The U.S. Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) sends greetings to working people and their champions on the 120th anniversary of the first global celebration of this unique international workers’ holiday. This is a time to celebrate the struggles and victories of the past and present while looking ahead to a brighter and more humane future. It is a day to mark how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.
May Day originated to advance the fight for the eight-hour day and to pay tribute to the Haymarket martyrs who were hanged or imprisoned in this cause: Albert Parsons, August Spies, and six other anarchists falsely convicted of throwing a bomb that set off a police massacre in Chicago on May 4, 1886.
It is no accident that most of these men, like thousands of their sister and brother partisans for labor’s emancipation, were immigrants. And it is no accident that immigrants are many of the best resisters of exploitation still today – not only in the United States, but around the world.
With every capitalist economic crisis the bosses must provide the suffering working class with someone to blame other than bankers, their corporate fellows, and the governments that protect and coddle them. Already in many countries, immigrants are being offered up as scapegoats for high unemployment, budget deficits and fear over the future.
In the U.S., the crescendo of anti-immigrant xenophobia reached a new level with the enactment last week of a despicable law in the state of Arizona that requires police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country without papers. In practice, this will mean racial profiling: stopping people based solely on the color of their skin, their ethnicity or their accents. It is no exaggeration to compare this law to those passed by the German Nazis which required Jews to carry identity cards. This racist legislation is an excellent illustration of the principle that the bosses always go too far. It has stirred outrage across the globe. Lawsuits have been filed, boycotts launched, and angry protests mounted. The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, has even issued a condemnation.
But President Calderón’s denunciation only points out the international commonality of workers’ exploitation under capitalism. While defending Mexican workers in the U.S., Calderón has shrugged off appeals to intervene on behalf of striking Cananea copper mine workers and their families in his own country. These miners have been locked in conflict with the massive corporation Grupo México over job safety and decent compensation for nearly three years. The strikers, who are occupying the mine and now face forcible eviction by the army or police, are threatening to dynamite it rather than surrender the struggle which has cost them so much.
It is in tribute to the immigrant workers of the world and the miners of Cananea that the FSP celebrates May Day this year. As the distance separating the workers of one country from all others shrinks, every battle, won or lost, affects us all. Now is the time to refuse to be divided by racism and xenophobia and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most oppressed in every country. Through worker’s international solidarity, great advances can still be made. Fired by the absolute necessity for change, working people will undoubtedly make this year’s May Day protests and observations a remarkable moment in working-class history.
Ed Note: See this 1906 video, Arrival of Immigrants