What happened to the antiwar protests? Millions of people around the world marched against the criminal war of aggression just over a month before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003. Today, the threat of a major war is greater than any other point in time since the end of the Cold War.
Most of the Middle East is in flames, with the U.S. supporting Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has militarized Eastern Europe in moves obviously aimed against Russia. Tensions with China are at their highest levels since Nixon. Any flashpoint could quickly erupt into war and metastasize into a nuclear Third World War. So where are the protests?
The answer is not that these wars are popular or that ordinary people are disinterested in these urgent questions. Rather, the former protest leadership has studiously avoided these issues.
Groups promoting or affiliated with the Democratic Party, Green Party and other similar groups led the protests in the U.S. in 2003. They sought to pressure the United Nations or somehow persuade President George W. Bush to listen to reason. Now, these groups—when they choose to comment at all—often support war under the slogan of human rights or “Responsibility to Protect.” One only has to see the continued destruction in Libya, Syria, Ukraine or Yemen to expose these claims.
The threat of war is only one of the major issues of the day. Police brutality is mounting, from one heartbreaking case to the next. One man shot in the back, another “accidentally” killed; a cover-up here and a framing there.
Social inequality has also reached unprecedented levels—85 exceedingly rich individuals have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people, which is half the global population. Poverty and malnutrition––particularly among children––are increasing in major American cities from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York.
Only by recognizing that the source of the twin evils of militarism and dictatorship lies in capitalism can these problems be overcome. A new political leadership—of, by and for the oppressed of the world—must be constructed sooner rather than later.
International Workers’ Day is held annually on May 1 and was originally chosen to commemorate the Haymarket defendants. Traditionally, it has been the occasion for workers to call for labor rights, democratic rights and peace within the capitalist system that fails to protect them. It is in this tradition that the International Committee of the Fourth International is organizing the 2015 International May Day Online Rally. Workers, students, retirees and young people from around the world need to unite independently of the established parties of any country.
The May Day Rally––which will be simultaneously broadcasted throughout the world––is not the end goal, but a vital step in the construction of this leadership. It is only one method of uniting people internationally, from the U.S. to Uruguay and from China to Chile.
Participating in this event is one way for students at Geneseo to clarify these important questions and to begin to organize with students and workers from around the world.
Editor’s note: Josh DeJoy is the former president of the Geneseo chapter of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, the youth group of the American section of the ICFI.