AWSM are pleased to co-sign this statement along with anarchist groups around the world to celebrate May Day

May 1st, 1886, a wide-ranging strike started in the United States demanding an eight-hour working day. The journey’s slogan was “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, propagandised since the mid-19th century and through which the labour movement struggled to seize power from Capital and dispute worker’s time for life, culture, and enjoyment. 
            The strike was prepared in advance. The American labour movement decided on it in 1884. To carry it out, hundreds of meetings and rallies were held, funds were collected, at times when union organising was illegal. Manifestos and newspapers were circulated encouraging workers to join the planned strike. 
            Yet the struggle for an eight-hour working day was not conceived as a mere reform. It was permeated with hope for a better tomorrow, a struggle which in turn made its way to another definite struggle for an egalitarian society, free of all oppression. Neither was it understood that this struggle should pass through congress, nor through the courts, but rather that it should succeed by means of direct-action lead by the popular masses.  The working class distrusted those deceitful institutions that meant for them a source of repression and hunger. 
            On May 1st, 1886, the strike proved to be massive, with demonstrations across the country, with its core at the populous industrial city of Chicago. There, police repression was strongly felt, as well as workers’ resistance; confrontations took place,  resulting in several dead and injured, including one worker who died in front of the McCormick industrial plant, where there were many scabs. 
            Challenged with fierce repression, workers called for a demonstration on May 4th at Haymarket Square. During the event, an unknown person threw an explosive device, in response to repression by the police. This instigated the police’s brutal response, launching a campaign of persecution, imprisonment and torture against workers, of which eight frontline militants and anarchist union leaders were crushed by the full burden of bourgeoise justice, after being convicted of conspiracy.
            The court case was an anti-working class set up, just as only a few years later another two prominent anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, would be set up as well. Testimonies and evidence were fabricated, bringing down the bourgeoisie’s resentment on the working-class militancy. Even the prosecutor, Julius Grinnell, himself phrased it as follows: “Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial… Gentlemen of the jury, convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society”.
            The following year, in November 1887, the bourgeoise law sentenced some of the accused anarchists to several years of imprisonment, and the others to death by hanging. Before the court, Adolph  Fischer declared: 
                “If I am to die on account of being an Anarchist, on account of my love for liberty, fraternity and equality, then I will not remonstrate. If death is the penalty for our love of the freedom of the human race, then I say openly I have forfeited my life; but a murderer I am not”. 
                Since then, May 1st (or May Day) is commemorated as the International Workers’ Day. First commemorated in 1890, May Day is commemorated as a day of workers’ strikes against Capital, as an occasion for tributes to the martyrs of the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago and to fight for the 8-hour workday. As a result of strikes and tenacious struggle, the 8-hour demand was slowly conquered by the working class in different countries, as it is the case of Uruguay and New Zealand before 1915, or in Spain with the Canadenca Strike in 1919. 

What May Day means today:
            The 8-hour working day has already been conquered as a right in many countries, and May 1st is recognized as an international day of commemoration by the labour movement across the globe. However, today millions of oppressed people in the world still labour for long and exhausting working days in dire conditions, accidents still occur in factories and workshops, resulting in dreadful tragedies, as we have seen happening in Bangladesh numerous times. Transnational Capital has disproportionally spread production all over the planet, impoverishing the living and working conditions of entire populations in peripheral regions and countries, threatening, on top of it, the very existence of the planet.
            Therefore, the demand for the 8-hour working day is still a current and valid one. And, above all, the society dreamed of and fought for by the Chicago Martyrs and generations of militants and workers is more valid than ever, for they carried in their hearts wishes for social justice for all humanity, knowing that the struggle against Capitalism and the State was decisive, as it is still today. They knew the oppressors and their institutions are on one side, and the oppressed classes on the other, those who bleed before machines, who starve, who are unemployed, whom the capitalist system despises, but who will build a fair new world.
            Like those who took part in the Chicago strikes, we the oppressed know today that justice cannot be achieved within the system, that the current social order brings us, who depend on our everyday labour to live, nothing good. Capitalism only brings misery, hunger, violence and death. This is what the system has brought us for centuries, yet in the past thirty years it has advanced technologically in a grotesque manner.  Capitalism has started wars to control resources, generating chaos in countries and turning them into “failed states”, destructing their entire productive systems, and displacing populations, turning them into refugees or economic migrants desperately looking for jobs and welfare. The list of catastrophes generated by Capital’s uncontrolled ambition in its imperialist arrangement is a long, complicated, one.
            It is the oppressed classes across the world who suffer the consequences of the reproduction of the capitalist system and its need to exploit nature and human labour, it is us who must hold high the banners of struggle of the Chicago Martyrs and their dreams of justice and freedom. 
            
