By INTERNATIONAL WORKERS LEAGUE – FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
May Day is the day of struggle in the world labor movement that was established after the murder of American workers in 1886 who were fighting for an eight-hour workday. On this day we take to the streets on all continents and show that we are one class all over the world. The IWL-FI (International Workers League – Fourth International) addresses the working class and its vanguard to march together with the Ukrainian workers who take up arms against the barbarism of Putin’s war. Let us march with the French and Uruguayan workers defending their right to retire.
Let us march while honoring the struggle of our ancestors, let us reaffirm more than ever that we are one class throughout the world. Those who resist and suffer under Putin’s bombs, and those who confront the French police to preserve their gains, as well as those who fight against the governments in Latin America like Uruguay or Peru, have the same enemy: imperialist capitalism and its governments at the service of our exploitation and death.
Let us remember the millions who died during the pandemic, the human catastrophe that has not been the work of nature, but of the refusal of the governments of the imperialist powers and the pharmaceutical monopolies to open vaccine patents. Responsible also are the bourgeoisie and its governments that prioritized their wealth before our lives. Since then our wages and conditions of existence have not returned to their previous state, rather the situation for workers has continued to decline. If during the pandemic we warned that our enemy was the capitalist system, today, what they call crisis—the decline of their billionaire profits—has caused the increase everywhere of death, exploitation, oppression, and destruction of the environment.
To maintain the capitalist-imperialist system of exploitation and oppression, the “masters of the world” do so by increasing the unequal conditions of existence of the proletariat everywhere on the planet. And therefore, they go against all the gains that we have managed to claw from the bourgeoisie in previous generations.
They are advancing in the destruction of the environment by fueling global warming. Capitalism is unable to stop its reliance on fossil energy, which is now imposing on the proletariat unprecedented sacrifices, droughts, floods, population displacements, unemployment, and hunger.
We see this situation unfold in numerous ways, as in the unbridled persecution of immigrants, as seen in the image of people burned in the “shelter” at the U.S./Mexico border; the grave that is the Mediterranean where children and families desperate to flee from misery have lost their lives; the right to work, which is increasingly scarce in today’s world, and the femicides that takes the lives of 11 women and girls per second all over the world.
Imperialism increases its plunder in the semi-colonial countries or the “global south,” where world powers and their monopoly-controlled states continue to fight over its resources. And they do it with their companies, with the exploitation of labor, the plundering of natural resources, with the increase of interest payments on public debt, and by way of arms. This is the backdrop of warlike conflicts as in Sudan and in Putin’s war of occupation of Ukraine.
We march with the Ukrainian workers, who will not bow down to the second largest armed forces in the world.
While the Ukrainian workers have been taking up arms for more than a year against the occupation of their country, a sordid campaign for “peace” is trying to destroy the sympathy of the world proletariat towards a people that resists and does not allow itself to be enslaved.
This campaign carried out by the imperialist governments, the trade-union bureaucracies, and their “left” acolytes and Stalinist residues, without directly saying so, blame the resistance of a people and not Putin and the imperialist oil monopolies for the world inflation. They propose “peace” without making clear their stance on the occupation and annexation of the Ukrainian territories by Russia.
Worse still, they chorus the propaganda of their governments that “they are sending arms and ammunition to the resistance,” when in reality, they only increase their military budgets. In view of the increase in the rivalries among world powers, they cut pensions, blaming the war, which is not yet over because the Ukrainian workers and popular resistance have overturned all of Putin’s plans.
They do not say the most important thing, that the slowdown of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which caused the retreat of Russian troops, was paralyzed by the lack of offensive weapons, allowing the reorganization of the Russian troops.
Neither Biden, nor Macron-Scholz, nor Xi Jinpin are interested in the sovereignty of Ukraine, let alone in the victory of its armed people! They are only bidding for their own interests and are ready to cut up the country to achieve it.
We fight alongside the Ukrainian workers and warn that Zelensky, as a representative of the oligarchy and foreign corporations, is defrauding the needs of the armed workers who are risking their lives against the invading occupiers, because in the midst of the war, his government continues to favor the robbery and plunder of the country and submits it to the IMF.
