May 1st is a holiday for workers across most of the world. America is the country that branded Mayday in the consciousness of workers everywhere on the occasion of Haymarket – Haymarket Square, Chicago, was the site of a May 1, 1886, anarchist-led rally in favour of the eight-hour workday that resulted in massive police violence and the unjust execution of four anarchist worker-leaders, the “Haymarket martyrs.”
The Anarchist movement has always had a close connection with Mayday, first through Haymarket and then through the movement’s consistent emphasis on internationalism – bringing workers from all countries together. This year, Mayday has particular significance: unprecedented levels of popular outrage have focused on the havoc that the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have wreaked on developing countries in the name of the so-called “democratic” governments that created and sponsor them. Working people everywhere are realising that no one is immune from the repressive, unsustainable robbery that the governments of the world perpetrate in the name of “free trade,” and for which the WTO, IMF and World Bank are now the primary engines.
The evidence is everywhere:
- Sweatshop labour that feeds off the labour market “reforms” the IMF/World Bank demand;
- Destruction of the environment that results directly from IMF rapid-development policies;
- IMF-created financial structural adjustment programmes that undermine the economic stability of countries that adopt them (GEAR!);
- Unprecedented dislocation of peoples all over the developing world for purposes of creating vast new pools of cheap labour; and
- Loss of control over the most basic issues of social development due to the giving of decision-making power to the WTO, IMF and World Bank.
Mayday is about uniting working people around the world who are outraged by these problems – problems that transcend boundaries and are remarkably similar whatever country or region we come from and whatever degree of “development” the population has achieved. We reject the idea of “development” as defined by the WTO, IMF and World Bank, and call for the people to take back the power to determine their political, economic and social future.
Mayday was won here in South Africa through bitter struggles. We paid dearly with dismissals, tear gas, imprisonment and even death to win it. Lets make 2001 the beginning of a new movement to win real freedom, equality and social justice by uniting with workers throughout the world.
As anarchists, we are working for a society without bosses, bureaucrats or politicians, where the products of our work are shared equally, where decisions about social policy are made by all those affected by them, and in which people are free to lead their own lives. This is a goal of workers everywhere – shouldn’t it be yours? Lets show the bosses that Mayday is ours!
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