By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
May 1 is International Workers Day, a day to celebrate the struggle of the working class and oppressed peoples and nations against exploitation and oppression. All around the world, millions of people will be marching against the capitalists’ policies of austerity and war. In the socialist counties, like Cuba, China and Democratic Korea, the achievements of working people will be celebrated. Here in the United States, May 1 is also a day of struggle for immigrant rights. This May Day, cities across the country will see a renewed spirit of activism as the undocumented and their supporters take to the streets in this fight for justice full equality.
While the bankers’ obscene bonuses are back, unemployment is still in double digits. Across the globe, the big capitalists, the politicians that they own and the corporate media are saying that now is the time for workers to tighten our belts so that the ‘economy’ – that is their profits – can continue to grow. From Greece to Spain and from California to Illinois, governments are slashing spending on social services, raising taxes on working people, cutting government workers pay and cutting schools and college.
The United States government is trying to rally support for escalating and expanding war. Tens of thousands of troops have been sent to escalate the war on Afghanistan, while a 1000,000 foreign soldiers still occupy Iraq. The U.S. is threatening Iran, deepening its military involvement in the Philippines and Colombia and looking to expand U.S. military presence in Mexico.
But working and oppressed people are fighting back. In Greece, there have been general strikes against the that government’s policies of austerity. Here in the United States, the SK Tool workers struck and won back their health insurance benefits that their bosses had tried to take away. In the heart of the non-union South, bus drivers at the University of Alabama were able to win a union contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union.
On campuses throughout California and across the country, another fightback has grown. Budget cuts, outrageous CEO-like salaries for top administrators and tuition increases brought thousands of students, faculty and workers to protest. With slogans of “Chop from the top,” “Tax the rich,” and “Books not bombs,” the fight for education has targeted campus administrators, pro-business politicians from both parties who want to cut taxes for the rich and big business while cutting school spending and the guns-not-butter policy in Washington D.C.
In March, tens of thousands of people rallied for immigrant rights in Washington D.C. and other cities across the country. In communities across the country, Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, other Latinos, Asians, Africans and Arabs are losing patience with politicians’ promises and are demanding “Legalization now!” and “Stop the raids and deportations!”
Around the world, resistance to U.S. domination is growing. Countries want independence, nations want liberation and people want revolution. Countries such as China and Brazil stood up to the United States at international conferences on climate change and are opposing U.S. efforts to isolate Iran. National liberation struggles of the Afghani, Iraqi and Palestinian people continue against occupation by the United States, Israel and NATO countries. The revolutionary struggles of the people of Colombia, India, Nepal and the Philippines to continue to land new blows against reactionary feudal and state-capitalist forces that are allied with efforts of multinational corporations to exploit their labor and natural resources.
A year ago, many people had hope for ‘change.’ They had voted for a change from the Bush administration’s policies of war and laissez-faire or free markets that saw the rich get richer, while the poor went off to fight and die halfway around the world. But today, with the escalation in Afghanistan and an even bigger military budget, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the war policy continues with the Democrats in charge. The free market economic policies have changed, but not for the people. Instead, the big banks, auto companies and drug companies are getting bailed out while millions of homes are foreclosed, millions of people are out of work for longer and longer and millions have either no or substandard health insurance.
There has been no action on the Employee Free Choice Act that would allow workers to beat back anti-union companies. The military’s discriminatory ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ anti-gay policy is still in place. And there has been no action on the promise of immigration reform. For the rest of this year, the Democrats are going to be more concerned with getting reelected than following through with their promises to help working and oppressed people.
The right wing is trying to rebound from their election defeat in 2008 with their tea parties. But their claim to patriotism is but a cover for politics of hypocrisy and hate. As they rail against “government health care” (which many of them enjoy in the form of Medicare), their racism, sexism and homophobia are exposed. But their extremism is backed and protected by powerful Republican and corporate interests who see them as a way to turn the country back to the right.
The people’s fightback has to take on the conservative, pro-business Democrats and the right-wing, reactionary Republicans who both serve the interests of big business and the capitalist system. The way to do this is not mainly by electing ‘better’ Democrats or even progressive third party politicians, but by organizing our work places, communities and campuses to fight for jobs or income, housing and education.
We must fight back with the same spirit as that of the U.S workers who struck on May 1, 1886 for the eight-hour day. We need to learn from the struggle of workers and oppressed people in other countries, and show our support for them. Ultimately we will need to replace the current capitalist system, that brings economic crisis and war, with a socialist system that can meet people’s needs.
Long Live International Workers Day!
Legalization, Not Raids and Deportations!
Jobs or Income Now! Stop the Foreclosures and Cuts to Schools and Services!
Bring the Troops Home Now: End the War and Occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq!