Comrades of the IMT participated in demonstrations, protests and other activities in dozens of locations across the globe for May Day 2022, raising the revolutionary banner of socialism as the only road forward for the working class! Given the dramatic events in world politics, and the increasingly unbearable burden on working people and youth, our ideas connected with the mood far more than in the past. We publish below highlights of our international May Day activities.
May First is a day to commemorate the power and history of struggle of the world working class. Its origins trace back to the Haymarket massacre in Chicago and the US workers’ struggle for the eight-hour day. The American ruling class consciously implemented the “official” Labor Day in September in an attempt to erase this history. As a result—and aided by decades of class-collaborationist union policies that cut across working-class militancy—many of the traditions around May Day have been lost in this country.
However, the stage is being set for the US labor movement to start a new chapter in its history. A wave of unionizations is sweeping workplaces across the country, from Amazon, to Starbucks, Apple, and beyond. For the first time in generations, this battle has the potential to turn the tide for the labor movement—but only if it passes from organizing workers to organizing all-out class war. It is in this spirit that Socialist Revolution mobilized for May Day rallies, marches, and celebrations nationwide—joining the efforts of countless other members of the International Marxist Tendency in dozens of countries around the world.
Comrades hit the streets in more than 20 cities from coast to coast, bringing a revolutionary message to the unfolding class battles and raising the banner of revolutionary Marxism. We highlight some of these interventions below.
In New York, more than 40 Socialist Revolution comrades participated in two rallies in Washington Square Park and Union Square, Manhattan. Armed with Marxist ideas and literature, red flags, and signs with class-struggle slogans, they energetically seized this opportunity to bring revolutionary ideas to the rejuvenated labor movement of NYC. Both rallies were endorsed by the newly formed, rank-and-file Amazon Labor Union, and a number of left, immigrant rights, and cultural organizations. The Washington Square demonstration was also organized by the NYC Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, the Laborers’ Local 79, Teamsters Joint Council 16, SEIU, and other union locals. It was a higher-energy event than past years, with a large march that grew to over 1,000 participants in size—a sign of the times!
The comrades set up multiple tables with a rich display of Socialist Revolution and In Defence of Marxism magazines, Marxist books, booklets, t-shirts, and more. They sold well over 150 magazines, booklets, and books, and distributed May Day–themed leaflets. Many radicalized students and workers stopped to talk to them about socialism and to ask about getting involved in the fight for revolution.
Tom Trottier, editor of Socialist Revolution, addressed the crowd at Union Square with a short inspiring speech, shortly before the comrades joined in a march to protest in front of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s apartment. Our contingent was very visible and vibrant, with bright red Socialist Revolution flags; brandishing slogans like “Workers of the world unite,” and “Build strong unions with class struggle”; and leading chants of “There is only one solution: socialist revolution,” “Fight Trump, fight Biden too, they don’t give a sh*t about you,” and “The workers united will never be defeated!” All comrades left these demonstrations with a renewed sense of revolutionary optimism and the certainty that we will win socialism in our lifetime!
In line with many other cities in the US, Phoenix (and Arizona as a whole) has not had a strong May Day tradition in recent years. For this reason, on May 1, 2022 Phoenix Socialist Revolution took the initiative to launch a May Day celebration at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. A number of organizations joined the coalition, co-sponsoring the event—including the local DSA, Arizona Educators United, Black Political Cultivation, and United Farm Workers foundation. There were about 75 attendees at the event, which featured catered food, speeches, and yard games. The excitement for organized labor and the future of the socialist movement was infectious! The main themes of the day were the need for class unity to build the movement. To that end, a fundraiser was held to support the local Starbucks Workers United and their fight to organize here in the Phoenix valley, raising over $2,000 to be donated to the union.
The thirst for political ideas was palpable, too. Comrades from Socialist Revolution were able to sell many magazines, books, booklets and other materials, and other groups also set up tables with labor and political literature. It’s clear that workers and youth are seeking out answers to the economic and political crisis we find ourselves in.
There were a number of inspiring speeches. Rebecca Garelli (AEU) reminded the crowd of the power of the #RedForEd movement. Jose Flores (UFW Foundation) explained that only the labor of farmworkers keeps us all fed, and therefore workers hold a tremendous power in society—ending with the iconic chant “Sí se puede!”
Socialist Revolution comrade Nick Brancaccio closed the lineup of speakers with an overview of the origins of May Day, bringing alive the militant traditions of this country, and reminding the crowd that it was revolutionaries and communists who led American labor’s most important victories in the 1930s and 40s. Today as then, it is crucial that we build the revolutionary party that the movement needs and deserves! Given the success of this year’s event, both Socialist Revolution and its coalition partners are in agreement: next year’s celebration will be even bigger and better!
The Twin Cities comrades of Socialist Revolution attended the March on Lake Street and rally in Minneapolis for May Day this year. The event was organized by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, which just last month organized the first teachers’ strike in Minneapolis in 50 years!
Despite the rainy weather, there was a good turn out and many of the attendees were enthusiastic about Marxist ideas, with many workers cheering on our magazine from the parade. Two younger teachers came up to the Socialist Revolution table to buy magazines, and one also bought a booklet as educational material for her middle school classroom! These are all exciting signs of the growing popularity of socialism.
Comrades also participated in the May Day rally at the Boston Common. They set up two Marxist literature tables, distributing many magazines and booklets and having good conversations with the crowd at the demonstration. Our comrade Anthony gave an inspiring speech, which was very well received. Overall, the mood was very lively, and the comrades did a great job raising the banner of Socialist Revolution!
Comrades also had a presence at a rally organized by the Northampton chapter of DSA and Mass Jobs 4 Justice. The crowd was really receptive and the comrades exchanged contact information with the organizers to collaborate in future events.
The New Haven comrades helped to organize the local May Day event, which was primarily coordinated by the left-wing Latino organization Unidad Latina en Acción. The rally was attended by several hundred people, who then marched across New Haven. During the march, curious restaurant workers came out to hear the speeches during the march, raising their fists in solidarity! The protesters also made an incursion into Yale’s campus, where marchers staked down a banner with the slogan “Make Yale Pay.” Comrade Eric Goodman got on the stage to give a militant speech, and the Socialist Revolution contingent distributed 100 leaflets, as well as selling 40 magazines, booklets, and books.
Comrades of Socialist Revolution joined a rally in Chicago’s Union Park, followed by a march into downtown’s Federal Plaza. Around 300 people attended the event, and the speeches were often explicitly anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, with a near-unanimous rejection of both the Biden administration and both bourgeois parties. In spite of the rainy weather, it was a successful rally, and the Chicago comrades displayed a determined, militant spirit that they will carry forward through the rest of the year and beyond.
The Dallas-Fort Worth comrades took part in an event organized by the AFL-CIO. They distributed Marxist literature, sang labor songs with everyone, and one of the comrades gave a speech to the rally. They spoke with union members, politically interested folks, and many young socialists. After this small but exhilarating event, comrades were also able to participate in the Denton May Day rally.
Comrades mobilized for the annual May Day rally held in downtown LA. The march was quite large with over 1,000 attendees, including most of the major unions in LA—SEIU, IATSE, and others. The comrades were able to hand out 100 leaflets and many copies of the magazine, having many positive interactions with those present. This included a local documentary filmmaker who has helped produce material for the Amazon Labor Union!
The Bellingham comrades drove down to Mount Vernon in solidarity with tulip farmworkers in the Skagit Valley. The workers went on a three-day strike to demand better working conditions, including work gloves, more bathrooms, larger bonus pay, and back pay for sick leave related to pesticide exposure. The strike ended with an agreement that granted some concessions to the workers. There is no better way to celebrate May Day than by actively supporting the ongoing struggles of immigrant workers and the whole working class!
In Philadelphia, comrades organized local outreach at Clark Park to commemorate May Day. They had very positive interactions with passersby, although it was striking that only very few of them knew about May Day or that this was a holiday associated with socialism and the working class. Precisely this highlights the importance of reviving the history of class struggle in the US.
Comrades assembled at the waterfront park in downtown Portland, and in addition to selling their material, also showed their solidarity with a nearby protest against the Sri Lankan president in light of the revolutionary events that are taking place in that country today.
Comrades in Providence organized very successful outreach near the Brown University campus. Even in the small state of Rhode Island, the red flag flies high for international revolution! Meanwhile, the comrades from the Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Flint areas set up a table to do socialist outreach at the riverfront park in Detroit. They had many good discussions and handed out May Day leaflets and magazines to everyone they talked to.
A few hundred people rallied in Seattle to celebrate May Day. Our comrades sent a delegation to the protest, talking to many of the union members and young workers about revolutionary organizing, and distributing leaflets and Socialist Revolution magazines. The march featured slogans such as “Bourgeoisie, run and hide, workers struggle side by side,” and against American imperialism.
Socialist Revolution comrades attended the International Workers’ Day rally and march in Durham. A few hundred people were in attendance, marching up a main road and blocking traffic for approximately an hour. The main slogans were of a class nature, with demands for higher wages, but the crowd also showed great interest in the revolutionary Marxist ideas our comrades brought to the event. In fact, one individual approached us to thank us for the socialistrevolution.org and marxist.com websites, explaining that he uses our analysis for his reading group! In all, it was a great day of working-class solidarity.
The comrades in Boulder organized public outreach for May Day, setting up a Marxist literature table in the downtown 16th St Mall. They had good interactions with pedestrians, distributing May Day–themed leaflets, Socialist Revolution magazines, and booklets. And finally, in Louisville, the comrades held their annual cookout and auction. They discussed the history of May Day as a source of inspiration to the worldwide workers’ movement today, and raised donations for the international struggle to build the forces of Marxism! Other interventions were organised in the San Francisco Bay Area, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Lima Ohio.
This day of protest and commemoration of International Workers' Day in Venezuela was undermined by the dispersion of the labor movement, which in the main cities of the country marched in under at least three separate initiatives and with tiny forces. On the one hand, there was the call of the government and its trade union arm –the CBST– on the other, there was a mobilization of sectors related to the right; and thirdly, on the left, there was the march called by Espacio Sindical Clasista. The IMT in Venezuela participated in the latter, raising the need to build the unity of the labor movement, and building the fighting forces of the working class.
The current context in Venezuela is marked by a slight rebound in the economy, with a growth forecast of 5 percent of GDP for the end of the year – after a depression that contraction in production by 80 percent from 2014-2020. Inflation also fell to monthly single-digit levels, something not seen for more than a decade. This corresponds with the rise in oil prices, derived from the energy crisis that has been aggravated by the war in Ukraine, and the government's monetary overvaluation policy, which has curbed inflation. For its part, the government, the bourgeoisie grouped in Fedecamaras and employers' unions, led by the ILO, have agreed to start a so-called "social dialogue", which is nothing more than a policy of class collaboration, in which the future of labor relations in Venezuela are being defined behind the backs of the workers.
As has been foreseen by the CMI Venezuela, a small rebound in the economy brought with it the awakening of the protest struggles, a fact that has already begun to be seen with the recent strike of the workers of Sidor and Mondelez.
The mobilization of the Espacio Sindical Clasista in Caracas moved through the city's San Martín Avenue, culminating in a workers' assembly in Plaza La Maternidad. There was participation of workers from the Caracas Metro, university workers, the Bimbo company, cement workers, the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers, the National Front for the Struggle of the Working Class, among others. The slogans that predominated in the march called for the unity of the labor movement, as well as the demand for a general increase in wages, respect for trade union rights, against the criminalization of struggles and freedom for workers imprisoned for their militant activity. This demonstration assembled 200 people. Activists of IMT Venezuela participated in the demonstrations in Caracas, Valencia and Barquisimeto (it should be said that in several cities there were no demonstrations by the left).
Using this initiative as a starting point, there are plans to make a call to more union sectors and labor activists to join the Espacio Sindical Clasista and build a broad plan of struggle. The IMT Venezuela joined this mobilization as part of the political and educational activities that take place within the framework of the "Marxist Week", to commemorate the historical struggle of the working class for its emancipation and the celebration of Karl Marx's birthday on 5 May. This is a tradition the comrades hope to carry out annually, every first week of May in the future.
Sosialistisk Revolusjon was present in the main May Day demonstration in Oslo, the first since the introduction of COVID-19 measures, with a turnout of around 8,000 people. Some of the most visible slogans were against the closure of Ullevål Sykehus (a hospital in the city), protests against the increased cost of energy and against the war in Ukraine.
The turnout was lower than last time, but this is typical of May Days that fall on a Sunday. However, this year the mood was somewhat different. For the first time in several decades, people are seriously worried about their future, and little by little, more and more layers sense that the times without economic worries soon may be gone. The working class must show it is up to the task of defending its living conditions.
This year's May Day was a key event for Czerwony Front. The comrades managed to organise their first Marxist School event, and released their paper, "Czerwony Głos" (Red Voice).
The May School took place the day before the May Day demo, open to anyone who wanted to broaden their knowledge of Marxism. The comrades organised sessions on topics such as Marxism and Postmodernism, discussing the perspectives in Poland and in the world in the context of the war in Ukraine, issues related to the so-called sex work and women's issues, as well as one devoted to the Polish left's "ludomania" phenomenon (a variation of workerism). The Polish comrades plan to organise such a school on an annual basis from now on.
In the first issue of the paper, the comrades wrote about their tasks in relation to the Ukraine war, the condition of today's reformist left, the coal crisis, the wave of industrial actions taking place, the issue of the perspective of famine caused by the war, as well as about anti-imperialist strike actions taken by railway workers in Greece. The paper enjoyed a large amount of interest at the May Day demo, and around 30 copies were sold. The plan is to publish it quarterly.
The May Day march itself, organised by the broad forces of the left, took place in Warsaw starting at 11am. It gathered several hundred people from various left-wing organizations: reformists, tenants' rights activists, Stalinists, and Maoists. Czerwony Front was among the main co-organisers. The main theme of the march was class solidarity. The march began with a rally where two comrades from Czerwony Front spoke, alongside others. Our comrades, talking about the need for solidarity and unity of the working class, underlined that without the work of proletarians, society would grind to a halt.
Regardless of nationality, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, workers have always gained their rights through struggle. This solidarity is even more important during the current crisis, the war, where the ruling class tries to divide the workers from Poland, Ukraine and Russia, therefore it has to be put at the forefront of the actions of all the proletarians of the world.
During the march, many of the participants took up the comrades’ slogans, while the march itself aroused quite a lot of interest from the passers-by. The comrades marched through the streets of Warsaw, finishing at the Prime Minister's office.
In Moscow, comrades organised an indoor rally dedicated to the history of the May Day and the history of the workers’ struggle in Russia and over the world. The rally was also dedicated to proclaiming an independent class-based opposition to the imperialist policies of the regime and recent repressions against leaders of independent trade unions. in other cities of Russia, leafleting campaigns were conducted.
After two years without May Day mobilisations, Swiss workers and youth took to the streets of every large city. Because of the low mobilisation effort by the unions, the demonstrations were only about as big as two years ago before COVID – although there are a lot more reasons to mobilise! Traditionally, the largest demonstration takes place in Zurich.
After their extremely motivating national congress of our section a month ago, the Swiss comrades couldn’t wait to put their ideas into action. Members from all over German-speaking Switzerland came to Zurich to join the biggest IMT intervention ever in Zurich. They formed one of the biggest revolutionary blocks at the demonstration, which attracted young, radicalised people, many of whom joined our bloc.
Comrades were also present in seven other cities: Genf, Lausanne, Bern, Thun, Kreuzlingen and Bellinzona. For the first time, we sold our paper The Spark in three languages! All over Switzerland, we were met with revolutionary enthusiasm.
The times when Marxists were not taken seriously have definitely come to an end. In this organic crisis of Capitalism more and more people realize that we need to organise and fight for socialism in our lifetime. Even Switzerland – not long ago one of the most stable capitalist countries – is not exempt from these developments.
IMT comrades participated in a May Day flag hoisting ceremony, organised by the LIC employees union affiliated with the All-Indian Trades Union Congress (AITUC).
LIC is the largest life insurance company in the world. The government has decided to sell a 5 percent stake in LIC to private investors. Nearly 100,000 employees and 1,300,000 clients registered their protest against this move. The LIC staff and workers participated in a strike on 28-29 March.
The stake sale of LIC is as per Modi’s policy of disinvestment of public sector companies. The government has so far raised hundreds of millions of rupees through privatisation in the current fiscal year. This stake sale is expected to raise a huge sum for the government, much of which will find itself in the pockets of the corrupt elite. This will encourage further privatization of LIC, whose policyholders are mostly working and middle class, and will see their premium prices will increase.
