Above photo: A Vietnam War protest (Source: Haverford Blog)
Statement from Black Alliance for Peace
May 1 is recognized as International Workers’ Day throughout the world except in the most bourgeois of bourgeois nations – the United States. Yet, even though the capitalist oligarchy has tried to erase the day from the awareness and memory of the working class and worker-oriented organizations and unions, the working class continues to embrace and take ownership of this day as its’ own.
Today is the day that the multi-national, multi-racial working classes express solidarity with all those who labor, who have nothing but their labor power to sell in order to eke out a living for themselves and their families. Today, workers from all nations, races, genders and nationalities proclaim that – despite differences – there are common interests that bind us and can serve as a basis for a common political stance and program of liberation from the ravages of capitalist exploitation and great power domination.
On this International Workers’ Day, over 140 million people are classified as low-income in the United States of America while tax cuts are given to the rich. 30,000 people still die every year simply because they do not have access to health care; thousands walk the streets not knowing where they are going to lay their heads at night; and millions of working people are paying over half their income on housing and laboring more than 50 hours a week just to keep their heads above water.
And every day, millions of undocumented workers who have been forced from their home countries by the devastating policies of a rapacious, vicious capitalist invasion of their economies must take on back-breaking work not knowing if they are going to evade ICE – the modern-day slave catchers – and make it back home to their families that evening.
These are some of the realties facing workers in the U.S., the richest capitalist nation on earth.
For the Black Alliance for Peace, it is these realities and the realities that are even more acute for African American workers and poor, that inform our political understanding of the historic task of the day. We say without any equivocation that there will be no peace without justice, that the task of workers in the U.S. is to struggle for a vision of a new world that transcends the backwardness of this degenerate and anachronistic system. We have a name for the source of this degrading and dehumanizing oppression: the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy.
Because we are clear on who/what the enemy is and our responsibilities to fight against oppression, we are also clear that we will never support U.S. imperialism in any of its adventures. We are not fooled by the phony humanitarian justifications for interventions by a nation that has consistently proven to be what Dr. King called 51 years ago “the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet.”
That is why on this International Workers’ Day we say once again: “Not one drop of blood from the working class and poor in defense of the gangsterism of the capitalist ruling class.”
We understand that state-sanctioned violence in the war being waged against Black and Brown people domestically is the flip side of the coin of the war being waged against people of color world-wide.
As colonized captives in this oppressor nation, we know that there is a necessity to struggle against domestic policies like the repressive Department of Defense 1033 program that is responsible for militarizing police forces across the country. We also know that we must oppose the training of police forces by the Israeli apartheid state. We also know we have a responsibility in this oppressor nation to take on the U.S. state by opposing U.S. military interventions, destabilization campaigns, sanctions, and the subversion of nations in the cross-hairs of U.S. imperialism.
The struggle for Black liberation must be a struggle against imperialist wars. Defending national sovereignty and self-determinations of peoples’ and nations is not an abstract concept for BAP members—it is a guiding principle of our work.
Therefore, an anti-war position is a necessary first step and an understandable and welcomed moral position for many in the anti-war community. However, for BAP, an anti-war position without an explicit anti-imperialist position would be a betrayal of the millions still subjected to assaults on the humanity of Africans, Asians and the people of Latin America and the Caribbean by the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination.
Four interrelated issues confront all of humanity in general and especially workers and the poor in the United States and abroad today: white supremacy, neoliberal capitalist exploitation, permanent war, and the threat to the planet by capitalist industrial processes.
Confronting these issues will only happen as a result of power being shifted from the capitalist oligarchy back to the people. But we understand that that will never happen without a revolutionary movement and the tide is turning in that direction.
Brave and determined teacher unions made up primarily of women have injected new life into the struggle for the collective human right to organize. New efforts to fight for a living wage are developing across the country. The immigrant/migrant rights movement is disconnecting from the suffocating influence of the liberal establishment and rebuilding the spirit of 2006. The anti-war and anti-imperialist movements are showing new life, and Africans and Black radicals are moving toward consolidating authentic left formations under the leadership of working class organizations and movements.
But we have no illusions about what we are up against. Through its grip on communications and all of the cultural and educational institutions, the rulers are still able to convince significant numbers of workers that there is no alternative and that they can only hope for reform of the system.
50 years ago, worker revolts rocked the world from France to Mexico. On this day 50 years later let us rededicate ourselves to the revolutionary project that re-centers resistance to imperialist war and global structures of white supremacy as representative of a new international workers movement.
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. His latest publications include contributions to “Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. He can be reached at: Ajamubaraka.com