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Celebrate International Workers Day 2001

by Freedom Road Socialist Organization |
April 2, 2001
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On May 1, hundreds of millions of working people will celebrate International Workers Day. From Madrid to Minneapolis, from New Delhi to New York, working people will assemble. We will condemn all who exploit us. We will celebrate our victories. Moreover, we will look forward to a world that is free of injustice, discrimination, and national oppression.

May Day is our day. It was born in the struggle of the Chicago working class in May of 1886, as workers there fought and died for the 8-hour day. That battle of heroes gave rise to the tradition of demonstrations, strikes, and celebrations on the part of working people around the globe.

This year's May Day comes in the midst of growing economic instability. The dot com bubble burst. A wave of massive layoffs has hit the high technology sector. In our country, manufacturing is in a full-scale recession. Capitalism, the economic system that dominates much of the world, is undergoing a crisis - a crisis of overproduction.

In their rush to compete with each other, the corporate heads went all-out building new factories, stores, and offices. They have grown accustomed to profiting big, while paying us little. So store shelves and warehouses pile up with goods that we can't afford. Detroit is awash with cars that we don't have the money to buy.

Many countries, like Indonesia and Turkey, are in a situation that rivals the great depression of the 1930's. We don't have a crystal ball, but we do know this - in the United States today, most of us want and need more, not less. We cannot and will not accept a declining standard of living. We should not be pushed down because of "profit warnings" on Wall Street.

On May 1, working people everywhere will say "enough is enough." We're going forward. We do not intend to sacrifice anything for those who have confused greed with virtue. The rich say it's a dog eat dog world, and that they need to retrench, restructure and resize to better compete with each other. What they mean is laying people off; dealing out wage cuts; slashing or eliminating public assistance; contract givebacks; or marching off to another war, to take something that belongs to someone else.

When wild dogs roam the streets, it's time to call animal control. Those who would kill a community or country in pursuit of profit are not even worthy of a trip to the humane society. The rich contribute nothing. Neither do the politicians that front for them. They take with a steam shovel and give with an eyedropper. There is no reason to put up with a system that protects their power and privilege.

On May Day 2001, we should learn from the women and men of Cincinnati. The oppressor put a gun to their heads. They stood firm and said, "We won't live this way."

In today's U.S., there is no real equality, justice, or freedom. The slave owners' plantation still casts its shadow on African Americans. High school history books ignore the fact that that American Southwest was once Northern Mexico, so the U.S. can justify the treatment of Chicanos as strangers in their own land. Every oppressed nation has the right to determine it's own destiny.

Each attack of the existing order of things implies its opposite - with our collective work, struggle and intelligence we can aspire to and fight for a better way of life. We can achieve something for our familes and ourselves. That's what May Day is all about.

In the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, millions will march against capitalism. This fact is important. Those of us who are older grew up with a lot of stories about how bad socialism was. However, the truth is obvious - capitalism is a disaster. Old folks who fought the Nazis and kids who should be in school compete for food from trashcans on the streets in Poland, Albania, and the old U.S.S.R.

The U.S. State Department says capitalism is the "end of history." This is the pillow talk of a class in love with itself. Look at what they have brought to the world: poverty, war, discrimination, and exploitation.

About the bankers and bosses, we can say this: never has there been a class that has given so little and gained so much. The wealthy say that all of us are in the same boat. They lie.

The rich man lives on borrowed time. Our time. Life is short and we need to take the future into our own hands. Every class has its own holidays. For working people, May Day is day that belongs ourselves alone. International Labor Day stands front and center.