|Socialist Party USA: Statements
Forward This May Day
years, May Day is an opportunity for socialists to look backward. This
year, thanks in large part to the appearance of Occupy Wall Street
(OWS), we are looking forward. The future is, as it always has been,
filled with both the treacherous pitfalls of capitalism and the
glorious opportunities to create a world based on justice and
equality. This May Day, Socialist Party USA members will take to
the streets all over the country to offer a vision of another, better
world, that is possible.
by the SPUSA National Action Committee
Clearly, OWS is a critical movement for the future of the Left in
America. Socialists have important contributions to make to this
movement. We can demonstrate the way in which political protest
can be organized into multiple forms of resistance to the system.
These include the spectacular direct actions carried out by Occupy
along with community organizing, rank and file trade union organizing
and even left independent electoral campaigning. Ultimately, the
goal of our movement is to contest the influence of capitalism in every
part of our lives. To help to inspire a movement capable of
organizing a society based on grassroots democracy that makes sure that
wealth is controlled by those who create it.
Simultaneously, Socialists can proudly proclaim our support for two
ideas that have fueled Occupy – horizontalism and direct action.
Democratic socialism is horizontalism. If, for a moment, we think
backwards we will find that at the origins of the Socialist movement at
the turn of the 20thcentury, anarchists and socialists worked closely
together to create a vibrant anti-capitalist movement. Subsequent
efforts at the “vertical” organization of socialism during the
revolutions of the 20th century extinguished much of the democratic
impulse of early socialism. Those of us in the democratic
socialist side of the movement have always kept this horizontal vision
of early socialism alive. We share that value with Occupy and we
should look to collaborate with other socialists interested in pushing
this idea forward.
And, Socialist Party USA members have always been at the forefront of
direct action initiatives. Non-violent civil disobedience has
always been a hallmark of first, the Socialist Party of America and
then the SP-USA. Think Eugene Debs protesting World War I, or A. Philip
Randolph leading the Civil Rights movement or David McReynolds
protesting the Vietnam War or, more recently, members of the SP-USA
engaging in direct actions to protest war, or anti-union
legislation. If horizontalism is our goal, non-violent civil
disobedience is our democratic weapon to get there.
We will need all the momentum and enthusiasm that OWS has inspired,
because in important ways the future also looks quite bleak.
Capitalism has transitioned from the public looting that defined the
immediate aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008 to the politics of
austerity that are being imposed all over the world. Austerity
has swept across Europe, decimating a once significant social safety
net and driving millions of people into unemployment and previously
unheard of levels of deep poverty. The same is true in other
parts of world, as capitalist governments roll back all manner of
This global trend is sure to hit the US in a significant manner after
the 2012 Presidential elections. Both Barack Obama and Mitt
Romney have dedicated themselves to the politics of austerity.
Romney with a cruel glee and Obama behind a public relations mask that
offers empty claims of “hope” and “change.” Socialists can begin
to resist this drive towards austerity today by involving themselves in
local movements against budget
cuts and by putting their energy into the Socialist Party Presidential
campaign of Stewart Alexander and Alex Mendoza. Though the pair
will not win the elections, their campaign represents the clearest
socialist voice in the elections against the coming capitalist
cutbacks. This effort should work seamlessly with the existing
campaigns against the cuts.
So, on this May Day, Socialists can raise our banners high in the
streets, we can join with the OWS protests and we can encourage others
to join us in resistance. Though we can find inspiration and
intellectual sustenance in the past, ours should be a movement with an
eye toward the future. As the old Civil Rights slogan reminds us,
“keep your eyes on the prize.” And, in this case, the prize is a
new society where a job for all, housing for all, education for all and
freedom for all becomes the norm.
Long live May Day!