Speech from May Day

Good evening to all. Thanks for joining us at this dinner to celebrate May Day, the International Workers’ Day. Tonight, I’ll talk a little about the international situation, which means talking about what’s happening in the two great armies that are locked in a fight to the death—the army of the bosses and the army of the working class. The bosses are fighting to maintain their system of exploitation and murder—where every year more than 100 million of our class, 32 million of them children, die of hunger or diseases that could be prevented or cured for less than $1 per person. This is the system that the bosses say is the “best” system in the world, where more than 2 billion workers live with less than a dollar a day, while the bosses pocket millions of dollars a day from our exploitation. Our class fights for a better world, a communist world where we’ll produce to meet the needs of the international working class, a system where we can live with dignity and develop ourselves as useful, productive, and creative members of a society that knows no borders, racism or exploitation.

In the capitalist camp, all is not peace and love. There’s a rivalry between them for control of markets, natural resources, and cheap labor of the world. Capitalism’s relentless competition for maximum profit means this rivalry always lead to war: local wars, regional wars and eventually world wars. Even though the bosses and many others say the contrary, we are living in the build up to WWIII.

With this war the imperialists try to solve their crisis and decide who will dominate the world. We can’t predict exactly when it will start but we can definitely say that it is inevitable and that it is getting closer. We won’t go into detail to prove this analysis – but be it enough to say, as Lenin said, that since capitalism developed into imperialism the world entered an epoch of world wars and working class revolutions. The two world wars of the last century prove this, as do the workers revolutions in Russia and China.

On our side, the working class needs to respond to greater exploitation and to the capitalist crisis with demonstrations, protests, strikes, walkouts and rebellions. We need revolution. But revolutions only happen if there’s a communist party with the correct communist political line and a big enough political base inside our class. That’s why it’s important to review our forces. How are we doing in confronting and coming out victorious in the face of this great challenge that history presents us? How can we convert the attacks on our class and the coming world war into a class war for communism?

For now we don’t have the millions needed to make the kind of revolution that the workers need. The old international communist movement has died—a hard blow for our class. The new communist international that we’re building has made modest but important advances—since PLP is organizing in the US and in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Spain, and Pakistan—but it needs to grow in many more countries. In the face of this gigantic task and our current conditions, it may seem impossible to achieve our goal. But as the capitalists attack harder, if we lead the fight against them with our communist line out front, workers will join us. Many of our class internationally dedicate their lives to the fight for a better world. But, others become apathetic, get demoralized, abandon the struggle or don’t want to join it because they don’t yet see big advances. That’s why it would be good to give a brief history of the struggles of our class to see how the revolutionary communists who preceded us overcame these obstacles.

At the beginning of the last century, like today, capitalism entered a deep crisis and World War I could be seen threatening on the horizon. The international communist movement had suffered big reversals. Many of its leaders betrayed the working class by supporting their own bosses in the approaching war. In 1912, the Russian revolutionary communists, the Bolsheviks, only had some 300 members in St. Petersburg, their main concentration—in a city of over 2 million people.  They had some hundreds more in all of Russia that had at the time 166 million inhabitants. In the armed forces, they had a modest group of members doing serious organizing. In 1914, World War I began.

How to convert imperialist war into a civil war for workers’ power? How did they convince a good part of the 14 million soldiers in the armed forces– the majority “apolitical” farm workers—that they have to turn their guns around to fight for socialism—which is what the Russian communists at the time fought for? How to convince workers of this when the Russian bosses had launched massive propaganda accusing Lenin and his party of being traitors to the “nation”, German agents, who wanted to sabotage the war effort so the Germans could conquer Russia?

This would seem an apparently impossible task to achieve with a small group of revolutionaries. But the Bolsheviks did not retreat in the face of these rebuffs, attacks, and even physical attacks by bosses’ agents and even some backward workers or soldiers. Under repressive conditions they concentrated their efforts in the factories, especially arms factories, and the bosses’ armed forces, waging the struggle against the capitalists and the struggle to ideologically convince the masses of workers and soldiers. Their newspaper, Iskra, had a mass readership.

They maintained their unbreakable confidence in the working class, and the workers responded. By 1917 they had 32 thousand members in St. Petersburg—240 thousand nationally and by the end of that year they were taking power—establishing for the first time in history workers’ rule–the dictatorship of the proletariat. This was the most important event in the last century. The working class had achieved the impossible!

Clearly this didn’t fall from the sky. It was the result of almost thirty years of political work, in which many Bolsheviks were exiled, many went to prison, and others executed, but they never stopped fighting shoulder to shoulder with the workers in their daily struggles in the factories, their demonstrations and strikes,  and with the soldiers in the barracks and the trenches, showing them that the enemy was the capitalists, not German workers. This is what gave them unbreakable confidence in the working class and in turn the working class’ great confidence in them.

CLASS STRUGGLE, IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE, AND CONFIDENCE AND MORE CONFIDENCE IN THE WORKING CLASS. This and a correct political line, and only this, will guarantee our triumph, however impossible it seems today. As the bosses’ attacks increase, if we organize the fight against them, with our politics in the lead, the workers will join us.  The changes that are coming will put hundreds of millions of our class in motion. They will awaken politically and be open to radical solutions. If we keep firmly to our convictions, if we deepen our political ties to our fellow workers, especially industrial workers, and with soldiers and students, give leadership in daily struggles, build mass distribution networks of CHALLENGE, and if we recruit to our party, what today seems like a dream, tomorrow the working class will make into reality.

There are many examples of supposedly “impossible” achievements by our class, but we don’t have time to tell them all. The task that history presents us isn’t easy—but we have the advantage of having learned from the great achievements and the errors of those who came before us. They knew they would make mistakes. We have too and we’ll make more. We have to be a fighting party—all the time! That’s why Lenin said, “Our children will fight better than us and they will win!” We say the same thing. But now, we are the children of the old international communist movement, inheritors of their great revolutionary tradition but also the great responsibility, that we cannot and must not evade, of organizing and leading the working class in its struggle for communism—throwing out the goal of socialism with its concessions to capitalism that was the great error of  our predecessors.

But this requires a fighting communist Party that has enormous confidence in the working class together with perseverance, patience and urgency. The bosses are not sleeping, they are fighting us for the loyalty of our class—they want to win them to patriotism, racism and fascism, to support their imperialist wars. That’s why they’re pushing Obama and Clinton so much. On which side the workers fight depends on us. Our class has shown that with communist leadership it is willing to fight to the death against the bosses and will not break, sell out or surrender. On this May Day, let us renew, and redouble our historic commitment to our class. Join the Progressive Labor Party! Long live May Day! Long live the international working class! Long live communism! Power to the workers!

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