FRSO Minnesota May Day celebration: “The future is ours and the future is bright.”
April 29, 2012
Fight Back News Service is reprinting the speech of Mick Kelly, a leader of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, delivered at the FRSO-organized May Day celebration, April 27.
Sisters and Brothers,
It is a real honor to be speaking here this afternoon to so many fighters who have made so many contributions to the people’s struggle.
I look out over this group of people and I see folks who helped change the political landscape in this county at Occupy, who have stood up against the poor bashing politicians at the capitol, who have campaigned against home foreclosures, who have stood strong on picket lines and – yes it is important that we talk about it this year – who have stood up against repression that has been unleashed by the FBI, the Justice Department and the federal government. And as to the last point I will return to it later.
In past years, we in Freedom Road Socialist Organization have organized events like this to celebrate May Day International Workers Day – sometimes on May 1, sometimes not. The basic point is this: all year long we fight for the things we need – for the most basic measure of justice – why not take out one day and celebrate the struggles we waged, the fights we have won, and look forward to the day that society is organized to serve us, not a handful of rich folks – the capitalist class.
You know, we have held celebrations like this for quite a few years, and when we started May Day it’s not what you would call a mass celebration. The upsurge for immigrant rights changed all that, and that is a wonderful thing.
May Day is celebrated as a day of struggle all over the world. From the streets of Cuba, where working people already have political power, to the villages of Palestine, where the masses of people want freedom from the Israeli occupation, to the jungles of Colombia, where the Colombian rebels are defeating the U.S.-backed death squad government.
Many of us will be marching on May 1 on Lake Street demanding legalization for the undocumented and an end to deportations. All of you should join us.
Now this afternoon I’ll be making a few points, presenting analyses, and a way of looking at how this society works. I urge you to think about it and give it some consideration.
Capitalism the enemy
All of us, who have been fighting for a better life this past year, have a lot in common. Other than courage and commitment, we are up against a common enemy.
This country is run by a small clique – a tiny group of people who monopolizes the wealth and power – the 1% that controls the majority of this country’s wealth. And they have at their beck and call a host of bought and paid for politicians that do their bidding in government.
The economic system we live under – capitalism = exists to serve this small elite. In this society you don’t get rich by working hard, you get rich by having others work hard for you. In fact, as many of you know, it’s a rule of thumb: the harder the work, the less you get paid.
Everything of value is the product of human labor; it was created by women and men working hard. This is political economy 101. Look around this room, and try to pick out one thing that was made by a rich man, by a capitalist. Can’t be done. The capitalists own the places where we work, we produce the goods and services and everything worthwhile – they get the profits.
We are dealing with a class that is made up of parasites. Malcolm X was entirely right to say: Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.
Not only are they rich parasites, they are thieves, thugs of the worse sort; They have stolen the land, labor, and, indeed, the lives of others.
The history of the owning class of this country is the history of the most sickening sort of brutality and criminality ever known to human kind. It begins with the systematic genocide of the native peoples. Tens of millions of Africans were kidnapped and forced into slavery. The northern part of Mexico was occupied. Hawaii was annexed by force. Puerto Rico was turned into a colony.
Some people say that was then, this is now – I don’t think so. We are dealing with a class of people who got rich through robbery, murder and exploitation. We can’t just say “that’s history”. These are events that have shaped our reality that we’re now living in. Look at the epidemic of police terror around this country. Look at the case of Trayvon Martin. Racist oppression is not a matter of history, it’s the here and now.
Our ruling class is unfit to rule. They are waging a war on the American people. We need to be clear on this.
The class that is in charge does not have any intrinsic god given right to wealth and power. Let me ask you a question: If you took the rich and powerful and plunged them to our condition, cut their wages and food stamps and foreclosed on their homes, what would happen? Would they be carrying picket signs? Hell no! They would be carrying rifles. No ruling class in human history has ever given up its wealth and privilege voluntarily, and this applies double to the rulers of the United States.
It is for this reason that we in Freedom Road have decided to build a revolutionary organization. We have come to the conclusion that the existing order of things is unacceptable and we aim to do something about it. We are serious about this and our enemies know this too.
Every person here knows that over the last 18 months the government has launched a furious attack on anti-war and international solidarity activists. The FBI invaded our homes, convened a grand jury, and in L.A. they are putting veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes on trial on May 15.
