May Day 2009: Fighting the Crisis
On May 1, International Workers Day, millions upon millions will be marching against the capitalist economic crisis that has engulfed most of the world. Working people in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America will hit the streets to protest the soaring unemployment, shorter hours and cuts in pay that are sweeping the world.
Here in the United States May 1 has become a day of mass protest as Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans and their allies demand a stop to raids and deportations and for legalization of the undocumented. The Chicano nation is moving to break the chains of racism, inequality and national oppression and a movement is growing for liberation and self-determination.
On May 1 we celebrate the spirit of internationalism, of solidarity with the struggles of oppressed countries, nations and peoples against imperialism in general and the U.S. empire in particular. Over the last year we have seen the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people against a murderous onslaught of the Zionist planes and tanks, which had the full backing of the U.S. government. The U.S.-backed puppet government in Afghanistan is sinking deeper in crisis and the United States is rushing tens of thousands more troops to try to prop it up. The worldwide economic crisis is weakening the hold of the United States over its empire as more and more countries are challenging U.S. domination around the world.
For the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s the U.S. economy is being crushed between a severe recession and a full-blown financial crisis. Nationwide millions of homes stand vacant and cannot be rented or sold. Millions of unsold cars sit on dealers lots. A crisis of overproduction has overwhelmed the economy as businesses cut down or shut down, throwing millions of workers into the street.
Wall Street firms, from investment bank Lehman Brothers to insurance giant American International Group (AIG), mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and banks such as Washington Mutual, Wachovia and Citibank have gone bankrupt, been sold out, or are depending on government bailouts.
While the government has pumped some $2 trillion into the financial system, the money has gone to pay obscene bonuses, take over other banks, pay dividends to shareholders or it has been just stashed away. With mortgage delinquencies marching ever higher even as home prices continue to fall, working people have been outraged at the bailout that benefits the banks and billionaire investors.
But workers are also fighting back. Working people across the country were inspired by the struggle of the Republic Window workers in Chicago, who exposed Bank of America’s role in shutting down their company. The Republic Window workers are carrying on the long tradition of struggle of workers in Chicago. On May 1, 1886, U.S. workers went on strike for an eight-hour day. In Chicago’s Haymarket Square, striking workers clashed with police. This led to the execution of four working class leaders, three of whom were immigrants. May 1 was declared International Workers Day to commemorate this struggle and the injustice done by the government.
Working people are getting organized to fight the crisis. In Minnesota, a People’s Bailout Coalition has formed. As a coalition of grassroots organizations from the urban poor, labor, student, immigrant rights and anti-war movements, they have been able to introduce legislation that would defend working people and make the rich pay.
Under eight years of Republican rule, the rich got richer and the poor poorer. The government allowed Wall Street to run amok and cleared the way for the financial crisis that exploded last year. They invaded not one, but two countries in their attempt to take control of the Middle East and Central Asia, along with the area’s vast supply of oil. The Bush administration also stepped up the raids and deportations, trying to spread fear and terror in the Chicano, Mexicano and Central American communities. The devastation of New Orleans and Mississippi and the ethnic cleansing of African American communities was not a natural disaster, it was a man-made disaster rooted in the deep racism, and the systematic oppression of the Black nation.
Growing outrage at Bush and the right wing led tens of thousands to protest at the Republican National Convention in September and millions more to vote out the Bush-McCain regime. With the Democrats now in power there has been some help to working people in the form of extended unemployment and health insurance. But the Democrats are still a party of Wall Street and big business. It was the Democrats who rallied the votes for the bank bailout last October, and who passed the second round of bank bailouts this year. The problem was not just Bush and the Republicans, nor is the solution more Democrats in congress.
Only a stronger people’s movement can challenge the hold of Wall Street and big business over economic policy. Only a more massive anti-war movement can oppose the U.S. troop escalation in Afghanistan and U.S. plans to expand the war to Pakistan. Only a revived immigrant rights movement can stop the raids and deportations and win legalization for the undocumented. Only the rising up of African American, Chicano/Latino and other oppressed nationalities can stop the plague of police killings in our communities and advance the struggle for equality, liberation and self determination
In the final analysis, the economic crisis, anti-immigrant movements and imperialist war are part and parcel of monopoly capitalism. It is the tiny minority of billionaires who own the big banks and corporations who profit, while working people lose their jobs, their homes, their communities and their lives. More and more it is clear that we must replace capitalism with a system where production is for people’s needs, not billionaires’ profits: socialism.
Long live International Workers Day!
Legalization, not raids and deportations!
Equality, liberation, and self determination for all oppressed nations!
Jobs and funding for schools and services; stop foreclosures; and make the rich pay!
Stop the troop buildup in Afghanistan; withdraw all troops from Iraq now!