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History Music Politics

International Workers Day

To mark International Workers Day, my partner and I participated in a Zoom meeting with members of Unite the Union, the wider labour movement and people linked to the Miners Strike of 1984. To mark this day on this blog, I am sharing some of my favourite activist songs by Billy Bragg and some quotes from revolutionary leaders like VI Lenin and Ho Chi Minh regarding international solidarity.

misleading press image of anarchist protesters throwing a bomb at police, Chicago, May 1886

There are many things going on globally to mark International Workers Day. In the US, for example, I am aware of Mass Rent Strikes (the 1st of the month being rent day) and strikes at various US companies including Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Target, Amazon, Instacart, WalMart, Shipt and FedEx.

US labor movement (https://www.rlmartstudio.com)

The best way you can honour the many sacrifices of the international labour movement is by joining a union. It’s your best defence against unscrupulous employers, and in this age of rampant free market capitalism there is no shortage of those. And the defence that a union can offer you becomes more powerful as it gets bigger.

UK pro union poster

In the UK and the US, neoliberal free market zealots like Thatcher and Reagan have brainwashed many into thinking that the the unions had become too powerful before they came along. To believe that unions can become too powerful is to fundamentally misunderstand what a union is and what it is for.

Solidarity in the workplace. Educate! Agitate! Organise!

In the history of modern socialism this is a phenomenon, that the strife of the various trends within the socialist movement has from national become international.

Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, “Dogmatism And ‘Freedom of Criticism’” (1901)

All the martyrs of the working class, those in Lausanne like those in Paris, those in Le Havre like those in Martinique, are victims of the same murderer: international capitalism. And it is always in belief in the liberation of their oppressed brothers, without discrimination as to race or country, that the souls of these martyrs will find supreme consolation.

Ho Chi Minh, Le Paria, August 17, 1923
Billy Bragg playing There Is Power In A Union during the “Clap for the NHS & Key Workers”, 30th April 2020

If you are interested, here are some links to further reading about International Workers Day:

International Workers Day Wikipedia page

IWW archive

Solidarity Comrades.

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