The premium price currently stands at only Rs.11,000, compared to private insurance which is Rs.50,000. The workers of LIC and central trade unions are campaigning against the privatisation of LIC. The secretary of the LIC employees union in Coimbatore presided over the flag hoisting ceremony and participated in a discussion with members of the IMT.
The Yugoslav section of the IMT marked this year's Labor Day by going to a trade union march organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka, Bosnia. The comrades prepared banners saying: “Salaries before profit!” and “Workers' struggle for workers' lives!” This was the first gathering organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Republika Srpska since 2017.
The gathering was marked by the complete bankruptcy of the leadership of the Federation of Trade Unions of RS, which at least in the past could mobilise a few thousand trade union activists and ordinary members, but now barely gathered a few hundred people. A couple of union speakers addressed the gathered workers with festive words without any sound system. Even the announced walk around the city was not organised.
At this gathering, the security and organisers did not allow the comrades to unfurl banners or give out leaflets. They said that it was their rally, that they had their own slogans and that the comrades’ presence would mark the rally as a political one, which would insult the government. One of the organisers threatened to call the police if the comrades tried to get closer to the rally. The rally lasted barely half an hour, after which the people dispersed.
It is obvious that the leadership of the Federation of Trade Unions is completely discredited in the eyes of its membership, and the rest of the society does not perceive it any differently. The leadership has proved to be a completely regime-friendly apparatus that openly threatens anyone who would try to support the workers' struggle. This sets them up as an obstacle to the struggle of workers for their rights.
After this, the comrades decided to share the leaflets while walking around the city, celebrating Labor Day and talking to people who might want to get acquainted with revolutionary ideas.
Some May Day demonstrations were held after two years of confinement during pandemic, although not all over the country, and they took place in the midst of the beginning of the awakening of the trade union movement. This is developing due to multiple factors, including the labour reform proposed by the government which means that union leaders are elected by universal suffrage. This reform will remove part of the corporate union structure that controls some sectors of the working class. Another factor is the impact on the consciousness of thousands of workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it clear that the working class is essential for the functioning of society, and the capitalists are not.
In the days prior, comrades of Izquierda Socialista, the Mexican section of the International Marxist Tendency organised the political material for the intervention on May Day: preparing leaflets, books, and their printed newspaper. Also, together with some radical trade union tendencies and recently created unions, they agreed on a meeting point, ensuring a united, militant, revolutionary red bloc in Mexico City. Some of the people involved are young workers who are just beginning to get involved in the workers' and trade union struggles.
In Mexico City on 1 May, from the first hour of the morning the comrades’ gazebo was already set up with material, Marxist leaflets, books, the magazine América Socialista - En Defensa del Marxismo and newspapers. Another group of comrades went to spread the ideas of Marxism in the other two marches that the central trade union organised. At the Monumento a la Revolución comrades of the International Marxist Tendency were joined by electrical workers, teachers, casualised workers, education workers, as well as students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the National Polytechnic Institute. They marched to the Zócalo of Mexico City, where there were already groups of comrades distributing the special supplement of the comrades’ paper among working people.
Comrades from the interior of the country also participated. In Sonora, they distributed their paper at the demonstration, particularly in the contingent of the University Academics' Union. In the state of Hidalgo, they organised a talk in a cultural centre. In Querétaro our comrades participated in the demonstration in the Alameda in the centre of the city, they distributed our paper and theoretical magazine.
In Quintana Roo, comrades organised an event in a public square, where there was a poetry reading, communist music, and a screening of documentaries on Karl Marx's Capital and the origins of May Day. In most of the places where Marxists were present, they found young people and workers ready to fight under the banner of revolutionary Marxism.
The fervent conviction to organise and fight for the working class, which the martyrs of Chicago in 1866 demonstrated, we Marxists claim today. We build the revolutionary political tool for the struggle for socialism, in Mexico, Latin America and the world with the same dedication.
A total of 41 comrades intervened in nine cities across Spain. The comrades intervened with great enthusiasm and a revolutionary attitude despite the fact that the marches were underwhelming and significantly smaller this year, as well as the fact that there has developed a pattern in which the anarchist and alternative left trade unions set up a separate march, either in a different part of the city or at a different time to the main event organised by the two biggest trade unions UGT and CCOO. Our comrades tried to intervene in both, as there are radical layers and honest revolutionaries in both camps.
Madrid saw a protest of 10,000 walk down the main commercial street Gran Vía. Comrades formed a bloc with their own banner. They were waving flags, chanting slogans and having positive interactions with other groups in the protests. Someone made a beeline for their table of Marxist material and asked specifically for The Great Betrayal by Alan Woods. The official speech by the trade union leaders at the end emphasized the call for higher pay, solidarity with Ukraine and a revindication of women workers, as May Day coincided with Mother’s Day in Spain this year.
In Valencia, the comrades noted a festive mood amongst the protesters with slogans such as: "Viva la lucha de la clase obrera" (Long live the struggle of the working class). In Granada, there were roughly 300 protesters, with many young people. In Ferrol, the comrades intervened in the march organised by the regional Galician trade union CIG, which had about 500 participants.
In Seville, the comrades intervened in both protests and had a great day in the glorious sunshine, with lots of material sold and positive interactions with all those who attended. There were roughly 1,000 people, mostly older, in the main protest and 500 people, mostly younger, in the unofficial protest. Our comrades connected very well with the young protesters who were keen to get hold of our paper. There was a significant bloc of postal workers who are preparing to go on a self-organised strike, in defiance of their union leadership’s wishes to restrict them.
