On May 1, working people in the hundreds of millions will celebrate a holiday that is truly our own – International Workers Day. On every continent, workers will fill the streets of cities and villages. In the jungles of the Philippines and Colombia, poor peasants will gather. In the countries where the rule of the rich has come to an end, such as Cuba and Democratic Korea, May Day is recognized as a national holiday. From Moscow to Manila to Minneapolis, working women and men will gather and say, “Enough is enough; we don’t have to live this way. We do not have to put up with exploitation, discrimination, and national oppression.”
Most of us never learned in school that May Day was born in the U.S.A. We didn’t learn it because it was never taught. On May 1, 1886 U.S. workers went on strike for the 8-hour day. The epicenter of this powerful movement was Chicago, where workers fought and died. In the aftermath of this battle, the ruling class extracted revenge. Leaders of the gigantic strike were jailed and executed by the government of Illinois. But for the employers, it was already too late. The heroism and determination of the Chicago working class, and those that led them, would resonate around the world. The idea of celebrating May Day as International Workers Day quickly took root. From then on, May Day became the day for our class to celebrate our victories, and to stand up to those who would rob and oppress us.
This year’s May Day comes amid war and crisis. Our class, the working class, faces serious challenges. The rich, the capitalists and corporations who run this country, are “restructuring” the economy to better serve themselves. They want us working at long hours for low pay. For those of us who are unemployed, they are systematically destroying the social safety net. The government is in hands of the wealthy, so it cuts taxes for the rich, and gives the corporations one handout after another.
Our country has become one big jailhouse for the oppressed nationalities with in U.S. borders. According to our rulers, racial profiling is fine – in the airports or on the New Jersey Turnpike. Racist discrimination is a fact of life. Death rows, packed with people of color, give lie to talk of “justice for all.”
The rich have built an empire that extends across the globe. What is called “globalization” is, in fact, imperialism. The corporations are looting the land, labor, and natural resources of others. This robbery is enforced by military means. U.S. war ships sail every sea. American military bases are scattered throughout the world. None of this is for our peace and security. It’s all about money for those that already have it.
What Bush calls a “war on terror,” is really a war on poor and working people abroad and right here at home. Bush calls the Palestinian freedom fighters “criminals,” and turns reality upside down.
In Colombia, U.S. troops are on the ground trying to hold back a revolution. “Former” U.S. generals are working in the Defense Ministry of Colombia’s death squad government. They want to keep Colombia safe for the profits of oil companies. And they hate the idea of the Colombian rebels coming to power. Colombian revolutionaries want a just and decent society, where the people come first. Corporations that covet Latin America’s resources and enrich themselves by paying workers next to nothing are panicked by the prospect of a New Colombia. So the White House sends troops, guns and dollars, while the corrupt president of Colombia struts around with U.S. Special Forces as bodyguards.
Working and oppressed people here are right to stand with our brothers and sisters in other countries. We are ripped off by the same corporations, and face the same Axis of Evil – the White House, the Pentagon, and Wall Street. We do not owe the rich and powerful our love, loyalty or respect. We don’t owe them a thing.
On May 1 we look forward to the day working people – those of us who make society run – take political power in our own hands and run all of society! We can take our dreams of peace, equality and freedom and make them a reality. Our future is bright, and great struggles, with great outcomes. are before us.