By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
May 1st, International Workers Day, is a day of struggle. Around the world, working people will march against imperialist war, to defend the rights of immigrants and to fight to protect their jobs and communities. Here in the United States, May Day has been reborn as millions of Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans, as well as other immigrants and their supporters, have poured into the streets to demand legalization, and an end to raids, deportations and militarization of the border.
Some of the largest protests for immigrant rights have been in Chicago, the city where May Day was born. On May 1, 1886, U.S. workers, many who were immigrants from Europe, struck for the eight-hour day. After a clash with police in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, four leaders of the workers movement, three of them immigrants, were executed. In honor of the U.S. workers fight for the eight-hour day and the anger at the executions, May 1 was declared International Workers Day.
May Day is a day to fight the system that brings ever-greater riches to a few while the vast majority of working people labor for less and less. Families are losing their homes right and left while the CEOs of the big banks that designed and profited from the bad loans walk away with tens of millions of dollars. Corporations are stepping up their layoffs while raising their prices, putting a double squeeze on working families. Now more and more state and local governments are cutting funds for schools, healthcare and the poor while billions are poured into the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. occupation of Iraq and war in Afghanistan have killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to become refugees. The U.S. military is supporting a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing and building walled ghettos in Iraq in a vain attempt to divide and conquer the Iraqi people. The United States and their NATO allies are losing ground in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is trying to increase their troops to prop up the corrupt and inept government set up by the Bush administration.
During the primary elections campaign, the Republican candidates have shown their true colors in calling for even more extreme attacks on immigrants in the United States. At the same time the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) have mounted a growing number of raids on workplaces and even public parks to spread terror among Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans who bear the brunt of attacks on the undocumented. Right-wing anti-immigrant forces have been working at the state and local levels to harass and intimidate immigrants.
Recession, war and immigrant bashing are symptoms of the monopoly capitalist system we live under. A system where the devastation of New Orleans and Mississippi are still not healed, a system that continues to plunder the earth, pollute our skies and oceans and threatens the entire world with unchecked global warming. It is a system that ultimately must be replaced by one that serves peoples’ needs, not profit: a socialist system.
May Day is not just a day to remember wrongs done, it is a day to be inspired by those who continue to fight no matter what the odds. From Palestine to Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan, the people are fighting U.S. and Israeli occupation and their puppet military regimes. From the Philippines to Colombia, the armed struggle against U.S.-backed governments of local oligarchs is intensifying. More and more countries are refusing to bow to U.S. domination of their countries, especially in Latin America where Cuba and Venezuela are but the tip of the iceberg of a growing movement for independence from the Yankee empire.
Here in the United States, struggles are also growing. For the first time in many years, more workers are joining labor unions. At the same time there are victories in electing new leadership that will fight for workers interests and not just cozy up with the bosses. The massive protests against the unjust prosecution of Black students in Jena, Louisiana, show the ongoing struggle of African Americans and other oppressed nationalities. Students on campuses from coast to coast are organizing and speaking out against the war, with a revitalized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) taking the lead.
Over the past few months a record number of people have turned out in primary elections and caucuses, especially in the Democratic Party presidential campaign. This upsurge represents not only a rejection of the Bush administration’s policies of war, racism, service to the rich and powerful, but also the attraction of electing an African American or a woman to the nation’s highest political office. While the Freedom Road Socialist Organization supports a vote against the Bush and the Republican Party’s right-wing agenda, we know that neither a President Obama, and even less, a President Clinton can meet the people’s needs.
May 1 is a day to march. It is a day to build the fight back of the working class and the oppressed nationalities: Latinos, African Americans, Asian, Arabs, and Indigenous Peoples. These two forces can be seen in the last two years, where Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, and their allies, most of whom are workers, have revived the tradition of mass marches on May Day.
Long Live International Workers Day!
Legalization, not Raids and Deportations!
Stop the War, Withdraw All Troops Now!
Protect Our Homes, Schools, and Services, Make the Rich Pay!
Build Fighting Unions, No to More Concessions!