International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)
International Labor Day 2020
There are barely street marches and public demonstrations today, Labor Day. There are empty streets, with factories closed and entire nations in lockdown, but the hearts of workers all over the world are beating as one in fighting the global pandemic and the system that breeds it.
This International Labor Day, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) expresses its warmest solidarity to all working people fighting imperialism and local reaction amid the global pandemic.
We hold high the banner of labor and pay tribute to working-class heroes and martyrs. We hold in high esteem the medical frontliners and other essential workers, overworked and underpaid, risking their lives despite severe deprivation and sheer government neglect.
We hold the world monopoly capitalist system, the imperialist powers and their client states fully accountable for the global health crisis made more insufferable by the depravity of capitalist greed, exploitation and oppression.
The working masses can no longer live in the old way
Capitalism has socialized production, but the wealth created by workers are privately appropriated due to private ownership of the means of production. Science and technology has made progress but are completely in the hands of monopolies. In its monopoly stage ruled by finance, the system has become moribund, imperialist wars are waged, the world is redivided and the systemic crises wreak havoc on the people and the environment.
The neoliberal regime in the past four decades have failed to arrest the capitalist crisis of overproduction. Wage freeze, austerity measures, social cuts, privatization of state assets, deregulation and liberalization of trade and investments only allowed capital mobility for more profits. Credit and finance were abused. Government, corporate and household debts piled up to be paid for with workers’ sweat and toil.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of humanity is in lockdown. Job displacements and income losses directly affected 198 million workers. Made more vulnerable are migrant workers, the unemployed, women and children, the homeless, people of colour, the urban and rural poor and those in congested jails.
Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson Emeritus of the ILPS, has sharply pointed out: “Covid-19 has exposed and aggravated the antisocial character of the world capitalist system, the unpreparedness of the monopoly bourgeoisie and the harsh consequences to the people who have long suffered class exploitation, gross inequality, mass poverty and deprivation of social services in the fields of public health, education and housing.” (Source: “On the international situation, COVID-19 pandemic and the people’s response” by Jose Maria Sison)
The public health system in many countries, long eroded by privatization and control of Big Pharma and health insurance companies, are gravely overwhelmed by the health crisis.
The fundamental contradictions under imperialism have further intensified — capital against labor, imperialism against oppressed peoples, one imperialist power against another imperialist power, and imperialism against nations assertive of their sovereignty.
The ruling classes still want to rule in the old way
Today, the monopoly bourgeoisie and capitalist states are reeling from the global economic slump amid the pandemic. They are desperate to recover and they want the world to be the same again post-COVID-19.
The IMF-World Bank are releasing additional loans. Various government stimulus packages are offered and trade deals are being repackaged. Meanwhile, people are entertained at home by media and telecommunication giants.
Instead of collective action to address the global pandemic, the U.S. pulled out its funding for the World Health Organization after it was seen praising China for its response. The U.S. remains bellicose to China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. China maintains alliance with Russia and escalates aggression especially in the South China Sea while exporting capital and loans in its Belt and Road Initiative and its own trade bloc and bank.
Militarism and fascism rise with the use of government troops and coercive powers of the parasitic state to enforce quarantine measures. Ultra-rightist groups fan xenophobia and racism amid the virus scare.
Under the scourge of imperialism, workers are one with all oppressed peoples and nations. The ruling classes want to rule in their old way — by plunder and war. The working masses have had enough.
Rise up to confront governments and fight for system change
It would be foolhardy to wait for helicopter money to fall from the sky. We must confront governments for mass testing, contact tracing, isolation and curative services for COVID-19. Demand guaranteed incomes, food and essential services while in lockdown. Demand that human rights be respected.
We must repudiate social democratic and reformist illusions like begging for so-called “safety nets” to cushion the economic, social, psychological and political impact of the pandemic while maintaining the same exploitative system.
We commend the initiative of workers’ parties and mass activists in extending relief operations to those in need while confronting their governments for the health response. We laud migrant organizations and solidarity friends who initiated noise barrages and other protest actions to assert their economic and political demands. We hail revolutionary forces, like those in the Philippines, who heeded the call of the UN secretary general for a ceasefire during the health crisis. We demand the release of prisoners, especially the elderly and infirmed.
We demand that the United States lift its sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela and 30 other countries. We laud Cuba for providing doctors, health workers and advanced medical knowhow to assist other nations. We assert solidarity not animosity.
We must brace ourselves for bigger battles ahead post-COVID. Workers need to develop their study, mass mobilization and organization during and after quarantine.
The streets are empty, for now. But it will soon fill up with protests and meaningful changes for the working class and all oppressed. The long and arduous struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism will resurge!
Long live Labor Day!
Long live international solidarity!