(CV #43, June 2009).
. From a May Day leaflet of the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee calling on people to attend the May Day march and meeting organized by pro-immigrant rights organizations.
. This year International Workers Day arrives with 220 to 240 million of the world's workers unemployed. The UN predicts that up to 51 million more could be thrown into the streets by years end. Twenty-four million U.S. workers are either unemployed or working only part-time when they want full-time work. 40% of U.S. companies say they plan to freeze or cut salaries this year. U.S. manufacturers are using less than 68% of capacity, the lowest level since record-keeping began. World trade is shrinking perhaps more rapidly than during the plunge of 1929-30.
. The Obama solution to this crisis has been to give over eight trillion dollars to the very finance
capitalists whose practices ushered it in, while demanding that the workers make concessions and
that the masses sacrifice! And like capitalist politicians on every continent, he's demanding that
workers sacrifice in the "national interest" while bailing out their exploiters. For the rich, it's like
winning the lottery but for the people it's robbery. The way forward is to wage the fight against
impoverishment in each country in solidarity with the working people of all countries.
Make the rich pay for the crisis!
. In the face of unemployment much higher than today, during the Depression of the 1930's the workers of this country organized, struggled, and achieved historic victories. Indeed, entitlements like Social Security (which the capitalist politicians now threaten) are by-products of the great class-against-class battles of that era. Today the working-class struggle is still developing unevenly, but millions of workers have already been in motion against layoffs, and are demanding that the working masses be bailed out, not the financial parasites.
. In France, 2 ½ - 3 million people participated in strikes on January 29 and March 19. In Greece, the youth rebellions which exploded after the December police murder of 16-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos have merged with the mass anger against bank bailouts coupled with lay-offs and austerity. Since December there have been three one-day protest strikes, ongoing strikes, and protests by squeezed farmers. Almost half of the Greek workers have taken part in these actions. And confronted by mass protest movements, the governments of Iceland and Latvia have fallen and others may follow.
. The fight of the mainly black workers of the French department of Guadeloupe (in the Caribbean) really shows that major victories can be won in this depression, that the rich can be made to pay! In alliance with popular organizations and fighting youth, on January 20 they launched a 44-day general strike. Despite having to deal with police, troops, beatings, and the arrest of 70 trade union leaders they won a resounding victory: a 15% wage raise; the lowering of prices of necessaries and public transportation costs by 5-20%; a moratorium on all foreclosures, evictions and utility cutoffs; the freezing of rents; and more. This experience in struggle now puts them in a better position for future struggles. Moreover, this revolt of the Guadeloupe masses fueled similar struggles in the French departments of Martinique (also Caribbean) and Reunion (Indian Ocean), while there were also large solidarity demonstrations by workers and national minorities in the French imperialist heartland.
. In the U.S. there is seething discontent with the current situation. For example, when 200 mainly Latino workers staged a December sit-in at Chicago's Republic Windows & Doors factory demanding the $1.5 million in severance and vacation pay owed them by management, they gained immediate sympathy and support from workers and progressives nationwide. The frightened capitalists rapidly capitulated.
. Yet to advance this situation is going to require that workers do new things, and organize in
their own right. The trade union bureaucracies cannot be relied upon. For example, for 40 years
the leaders of the U.A.W. have helped force concessions on the auto workers under the myth that
this would save jobs, while employment in the auto industry continually declined despite these
bad contracts. Now, with G.M. and Chrysler headed for bankruptcy, Obama and the U.A.W.
bureaucrats demand still more concessions! What's needed are class-struggle unions, and
Build the movement against imperialist wars!
. "Peace candidate" Obama is now exposed as another war president. He has escalated the war in Afghanistan and is spreading it further into Pakistan. His "withdrawal" from Iraq has turned out to mean that over 100,000 troops will stay there into next year, and that up to 50,000 troops will stay until an unknown time (the Status of Forces Agreement can be amended). These have always been wars for domination of oil and defense of profit-making empire; and Obama is merely the new political representative of an imperialist ruling class.
. But while the rich have already made hundreds of billions of dollars from these wars, they're
sending the sons and daughters of the workers and poor to kill and be killed in them. And what of
the working people and poor of Iraq and Afghanistan? Over a million have been killed, millions
are refugees, for years they've been living in Hell, and they want the U.S. out now. Solidarity
with them means building the anti-war movement with the conscious aim of defeating U.S.
Full rights for all immigrants, now!
. The capitalists want immigrant workers without rights so that they can more profitably exploit them, and drive down the conditions of all workers. ICE raids and deportations help accomplish this by keeping immigrants in a position where they cannot effectively organize and resist exploitation and discrimination.
. While Obama appealed to voters with vague talk of "comprehensive immigration reform," his legislative package is sure to be a new attack on immigrants, hence an attack on the entire working class. For example, the previous "reforms" supported by the Democrats all involved more immigration cops, more militarization of the border with Mexico, more raids of workplaces and "guest worker" programs which are little more than modern-day indentured servitude. Further, these bills' much-hyped "path to citizenship" consisted of massive fines and fees, 10-20 years of jumping through complicated legal hoops, and the constant threat of deportation should these immigrant workers lose their jobs as a result of racial discrimination, workplace militancy or simply recession. Obama had in mind this kind of reform when in March he said: "You've got to say to the undocumented workers, 'Look, you've broken the law; you didn't come here the way you were supposed to. So this is not going to be a free ride. It's not going to be some instant amnesty. What's going to happen is you are going to pay a significant fine. You are going to learn English.' "
. "Significant fines" from some of the poorest people in the country while he forks over trillions
of taxpayer dollars to the rich crooks responsible for the current state of the economy! To top it
off, this "enlightened" liberal politician even descends into the "English-only" demagoguery of
the most ridiculous chauvinist yahoos of the ultra-right. It is time to prepare for struggle against
Obama-style immigration reform. Workers of all nationalities have an interest in stopping ICE
raids and deportations and demanding full rights for all immigrants, now!
* * *
. This May Day two hundred million people are out of work while billions of people desperately need the products of labor. Wars rage. Immigrants, national minorities and many others are under special attack. Moreover, these present nightmares are the result of a system of production that inevitably goes from booms to busts; that demands expansion to dominate markets, resources, and low-wage labor; and that must strive to divide the working class against itself in order to increase profits. Resistance is the order of the day. And the capitalist system must ultimately be overthrown for the workers and all of humanity to be liberated.
. On May 1st let us raise our fists in solidarity with workers who are fighting bosses and governments everywhere! Let us vow to come to the aid of the Iraqi and Afghan peoples by advancing the anti-war movement! And let us link arms with our immigrant sisters and brothers in the struggle for equal rights! Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
April 22, 2009
Last changed on June 6, 2009.