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(en) US, Workers Solidarity Alliance - SF Bay Area May 1

Date Sat, 8 May 2021 09:47:12 +0300

Today is International Worker's Day. This holiday was started by the labor and sociaist in many countries in the 19th century to honor the Haymarket Martyrs -- four leading figures in the labor movement in Chicago at the time of the May 1, 1886 general strike for the Eight Hour Day. All were also members of the International Working People's Association (IWPA). ---- The IWPA was a group of workers active in the Knights of Labor -- the main union backing the eight hour movement -- but they were also active in building their own radical independent union in Chicago -- the Central Labor Union. Their radical goal was a "cooperative commonwealth" where workers would be managing the workplaces. But they saw this as a goal the working class would have to build through its own democratic mass organizations. Thus the unions and worker direct struggle were central to their strategy for working class emancipation. They also believed that this movement had to be open to all workers -- in keeping with the slogan "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." Unlike the Knights of Labor, the IWPA were opponents of the anti-Chinese racism that led to the Oriental Exclusion Act.
The IWPA and the Haymarket Martyrs did not believe that the working class could liberate itself -- or effectively advance its goals such as the eight hour day -- through a strategy based on electoral politics. They saw the politicians and parties of their day as corrupt and the American state as repressive. But they did believe in a strategy of mass, democratic organizing. For them the unions were the main potential source of power working people had. Thus it wasthe mass democracy of worker participation in unions that they looked to in building a strategy for change.
By theearly 20th century this type of viewpoint came to be called "revolutionary syndicalism." International Worker's Day was intended by the labor and socialist movements to highlight the worker solidarity the Haymarket Martyrs died for. Theconcepts of solidarity, democratic worker-controlled unionism and worker liberation by overcoming the capitalist regime are still vital ideas today.

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