In Barcelona, the comrades opted for the smaller protest organised by the more combative trade unions in which there were 5,000 attendees. The comrades also sold a copy of The Great Betrayal and established contact with a textile trade union member, who agreed to leave a handful of copies of the comrades’ paper in their trade union headquarters.
In Mallorca, the smaller protest had about 200 people and the larger could only boast about 1,000. In the larger of the two, the composition was mostly trade union bureaucracy, and the closing speech consisted of them patting themselves on the back for the recently negotiated labour reform, which in reality has not improved workers’ conditions in the slightest. The comrades also established contact with a shop steward of the UGT who represents a large number of workers in the hospitality sector on the island and who is interested in talking to us about Marxism.
In the Basque Country, the comrades intervened first in a protest organised by the local trade union LAB and then went to a protest organised by GKS, the regional socialist youth coordinating body that openly declare themselves internationalist communists.
In Málaga, the comrades of the province came together for a joint intervention. Although the protest was very small (no more than 1,000 protesters) the mood was festive. There was an attempt by a fascist group to disrupt the protest as they have tried in previous years but they were quickly shut down by the police and the protesters themselves shouting the slogans: “No pasarán” (They will not pass) and “fascists out of our neighbourhoods”.
In the Netherlands, this was the first national May Day rally since 2019. In 2021 there were local initiatives by small left-wing groups, as the main trade union FNV refused to organise a national rally. This year, however, the FNV had to organise something. They could not use the pandemic as an excuse anymore.
It is very clear that Dutch workers are angry, as they see rising prices for basically everything, from fuel and groceries to housing, while wages stagnate. In April 2022, the inflation rate was 11.2 percent, a figure not seen in more than 40 years. Meanwhile, average wage increases this year are projected at only 3 percent.
On Saturday 23 April there was a wildcat strike of baggage handlers of national airline KLM, protesting against low wages and increasing workloads, as KLM (which has received €3.8 billion euro in support from the Dutch state since 2020) refused to improve their working conditions. In recent months, there have also been strikes in the metal sector, in healthcare, and even in liquor store chain Gall&Gall.
The trade union bureaucracy is coming under increased pressure to organise strikes, even though they would prefer to keep talking and negotiating with the bosses.
The FNV organised a May Day rally in the central town of Utrecht, where about 5,000 people participated. The Dutch Marxists of Revolutie (www.marxisten.nl) were present during the march, and had a table with Marxist literature both at the start and at the end of the march. They sold 31 copies of their magazine and raised a total of €123 in the sales of their material.
In Copenhagen, the tradition of May Day is very strong. Thousands gather at Fælledparken, where the main trade union have tents and stages, and also the three workers' parties have their own tent. The non-parliamentary left normally also have their own stage and tent.
This year was the first since the pandemic where the traditional May Day event was celebrated in person. But it was in general a bit of a sad affair. It was obvious that the top of the labour movement wants to turn May Day into something toothless. And it was significant that the Social Democratic prime minister, who usually speaks at May Day, did not give a speech (the last time she spoke in 2018 she was faced with loud booing).
But the Danish section of the IMT decided to go against the stream. Instead of scaling back our activity, we escalated significantly. We held our own Revolutionary May Day event under the slogan: “Against rearmament, climate crisis and capitalism!”, and for the first time we had our own stage, tent and stall. It was a roaring success.
Several hundred people came by during the day and the mood was markedly different than in the rest of Fælledparken. The focus was on political content and the day was filled with revolutionary speeches. There were speeches from labour activists, a live podcast and speeches from RS activists. Tons of books and pamphlets were sold. There was an enormous thirst for ideas, and our edition of the Communist Manifesto sold out.
That Revolutionary May Day became such a success was off course due to the enormous work from activists. But first and foremost, it is a symptom of the situation on the Danish left. More and more youth are becoming radicalised. They are searching for answers to the crisis of capitalism and look for someone to offer a revolutionary alternative to the status quo. But they can’t find those answers on the established left, who think the youth have become apathetic, and that theory will scare them away. But that is very far from the truth, as demonstrated by the success of Revolutionary May Day.
The Left Party’s demonstrations this year saw around 20,000 participants in Stockholm, 3,350 in Gothenburg and 3,000 in Malmö. But with the passive support of the government, wavering on the question of NATO and an overall drift to the right, it was hard to attract significant enthusiasm. In particular, there were noticeably fewer young people attending than in previous years.
With the slogan “Socialism or barbarism”, more than 100 Marxists intervened in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Umeå, Malmö, Karlstad, Uppsala, Halmstad, Växjö, Helsingborg – and, notably, Helsinki in Finland. Everywhere, the Marxist blocs on the demonstrations were distinguished by their revolutionary message, their energy and enthusiasm, shouting slogans like: “Not a soldier, not a gun, not a penny to NATO’s military”, “One solution – revolution” and “International solidarity – the united struggle of the working class”, the popularity of which was testified by all those joining the contingents along the way.
A total of 240 people signed up to get to know more about the IMT, while 800 bought their paper Revolution and Finish magazine Marxismin Puolesta. With inflation and interest rates now rising rapidly, it’s clearer than ever that intensified class struggle is on the horizon. It’s also clearer than ever that Sweden needs a sizeable Marxist organization to become a factor in the situation. In this sense, 1 May 2022 was a great stride forward.
Mayday has a long-standing and strong tradition in the labour movement. Whereas traditionally there has been the Social Democratic marches and celebration and (in the bigger towns) much smaller ones organised by the Communist, now there are several important initiatives leading street demonstrations.
After two successive years of cancelling the main Mayday celebrations. this year the SPÖ called their supporters back onto the streets to celebrate May Day, with anti-fascist torch marches on the night of 30 April. With the exception of the city of Graz, these marches are the most important celebrations in terms of numbers, bringing thousands of party and union militants onto the street.
