1 "Workers of all nations unite!" "Workers of all nations unite!" So do marchers chant in May Day rallies across many countries in the world. Through this maxim workers exchange solidarity and a sense of common purpose. However, its interpretation spans a wide range of ideologies. Since the industrial revolution, various ideologies have evolved recognizing the role of workers and the fare share that the working class ought to get in shaping society. Marxism with all its stripes and versions amounts to maximal role of the working class. On the other hand, the new economic fundamentalists that followed after the demise of the Soviet system pushed hard and fast their market- does- it- all agenda relegating the working class to a mere extension of the assembly line. . The impact of economic fundamentalism varies from nation to nation. The role of government, no matter what the socio- economic conditions of a nation are, has to be diminished to a bare minimum. Consequently, the burn and slash policy that has been going on has taken away many of the gains that workers had achieved over the years. The so-called economic restructuring was unfairly implemented over the shoulders of the middle class, which also includes to a certain extent the working class Because of its economic cushion, the industrially developed world relatively sustained less damage than the emerging societies. Despite its rich human and natural resources, Argentina, a country that was considered a jewel of the new economic tide, saw its economy turn into shambles like a ship left to the gods of the wind. Except for a handful few, the whole society suffered the consequences of the unabated capitalism-everywhere dogma, which is the hallmark of the new economic fundamentalism. On the other hand, the organizational base and experience of the working class in various parts of the globe had presented itself as an aggregate counter-force in resisting the unfair and essentially undemocratic economic policies. In this context, by workers, it doesn’t mean a strictly defined economic class, but also includes other segments of 2 a society that understand and intellectually identify themselves as such. Argentina was a test case of the consequences of the winner-takes-it-all policy that it embraced in the mid- nineties. Finally, in 2001, with a whiff of a wind, the country became broke. High flying enterprises fell like autumn leaves; workers lost their pensions; the middle class almost got wiped out. Faced with such mishap, workers that were left in the cold formed a movement called The Abandoned Factory Movement and succeeded in taking over legally a number of abandoned factories. Several plants started to get a new life and many have turned to be profitable again. This experience in a way shows the creative role played by the working class in re-shaping the economy. Similarly, many local initiatives have been floating around in mitigating the negative effects of the unjust economic policies. Our rapidly changing world is so occupied with religious fundamentalism, albeit Islamic, that many progressive thinkers link such phenomena as the consequences of economic fundamentalism that had been globally imposed in the last twenty years. A typical example is the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India, which has increasingly become a major threat to the secular Indian State Eventually, common sense started to appear showing a widely accepted recognition of the negative outcomes created by the draconian economic policies. Significant segments within institutions, which had been the vehicles of economic fundamentalism, have started to admit to the injustices that occurred in the name of The Market-Does-It- All dogma. Were does Eritrea stand in all the dynamics of the reorganization of the global economy? How was it affected? If so, how did it cope with those challenges? Given the time Eritrea came into being, it is not easy to answer those questions except to point out that Eritrea has shown its capacity to creatively face multifaceted challenges whose real sources are less tractable. However, it is not improbable that forces behind economic fundamentalism had cast their shadows during their receding phases. 3 Eritrea as an independent state came into being at the crossroads of these enormous global realignments. To many, its emergence was an unexpected occurrence, yet there was virtually nothing in terms of infrastructure or ordinary state functions. The process of nation building has to start from scratch. Hence, it is hard to come with valid arguments that make sense as to how the economy was to be restructured or the civil service to be dramatically slashed or public enterprises to be privatized wholesale. In these regard, Eritrea didn't have hospitals ready for the auctioning block, schools with too many teachers to be laid off en mass or water-treating plants to be privatized etc. Yet, one cannot argue that this working nation doesn’t have a working class, at least in its more generalized form. The retired railroad workers who initiated the reconstruction of the Eritrean railway system in the mid-nineties constitute a typical example of the role workers play in present day Eritrea. It has been a symbol of self-reliance that characterizes Eritrea as a nation. Then, the only alternative was the hiring of foreign contractors who when contacted to rebuild the system asked a prize tag that amounts to the entire budget of the state of Eritrea many times over. Finally, under The Warsay-Yekeallo project, the initiative of the retired railway workers came to completion with incomparably low cost. Unlike many misguided nations in our continent, Eritrea has never relented from its zeal to work and self-help. In this dynamics, there is a significant role of its workforce. At times, there are exceptional cases that require utmost devotion and sacrifice. As an example, during the onslaught of the latest imposed war, the construction of the Tessenei Bridge by Segen Construction Company is worth mentioning here. It is an inspiring story to read how the workers put their lives in line when they moved the equipment to the other side of the overflowing River Gash temporarily held back with what was then available. Doesn't it seem an anomaly to mention a company especially on May Day?. To start with, nothing is wrong with any company as long as it operates legally and conscientiously. But Segen and other similar companies have a mission beyond the bottom line. Like the Recovered Factory Movement that played a creative role in the devastated economy of Argentina, Segen has also a role to play in nation 4 building. So is that of the cooperative movement in times of relative stability. As we celebrate May Day, we can give witness to the world of the new Eritrea being built with the sweat and toil of its sons and daughters; and also the support of its genuine friends and partners. Eritrea is working hard to help itself. So as we celebrate the working people across the globe for their struggles, ingenuity and victories we proudly see ourselves in the retired railway workers, in the members of the EDF enrolled in the Warsay-Yekeallo project or in the domestic workers across the Diaspora. Workers of all nations unite!! Wetru Awet Nehafash! Haileab Luul Tesfai. Toronto, Ont. .
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