MAY DAY 2024 | For worldwide working class solidarity against capitalist war!

A recent NIPSA picket line. NIPSA general secretary, and Militant Left supporter, Carmel Gates, on right

The Committee for a Workers International offers revolutionary greetings and extends the hand of solidarity to the millions and billions of workers and young people worldwide this May Day.

Over the past year the best traditions of workers’ struggle have continued to find new expressions. In Britain, France, Germany and the United States important strikes have taken place. A one day ‘general strike’ took place in Northern Ireland on 18 January. All these actions have helped bring new combative layers into activity and in many cases can act as a springboard to build a left opposition in the unions against ruling conservative bureaucracies, which are increasingly out of touch with the pressing needs of the working class.

In Argentina one million have taken to the streets in opposition to education cuts. In Myanmar the military regime is on the defensive, while in Senegal an attempted ‘legal’ coup d’état was defeated by mass protest. College campuses across the United States are being occupied by thousands of students opposing the US government’s backing for the Israeli-state’s war on the people of Gaza. As in other countries whose capitalist governments back the war, protesters face severe repression and false accusations of antisemitism.

The wars raging around the world, the deepening militarisation of society and the astronomical arms spending is the greatest indictment of world capitalism and the bleak future it offers humanity. Wars continue in Ukraine and Sudan. Conflict has again erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In revenge for the October 7 attack the Israeli-state has unleashed hell on the Palestinians, reducing the Gaza strip to rubble, engineering famine and killing more than 25 times the numbers of Israelis who died last year. Unimaginable horrors, yet to be revealed, are hinted at in the discovery of mass graves at two of Gaza’s hospitals. US imperialism is underwriting much of this carnage, having just passed a so-called ‘aid’ bill worth $95 billion to arm Ukraine, Israel, but also Taiwan as the US ruling class looks ahead to the possible conflicts of the future. An estimated 14% of the world’s population lives within five kilometres of a conflict zone.

In the course of 2023, worldwide defence spending increased by 9% to a record $2.2 trillion. Arms manufacturers are reaping record profits. ‘Defence’ alliances, such as NATO, have expanded. Provocative military exercises, such as the one last week between the US and the Philippines in the South China Sea, or Chinese air sorties near Taiwan, take place with increasing regularity. The expansion or reintroduction of conscription is being injected into national debates by sections of the ruling classes. Many sections of the working class, the youth and the poor masses around the world look on at this death, destruction and suffering in disgust. Even in Ukraine, the Zelensky government struggles to fill its conscription targets.

This is taking place against a background of heightened tensions between the rival powers and scrambles for influence in one region after another. This is on top of a dangerous mix of an unstable economic situation where living standards have fallen around the world, sometimes drastically like in Nigeria, while capitalist strategists fear renewed economic shocks and crises. At the same time the effects of climate change are becoming ever more visible and impacting on everyday life. Tensions in society are leading to governments scapegoating minorities and migrants for the ills of capitalist society and, in some cases, trying to attack the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to use mobilise support on ‘cultural’ questions.

In 2024, more than half of the world’s population will have had the opportunity to vote, a record number. But in almost every country where elections will take place there is little enthusiasm for the pro-capitalist parties on offer. Enthusiasm, like turnout, can plumb new lows as these elections unfold. In Britian there may be hopes that a Labour victory will end the country’s visible decline but these will not last for long as a Labour government will work to safeguard  capitalism. If Modi wins the current Indian elections in terms of parliamentary seats, it is almost certain that his party will not have a majority of votes. Reflecting the frustration and anger of workers and young people everywhere political instability continues to reign amongst the political representatives of capitalism. The current weakness of socialist forces can give the populist right the opportunity to exploit this anger, but their policies can provoke a backlash as we see beginning in Hungary. In particular a Trump victory in November’s US election will heighten instability both in the US itself and internationally, instability that can help create new movements.

Wars and rearmament are moving up the agenda. Socialists argue that only the working class can call a halt to the warmongering of capitalism. An independent class program against all capitalist wars is urgently needed. Independent class action, including strike action to prevent arms shipments, to stop the capitalist classes’ war machines must be built for. The struggle against war must give new energy to the wider struggle to build militant, democratic trade unions and create new workers parties that can challenge and ultimately kick-out the warmongering capitalist politicians. The capitalist ruling classes must be taught again that war is often the midwife of revolution.

This year the CWI is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. This May Day we look forward with confidence that a new generation of youth and working class activists will be won to the ideas of socialism and Marxism and join the struggle for a socialist future where war and all the suffering that comes with it is banished forever.

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April 2024