However, the mood on the demos was not one of confidence - and all in all, they were smaller than three years ago. A general mood of mistrust towards politics dominated the scene and it was difficult to get involved in conversations in many cases. This is the result of the party leadership, which is fully concentrated on re-entering government without conducting any struggle against the weak Conservative-Green coalition, despite endless corruption scandals. This political orientation was also reflected in the whole set up of the central rally in Vienna, which came back out of the two-year quarantine more stage-managed than ever before, with speeches that failed to address the problems that party and union militants are confronted with.
The working class faces many concurrent issues, none of which seem to have any solutions. The COVID crisis brought workers in the services (hospitals, kindergartens, schools, transport) to the brink of collapse. The lack of personnel, especially in the public sector, leads to ever-increasing pressure, and in absence of a collective fight back, organised by the leadership, the turnover is increasing all the time. The rising cost of living, and the refusal of the employers to even discuss a partial wage increase, only exacerbates the situation.
The war in Ukraine is the sword of Damocles hanging over everyone’s heads. While there is great solidarity with the war victims, the ruling class misuses this to promote “European unity against Russia”. The Social Democratic leaders fully capitulate to warmongering, and trade sanctions, despite the fact that the energy supply in Austria is fully dependent on Russian energy imports. People are clearly worried about seeing the escalation of the imperialist war. They are starting to question the official justifications given for Austria’s involvement.
It is clear that the good old times are melting like snow in the spring sun. The working class is trying to stabilise its living conditions, and since the autumn we are experiencing a big increase in workers' struggles in untested sectors. But the leaderships disorganise these struggles by refusing to unite them.
As always it is the youth that reacts first to the changing conditions. The anti-fascist torch marches grew considerably in numbers and radical slogans. Also, the anarchist-led May Day rallies in the big cities firmly established themselves as an expression of more radical youth and young workers looking for an alternative to electoral policies and class collaboration.
The Marxists of the IMT prepared for the May Day well in advance. They produced a new paper, with the frontpage headline: “For internationalism and socialism! – Stop the price hike – not a single cent for the war!”, and participated in the main cities in five of the regions (In Vienna, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck and Vorarlberg), all in all in 12 rallies. To focus their political impact, they also produced an internationalist May Day statement.
In Vienna, the main effort was the intervention in the May Day march organised by the SPÖ. The comrades were seen everywhere, which led the leading bourgeois newspaper to draw the wrong assumption that our comrades must be the ones selling the official “party newspaper”. The comrades also organised lively blocs on the evening before in the torch march, and on 1 May in the “internationalist demonstration”, and the anarchist-led “Mayday demonstration”.
In Graz, where the Communist Party won the local elections last year, comrades participated in the marches by the CP as well as the SP. In Linz, a main industrial hub of Austria, they focused on participating in the social-democratic march. In the most western region of Vorarlberg, they were the main organisers of the left-wing demos, as well as participating in SP-led activities. Also in Tyrol, the comrades’ block was one of the bigger parts of the May Day demo. After the marches, the comrades celebrated with barbecues and socials in all regions.
The comrades are still collecting all the reports, but preliminary analysis shows that the IMT is one of the few political tendencies of the labour movement that strengthened itself in the last two years. All in all, around 110 comrades intervened on the day. They sold 655 papers, which is a good achievement given the general sceptical mood in all layers of the movement. They also managed to collect thousands of Euros for an educational school to be held in early June.
May Day in Germany is usually dominated by the big DGB trade unions. In the first and second years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unions organised mainly online events. Even in the second year, they skipped demonstrations and rallies in many places. This year, the nationwide rallies and demonstrations had a very mixed character. May Day clearly shows the crisis of reformism and the alienation of the trade union apparatus and functionaries from the working class.
The motto of the DGB was "GeMAInsam Zukunft gestalten" (Shaping the future together), but it was overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. In his speech at the central rally in Berlin, DGB president Reiner Hoffmann sided with the imperialists of NATO, EU and Germany:
"With Putin's criminal attack on Ukraine, war as a means of politics has returned to Europe after more than 20 years. Our values such as human rights, peace and social justice cannot be taken for granted. This inhuman war is an attack on the European peace order and on our democracy".
This is the same propaganda that is driven every day by the German government, the bourgeois media, and all EU and NATO countries. While Hoffmann criticised the Belarusian and Russian governments for suppressing critical voices against the war and imprisoning trade unionists, he did not say a word about the repression that leftists and trade unionists in Ukraine have been suffering for years and especially now during the war. This has nothing to do with internationalism and only obscures the real character of this imperialist proxy war between NATO and Russia, which the Ukrainian people must pay for with their blood and the working class worldwide with cuts, firings, inflation and social attacks. The blame for this war lies not only with the reactionary Putin regime, but also and especially with NATO and US imperialism - the most reactionary force in the world. This must be emphasised. The main enemy is in our own country!
It is true that Hoffmann said that the DGB says "no" to massive rearmament and would not accept it "without criticism… if the federal government announces that the arms budget is to be permanently increased to NATO's two per cent target". But before that, he already put this statement into perspective: "Without question, the German government - all of us (sic!) - have a responsibility to make a substantial contribution to defence capability within the framework of the EU and NATO. For the trade unions, however, this was never just a question of defence spending." There was no trace of tangible criticism, especially how it should be expressed. Class struggle, i.e. demonstrations and strikes against rearmament and militarisation, will hardly come from this sidelines.
