From the Editors: May Day, Rallying Cry for a New World
May Day, celebrated the world over as International’s Workers Day, has its roots right here in the United States. The United States of the 1880s, with the Civil War less than two decades behind it, was a time of Robber Barons and general strikes, massacres and mass immigration, organization and proletarianization. In this time of accelerated industrialization the workers’ struggle in Chicago was a key battleground.
In the 1880s workers in the city of Chicago and elsewhere rallied around the common cry for an 8-hour work day. The capitalists responded in brutal fashion through the official police apparatus, and when that proved insufficient, the notorious Pinkerton agency, which operated as a paramilitary arm of class rule in that time. The class struggle in Chicago, the clashing of the two rising forces industrial capitalist and industrial labor, came to a head at the Haymarket Massacre in 1886. That signature event gave shape and crystallized the struggle in the hearts and minds of the workers for generations to come.
As conditions today again change, as industrialization gives way to automated production, and national markets give way to a global economy, workers find themselves beset by new struggles and opportunities. Quite simply, money is making money, machines are making machines and workers are being cut out of the entire process. The social contract of the previous day is being torn asunder, pensions are in peril and youth unemployment is skyrocketing. Not only in the U.S. but across the globe workers are struggling under new conditions, including Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Tunisia, Spain and elsewhere.
It is in this context that revolutionaries must win the day. The Fight for $15 is one flashpoint of this struggle. The Fight for $15 is largely taking place around the fast food workers’ struggle for a living wage. But as recent history shows, those jobs can be quickly automated, as is already happening throughout Europe. We need a system of distribution that rationally and fairly reflects current developments in the means of production. We need entirely different economic relationships for those developments to be rationally pursued in ways that don’t chain production to commodification. The Fight for $15 must be seen as a fight for the basic necessities of life itself.
Undergoing this leap from one technological base to the next under the continuing political rule of private property threatens the very life and future lives of working people.
This is important. Only a politically conscious new proletariat can obtain the political power necessary to reorganize society based upon distribution according to need. What we do in the coming days matters. We can win. We must win. We shall win.
May/June 2015 Vol25.Ed3
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011