To all the comrades of the IWA,
To those who feel inspired by our struggle,
To the revolutionary workers of the world,
We address all of you on the occasion of the international day of the working class. A day of commemoration and remembrance, but also a day for gathering, reflection and action.
This first of May is special. This year our association turns 100 years old. A century has passed since the creation of our solidarity alliance of the workers of the world. A century since the Berlin Congress of 1922.
The workers' organizations that met at that congress had been spreading the motto of the 1st International even after its disappearance: "the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves." Those who gathered in Berlin not only declared their independence from the political parties but declared themselves their irreconcilable enemies. From the beginning, the IWA has promoted a transformative trade unionism, with its own vision of the struggle for social transformation, with its values, its principles and its proposals for the radical change of the society.
The founding sections of the IWA shared the rejection of the social democracy parties that defended the militarism of the states involved in the First World War. They also opposed the Soviet Union controlling the international labour movement and subjecting it to its dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is precisely this anti-militarist and anti-authoritarian character that has defined and still defines nowadays the essence of our International.
Antimilitarism is thus part of our genes. We are antimilitarists because militarism is nothing more than one more expression of capitalism. For us, then, there is no rejection of war without rejection of the social and economic order that promotes and feeds it.
We are internationalists because we do not want war between peoples. Because war between peoples is a guarantee of peace between classes. We are declared enemies of nationalism, of all of them. Because nationalism is the lubricant that capitalism needs to grease the machinery of war. Only thanks to nationalism, the elites manage to make the dispossessed identify with them and willing to take up the gun to defend the interests of the powerful.
Today we want to highlight the efforts of the IWA section in the Russian Federation to spread the message of peace between peoples. They and we are all faced with an extremely difficult task.
And there is no way to end the war if we do not also end capitalism.
The media follows the script of the states to create a limited mental framework. In this mental framework there are only the opposing blocks, their motivations and their interests. They only offer us elements of analysis that do not question the social order that promotes war. Either you are with Zelensky or you are with Putin.
If you oppose sending weapons to Ukraine, you automatically become a defender of the interests of the Russian state.
And within the mental framework of capitalism, a war only ends with more war. They can only stop bombs with more bombs. Peace in capitalism is a true utopia.
Capitalism pretends to guarantee peace with militaristic alliances like NATO, but peace can only be achieved through justice. And justice is justice only if it is about social justice.
Precisely, nationalism confuses the individual and leads him/her to think that human beings have rights only because we are part of a nation. That is why nationalists defend national rights over individual rights and focus on justice for the nation over justice for the individuals.
Nationalism uses natural feelings of the human being to mobilize the individual to the battle for the homeland. Nationalism takes advantage of the natural tendency of human beings to love what they know and fear what is unknown to them. It limits the ability of men and women to empathize with all human beings and makes them empathize with only a determined group of people.
And those determined groups of people are groups that can be made and unmade depending on the needs of the elite. Nation-building is a totally arbitrary process.
All human beings naturally identify with people who speak the same language, who live in the same territory, who believe in the same gods. These are all elements of individual identification that nationalism selectively uses to create national identity.
With these identity tricks they manage to make the individual infected by nationalism live in a world divided between US and THEM.
That is why it will be so extremely difficult to convince a nationalist that in war we always lose. Because the drama of war is drama on both sides of the trench. The pain of a mother who buries an 18-year-old son killed in combat is the same in Moscow as it is in Kyiv. The death of both soldiers is equally absurd. But there are those who continue to think that some were only defending themselves from the aggressor and in self-defence. But one can only speak of aggressors and attacked in the mental framework of US and THEM.
Because ultimately it is always about US, the workers, the people. Regardless of the language that is spoken, the land that is inhabited or the laws that subject us. We are brothers and sisters who face existence only with the strength of our hands and the intelligence of our minds. If there is any THEM, these are the ones who exploit us and condemn us to mere survival.
So, when WE go toe-to-toe in the trenches between brothers, it's only THEM who win. Those who sell weapons while the sirens sound and those who rebuild the highways once the bombs have been silenced win. They win by destroying and they win by rebuilding. They always win. And the longer the war lasts, the more they will earn in this business. And we always lose. And our sons and granddaughters lose.
Those who will come lose because war generates hatred, hatred generates nationalism, nationalism generates war, and war generates hatred. And where there is nationalism, where the people identify with their elites and not with the neighbouring people, there is no room for class struggle. And where there is no class struggle, there is no hope of a better tomorrow. And if not, ask our colleagues from the Serbian section of the IWA what happened in the Balkans.
If we continue to think that there are good states and bad states, we will continue to live in a world in which millions of dollars in weapons are sent to help the attacked nation, but vaccines are not sent to developing countries to save lives. We will continue to differentiate between good refugees and bad refugees. We will open the doors to some, and we will beat up others at the border, as the comrades of the Polish section of the IWA well know.
Unfortunately, with the right dose of propaganda, the good states will continue to look good even if they ally with the extreme right, even if they do business with totalitarian and feminicidal regimes, even if they continue to torture in their prisons and continue to persecute those who rebel against social injustices.
Propaganda will make us believe that good states care about people's rights and lives. Those who resist against the Russian invasion are heroes, but young Kazakhs could easily be shot to death at the beginning of the year without a single sanction being imposed on this great ally of Russia. Russia, by the way, sent the army to suppress the revolt of the neighbouring country.
In short, given that capitalism is war, and that capitalism uses nationalism to mobilize the people in defence of the interests of capital, it is clear that the best investment for peace is the daily fight against nationalism.
That is the true meaning of the International Workers Association: to promote the practice of solidarity among workers of all countries that helps us overcome the mental barriers that states impose on us and that keep us in servitude. The daily practice of international solidarity between the sections of the IWA brings us closer to the world we want to build. In everyday life, we have the opportunity to strengthen our union and put our values into practice.
We could conclude by saying that we are proud to celebrate the centenary and that it is an honour to belong to an organization like ours. But pride and honour are for the soldiers, not for those who fight for a better society.
We do not feel pride but joy and hope. Pride is arrogance and moral superiority over those who don't think like us. We are not honoured to belong to the association to which Rudolf Rocker belonged. Because we do not adore the relevant figures, but we feel healthy admiration for their commitment. We value their contributions and criticize their faults, when necessary, as well.
Let us strive to be known and recognized for our honesty. Let's be honest with our work mates and in our propaganda actions. Let us be aware of our limitations and our weaknesses. We are not perfect, nor do we have the strength that we would like, but we are authentic.
Let us never forget that we do not sell a product that can be bought and consumed. Neither do we look for new sheep for our herd nor do we look for followers to feed our ego. We simply live and fight according to our rational convictions. We do not promise, we act.
We anarcho-syndicalists do not fight for what is possible, but for what is fair. We do not promise the coming of the revolution as if we were prophets. We simply limit ourselves to proving day by day, with our way of fighting the everyday battle, that we do not need governments, states, laws, or gods to build fair social relations. By practicing self-management and direct action, we bring to life that new world that we carry in our hearts.
Long live the international solidarity of the workers!
Long live the International Workers Association!
No war between peoples, no peace between classes!
Death to Capital and the State!
Long live the social revolution!
Long live anarchy!