May Day in a Time of Increasing Political Polarization: Some Thoughts on This Moment & the Road Ahead

mao-banner-betterTen years after May Day demonstrations in 2006 brought millions of immigrants and their allies into the streets of nearly every U.S. city to demand an end to deportation, undocumented people  have seen no relief. In the ten years since Latina/o immigrants led a May Day boycott that drove home the message that the struggles for immigrant rights and workers’ rights must be joined, three million more people have been deported. And the backlash intensifies, as Donald Trump’s promise to further criminalize undocumented immigrants and to build a border wall is attracting significant numbers of white workers to a self-defeating racist populism.   

At the same time, we see young African-American, Latino, Asian and white workers joining together in other struggles: Fighting for $15/hour; demanding that killer cops be brought to justice; marching for climate justice; and defending public schools. And our understanding of the present moment both gives us hope and demands that we sharpen our strategy, if we are to succeed in develop their efforts as a militant, class and race conscious force.  

On this May Day, we offer a few ideas that have shaped our thinking about this moment and how to move forward. In short, we see new possibilities for building a ‘strategic alliance’ that unites the working class, immigrant, and Black liberation movements in fighting back against our immediate common enemy, the New Confederacy, as a next step in building the longer-term fight against capitalism and for socialism.  

  • We see that the material basis that once tied large sections of the US working class to the leadership of US capital is disappearing, as the neoliberal system has run up against its own limits, leading to a decline in working class standards of living. As the resulting crises of economy, empire, and ecology deepen, many of the material benefits of the Keynesian/New Deal era—which were based on imperialism, the absence of economic rivals to the US, and access to cheap fossil fuels—are eroding rapidly.
  • At the same time, oppressed nationality peoples are becoming a larger proportion of the US population, workforce and, over time, electorate. The resurgence of the Black liberation movement and immigrant movements have focused attention on the white supremacist roots of US capitalism and imperialism.  
  • US society is becoming increasingly polarized politically as a result of the destabilizing effects of the three-fold crisis of economy, ecology and empire.  New layers of people in the US have been spurred into motion. One of the most remarked-upon features of the 2016 presidential campaign is the polarization it has revealed: while many downwardly mobile white workers and small business owners have embraced Donald Trump’s racist populism, others have been put in motion to support Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialist vision of a ‘new New Deal.’  Possibilities for higher levels of struggle are emerging.
  • We see the New Confederacy as both the main enemy and the dominant force shaping the US political terrain in this moment, even though its dominance is being increasingly challenged. The New Confederacy is composed of the most reactionary factions of capital allied with racist/nativist, right-wing populists. The Republican Party is the political expression of this alliance.  We use the term “New Confederacy” to emphasize the fact that this right-wing political force is rooted in an explicitly racist program and strategy, and that the foundation of its power lies in control of state governments, particularly in the South.

  • We believe that we must build a strategic alliance that unites the forces of the working class oppressed nationality movements fighting back against both racial/national oppression and neoliberal austerity.  Workers’ centers and community organizations, direct action groups like Not1More and #Black Lives Matter, as well as the progressive public sector, service sector, and nurses unions are already making the connections between these two fights.   
  • We must develop our theory and practice of the united front, as well as initiating and strengthening political projects that confront the New Confederacy as the main representative of the politics of racism and austerity. Only in the context of this broad united front does it become possible to unite the various progressive social forces, unify and strengthen the Left, deal decisive blows to the ruling class and to capitalism, and lay the foundations for socialism.

We need to build independent political power and independent political organizations both to integrate various sectors of struggle (living wage, affordable housing, police violence, contract negotiations, etc) into a single political force and to build popular protagonism through people’s assemblies. Similarly, we believe that what we need is a political organization that can coordinate the struggle against the New Confederacy and neoliberalism as a whole.


Written by the National Executive Committee of FRSO/OSCL

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