A Gust of Fresh Wind from the South

There’s no doubt about it: the simmering discontent accumulating beneath the surface of American society is starting to bubble to the surface. As millions of immigrant workers, their families, and supporters participated in the historic “Day Without an Immigrant”, a changing mood is emerging across the country. For the first time in decades, the working class origins and traditions of May Day were once again in the spotlight, as millions of the most downtrodden workers took to the streets to demand their most basic rights.

All of the major television and radio stations devoted a large proportion of their air-time to the national mobilization, and even reported on May Day marches across the world, from Tehran to Berlin. This impressive show of strength by undocumented workers and their allies was a clear indication of the fighting spirit and potential of this movement. The ruling class must surely know that if they were to pass the reactionary Sensenbrenner law, criminalizing some 12 million people with the stroke of a pen, the struggle could take on even sharper forms. With their backs against the wall, uprisings of an insurrectionary character wouldn’t be ruled out in areas with high concentrations of Latinos.

This is why the bosses are trying to divide and weaken us, starting by pressuring the traditional leaders of the movement. Many of them have now switched gears, and are moving might and main to keep things within “safe” channels by encouraging people not to skip work and to go to church instead of onto the streets. They will try to divert the movement into the electoral realm by calling for a vote “against” the Republicans, which in practice will mean voting “for” the “lesser evil” Democrats – whose best alternatives to the Sensenbrenner bill call for massive raids and the deportation of millions. We don’t need these kinds of leaders. We can rely only on our own strength. We need a directly and democratically elected and accountable leadership that comes from the rank and file. We need to continue organizing ourselves in action committees in every workplace, school, and neighborhood, linking them up at the local, regional, and national level. Maximum unity and organization are our strongest weapons.

The bosses want us to fight each other over a few crumbs, even as they enrich themselves like never before and take away more and more of the gains we fought for in the past. Let’s be clear: immigrant workers in miserable low-wage jobs didn’t downsize and off-shore millions of quality union jobs over the last 20 years: greedy corporations backed by a big business government did. They are the real enemies of all working people, and only a united struggle can defeat them.

We must therefore link up with other movements and struggles of the oppressed, and above all the labor movement. We must patiently explain and show in practice that our struggle is their struggle: a victory for one is a victory for all! Just imagine if the all the dock workers in the country refused to load or unload any cargo until all immigrants were granted documents?

To connect with the rest of our class, we must take the movement beyond the basic and correct demand for a general amnesty for all undocumented workers. Immigrant workers must take the lead in the struggle for quality union jobs, health care, and education for all. The mood for unifying these struggles is there, as discontent with the way things are going increases daily.

Bush’s popularity has sunk to just 32 percent according to some polls, and calls for his impeachment are gaining momentum. But the problem isn’t Bush or even his cabinet of divorced-from-reality neo-con hawks. The problem is the entire capitalist system which places corporate profits above human need. This is the underlying motive for all of Bush’s attacks on workers at home and abroad: maximum profits without regard for the consequences to billions of humans and the environment.

No doubt about it: Bush is a particularly ignorant and arrogant representative of the ruling class. But if not him, then some other millionaire politician would be carrying out more or less the same policies. Working people deserve better. We shouldn’t have to settle for a “lesser evil” – for yet another representative of the same exploiting class. We need to break with the two parties of big business and build a mass party that is truly by and for working people. After all, we make up the vast majority of American society and should have our own party. What we need a mass party of labor armed with a program of socialist policies that can genuinely address the needs of working people.

The Workers International League is committed to helping build such a party. We are committed to defending the rights of all workers, no matter where they were born. We are committed to building a revolutionary socialist organization based on the ideas of Marxism – the ideas defended by the International Marxist Tendency and the In Defense of Marxism website.

The world is in revolt. The mass demonstrations in France and the defeat of the anti-youth labor law prove that united in struggle, we can influence the policy makers who in normal times do whatever they want without consulting us. In Latin America, the revolutionary process is sending shock waves throughout the continent. Venezuela is at the forefront, with factory occupations and calls for nationalization under democratic workers’ control multiplying. Bolivia is also energetically joining the continental process with mass support for the nationalization of the country’s petrocarbons. Colossal convulsions are being prepared in Mexico as well, and the effect this will have here in the U.S. will be far-reaching, especially after the recent show of strength by Latino workers, most of whom are of Mexican origin. Revolutions don’t respect borders. Like a gust of fresh wind from the south, the revolutionary peoples and struggles of Latin America will have an increasing and invigorating effect on the class struggle in the United States in the months and years to come.

The mass immigration rights demonstrations of the last few weeks are just an indication of what is to come as other sectors of U.S. society join their undocumented brothers in sisters in a united struggle against the decaying profit system. From the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the north of Alaska, the united working class will change this continent from top to bottom and end the misery of capitalist exploitation once and for all.

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