Vets: Celebrate May Day
On the weekend of May 1st thousands of workers will gather across the US to celebrate May Day, as working people have done worldwide for almost a century. The people who run this country won't like it al all, for May Day is a slap in their face.
In more than 20 cities workers will shatter the picture the bosses like to paint of the "partnership between labor and capital." Workers who they like to think of as divided by nationality, sex and age will raise a united fist in defiance, look these rich rulers straight in the eye and, with the anger that comes from years of being ripped off and oppressed, tell them to go to hell.
It's no wonder the capitalists hate May Day and all it stand for. And they've gone to great lengths in the past to stamp it out--even going so far as to call it Law and Order Day and promoting Labor Day in opposition to May Day. This year Carter has announced that May Day is "Loyalty Day." But despite efforts to bury it and the fact that it was actually abandoned in this country for almost two decades, May Day, like the struggle of workers, could never disappear. The revival of the celebration of May Day in recent years reflects the resurgence of that struggle and the growing strength and organization of the workers' movement.
For May day is the day when workers come together from factories, mines and fields where they labor daily to produce riches for the owners. They come from the unemployment lines and welfare offices where they are forced to go after they have been cast off by a system that can no longer employ them profitably. They come out of a thousand and more daily battles they have to wage in order to live with some dignity and decency. And they unite as members of the same class, the working class, to put forward their common demands.
This year the May Day Banner is inscribed with the following demands:
US Out of Southern Africa, Superpower--Hands Off
Jobs or Income Now
Fight Wage Cuts and Speedup
Down with Discrimination and Oppression of Minorities
No Cutbacks in Public Services
Decades after the fight for the shorter working day first erupted, workers must still labor long hours in many industries. This is vivid proof that whatever victories are won the capitalists will always try to take them back--and then some. It is not surprising that many of the demands raised in May Days three and four decades ago are still important struggles for workers today.
As long as the profit system--capitalisms--reigns supreme, there will be unemployment and war, people will be driven to exhaustion through speedup and forced overtime, there will be racial discrimination and national oppression. Because at the essence of capitalism is the necessity to constantly maximize profits by forcing more and more unpaid labor out of workers--to force them to produce more each day relative to the wages they are paid.
That's why they keep a large pool of unemployed to force down wages. This drive to push down the living standards of workers for the sake of increased profits also makes it impossible for them to employ all the available workers even if they wanted to. Behind the miserable conditions Blacks and other minority nationalities have been forced to live in lie the capitalist's efforts to force the greatest amount of labor for the lowest possible pay out of them, and to keep Blacks and whites divided to prevent them from uniting to fight for their common interests. And they have been--and will again--be driven to war to expand and protect their interests against other imperialist countries in addition to dozens of invasions and wars like Vietnam.
People don't want to go on fighting the same battles over and over again, constantly having to do battle just to keep from being pushed into the dirt. That's why May Day is important to rally people not only around immediate demands, but around slogans that spell out the over-all character and the ultimate goals of this struggle. This year May Day celebrations and demonstration around the country will unite around four such slogans:
The first-slogan--FIGHT, DON'T STARVE--declares our determination not to bow down and have our livelihood stolen and our militant spirit crushed, but to rise in resistance in the face of the capitalists' growing economic and political crisis and intensified attacks on the masses of people. The second--FIGHT THE RICH, DON'T FIGHT THEIR WARS--boldly states the stand of the working class in the face of the increasing danger of war between the US rulers and their capitalist rivals in the Soviet Union. The third slogan describes the task that confronts the working class in carrying forward its banner in the fight against the capitalist exploiters--WORKERS UNITE TO LEAD THE FIGHT AGAINST ALL OPPRESSION. The fourth slogan points to the source of our oppression and exploitation and is put forward to unite people in the spirit of dealing with the root causes of the problems--DOWN WITH THE SYSTEM OF WAGE SLAVERY.
Veterans, too, have a special interest in May Day. And not just because most bets are also members of the working class with all the many reasons that other workers have for getting together on tat day. In a particular way, veterans have been used by the capitalist class that runs this country; it was our blood and the lives of our buddies that were wasted in the service of the rich. It's the same rich class which, once they have sucked their use out of us, throw us aside. And so vets have special reasons to fight against them now.
May Day is truly a workers' holiday. It is a festival of the oppressed. The forces of the working class are building in the deadly war against the capitalists, as will be seen in the May Day celebrations. But many fierce and difficult struggles lie ahead. A great deal needs to be accomplished. May Day is an important time for workers to marshal their forces, chart the direction forward and celebrate the gains their struggle has won, as well as their ultimate victory.