After two years of de facto “Burgfriedenpolitik” (the so-called “civil truce” policy during the first world war between the German trade union and social democratic bureaucracy and the government) during the pandemic, the DGB leadership remains in line with the government and the capitalist class on the question of war. Against inflation, against social cuts, against climate change, against job cuts and wage dumping, the DGB leadership has nothing to offer. Reformism has no perspective on how to overcome the capitalist crisis. Their clinging to the social partnership cannot come up with any solutions. But a mood of radicalism fermenting at the grassroots and especially among the youth.
May Day turned out differently from city to city. It is noticeable that the DGB actions were often less well attended than the demonstrations of left and radical left alliances. This was already very noticeable last year. But this year, the leaderships of the DGB unions could not use COVID decrees as an excuse for weak or absent mobilisations. In Berlin this year, according to official figures, there were 5,000 participants in the DGB action, while about 14,000 took part in the Revolutionary May Day demonstration. The mood among the younger layers of demonstrators was clearly heated. In Berlin, the governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) was booed. Protests formed in front of the stage, and activists of the referendum for the expropriation of big real estate corporations (Deutsche Wohnen and Co enteignen) were also there. Their fight has been stalled for almost a year by the Berlin government. From the ranks of the protest, an egg flew in the direction of Giffey, which narrowly missed its target. In the end, the mayor had to cut short her speech.
In Munich, about 1,500 participants demonstrated. The demonstration was very class conscious and also referred to the current round of collective bargaining in the social and educational services. Many women took part in the demonstration and rally. There was a large ver.di trade union block. There was also a strong protest in Munich against the appearance of the mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) at the final rally of the DGB at Marienplatz. The mayor demanded massive arms deliveries to Ukraine. He was enormously booed and interrupted. The demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Siemens, Daimler, Deutsche Bank – the main enemy is in our own country" as well as "class struggle, class struggle" and "fight inflation – higher wages" again and again. Many members of the trade union ver.di positioned themselves in front of the tribune. They held up placards with the slogan "Mayor Reiter = employer – employers away from the tribune". This was a reference to the current collective bargaining round in the social and educational services, in which the municipal governments are the bosses. The trade union officials present tried to counter this, but they were drowned out.
Symptomatically, the crisis of reformism was shown by the fact that the sluggish social partnership trade union apparatus finds it difficult to mobilise widely even on traditional holidays. But this is not surprising. Nobody takes seriously the Sunday speeches of a ver.di leader Frank Werneke in Mainz and other functionaries, and their staged indignation about the "employers" who do not behave in a way that reflects the "social partnership". Radicalised workers and youth are not attracted by the pale rallies with festival characters. They want to fight for a better future and not waste their already meagre income at the sausage stand. Especially since, with the current rate of inflation, a not very tasty bratwurst for over three euros is not very tempting. So even traditional May Day visitors were absent from many of these events.
The consequences of unions not organising struggles were shown by May Day in Würzburg. In 2019, the DGB still managed to mobilise around 300 people to the traditional demo. This year there were officially only 150. On the other hand, a demonstration of 1,500 people with reactionary slogans against compulsory vaccination and COVID measures took place on the same day. Although this remained below the expectations of the organisers, it clearly eclipsed the DGB action. This is the consequence of social partnership. Decades of co-management of capitalism weaken the reformist mass organisations and take away their mobilising power. The working class has to pay constantly, and its trade union representation has no answers and does not organise big nationwide struggles. In the crisis of capitalism, no one can be enticed with moderate pleas for wage increases that "at least" compensate for inflation. In the meantime, reactionary forces can partially fill this political vacuum as a supposed alternative.
Often, the mood at the official trade union rallies was gloomy, there was no trace of class struggle. The majority of participants were disillusioned volunteers, works councillors, functionaries and secretaries from trade unions and parties. Many have already left their best years behind them and hardly radiate any will to fight. Elsewhere, it was the other way round, the number of participants in both demonstrations and rallies was much higher than in the past. It was particularly noticeable that school students also took part in May Day. However, this was mostly because left and radical left alliances mobilised much more strongly in certain areas. This was the case in Thuringia, where people marched under the slogan: "No War but Class War!”. In many cities, radicalised youth and young workers joined in, for example, in Hamburg as part of the alliance: "Who has gives". The atmosphere was militant and there were many unorganised school and university students and young workers. In their speeches, they expressed their indignation about the rising food prices and rent. Very often the slogan "We can't afford the rich anymore" was shouted.
Comrades of the IMT were present at the demonstrations and rallies in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Cologne, Erfurt, Essen, Mainz, Marburg, Munich, Würzburg and other cities. Their banners displayed slogans like "Socialism in our lifetime", "Capitalism = crisis! Organise class struggle!", "Socialism or barbarism", "Class struggle instead of fatherland" and "Peace to the huts, war to the palaces". They sold various books and pamphlets on Marxist theory at their stalls. Above all, they sold the current issue of our German paper, with the front-page headline: "What is to be done? Revolution!" Younger workers, school and university students were especially interested in revolutionary ideas.
The crisis of capitalism vehemently puts the necessity of socialism on the agenda. Where the mass organisations cannot show answers and perspectives, the mole of the revolution is looking for another way to the surface. The youth is at the forefront of this struggle. Marxists must organise it and give it a revolutionary class perspective. For May Day to become a day of struggle again, we need a strong Marxist tendency with a revolutionary socialist programme. That is why we are organising worldwide in the International Marxist Tendency!
In France, the May Day demonstrations were dominated by the aftershock of the reelection of Emmanuel Macron. Consequently, the mood was not as good as the weather, except in the small youth bloc and at the France Insoumise blocs and meetings.
France Insoumise is taking advantage of the coming legislative elections to attract a layer of radicalised youth and workers. In Paris, the burning of trash cans by an anarchist “black bloc” gave (as usual) a pretext to violent police repression, which forced the French comrades of the IMT to interrupt their intervention.