Why have they done this? Well there is a very mundane, common place explanation and that explanation is perfectly true. In the run up to the 2008 Republican National Convention, a police officer named Karen Sullivan was placed into the organizing effort, and she stayed. She got involved in Palestine and Colombia solidarity work, concocted all sorts of lies with her handlers, and the next thing you know we have the U.S. Attorneys’ Office in Chicago talking about “multiple indictments of multiple people.”
You can see the same thing in the case of Carlos Montes. Carlos was here to organize for the RNC protests. He came in contact with Karen Sullivan and her police agent sidekick. According to FBI documents we know the LA Field Office of the FBI got involved.
So this is what happened; A plus B equals C. But there is a broader context. The rulers of the U.S. have built an empire that expands across the globe and it is crumbling. The peoples of the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia do not want to live under foreign domination. So they are rebelling, and the U.S. is lashing out abroad and here at home.
Most Arab and Muslim people in the U.S. do not agree that the liberation organizations of the Middle East are “terrorist organizations” and they do not agree with the occupation of Palestine. So an incredible wave of repression has been visited upon them.
Likewise, many of us in this room do not agree with calling freedom fighters “terrorists” and the government wants to make us pay.
Well it should be obvious at this point – we are not going quietly anywhere. We might suffer, but we will never suffer in silence.
We intend to defeat this repression and a campaign is underway to put pressure on the District Attorney in Los Angeles to drop the charges against Carlos Montes.
And the government has added a strange McCarthyite anti-communist twist to the attack that targets Freedom Road.
They are angry because we are working class internationalists. We are glad when other peoples across the globe are able to strike a blow at the rulers of this country.
They are mad because we are Marxist-Leninists. For real, the prosecutors talk about this. For us Marxism is a science. It helps us understand the world in order to change it. We see capitalism as a human destroying, blood sucking vampire and we want to put a stake through its heart. To do this we need a plan, a strategy. Marxism allows us to do just that.
You know, I am sure that some of you have read in some books, or seen in some movies or on TV, that communists are terrible people that want to do awful things. What do they want? What do communists, or revolutionaries, or socialists advocate that causes so much alarm?
In the context of the U.S. today, we think everyone has a right to a living wage job. And that those of us who are not working have a right to public assistance. In fact, as far as we are concerned, benefits are too low and the eligibility requirements too tight. The right to survive and, indeed, to thrive is a basic human right.
We think that the systematic discrimination against African American, Chicanos, Latinos, Asians and the Native peoples must come to an end. American capitalism has been built on the super–exploitation of Black, Chicano/Latino and other oppressed peoples. It is this system where some have privileges, and the basic human rights of others are trampled on, that we seek to tear down.
And further more, we think that the polices such as Affirmative Action, that go a little way towards addressing the racist discrimination that is taking place today, should be expanded. We also think that oppressed peoples, nations really, within the borders of our country have the right to determine their own destiny – the right to self-determination.
We cannot and will never accept the oppression of women. In fact we demand an end to inequality and support liberation. This is something deeper than equal pay for equal work. Although we certainly favor that, we are against any sort of social set-up that serves to hold women down.
We call for, and insist upon, full equality for immigrants (documented or undocumented), including the equality of languages.
We are against any actions or policies that discriminate against gays or lesbians. And let me talk for a moment about the case of CeCe McDonald, the transgender woman whose only crime is self-defense. She is a hero who deserves our support.
I could say a lot more about what communists are for and against – and I’ll be glad to talk with anyone afterwards about it more – but I think folks should get the basic gist of it. We are for justice, for peace, for equality, and for liberation.
And we believe that the only way to achieve those goals is to end the rule of the rich, of the capitalists, and build a socialist system – a system where all political and economic power is in the hands of the people.
This is not a dream. In some places it has been achieved. In Cuba they have already done this. Cuba is not a rich country to be sure. Medical care is free. Government policy aims at the elimination, not the creation, of poverty. No reasonable person can say that about this country.
150 odd years ago Karl Marx, who was the founder of the communist movement, wrote that communists disdain to conceal our aims. In other words, we don’t want to keep our views a secret and we intend to advocate them. That’s what I have been doing here today.
Is it any wonder that the rich would violently oppose such views and changes? For themselves they have built a heaven on earth. We intend to storm that heaven and raise all kinds of hell.
We don’t imagine this kind of change will happen tomorrow, but we do think they will happen.
In this city, state, country and planet, working people are the majority. We have every right to reorganize society in such a way that it serves our interests. Provided that we have the organization, determination, and understanding necessary, the future is ours and the future is bright!
Long Live International Workers Day!