In honor of May Day, 2016 — The potential and strength of the world’s working people could never be more obvious in the course of it being taken over by the contemporary model of master and serf in the last few centuries. The continuous devotion to self-preservation in the face of wage dependance being the only means of survival has never been more powerful. The only tragedy in these affairs, aside from capital occupying all tangible society, is that this energy has not been fully directed in such a way to sufficiency secure production and distribution for all, not for the elite.
This is quite obviously the logical follow-through for unions and collectives associated with missions in labor advocacy and worker autonomy such as the IWW, one that is often never understood by mainstream political discussion and warped by decades of nationalist propaganda specifically in the United States. Even those organizations which specifically distance themselves from socialist tendencies, the pursuit of bettering the working class is a pursuit which assists the progression toward socialization.
The adapted idea of the First of May is that worker solidarity is essential not only in honoring the common people, but in establishing the mutual security of every working person; the goal of unions. However one decides to use this principle is completely open to interpretation, revolutionary or reformist, communist or social democrat. This is what we celebrate this year.
Through the decades since events such as the Lawrence textile strike, the distinct energy of the great union has been demonized and dulled by rising alarmism and tribalism woven by the right and internalized by one generation after the other. Although the left is now reemerging as the progressive stalwart in the United States and worldwide, the remnants of the old rhetoric still spark occasionally from the cauldron of public discourse.
Those who tout “individualism” as the only right way in the course of social and economic life and demonize collectivism (as they think it is) have never stopped and acknowledged the roof over their heads that collectivism has built as they make such claims. Minimum wage laws, social security and health benefits. These and more are the result of taking up arms and organizing as a collective. Individualism is merely an essential component of collectivism, and collectivism being the united independence of a people moving toward an agreed, mutually beneficial goal. If we had considered individualism as the one truth at the time of the United States’ founding, than evident despotism would be the ruling model. Democracy would be null and void. Welfare programs and basic public services as well. These concepts, good ones which we take for granted far too often, are the fruits of collectivism.
Those who believe that the colossal figures in the game of capitalist domination have honestly earned the stones and steel which comprise their empires have never glanced at the cogs which rig the systemagainst the working class and distribute money disproportionately to the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the world, undermining and causing direct injury to the lower class.
What defeats these convenient delusions? What smites this continual notion that oppression has been once and for all vanquished and that the rich are perfectly innocent in times of economic turmoil?
The ideological strife in the midst of current class struggle is the fuel of the flames, the battleground is spearheaded by the enterprises against the united workers. What separates the two is scope and power, making this conflict particularly unstable but predicable. When the labor movement moves forward either by means of direct action or legislation, both are stamped out accordingly by the agents of the state in protection of the capitalists. When the capitalists move forward, either by means of cutting benefits or dodging unions, or simply murder, they are viewed as protectors of profit, not as exploiters. These are the conditions and double standards faced time after time in this struggle. However, this generates discussion and seemingly establishes a point of political compromise where, instead of revolution by the proletariat, the middle ground is social democratic reform by the likes of Sanders in the 2016 presidential race. Although its more or less pacifying the working class in the face of their labor being stolen from them, its the only immediate direction away from pure corporate totalitarianism before a greater society is realized.
In the case of continual solidarity and ensuring each generation a union to be a part of — if not perfect worker self-management in all corners of labor, the future will as always be up to those who build it. The well being of all will rest in the hands of those who toil to guarantee it. And the many who fight to give workers their rights, either in respect to existing systems or in discarding them, will ultimately fight to break down the barriers and hierarchies which create inequality and suffering to the innocent and the desperate who seek a better life.