May Day and the Libertarian Workers' Movement

Each May Day we remember the history of workers in struggle for the 8-hour day, which is behind the holiday. This struggle is still relevant. The material conditions of the working class in many places is abysmal and the 8-hour day is still a goal to be achieved, not only because of its absence but because many people simply cannot afford to live on what they could earn in 8 hours. In many places where decent conditions were won due to historic struggles, these gains have been eroded by the advance of the capitalist offensive. Hundreds of millions of working people live in stress and anxiety due to their precarious situation, often not able to afford the basic necessities of life – nevermind fully enjoying the fruits of their labour.

At the same time that this is happening, another, much more dangerous thing is spreading around the world. Anxiety and frustration has driven parts of the working class, always with the manipulation of elites, into worldviews that are both extremely divisive for the working class, as well as highly authoritarian and anti-libertarian in their nature. Scores of working people have turned to nationalist rhetoric and different forms of social conservatism, wrongly thinking that measures such as building walls or stepping up the police state will somehow save them.

At this time in history, we, members of the International Workers' Association, face a number of extremely hard tasks, in light of a mass shift in the ideas which dominate in some of the places we operate and in light of urgency to counter these trends. The IWA has never been just a union federation. It has never only been about just organizing workers in their economic struggles. The IWA is the workers' federation which stands for the new world in our hearts, where all of humanity is equal and the ideologies which divide us, drive us to war, hatred, discrimination etc., are replaced by the libertarian ideal of freedom, respect and dignity for all.

Our history is more than worthy of a mention at this point. Formed in 1922, the IWA, rejected the direction of Bolshevism, having seen its authoritarian nature. Members of IWA Sections around the world fought against the rise of fascism and other authoritarian regimes, presenting the working class with a radically different vision of how society could be organized. One that millions of people actually fought for, with hundreds of thousands losing their lives or their freedom. Taking all this into account, we can say that the internationalist IWA was one of the most significant mass anti-fascist movements, if not the most significant one of the time.

Now is the time for revival. We must never forget that we offer an attractive ideal for the working class – not only a tool for economic improvement. Yet our relevance as a class organization also depends on our ability to reach those who come from outside political and libertarian movements – especially to reach those who may otherwise fall into the manipulative ideological grip of the elites behind the authoritarian, nationalist right wing movements.

We have no time to waste. The future depends on it. This May Day, let our voices be heard, in opposition to the growing nationalist and fascist trends. And every day after, we must build our resistance, on the streets, in the factories and in our fighting organizations.

Death to fascism!
Long live the IWA!


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