May Day has been celebrated as International Workers’ Day for over 130 years, in memory of the Haymarket martyrs, who gave their lives for our cause on the gallows of Chicago. We should recall that many of the martyrs were not only immigrant workers but also radical labor activists, and that the state demonized them because of these factors. As the noose tightened on August Spies in 1887, he shouted, “There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”
Since then, the working class formed a massive global movement, participated in revolutions, and weathered repression and economic crisis. We have survived, and we continue the struggle!
Today we face new dangers, and at the same time, new possibilities for revolutionary change: After decades of neoliberal globalization, which has severely undermined the social safety net, education, and the power of organized labor, global capitalism has taken a new turn in the wake of the Great Recession. With the anemic “recovery” of the past few years, it is increasingly clear that those decades of neoliberalism did not succeed in reversing the decline in the rate of profit that is endemic to capitalism, as was shown by Karl Marx 150 years ago. Desperation within the ruling classes over that problem is crucial to the situation we are facing today.
On the one hand, the coming to power of Donald Trump in the US, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and similar autocrats around the world, all of whom appeal to racism, sexism, and xenophobia, represents a new and more dangerous phase of state capitalism, with fascist overtones. We especially need to oppose Trump’s plans of war and intervention against Iran and Venezuela with the utmost firmness. (For our full statement on Venezuela, see “Hands Off Venezuela! For Socialist Democracy!” [April 6]). These new rulers throw around blood-curdling threats of nuclear war, while also taking violent action against immigrants, Muslims, women, racial minorities, intellectuals, and labor, all the while claiming to be populists representing the “real” people, especially those outside the “corrupt” urban centers.
On the other hand, we have witnessed a flowering of radical, revolutionary, and labor movements. In the Middle East, the hopes of the 2011 uprising have been rekindled by the uprisings in Algeria and Sudan, while in Syria, the Kurds struggle on, and the Palestinian movement has shown new life in the face of Israeli massacres. In France, neoliberal president Emmanuel Macron exacerbates existing social and economic inequalities, while the Yellow Vest Movement has emerged in opposition.
In the US, teachers’ strikes have burst out, achieving a decisive victory in West Virginia and inspiring other states, with women in the lead everywhere. In Iran, the Islamist rulers faced the slogan, “Down with the Dictator” in mass demonstrations of working people in rural areas. In Chicago and elsewhere, the movement against police murder continues to surge against an utterly racist system. The women’s marches and #MeToo, movements in support of immigrant workers and sanctuary cities, as well as youth movements against gun violence and environmental destruction, have shown the mass character of today’s movements of resistance to Trumpism.
The International Marxist-Humanist Organization calls for the complete uprooting of the system of capitalism, not just neoliberalism or Trumpism. We struggle against capital and class, but also against oppressions based upon race, gender, and sexual identity. We aim to develop and project a viable vision of an alternative to capitalism — a new, human society — that can give direction to today’s freedom struggles.