The unity of the workers of the world is the only reliable support. We particularly call on the workers of Western Europe, who are facing plans of big capital, to unite with their Ukrainian brothers, to express class solidarity because we are twinned in common interests, which begin with the defeat of the Russian military occupation, respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And we will continue in the struggle against the colonization of the EU, the IMF, NATO, and the USA, and for the construction of a Europe of the workers and people that can only be raised on the ruins of the European Union.
Out with Macron and his pension reform
In the last three months, the French proletariat staged a massive struggle against Macron’s pension reform, which proposes to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, rejected by 90% of the workers of the country. This wave of intense struggles echoes the strikes that British workers have been carrying out this past year, led first by the RMT workers, who for the moment won a wage increase of between 9% and 14%, and which continues with the national strike of civil servants (PCS), nurses (RNC) and university workers (UCU) still in progress. In both France and Britain, the proletariat is coming out to fight, with very significant strikes not seen for decades, to defend their living conditions in a context of crisis, runaway inflation, and new austerity plans of the bourgeois governments.
In France, the mobilization, led by a unitary inter-union coordination, organized 12 days of strikes, many of them massive and followed by millions of workers, which has been increasingly combined with spontaneous actions against the symbols of the bourgeois state in order to paralyze the functioning of the country. The strike movement had as its vanguard a sector of the industrial proletariat (oil workers, electric and gas workers) together with railroad workers and garbage workers, who have managed to paralyze key sectors of the economy. It also managed to drag along the youth and began to articulate the struggles for women’s rights and against environmental destruction.
However, the Borne government and Macron answered with very harsh repression and turned a deaf ear to the claims from the streets and workplaces. In mid-March, it used the 49.3 mechanism of the constitution to impose its reform without a parliamentary majority, a decision that was validated by the Constitutional Council a month later, which also rejected the possibility of a Shared Initiative Referendum (RIP) on it. The result is that, while the reform has been legally validated, it remains widely rejected by unions and workers. Macron and his government are strongly detested by the French; neither he nor his ministers can go to public events without protests, whistles, and pots and pans. Further, the regime of the Fifth Republic was made fragile by showing its repressive, anti-democratic, and anti-worker essence.
This May 1st, French working men and women are once again taking to the streets to protest against the attack on pensions and for a wage hike, but also to demand Macron’s departure. For this struggle to win, however, the union leaders have to change their strategy. Separate strike days without a plan of struggle will not serve to defeat Macron but demoralize the workers who lose days of wages without having a perspective of how to achieve a victory. Given the form the movement took from the start, it was necessary to organize from the beginning an indefinite general strike until the withdrawal of the reform, a strike organized by the Intersyndical, developing the rank-and-file organizations, with workers’ democracy, and also with self-defense measures to confront repression. This strategy remains on the agenda to confront Macron’s reform, and those to come, and impose on the government an agenda that meets workers’ needs.
Socialist revolution is the only way out
On this day that we remember our internationalist traditions, built by past generations, we make our own battle cry. The working class has nothing to lose except the chains that bind us to capitalism, which has nothing to offer us but hunger, misery, destruction of life, oppression, and wars.
The willingness to fight is in abundance everywhere, demonstrated by the Latin American people with the Peruvian Indigenous masses, the Chilean revolution, and the recent strike in Uruguay. It has also been demonstrated by French workers and by the strikers in Great Britain.
But this struggle against the attacks of the governments is not enough. To really achieve the victories we need, to put an end to misery, the destruction of the environment, and oppression, it is necessary to defeat the bourgeoisie and imperialism. It is necessary to build governments of the working class, where it is we who make all the decisions, where we build our own State, using all the means necessary to put an end to the bourgeoisie, its police, its army, and the ultra-right.
However, to break these chains, we need the hammer that is forged in this struggle, and to overcome our main weakness, which is the construction of a revolutionary organization that can take aim at capitalism through a socialist revolution. This is why we call to join the ranks of the International Workers League and its parties, to fight together for the creation of a socialist and revolutionary alternative to end capitalism.