How to Commemorate May Day

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 2, 2012

Follow Ilya Somin’s example:

Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have been commemorating this day here at the Volokh Conspiracy as Victims of Communism Day. Various other websites and blogs have promoted the same concept. In time, we hope to make this a worldwide commemoration similar to Holocaust Memorial Day.

[. . .]

I don’t deny that May Day has a pre-communist history. However, for many decades it was and still is the major holiday of international communism. To try to disssociate it from that history is much like trying to separate the swastika from the Nazis on the grounds that it was once an ancient religious symbol unrelated to Nazism. Many of those who celebrate May Day since the fall of communism in the USSR are either communists themselves or radical leftists sympathetic to communism. Not all are, of course. But the communist connection is is clear and recognized around the world. No other date – including the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact is so clearly symbolic of communism as an international phenomenon. Nor do I think that there is any real danger that a May 1 date for Victims of Communism Day will somehow “perpetuate the confusion of communism with legitimate movements for workers’ rights.” To the contrary, it would help clear up that confusion by clearly indicating that the chief holiday of the international communist movement should be a day of mourning rather than celebration. Nations that wish to commemorate “workers’ rights” should do so on some date not associated with brutal totalitarian dictatorships, as the US and Canada have done by creating a separate Labor Day.

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