While, at first glance, it may seem that the coronavirus would throw a wrench in the works for potential May Day gatherings, the international organization, the Trotskyist Fraction (FT) decided to turn the current situation into an opportunity for international solidarity. The FT is an international organization of revolutionary socialist groups spanning multiple countries and continents that are connected by a unified program and strategy.
So, on May 1st, socialists around the world gathered to attend a live streamed May Day rally. Socialist leaders from 14 different countries spoke in 6 different languages to address a wide variety of topics but with one singular message: the current crisis is caused by capitalism and we will not pay for their crisis. This system caused the crisis, so we are building an international socialist organization with the goal of joining with others in the fight for socialism. The rally was well attended with over 7,000 people watching. In the coming days, Left Voice will post videos and transcripts of the speeches.
After the international rally, the Argentinian section of the FT, the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (Party of Socialist Workers, PTS), participated in a rally of the Frente de Izquierda Unidad (Workers’ Left Front – Unity, FIT-U), with speakers from the different parties that form the electoral front. Romina del Plá spoke as a representative of Partido Obrero (PO), Celeste Fierro for the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST), Juan Carlos Giordano for Izquierda Socialista (IS), and Nicolás del Caño of the PTS gave the closing speech.
In Brazil, before the FT international rally, member of the Movimento Revolucionário dos Trabalhadores (MRT) Maíra Machado spoke at a rally called by the union federations CSP-Conlutas and Intersindical, along with members of other left organizations, such as the Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado (PSTU), Moviemento Esquerda Socialista (MES), and the Left Bloc of the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL).
The FT international rally opened with a powerful speech from Left Voice’s own Tre Kwon. Kwon, a nurse who has been organizing frontline workers around the coronavirus, spoke of how U.S. imperialism shaped her life before she was even born and how feminized labor — like nursing — is criminally undervalued by capitalist society. She called for workers to reject the bourgeois parties of the Democrats and Republicans and, instead, create a party of our own.
That capitalism has caused the current crisis was a theme among all the speakers. French comrade Gaëtan Gracias, a subcontracted Aerobus offered a particularly powerful speech in which he said:
Back in March, in the aeronautics industry, where I work , we fought to close most of our plants. We didn’t think there was anything essential about delivering aircraft to airlines that have already grounded their planes. Airbus and the government tried, right away, to reopen the plants – even if it meant using hundreds of thousands of masks for workers instead of giving them to healthcare workers. There’s no logic in that. But our alternative makes sense: workers’ control. We, the workers, should control the health measures…We, the workers, should control the companies’ ledgers – especially companies that claim they are in financial distress as a way to justify layoffs. We, the workers, should decide what gets produced and what doesn’t get produced.We should decide what’s needed, what’s useful in this pandemic. We declared that we’d be proud to produce ventilators, masks, sanitary hand gel … anything that would be useful in fighting the pandemic. The bosses have always turned a deaf ear to that. Now some of them say they’re going to convert some of their production to making masks. But let’s be clear: They’re doing that according to the logic of their capitalist system…The capitalists saw a market where they could make a profit. It’s like a ship sinking, and the capitalists are auctioning lifejackets!
Socialist Feminism and the emancipation of women was also a central concern of several speakers. This was seen in the foregrounding of Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses), a socialist feminist organization that was founded by the the PTS — Argentina’s branch of the FT. Bread and Roses has since spread to several countries and has been an incredibly important tool for organizing women and gender non-conforming folks. Violeta Tamayo, spoke about the important work that Pan Y Rosas is doing in her home country of Bolivia.
We know that working-class, peasant and indigenous women have been on the front lines of this struggle and we are proud to tell you that this past International Women’s Day, the women of Senkata — sisters, mothers, daughters and comrades of the victims of the massacre — led what was the largest mobilization ever by the women’s movement in Bolivia. This was achieved despite the will of liberal feminism
Black struggle was also discussed by several comrades, with Marcello Pablito, a cafeteria worker a university in Brazil, delivering a fiery speech where he declared that:
It is necessary to fight for a government of the workers that breaks with capitalism. Otherwise, we will continue to experience this capitalist misery. And we will be forced to hear [Brazilian President] Bolsonaro use Marielle’s [an activist who was assassinated] name for his own ends. Bolsonaro, keep Marielle’s name out of your mouth. We fight for justice for Marielle, who is a symbol of the struggle of Black women in our country, where Black women earn 60% less than a white man. Brazil’s slave heritage and racism continues to serve capitalism.
Marx famously wrote that workers “have no country” and this was made clear during the rally. Anti-imperialism and the need for internationalism was another unifying call with workers from all over the world speaking about the terrible impacts of imperialism on their countries and calling for international solidarity among workers. Angel, a comrade from Venezuela, explained how the violence of U.S. imperialism was affecting the country.
Imperialist sanctions were imposed by Washington with the aim of instituting a puppet government in Caracas. They confiscated national companies, withheld Venezuelan revenue, blockaded Venezuelan oil, and sanctioned countries who traded with Venezuela. It’s a criminal policy, and clearly a blatant, disgusting imperial attack, whose objective is to strangle the Venezuelan economy and deepen the hardships of the working class, in order to create the conditions for a regime-change orchestrated by the U.S. And the United States has the nerve to talk about “democracy!
Gaëtan from France also connected imperialism to the coronavirus, excoriating patriots and nationalists like Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine LePen:
We would be happy to manufacture ventilators en masse so all workers have them – French and African – no borders, no discrimination. Comrades, the only line we recognize is the one between the classes. We say this loud and clear, especially as tensions between countries are growing . It bears repeating. We oppose all patriotism, whether it’s the left-wing patriotism of a social-democratic populist like Mélenchon or the clearly reactionary patriotism of Marine Le Pen of the National Front. We stand against imperialism, and for internationalism among all workers.
The rally closed with a speech from Raúl Godoy, a member of the PTS in Argentina. Godoy is an inspiring figure who helped lead an occupation of the Zanon ceramics factory in 2001— which is under worker control to this day — and, who, as an elected member of state senate, took the same salary as a teacher, donating the rest to class struggle. Godoy delivered a powerful speech where he called for international solidarity in building a revolutionary movement, saying “Each [member of the FT] has this ambitious and thrilling historical responsibility, which we invite you to join: to carry on our backs a particle of humanity’s destiny.”
We are in a time of great crisis and upheaval and many are suffering around the world. Time and time again the capitalists and their politicians have shown that they have no answers and, instead of helping the most vulnerable, want to make us pay for their crisis. But we will not pay for their crisis. As Godoy explained so well, we are all responsible for shaping humanity’s destiny, and it is in times like these that we need solidarity and organization more than ever. We at Left Voice are proud to be associated with the Trotskyist Fraction and all of our sister organizations all around the world. We are proud to stand in solidarity with the brave workers on the frontline who are fighting back against capitalist austerity and unsafe workplaces. Now is the time to organize because the continuation of capitalism only means the continuation of more misery for the working class. We must rebuild the Fourth International, fight back against the capitalists, and build a socialist society free of exploitation and oppression.