Struggle for a New World sends revolutionary greetings to the working and oppressed peoples of the world on May 1st, 2020, the first International Workers’ Day of this decade.
We observe the holiday of the working class in unique conditions. For many of us, particularly in the US but also across the world, we will spend today inside our homes due to COVID-19. The big rallies and marches that have traditionally marked this day are on hold, as we all try to weather the pandemic and capitalism’s COVID crisis. Yet, today is still “the day we raise our voices loudest in our struggle against capitalism, imperialism, and fascism, and for socialism, peace, and democracy.” The class war has not been put on hold by the pandemic, but exacerbated by it.
With this in mind, we greet our comrades in every corner of the world: this year and decade have been rung in by US imperialism’s threat of imperialist war against Iran, and the burning fires which sweep across our society’s southern hemisphere twin: Australia. These are but two fitting reminders of capitalism’s threat of world-destroying war and climate crisis. And now we face this pandemic, which has impacted every corner of the world, a fitting reminder of our interconnectedness.
The Assaults of Capital
What has this meant for conditions in the US? The unbridled pursuit of profit over all else has meant that the situation here has been atrociously mishandled. There were no steps taken to prepare the general population, while those with advance knowledge lined their own pockets at our expense.
When necessary social distancing and lockdown measures were implemented, it was done without any consideration for providing for the people. How are we to even consider the paltry $1200 in TrumpBucks, when we are still expected to pay our rent, bills, and all other expenses just as regularly? And how can we pay our rent if we’ve been fired or furloughed?
Unemployment is spiking, state unemployment systems can’t keep up, and our creditors pound on our doors. Even for those of us who still have a job, the “heroic” “essential workers”, we are forced to work in unsafe conditions for paychecks that were insufficient even before, and now only make an insult out of our rhetorical “hero” status.
Even the most threatened and precarious social positions in the “best” of times have been faced with yet new indignities: the homeless are being forced to sleep in parking lots, and the imprisoned have been left to fend for themselves in the perfect conditions for the spread of disease. Afro-Americans, always especially singled out for racist harassment even among oppressed minorities, are punished for wearing face coverings which are necessary to go outside in most areas! Such is the reality of COVID-19 for the workers and oppressed.
The petty bourgeoisie is barely having a better time. Since a capitalist economy, and particularly a post-industrial service economy, is not structured to be able to withstand a temporary shutdown, what few existing public health measures that exist are being pilloried by right-wing forces in the name of “reopening the economy.” This rhetoric is supported mainly by small business owners, who lack the margins to support themselves on their own and who are not receiving necessary aid. The GOP are exposing the lie of their concern for “small business”, and indeed of a capitalism which gives a chance to “entrepreneurs”: in any crisis, the state finds its role to be the economic protection and defence of the major corporations who are the real masters of society. Every economic crisis sweeps away smaller capital in favor of big capital, hastening the trend of capitalism towards monopolization.
In the wake of Sanders’s surrender to the Biden campaign, across the United States political radicals and working class youth in particular have rapidly distanced themselves from electoralist rhetoric and activity. Of course, legalistic and reformist actions and gains ebb and flow in the course of our struggle, and it is no surprise to revolutionary socialists that there can be no smooth reformist course to liberation, and illusions of such a course can only serve to smother radical demands to death.
However, it is equally dangerous to replace a blind reformism with a postured radicalism. Since the outbreak of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, and today in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we have all seen as many reformist projects falter and fall as we have seen cynics stand on the sidelines and sagely predict the failure of everything. The first and foremost question facing us all in these times are what trends already exist which cannot so easily be co-opted and destroyed? What are the actually existing organizations of the workers and oppressed?
Earlier this year, across the border (imposed by inter-colonizer wars) in Canada, there have been renewed actions of Indigenous resistance to the colonizer state. These protests were directed at corporate lust for Indigenous land, water, and other resources, as if the genocide and occupation which was necessary for the creation of the US and Canada did not provide the colonizer ruling classes with enough control of Indigenous lives and environment. As the Indigenous strugglers, from spontaneous local committees to fully organized groups such as Red Nation, do not recognize the colonial border, we hail not only these “Canadian resistances” but the potential they show for wider and deeper cross-continent Indigenous resistance to environment degradation, economic exploitation, and continuing colonial oppression and genocide.
Just as the hunger of capital for Indigenous resources has provoked resistance from Indigenous peoples, among the most oppressed victims of this system, we call to the strugglers of the main oppressor settler nationality in the United States: Sanders did not make the Sanders campaign possible. The growing reemergence of class consciousness even here in the belly of the capitalist-imperialist beast made the Sanders campaign possible. Sanders’s surrender may be intensely demoralizing for those who donated to or took part in it, but it will not be the end.
Last year witnessed a new wave of workers’ strikes in the US, in spite of the relative political cowardice of US unions and accordant predictions that unions were an “outdated” mode of struggle by some left radicals. With deepening economic crisis at the top of the system and resultant rising unemployment and underemployment at the bottom, we are hopeful for continuing efforts to organise labor as labor, for a good old-fashioned strike. Like the struggles of the oppressed peoples, we imagine that the depth of the crisis itself will provoke this.
However, it is not enough to make predictions and watch developments from afar. Our history teaches us that subjective action is the decisive factor in every crisis. With this in mind, let us continue and intensify our call for a material and ideological struggle for the revolution and socialism. Pandemic or no pandemic, we must and will continue the struggle to “bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old” – a world in which “the international working class shall be the human race.” We invite all revolutionary and socialist minded people interested in this struggle to get in touch with us on a comradely and critical basis, so that we may unite in struggle and struggle in unity.
Long Live International Workers’ Day!
Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World – Unite!