talk to foment unrest abroad.  But at home?  At home, it was completely different.

Because there never were any workers. There were only serfs and slaves.

Go here to read the rest.  A desire for freedom has been placed in every human soul by the hand of God.  Man can attempt to deny it or destroy it, but the desire remains nonetheless and will, in the long run, outlast any tyranny no matter how powerful.

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

10 Comments

  1. I visited Russia in my youth, shortly after the berlin wall had fallen. It was heartbreaking how wrecked that country was yet you could still see signs of surviving beauty here and there.

    Every day I thank God for America. We’re not perfect, but man we are so blessed and better off than most people can even dream.

  2. It was November 1989, I remember watching them tear down the wall at a family event, a baby shower I think, and all of the men were in the back watching the TV and the news. I sat with my Great Uncle Henry who was born in Germany. I asked him what he thought about it. He was quite pleased with the turn of events. He started to talk a bit. His mother was still alive and he had recently been back to visit her. It was the first time since he left. He said Hamburg had changed a lot, “with the war and all.” I asked him when did he leave? He said 1921.
    He has since gone to his reward. He was a smart man, an aeronautical engineer who designed the landing gears for the B1 bomber. He had a great B1 tie pin.

  3. “May Day, a celebration of labor, instituted by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International”

    In your other post you quote approvingly of a Socialist and this you quote a confused writer. The Second International was Socialist and anti-Communist. The Communists had formed their own Communist (Third) International.

  4. “In your other post you quote approvingly of a Socialist”

    By the end of his life Orwell was in the process of being a Recovering Socialist. One of many reasons I find Orwell fascinating was his capacity to learn through his experiences, ever a rare and precious attribute among the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve.

  5. By the end of his life Orwell was in the process of being a Recovering Socialist.

    When you need to put THREE qualifiers in a sentence, I think you are supporting my observation. Orwell was a lifelong Socialist of the Second International variety.

  6. In your other post you quote approvingly of a Socialist and this you quote a confused writer.

    She’s not confused, she refuses to accept the distinction. Same way she’d laugh her rump off at the idea that Hitler was “right wing” just because he was slightly to the right of Stalin.

    When you need to put THREE qualifiers in a sentence, I think you are supporting my observation.

    When you’ve got to argue guilt by association, ad hominin and similar fallacies, your still unsupported observations aren’t worth much.

    If his quoted statements were so obviously wrong, it should be child’s play to show it; if the writer is so confused, it should be dead simple to show it.

  7. I think you are supporting my observation. Orwell was a lifelong Socialist of the Second International variety.

    Eric Blair didn’t take up unconventional politics until about 1928. Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it had to navigate the red-haze element in Anglo-American publishing in order to see print. That wasn’t a novel departure; he had for years been associated with Partisan Review, a source of critiques of the Soviet order. See also Robert Nisbet’s essay, ‘George Orwell and the Conservative Imagination”. Consider the trajectory of Seymour Martin Lipset’s circle at City College of New York ca. 1939. These were people the better part of a generation younger than Orwell, but cogitating about many of the same things.

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