This year, as we celebrate the 122nd anniversary of May Day around the globe, the working class of the entire world finds itself in misery and conditions of social deprivation. From oil to wheat, the crises have manifested themselves as international ones.
The capitalist system, which has been lowering the living conditions of the working class during the last 15 to 20 years of boom has now, according to the analysis of the bourgeois economists, entered a slump and a decline. If we look at capitalist economic growth over these past years, we can very clearly see the fact that this economic growth has created social decline, not only in developing countries, but also in the developed ones. This is a testament to the fact that capitalism is sick, and obsolete.
The evolution of the global capitalist system has become like that of a body that breathes no life, like a feeling with no sentiment and like an action with no motion. The principal reason for this is that in order to achieve profits, industrial and agricultural production have been replaced by real estate, shares in stock exchanges and financial speculation as a means to accumulate wealth. This method of accumulating capital has made the entire capitalist system hollow from the inside. Now all these bubbles of speculation, from housing to the stock exchange, have started to burst.
The working class is being made to bear the brunt of the losses caused by this system's decline by the ruling class using their different forms of government. But long before this downturn the greatest divide between the rich and poor in history was created as a result of the evolution of the capitalist system.
The new afflictions that will be forced upon the working classes due to this capitalist slump might result in revolutionary movements like those of 1968-69 in many countries. The global ruling classes are trying to stop these movements by promoting reactionary trends like the "Clash of Civilizations", at times using imperialist aggression, bloody wars and sidetracking the working class into other non-issues in order to waste their movements. Their means of production, agents in the form of the trade unions and political leaders are playing an unscrupulous part in this vicious game. But history is witness to the fact that the rebellions of the oppressed working class ultimately cannot be stopped.
This is going on in Pakistan with full intensity. Nothing has changed with the advent of the new government and new prime minister; rather the old policies are prevailing with a new face. Prices, unemployment and poverty are rising and will keep on rising. Because under capitalism every government is under the requirements of the system and the interests of the ruling class and must continue to follow the policies of increasing exploitation to maintain the rate of profits.
But during the last months the explosive and bloody events that have taken place in Pakistani politics actually reveal a deep crisis in the capitalist system. On 18 October and 27-28 December 2007 the workers in Karachi and then across the country demonstrated their resistance in the form first of all of calm demonstrations and then with full ferociousness. These shook the state and the economic system to their foundations.
It was in order to save this system that the ruling class cunningly rigged the elections, obtaining manufactured results to implement a change of face. It is no accident that the members of parliament which represent the ruling class have unanimously elected a former minister from the era of vicious dictator Zia Ul Haq's as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This has happened for the first time in the brief parliamentary history of Pakistan.
The real reason for this was the fear of rebellion on the part of the working class. But the crisis of this system is so deep that every single event will tear apart this government of "National Reconciliation" and "Common National collaboration" time and again. This is because the crisis of the capitalist system intensifies the conflict of interests within the ruling classes itself.
Similarly, the interference of American imperialism will also be far greater than it was in the past. Officials from the US State Department were freely roaming here and were dictating all the ingredients for the recipe of the new government to the leaders of these parties. After the formation of the government, the US Secretary of State interviewed every minister and gave them imperialist orders in a way that was even harsher than that of the Viceroys during slavery under the British Raj. The purpose of this whole exercise was the continuation of imperialist and capitalist exploitation.
However, the situation in Pakistani society and the economy is so terrible that it is impossible to maintain any kind of peace, democracy or stability. Every day tens of thousands of people are being pushed below the poverty line. 82% of the population has no other option but to use non-scientific medication. 55% of children are unable to go to school. The whole of society is crying in anguish due to the awful state of healthcare, education, electricity and water. Bread, clothing and shelter drift beyond the reach of people day by day due to the intense price hikes. On the other hand state deficits have broken all records. Budget, trade and current account deficits are at their highest ever in the history of Pakistan. The value of the rupee has fallen to its lowest level in 61 years. Ishaq Dar went to the IMF and the World Bank right after he took office as finance minister. The commandments that he brought back with him from this pilgrimage will be against the working class, even more than the capitalist polices of Shaukat Aziz. He announced the continuation of the policies of the previous government as he took office. Not only will price hikes and poverty rise as a result of these policies but unemployment will also rise as a consequence of privatisation and downsizing.
The "Divine Revelation" of Foreign Investment for "Economic Development", which is a fundamental part of the economic policy of every political party in Pakistan, does not create jobs anymore, rather it reduces them as all modern investment is capital intensive rather than labour intensive. This explains the large scale lay offs in all the institutions that have been looted by foreign investment - from the PTCL to Karachi Electric supply Corporation.
Under these circumstances the present government, or any other government under this system for that matter, will not be able to do any good for the people. There is no room for reform in this system. The economic crisis will further intensify. Social deprivation and privation will increase. Due to the requirements of this system the working class will be subjected to merciless social and economic attacks.
The struggle against this system can only be waged with a programme, ideology, and strategy of completely changing the system. This is the message of May Day 2008. Making May Day just an ordinary festival of government or labour leaders is a dishonor to the spirit and the fundamental message of it. May Day is the only day in the history of the world which is a symbol of the solidarity of the working class and their struggle for common interests beyond the differences of nationality, colour, race, religion, or language. This protest against the cruel murder of American workers in 1886 was declared as the International Day of Workers at the 1889 meeting of the Second International held in Paris.
The struggle of the workers to change society continues after so many years. But today the crises of capitalism, the terminal disease which this system is suffering from and the advance in consciousness of the workers has given them an incredible power to bring about the socialist revolution.
40 years ago the workers in Pakistan launched a socialist revolution with their movement, but it was wasted due to the lack of leadership and the lack of a revolutionary party. This revolution will rise again with a far greater force. If the rulers think that they will be able to waste this revolution with the help of their agents in the form of the trade unions and their leaders, it is their own delusion.
This "Democratic" coalition government, firmly rooted on the basis of capitalism is seen as a joyless sin by the working class and sincere members of the People's Party. On May Day the workers must pledge, that in this epoch of history in the making, this decisive battle will be fought until the final victory, and there will be no stop, no rest at any stage before the socialist revolution.
We have only our chains to lose
And a whole world to win
Translated from Urdu by: Farhad Kayani