Despite this and the gloomy mood of the oldest layers of activists, comrades of Révolution made a very good intervention in four cities (Paris, Toulouse, Marseille and Lyon). In Paris, comrades put up two stalls around the France Insoumise meetings, before joining the demonstrations. In the other cities, they put up stalls at the beginning of the demonstrations and sold their paper on the march. Smaller interventions were held in Strasbourg, Grenoble, Montpellier, Granville and Lavelanet. Altogether, they collected more than 40 contacts and sold around 326 copies of the paper.
1 May in Italy is preceded by another important political event: the commemoration of 25 April, the anniversary of the liberation from fascism in 1945.
On these two dates, we saw a very significant mobilisation. After two years of absence of demonstrations, due to the impact of the pandemic, workers and youth finally took to the streets. The most significant feature of these demonstrations was the criticism of the warmongering positions of the Democratic Party and the Draghi government.
Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione, the Italian section of the IMT, seized with both hands these two important opportunities for political intervention. The results of the intervention were more than satisfactory in all the cities where they were present, and involved the vast majority of our comrades’ forces.
On 25 April, they sold 800 copies of Rivoluzione, collected 2,100 euros for the fighting fund and made 36 new contacts across 15 different cities, while on 1 May they sold 300 copies of Rivoluzione and collected 1,500 euros.
Among the various initiatives, the comrades took part in a demonstration organised by the UNIA union in Bellinzona (the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino in Switzerland), where they sold 47 newspapers, collected €250 for the fighting fund and made three new contacts.
In Rome, the comrades organised a social lunch attended by 70 people, 37 of whom were sympathisers and contacts, raising over 800 euros.
Last Sunday, on 1 May, thousands of trade unionists and socialists gathered at the Marx Memorial Library at Clerkenwell Green for London’s May Day celebrations.
This was the first exclusively May Day rally since the outbreak of the pandemic, with last year’s march organised to coincide with a Kill the Bill demonstration.
This year’s event highlighted the renewed sense of militancy that is spreading across the labour movement, as workers and youth move into action against the bosses’ attacks.
The RMT – currently balloting for the largest national rail strike in the union’s history – led the march down to Trafalgar Square, with passers-by honking their horns and cheering in support along the way.
Socialist Appeal at London May Day march🚩✊— Socialist Appeal (@socialist_app) May 1, 2022
The system is broken! Fight for revolution! pic.twitter.com/NB1jgnAxr8
Many trade union branches from across the city were represented on the demo, from Unite to PCS. And a variety of protest placards were visible: demanding a £15 per hour living wage for striking railway cleaners in the RMT; and denouncing the recent ‘jobs massacre’ at P&O Ferries.
Union membership is on the rise across Britain, with new layers of workers being drawn into the struggle to defend their lives and livelihoods.
Unfortunately, however, the largest trade unions did not mobilise their members for this commemoration of workers’ struggles throughout history.
Socialist Appeal activists formed the most dynamic, energetic, and revolutionary bloc, with chants including: “The system is broken. Time to fight. Workers of the world, unite!”; “No cuts. No job losses. Expropriate the bosses!”; and “One solution: Revolution!”
The comrades in Pakistan organised a series of events for May Day via their Red Workers’ Front, chief among them an online rally on Mazdoor TV, in which various union leaders from across the country participated. These unionists represented workers from the railways and electricity department; in addition to teachers, health workers and others from across the country.
The final speech was by Aftab Ashraf, Central President of the Red Workers’ Front, which concluded that only a socialist revolution can overthrow capitalism and end all the problems faced by workers. This rally was attended by 1,000 people, and has been viewed over 2,000 times at the time of writing.
Additional events were held in various different cities, in which workers from many sectors participated. Discussions focused on issues faced by the workers, the struggle for democratic and trade union rights, and the history and origins of May Day. There were in-person meetings in Rawlakot, Kashmir; Wana, Waziristan; Bahawalpur and Gilgit.
Additionally, a poster campaign was organised in Karachi by workers of General Tyre factory, as well as in Multan, Quetta, Lahore and D.G. Khan. Poster campaigns were held in more than 15 cities across Pakistan including Islamabad, Peshawar, Waziristan, Lower Dir, Gujranwala and many more. Comrades also intervened in rallies and other activities in these cities for May Day.
This year’s May Day rally in Greece had a low participation and lacked enthusiasm and militancy. This was in contrast with the significant participation in the one-day general strike on 6 April, where our comrades had a significant participation amidst a militant mood.
The reason for this contrast was partly because the rally was called during a holiday period in Greece (after the Greek orthodox Easter). Most importantly though, the lack of participation was due to the fact that after the successful general strike, no plan was put forward by the leaders of the mass organisations of the working class for escalation of the struggle.
Due to the lack of such a plan, workers saw the May Day rally as a routine event and not an important part of the struggle, and thus saw no reason to participate. The real mood of the working class in Greece on May Day was better reflected in the struggle of the dockworkers of Cosco in the port of Piraeus who fought the attempts of the state and the bosses to break their strike.
The comrades of the IMT in Greece participated in the May Day rally in three cities, in Athens, Patras and Volos. Despite the very low political interest, the low participation and the pressure on the living standards of the workers, they sold 20 newspapers, as well as four books and booklets. They were the only organisation to have tables with books, their paper, magazine and May Day leaflet. Our banner had the slogan: “Nightmare system – Only Solution the Socialist Revolution”. The IMT bloc on the rally shouted slogans like: “Without you not a wheel turns: worker, you can do without bosses”; and “ Our future is not capitalism, its revolution and socialism”.