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On Sunday, May 3, the International Committee of the Fourth International will hold an international online rally to mark May Day, the historic day of international working class solidarity.
May Day this year will be held amidst conditions of immense crisis. Much of the world is already engulfed in war. Without the intervention of the working class, these conflicts, ever more violent and bloody, will lead inexorably to a world war waged by nuclear-armed powers that would call into question the very future of human civilization.
In Eastern Europe, the fascist-led coup in Ukraine, orchestrated by the United States and the European powers in February of 2014, has been followed by a vast militarization of the entire region. NATO troops are engaged in highly provocative military exercises on Russia’s border, and hundreds of US armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters and fighter planes have been deployed to bolster the right-wing, anti-Russian governments in the Baltic states.
In the Middle East and Central Asia, the United States has orchestrated one war after another, each ending in chaos and disaster. Last year, the Obama administration initiated a new war in Iraq and Syria, which has been followed by a US-backed bombing campaign in Yemen, led by the reactionary regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
At the same time, the US is expanding its “pivot to Asia,” constructing a network of military alliances and arms agreements aimed at encircling and containing China—and preparing the way for war. In Africa, Washington is backing Kenya against Somalia in the East, while organizing massive war games involving Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia in the West.
In the quarter-century since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the American ruling class has spearheaded an endless and escalating series of global conflicts. Proclaiming its “unipolar moment,” the US financial aristocracy has sought to counteract the protracted decline of American capitalism through violence and conquest. It has decreed as a matter of policy that, in its drive for world domination, no significant regional competitor will be tolerated.
Nearly fifteen years ago, the Bush administration launched the “war on terror,” seizing on the events of September 11 to invade Afghanistan, in the first of what President Bush called the “wars of the twenty-first century.” It is now clear that the “war on terror” was simply the banner under which the US ruling elite launched a global campaign to subordinate every part of the world to its interests.
While the United States is spearheading the carve-up of the world, the other major imperialist powers are seeking their own share of the spoils.
In Germany, the ruling class is moving to whitewash its crimes in the world wars of the twentieth century as it seeks, once again, to become the dominant power in Europe and beyond. In a similar vein, Japan is quickly casting off the constitutional restrictions against military aggression that were put into place after the Second World War. The anniversary of World War I was greeted by all the imperialist powers—including Australia, New Zealand and throughout Europe—as an opportunity to rehabilitate their involvement in past wars in anticipation of future conquest.
The decision by the major European powers last month to reject direct appeals from the US to not join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank marked a decisive turning point in the crisis of American imperialism. German, British, French and Italian imperialism are all increasingly plotting an independent course.
Between them, the two world wars of the twentieth century annihilated close to 100 million people. As Marxists explained at the time, these wars arose out of the fundamental contradictions of the capitalist system—between an increasingly global economy and the outmoded nation-state system, and between socialized production and the private ownership of the means of production.
In the founding document of the Fourth International, written on the eve of World War II, Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the 1917 Russian Revolution, explained that world capitalism was leading mankind toward disaster. “Under the increasing tension of capitalist disintegration, imperialist antagonisms reach an impasse at the height of which separate clashes and bloody local disturbances… must inevitably coalesce into a conflagration of world dimensions. The bourgeoisie, of course, is aware of the mortal danger to its domination represented by a new world war. But that class is now immeasurably less capable of averting war than on the eve of 1914.”
Trotsky warned, “Without a socialist revolution, in the next historical period at that, a catastrophe threatens the whole culture of mankind.”
Seventy-five years later, the state of world capitalism fully confirms the analysis of the Marxist movement. The breakdown of the capitalist system that erupted in 2008 has vastly accelerated the predatory drive of the imperialist powers for the re-division of the globe, as well as their ferocious assault on the working class. In its attempt to maintain its rule, the corporate and financial elite resorts ever more directly to force and violence at home, casting aside the most basic democratic rights.
The international working class is the only social force capable of putting an end to this criminality and madness. It is not the reactionary nationalism and nuclear saber-rattling of the Putin regime in Russia, or the maneuvers of the oligarchic ruling class in China, that can defeat imperialism, but the vast majority of humanity organized in revolutionary political struggle.
Despite the escalating dangers of a new global conflagration, however, there are no significant anti-war protests or demonstrations. Yet, just over a decade ago, millions of people around the world, including hundreds of thousands in the United States, took part in mass demonstrations against the impending invasion of Iraq. In the intervening period, there has not been any growth of pro-war sentiment in the working class. Rather, the middle class pseudo-left organizations, which organized the 2003 demonstrations on the basis of futile protests to the United Nations and other sections of the powers-that-be, have since fully integrated themselves into the imperialist set-up.
With the elevation of Syriza in Greece to the pinnacle of state power, these forces have become part of the very state mechanisms now being utilized to escalate the austerity offensive against the working class.
But the same fundamental contradictions that produce imperialist war create the objective conditions for socialist revolution. The international working class is an immense social force, more powerful today than a century ago. This social force must be organized, mobilised and provided with political leadership. The fight against imperialism must be connected to the struggle against social inequality, poverty, mass unemployment, police violence and dictatorship.
The turn must now be to the unification of the working class, across all national, ethnic and regional lines. In every country, the same basic question is posed: The independent political mobilization of the working class on the basis of a revolutionary, socialist and internationalist program.
To lead this movement, a political leadership must be built. It is for this reason that the International Committee of the Fourth International has organized the 2015 International May Day Online Rally. Join us on May 3! Take part in the fight to mobilize the working class against imperialist war and the capitalist system!
The International Committee of the Fourth International