Joint Statement of the Socialist Workers Alliance of Guyana & Mid-Atlantic Revolutionary Socialists – Distributed at the marches, May 1, 2017.
May Day 2017 has arrived in the midst of a world in a capitalist economic crisis which the capitalist ruling class seeks to solve by squeezing more and more out of the working and oppressed masses. The domestic programs of job cuts, immigration restrictions, super-exploitative wages and police repression are combined with international program of war in places like Yemen and Syria to extinguish the last sources of the Arab spring. Donald Trump’s election was the crowning achievement of a resurgence of right-wing populism which has spread across the developed world. The working people of the world have not taken these attacks sitting down and have fought back with general strikes as in French Guiana and Brazil.
May 1st, International Workers Day, provides working people across the world with an unprecedented opportunity to show solidarity with each other’s struggles. The capitalist oppression of some nations, imperialism, has two main features, which are more and more bringing workers in the developed and developing worlds into close contact. First imperialism seeks to export production abroad to cheaper sources of labor and secondly imperialism under-develops countries to the point that their citizens seek a better life in the developed countries. By introducing draconian legislation limiting the rights of these immigrants, these developed countries are able to pay immigrant workers a pittance.
As immigrants and refugees seek a better and safer life in countries like America, it is the duty of every revolutionary socialist to fight against all restrictions against refugees and immigrants such as Trump’s ban and wall. It is also important to fight for equal rights for all immigrants. Karl Marx once famously remarked that in America “labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the Black skin it is branded.” We can take this lesson about the inability of the white working class to achieve freedom while Blacks remain enslaved and update it to the situation today with immigrant workers. Labor cannot emancipate itself if immigrant workers are left to struggle alone because they lack citizenship rights.
It is against this backdrop that the Mid-Atlantic Revolutionary Socialists and the Socialist Workers Alliance issue a joint statement of solidarity on International Workers Day. Guyana is the third largest source of immigrants to New York City and neighborhoods such as Little Guyana and Flatbush where Guyanese reside are in fear of raids and deportations. The struggle of NYC’s workforce against layoffs and for a living wage are mirrored by struggles of Guyana’s sugar workers who face the loss of an entire way of life as the government goes about privatizing the sugar industry.
Guyana Sugar Workers Protesting Estate Closure (pictured)
The capitalist world seeks to divide working people in every way possible so that working people see each other as enemies. This division functions to obscure the fact that the working people of the world share the same enemy in the capitalist ruling class and their governments. By fighting for immigrant and refugee rights, working people are actively combating this division. Also, immigrants bring with them their own traditions of struggle and organization from which other workers can learn.
While we fight against the national division of working people, it is important for socialists to champion the cause of those oppressed based on their race, gender, gender identity and religion. Defending women, people of color, LGBTQ folk and Muslims from the onslaught of the Trump administration remains a priority. Tactics used to target immigrants will inevitable be turned against citizens as well. The NYPD’s gang raids on public housing perfectly mirrors the raids carried out by I.C.E. against undocumented immigrants. It is only natural that immigrants and people of color should unify behind a demand to Stop the Raids!
NYC Immigrant Workers Strike at Tom Cat Bakery (pictured)
The ruling classes of the world are united in their opposition to the interests of the working people. As president Trump was elected and went about carrying out his campaign promises to deport immigrants, ban Muslims and enforce “Law & Order” amongst “the Blacks,” the rulers of other countries have not mouthed any opposition. Guyana’s president Granger has yet to speak out against the immigration raids in Guyanese communities in NYC, or against Trump’s proposed tax on remittances which make up approximately 20% of Guyana’s GDP. In fact Granger stated that he foresees no change in relationship between the USA and Guyana as a result of Trump’s election.
The masses of the world need to take a page out of the book of the ruling class and stick by each other. When Trump instigates racism against the Mexican people, the American working class needs to respond with mass militant protests to show that Mexican masses share more in common with them than the American workers do with the likes of Trump or the Democrats.
To achieve this kind of unity, it is necessary for working people to build a political party which can represent their interests. The supporters of MARS and SWAG believe that this needs to be a revolutionary socialist party. This May Day we march with others outraged by the economic misery, social oppression and imperialist wars of the capitalist world and loudly proclaim that the only solution to these problems is socialist revolution.
Working people around the world need to recognize that we are the ones who run society and when we withhold our labor then society comes to a stand still. Strikes are not just a way to defend our economic interests but a powerful way to show solidarity with those oppressed people under the gun of the state. When whole cities or countries of working people go on strike, these events pose the question of which class runs society. While general strikes pose the question of power, the really challenge lies in answering the question. How do we empower the working class to take control of society?
By fighting for leadership in the organizations of the workers and oppressed, socialists aim to show that gains won under capitalism can only be kept by overthrowing capitalism because if the system remains intact, it’s continual drive for profits will inevitably lead to increased exploitation and oppression. We urge all those who have hit the streets on this May Day to reach out to us to assist in the crucial task of building the revolutionary part of the working class!