We at The Lever wish to extend our solidarity to all working and oppressed people on this International Workers’ Day. We celebrate this May Day ten years into the global crisis of capital brought on by the great financial crash of 2007-8, and 8 years into the policies of austerity which have only exacerbated the conditions of the working and oppressed people of this country. In this essay, we wish to reflect on two events at this moment which show us the direction of travel of politics in Britain.
To anyone aware of the shameful history of the treatment of migrant workers in this county, the Windrush Scandal was not a surprise. The appointment of Sajid Javid after Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s fall indicates barely a change in tone, and definitely not a change in policy of this government towards migrant workers and their families. It will still be the policy of detention centres and charter flights, the legacy not just of May, but of the last 60 years of immigration policy of the sunset period of empire which brings chauvinist and racist attitudes of the white British into service of the needs of British imperialist capital.
We have not seen, and we do not believe we will see, a softening of the murderous border regime under this government. As the crisis of capital in the old imperialist countries becomes more acute, the need to exploit the labour and resources of colonial and semi colonial nations becomes ever more necessary. This means keeping ever larger and further impoverished groups of people in these countries, and degrading the sovereign control of states over the natural resources within their borders. This is most easily achieved through a comprador bourgeoisie opening up the country to imperialist capital, or through war and invasion. Through systems of racism, white supremacy, and patriarchy - all of which have their origins prior to capitalism and played a crucial part in its development - the burden is born by women and people of colour both in imperialist countries and elsewhere. This is why it was so easy to rip up the boarding cards of the Windrush Generation. The denigration and destruction of Black life, dignity, and freedom are not accidental, but part of the very nature of the capitalist and imperialist system.
The fight against war must be linked to the fight for free movement, reparations, debt forgiveness, an end to police and state violence, amnesty for ‘illegal’ migrants, and the restriction of movement of imperialist capital. Let the Windrush scandal be the first nail in the coffin of the frantic scramble for profits that uses human life and dignity as its fuel.
We also are wish to extend our solidarity to those McDonalds workers across the country couldn’t have chosen a better day to strike over pay, conditions, precarious 0 hours contracts, and for union recognition. Union struggles in precarious industries like fast food, cleaning, front of house staff, food delivery will necessarily rise as conditions and pay are pushed down to keep profits up. To allow these momentous struggles to achieve their fullest form, they must be linked with the struggles against war, imperialism, and denigration of the life and liberty of all oppressed people, who disproportionately work in these low paid service jobs.
We must reject bourgeois nationalism firmly as the politics of class peace. We must reject a Petit bourgeois nationalism which dresses bourgeois nationalism in a workerist garb. This is why our holiday is May Day, where we celebrate that are unity comes not from our nationhood, but from the unity of all those who struggle for freedom from all oppression. Our patron saints are our martyrs, and the millions who have toiled without hope, and without end, so we could live to be free.
As the words of Rosa Luxemberg blaze out from the top of our work today, we are reminded that these events are products of the same immense contradictions which plague the system under which we toil. We should recognise that the signs of which she speaks were the signs of a great conflagration, where worker was pitted against worker to die in the name of their nation and their nation’s capital until there was nothing left but blood and filth across the trench carved planes of Europe. If we were to look across the world today, to the Philippines, to Kurdistan, Turkey, India, Cuba, Korea, to their May Day celebrations of their active and ongoing struggles, can we say that our May Day celebrations embody ‘the idea of resolute mass actions as a manifestation of international unity, and as a means of struggle for peace and for socialism’?!
Today in London, the labour and socialist movement marched in memory of Mehmet Aksoy, who was martyred and became immortal this past summer documenting the war against ISIS.
In London on May Day 2012, Aksoy stated that:
It is our duty to realise the politics implicit in Aksoy’s words. To unify these struggles, and raise them to a level which can bring an end to the system which makes them necessary. To do so, we must play a part organising in every part of social life, so that out of the ashes of the next great conflagration, we are able to rise, victorious once again, and stamp the future with our own image.
Workers and oppressed people of all nations, unite!
- The Lever Editorial Group