The History of May Day is also part of the History of Immigrant Labour Struggles

Around the world, immigrant labour is exploited. The economic inequalities of the world, made worse by capitalism and the privatization of resources, has long been a motor behing emigration as people struggle for their daily bread.

It has been always in the interest of capital to exploit this situation. In response, the revolutionary workers of anarchist and anarchosyndicalist tendencies have stood for the elimination of the nation state and maintain that the resources of the world are common. The wealth and resources accumulated by the few must be redistributed and further managed collectively, with a aim of creating equilibrium throughout the globe.

The labour movement which fought for the 8-hour day in the 1880s in the United States was mixed, with American born workers and immigrants. Its most radical branch, the anarchists, included large groups of immigrant workers who fought not only for the 8-hour day, but the radical transformation of society.

In the aftermath of the May 3-May 4, 1886 events, it was especially the immigrant radicals who were targetted by the police. 6 of the 8 Haymarket anarchists were immigrants. They were arrested and even killed by the state for their convictions and their activism. As these events mobilized workers around the world, we see a strong link between the history of our movement and the history of immigrant labour organizing.

Currently, immigrants have found themselves under attack in many parts of the world as xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise. Some working class people, whose material position has been eroded and is further threatened by the economic inequalities of capitalism, have fallen victim to the tricks of the ruling classes, which have always benefitted from divide and conquer. They wish to scapegoat immigrants and blame them for “stealing jobs” or whatever, while the capitalist exploiters grow rich off their labor. But we mustn't be fooled about who our real enemies are!

Much of the world is being plundered for resources and those with capital enjoy the unequal status of workers confined within national boundaries to get cheap labor and make more profits. The control of national borders and immigration is partly connected to realities of protecting private property and privelege in a situation where the global north has plundered the global south for hundreds of years. The divide is not only between north and south. A velvet curtain divides Europe. As long as a stark difference in living standards exist, the capitalists will exploit this by pitting people against each other in the search for people who will work for less.

In order to fight against this, we need to be organized and united in our opposition to the capitalist beast. Immigrants, as a group of workers in a particularly vulnerable situation, must play an important role in the struggle and must be given complete support since the struggle is exactly against the same monster. Workers must also be united on an international level and more attention must be paid to the places on the globe where workers struggles are yet to be organized on a mass scale or are brutally repressed by the capitalists or the state. It is exactly in these places where exploitation thrives. The power of workers around the world is only as strong as the power of workers in the modern centers of exploitation.

The International Workers Association wishes all the workers of the world strength in organizing and success in their struggles to end exploitation. For a world without divisions and without borders and an end to the privelege and domination created by accumulated wealth and capital!

IWA Secretariat

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