Earlier this month, out of working class internationalism and solidarity, we shared a fundraiser from the Rapid Response Network for Batay Ouvriye. The objective of the fundraiser had several aspects: To help BO carry on demonstrations for Mayday including logistics, printing flyers, costs of dealing with possible arrests, spreading the history and experiences of the working class struggle, and most importantly – carrying on that struggle!
Recently the RRN has released a report back from the activities on Mayday in Haiti. This report presents us with an opportunity to draw lessons, to help guide our own struggles and the task of constructing an autonomous mass movement of workers and laborers in the United States.
Batay Ouvriye is an autonomous workers’ movement in Haiti that has been organizing workers and laborers for decades. They have organizations among the working class, day laborers, and the peasantry throughout various regions of Haiti. Haitian workers are paid 350 Gourdes a day. That amounts to $5.40! They deal with a brutal work environment as well as a life in constant debt. The Factory owners treat them worse than dogs. They intimidate them, force ridiculous production quotas on them, lock them out, and take other repressive measures whenever they please. Yet these workers, laborers, and peasants still manage to find a way to pick up the task of organizing and fighting for their rights!
As they engage in struggle, they build their confidence and reach more unity among themselves. As they reach more unity, they adjust their demands to reflect that unity. This is exemplified in their call for a higher minimum wage adjustment than they had previously demanded – 1000 Gourdes ($15.50 US Dollars), up from 800. The courage and bravery of this movement is remarkable. They are a true example to us and the world, an example from which Workers Struggle takes great inspiration.
Working Class (Proletarian) Internationalism
If you visit the principles of Workers Struggle, you will notice we include Internationalism. The relationship between the conscious working class is different than that between the working class and the progressive intellectuals and middle classes (the Petite-bourgeoisie). As workers and laborers, we have a unique position. Our international solidarity to other workers takes the form of Internationalism. We are not solely playing a role of support. We are in fact, reaching across oceans and borders imposed on us to hold hands with our class sisters and brothers. Their fight is our fight, their struggle is our struggle, and their tasks are our tasks.
Proletarian internationalism is the organized rational response of the working class from one country supporting the efforts in another as we build our own structures because we recognize that our struggles are one and the same. We face the same Capital. The stronger we are, the more demands we can force out of this crumbling world order. The more the workers are organized, the less options companies have to flee for cheaper production costs (wages to workers). If we fail in our duties to organize ourselves, the capitalists offer us Fascism – their “alternative”-which is the most deregulated, openly violent form of capitalism that can exist. However, if we can organize ourselves we can COLLECTIVELY build a power strong enough to force them to give back those trillions they’ve stole off our backs!
Capitalism is international, and so we must be as well. We need to start seeing the working class in all the world as our class companions in struggle, beyond skin tones and other prejudices. Proletarian internationalism is comprised of different levels of organization reflecting different levels of political, theoretical, and ideological unity. This also includes different levels of commitment and consciousness:
Trade Union/Mass level: – lowest unity/commitment – typically issue based
Intermediate level (Workers Struggle): Connecting mass struggles to the bigger picture for building an autonomous mass movement
Revolutionary level: The highest form of unity and commitment – attempting the total transformation of society
The role of working class internationalism is on the one aspect supporting the material needs of our extended family. On the other, it is the building of autonomous organizations of workers and laborers in every work site, every neighborhood, state, and country to push our struggles along bringing our alternative to the table. We won’t advance if we don’t rupture from capitalist organizations (including gangster unions) holding us hostage! As we grow, we can build political unity to coordinate our struggles against our common enemy.
The Power of an Organized Working Class
The working class produces everything in society from cell phones to planes, medical equipment to buildings. What the capitalists have figured out long ago and try to keep us from understanding is simple: their interests are directly counter to ours. Our interests and theirs are antagonistic. Every dollar that escapes the worker’s wage, ends up in the pockets of a capitalist whether through profits made at selling a commodity, return on investments, savings through tax cuts or yearly bonuses.
When factories relocate to other countries it is because American workers have fought for decades to bring wages to their current level as horrifically low as they are. Also, labor in those other countries is extremely low cost – the capitalists can get away with murder! Capital ravages the earth looking for new markets and more importantly, cheaper labor. The working class is the only social force which, if armed with its history, class consciousness and theory, can actually develop an alternative to what we are facing internationally. So, for us to be able to get any light of this darkening tunnel capitalism is offering us, we must build our own alternative – our own movement which can push us out of the tunnel before it’s flooded!
Our Own Potential can be Seen Among the Haitian Workers
Batay Ouvriye shows us this possible power. It should be noted that due to the nature of imperialism, Haitian workers are not really seen as consumers. Most of the products get shipped to be sold at US and Canadian markets. That being the case: US, Canadian, Korean, and Haitian factory owners (capitalists) have no incentives to do anything in the interests of the workers. Everything the workers get, they have to fight tooth and nail for. This is an incredibly inspiring movement for all these factors. This shows us the immense potential power of organization and resolve of a united working class!
Long Live the Struggle! Our Future is in Our Hands!
INDIVIDUALLY WE’RE WEAK, COLLECTIVELY WE’RE STRONG!
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