On Saturday May 1st, the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) the annual May Day international online rally. The rally called for the establishment of the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC).
The rally was a major international event. It attracted a global audience of over 2,000 attendees from 73 countries. Participants included people from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Australia, Canada, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Pakistan, Japan, Mexico, Iran, Israel, Russia, South Africa , Nigeria and many other countries.
Fourteen speakers addressed the rally, including leaders of the International Committee of the Fourth International from 10 countries: France, Great Britain, Germany, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. The speeches were given in seven different languages: English, German, French, Tamil, Sinhala, Turkish and Portuguese.
Joseph Kishore, National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (US), moderated the event and the opening report was delivered by WSWS International Editor David North.
In its inaugural report, North pointed to global mass deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. “Exactly one year ago,” he said, “on May 1, 2020, the global number of pandemic deaths had reached 240,000. Today the number of deceased is almost 3,200,000 – an increase of more than 13 times. “
North denounced the responsible capitalist governments around the world for their refusal to take the necessary measures to save lives: “Far from nearing the end of the crisis,” declared North, “the pandemic has the entire capitalist World system deeply destabilized. Not only is the world not approaching the end of the pandemic, let alone the beginning of its end. Rather, what originally began as a medical crisis has developed into a fundamental economic, social and political crisis of the entire capitalist world order. “
North highlighted the importance of US President Joe Biden’s speech at the joint session of Congress, which was held just four days before the rally. Far more significant than the “vague promises of half and quarter measures” that Biden offered, North said, is the US’s accelerating war course against China and Biden’s call to the US to “enter the 21st century [gegen ihre Hauptrivalen] to win”.
In this context, North explained the role of the International Workers’ Alliance of Action Committees. The Biden government and its international counterparts aggressively promote the official unions to suppress social resistance in the working class. North stated:
For this reason, the International Committee of the Fourth International has published the call for the establishment of the International Workers’ Alliance of Rank and File Committees (IWA-RFC). The aim of this global initiative is to develop a real, broad-based movement of the international working class. Its aim is to encourage workers in all countries to break out of the prison-like shackles in which they are imprisoned by the existing state-controlled and anti-democratic unions, which are manned by right-wing, pro-capitalist leaders.
The IWA-RFC will seek to overcome national barriers, resist all efforts to undermine class unity by promoting ethnic and related forms of identity politics, and facilitate the coordination of class struggle at the international level.
Through these efforts to unite workers across national borders, it will make a powerful contribution to creating a global movement that will halt warmongering and prevent war.
North concluded: “The International Committee of the Fourth International, its affiliated Socialist Equality Parties and the World Socialist Web Site will seek to assist workers in founding and building the IWA-RFC while giving that work a clear international strategy to explain the link that exists between local struggles and the unfolding global struggle of the working class against capitalism and imperialism consists.”
All speeches were based on a unified global perspective. They explained the development of the pandemic, the responsibilities of capitalist governments and the role of the trade unions. They motivated the call to found the IWA-RFC and the establishment of the ICFI as a revolutionary socialist leadership of the working class.
Four of the speakers represented sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in Europe: Christoph Vandreier, deputy chairman of the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) and candidate in the upcoming federal elections in Germany; Chris Marsden, leader of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Great Britain; Thomas Scripps, Vice Chairman of the SEP (UK), and Alex Lantier, Chairman of the Parti de l’Égalité Socialiste (PES) in France.
In strong terms, Scripps defended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is still imprisoned in a maximum security prison in London for exposing the crimes of American imperialism.
From Turkey, Ulaş Ateşci, a leading member of Sosyalist Eşitlik, the socialist equality group in Turkey, spoke about the danger of nuclear war, the social crisis in Turkey and the complicity of the trade unions in opening schools and companies in the pandemic. Condemning the various bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties and organizations, Ateşci declared: “These parties, subject to imperialism, are unable to defend democratic or social rights. This task falls to the international working class, which is fighting for the overthrow of capitalism as part of the world socialist revolution. “
Three speakers at the rally spoke about the situation in South Asia – including India, which is currently an epicenter of the pandemic and is making headlines every day with death and human suffering of appalling proportions. Speakers included Keith Jones, National Secretary for the SEP in Canada, who is an expert on the politics and history of South Asia.
Of particular note were two speakers from Sri Lanka, Deepal Jayasekera, Deputy National Secretary of the SEP, who spoke in Sinhala, and M. Thevarajah, a member of the SEP’s National Committee, who spoke in Tamil. The two contributions embodied the SEP’s struggle to unite the working masses of Sri Lanka against the Sinhala chauvinism of the Sri Lankan state and Tamil nationalism.
“We call on the working class in South Asia to break politically and organizationally with these treacherous parties and unions, to unite their struggles in defense of their social and democratic rights and to form their own action committees,” said Jayasekara, explaining that the struggle for socialism must be based on internationalism and Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution.
From Latin America, Tomas Castanheira, a senior member of the Socialist Equality Group in Brazil, spoke about the terrible toll the pandemic has taken in the country. In April, 80,000 deaths from Covid-19 were reported, making the month the deadliest of the pandemic in Brazil to date. As everywhere in the world, Castanheira noted, “the unions are actively working to cripple working-class resistance to murderous capitalist policies.”
“A progressive solution to the crisis in Brazil is impossible without a final break with the trade unions and all forces of the national bourgeoisie,” said Castanheira.
Four of the speakers at the rally were from Australia and the South Pacific: Nick Beams, longtime ICFI leader and authority on Marxist political economy, spoke on the state of the world economy; Cheryl Crisp, SEP National Secretary (Australia); Tom Peters, senior member of the Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand); and Peter Symonds, national editor of the Australian edition of the WSWS, who looked at US preparations for war against China.
Joseph Kishore closed the meeting by highlighting the historical and global nature of the event. “The speakers brought a global perspective to a global audience to build a global working class movement against a global crisis,” said Kishore.
Kishore concluded with the urgent appeal to all listeners to take up the fight for the IWA-RFC, to join the Socialist Equality Parties and to build up the ICFI.
“Objective reality is driving the working class in the direction of socialist revolution. But this potential must be actively implemented. It is not enough to criticize the state of the world. The task is to change it. The basic task is the establishment of a socialist leadership. “