What Organised Anarchism must do:
            Anarchism, the ideology professed by the Chicago Martyrs, has not died, nor has it disappeared, as many belonging to the various ideological and political currents have claimed. On the contrary, Anarchism today has the power to prove its proposal is valid and useful for humanity, that its social approach is valid for present struggles and not a “relic of the past”. The Anarchist commitment, which aims at building a society where power, property, and the means of self-subsistence are socialized, and where collective freedom is an essential component of social order, is current and valid today. 
            This proposal cannot take place overnight, it takes patience, tenacity, and determination to build a different society to promote people’s organisation and support people’s struggles. We must improve this proposal day by day. This is possible through social insertion in the heart of society, in the popular and working classes. 
            It is of special interest for Organised Anarchism to have an influence on the segments of society where the oppressed struggle, particularly on workers, strengthening and developing union organisation, and the fight for better wages and working conditions. Also, it is of interest of Organised Anarchism to weave these struggles with those of other oppressed peoples and construct a strategy around the realization of a Front of the Oppressed, advancing in the creation of greater spaces for self-management and class independence, regarding what we call the construction of popular power (or power from below). 
            All rights and benefits belonging to the people have been fought for and won through struggle. The ruling classes do not give anything away for free; only through solidarity and the militant struggle of people’s organisation in unity have we guaranteed victories for the oppressed. In that struggle Organised Anarchism has a place, with our strategy, our proposals, and our methodology, which emphasizes the creation of popular power and not that of a political party, as vanguardists often do. 
            The yearnings for justice and freedom of the Chicago Martyrs will roam the streets again this coming May Day, together along the oppressed of the world, in their struggle for a better future. Their dreams live on in the struggle of all people, all across the globe, for bread and dignity, but also for a fully egalitarian and fair society. 
 
 
LONG LIVE THE CHICAGO MARTYRS!
LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY!
Long Live Anarchism, Long Live Revolution
LET’S STRENGTHEN ORGANISED ANARCHISM!
FOR SOCIALISM AND FREEDOM!
Long live those who fight!

☆ Federación Anarquista Uruguaya – FAU
☆ Federación Anarquista de Rosario – FAR (Argentina)
☆ Organización Anarquista de Tucumán – OAT (Argentina)
☆ Embat – Organització Llibertària de Catalunya
☆ Devrimci Anarşist Federasyon – DAF (Turquía)
☆ Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία – Anarchist Federation (Grecia)
☆ Organización Anarquista de Córdoba – OAC (Argentina)
☆ Die Plattform – Anarchakommunistische Organisation (Alemania)
☆ Federación Anarquista Santiago – FAS (Chile)
☆ Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement – AWSM (Aotearoa/Nueva Zelanda)
☆ Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira – CAB (Brasil)
☆ Libertäre Aktion (Suiza)
☆ Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front – ZACF (Sudáfrica)
☆ Alternativa Libertaria – AL/fdca (Italia)
☆ Grupo Libertario Vía Libre (Colombia)
☆ Workers Solidarity Movement – WSM (Irlanda)
☆ Anarchist Communist Group – ACG (Gran Bretaña)
☆ Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group – MACG (Australia)
☆ Organisation Socialiste Libertaire – OSL (Suiza)
☆ Union Communiste Libertaire (Francia)




Source: Awsm.nz