This year’s May Day has special significance as it marks the 125 Anniversary of the murder of the Haymarket Martyrs by the government of the United States in 1887. In 1886 an international campaign was launched in support of the 8 hour day. As part of that campaign a strike was called in Chicago on May 1st 1886. On May 4th during a demonstration called in support of the strike, a provocateur bomb exploded. The state sought to blame the anarchist who had been at the forefront of the campaign.
The government arrested 8 Anarchists, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, Spies, Lingg, Schwab, Neebe and Fielden. Though clearly innocent, Parsons, Fischer, Engel and Spies were hanged November 11 1887 and Lingg died in prison. The murder of the four men, who become known as the Haymarket Martyrs, sparked a massive international protest and lead to May 1st being declared International Workers Day. A day born out of the brutality of the state and the heroic struggle of the workers and one that belongs to the international proletariat.
On this May Day we are yet again seeing capitalism and the forces of the state attacking the working class. The world is in the grip of an economic crisis resulting from the inherent instability of capitalism. Globalization has set capitalism free from the constraints of national boarders and the oppression of the state is increasing and is being used by governments to attack working class resistance in the interest of international capitalism.
But though today we face remarkably similar conditions to those faced by workers at the time of the first May Day, thus so far there has been a different response by the international working class. The early workers movement turned its back of reformism and sought to build revolutionary unions and launched a powerful fight back against capitalism. Today workers are mainly organized in reformist trade unions that are unable and incapable of coming to terms and resisting the changing nature of globalised capitalism.
To succeed workers must reject reformism and electoral politics and once again turn to internationalism, solidarity and direct action as a means of organizing as a class to directly confront the capitalist economic dictatorship. A dictatorship that is now being clearly revealed across Europe and especially in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain where vicious austerity measures are being imposed on workers.
That these Southern European economies are under attack is not surprising. A powerful group of Anglo-American financiers agreed in November 2009 that a diversionary attack on the euro, centered on the weaker Mediterranean economies, would be an ideal means of relieving pressure on the battered US dollar, then at a record low. This was followed by media attacks and coordinated financial speculation targeting the so-called PIGS countries: Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.
These attacks have been met with growing workers resistance which the IWA has fully supported. There was lately a General Strike on March 22 in Portugal as reported by AIT –Portugal and the USI-AIT is active in the protests against the hard austerity measures in Italy. The protests have been, and are going on in Greece, and the workers at the Kilkis hospital showed the path by occupying the hospital. It was a General Strike on March 29 in Spain, and further mobilizations are initiated by the very active CNT-AIT against the government massive onslaught on workers conditions and rights!
Over the last year the IWA has also been involved in countless, international campaigns and solidarity actions in support of workers worldwide. On March 29, 30 and 31 the IWA also organized a successful Action Days against Capitalist Austerity Measures, Exploitation and Oppression. It is through such campaigns and solidarity actions rather than just words that the IWA is expanding.
The IWA consist of older and newer Sections which the commemorations this year show: The USI-AIT is 100 years, the NSF-IWA is 95 years, the young and vital IWA Section, ZSP-IWA is 5 years. Besides this, in the end of this year, it is 90 years commemoration of the IWA and it`s (re)founding in Berlin!
On this May Day 2012 our message to the workers of the world remains the same as at the time of the Haymarket Martyrs: Capitalism has and always will remain a system based on exploitation and oppression. It is a barbaric system that results in human misery, ecological disaster, unemployment, fascism and wars.
As such capitalism cannot be reformed. Reformism is used by capitalism to undermine and weaken workers self-organization, struggle and emancipation. The only path to emancipation for us as workers is to take control of our own struggle: A struggle that is directed against and outside of class collaborationist structures and that through Direct Action and Solidarity confronts and defeats the Capitalism and establishes Libertarian Communism!
For Workers Self -Emancipation!
Long live the IWA and Anarchosyndicalism!
Oslo, April 28 2012