Today in labor history, May 1, 2015: Happy International Workers’ Day! May Day is celebrated around the world as a day of international working class solidarity and is a national public holiday in more than 80 countries. The date was chosen by the Socialist International Congress (the Second International) in 1889 to commemorate the Haymarket incident in Chicago.
Today in history: May 4, 1886 - The Haymarket Incident.
A day after police killed four striking workers, protesters gathered at Haymarket Square in Chicago. As the event drew to a close, a bomb was thrown into the police line. One officer was killed and several were wounded. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one and wounding many. Eight anarchists were later framed for the bombing; four were hanged, one committed suicide and three were pardoned. They are the martyrs of Chicago whose sacrifice is remembered every year on May 1 for International Workers Day.
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)
In person, it can sometimes be tough to jump right into a debate with someone who adamantly defends the status quo, someone who uses extensive bourgeois ideology and “common sense” to defend the capitalist mode of production. We all naturally get frazzled because it’s an uphill battle trying to win people over, away from the safe ideology they’ve grown up absorbing. Not only that, but there’s also a whole set of ideas and facts (noted in the above picture) that probably need to come together for someone of that nature to arrive at socialism. Trying to condense all of the above facts into quick little soundbites is a super uphill battle, and I wish there was some way we could have this process made easier for the lot of us.
Most capitalism-apologists rely on a few basic ideological points, each of them off-base. Here are eight of perhaps the most important:
Capitalism is about voluntary exchange and it’s pretty much any economic activity that doesn’t involve the state
Capitalism is the end of history and the pinnacle of human development
Capitalism is the same thing as markets
The state is antithetical to the interests of the capitalist class
Socialism is when the government does stuff; the more stuff the government does, the socialister it is
“Small government” and anarchism imply laissez-faire capitalism
There can only be top-down control of the economy by a bunch of separate capitalists (private capitalism) or top-down control of the economy by a concentrated state apparatus (state capitalism)
Imperialism is caused by corrupt politicians, disconnected from an economic system that demands endless growth and capital accumulation among elites
I feel like the above picture covers most of these ideas in a very quick way and puts them to rest; further elaboration on each of the points is necessary of course, but that’s to be expected. Destroying these bullshit claims ought to be of paramount importance if you ever find yourself in some kind of political argument with a cappy.
All being said, I can totally understand if there are those of you who just have no fucking interest in debating cappies. It’s a draining, disheartening process. Avoiding debate can be a self-care tactic, honestly. I generally only recommend it if you think there is any chance of converting them – if they’re running around in expensive suits handing out Cato Institute newspapers, then our arguments about capitalism being a particular historical development rooted in bloody conquest will probably have little to no effect whatsoever. There are, however, plenty of working-class and middle-class people who may be much more receptive if you meet them where they’re at, point to history, and commit some time and energy to talking to them about the topic; usually this works best with people you already know.
Any further input on this topic is encouraged and appreciated.
On this day in 1886, in a violent altercation between police and protestors, the Haymarket riot occurred in Chicago. The previous day, several people were injured and one killed when police attempted to break a strike aimed at securing national eight-hour day legislation. In retaliation to such police brutality, a group of anarchist labour leaders organised a meeting in Haymarket Square. The meeting was initially peaceful, but when the police called for the crowd to disperse, one anonymous protestor threw a bomb. In the ensuing chaos the police opened fire, and violence reigned in Chicago’s streets. Ultimately, seven police officers and a few civilians died, with one hundred more people injured. The riot stoked fears of working class militancy, and resulted in a crackdown against labour leaders and immigrants. A group of anarchist leaders, known as the ‘Chicago Eight’, were arrested for alleged involvement in the bombing and subsequent violence. While many of the group were not even present at Haymarket, four anarchists were convicted on slim evidence and executed in November 1887. The surviving three of the group (one had committed suicide) were pardoned in 1893 when the case was reconsidered and thrown out on the basis of poor evidence. While proving a blow for the labour movement at the time, the Haymarket riot - and the martyrdom of the Chicago Eight - has endured as a symbol for labour leaders and activists in America and abroad.
“The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today” - Anarchist August Spies, one of the Chicago Eight, before his execution for alleged involvement in the Haymarket riot
they’re the reason we have an international worker’s day on May the first, although history has done it’s best to suppress that fact. Their cause was really the first to unify the international working class movement after the defeat of the Paris Commune and it deeply affected revolutionaries worldwide, as well as being a defining moment in the history of revolutionary politics in the US. you’re better off reading about it:
An engraving titled “Anarchist Ammunition,” from Michael Schaack’s Anarchy and Anarchists (1889).
Some of the discussions of dynamite that so inspired and energized anarchists, and angered and terrified their enemies, verged on incantations to the explosive’s magical ability to make a single worker the equal of the gathered minions of capital. An editorial in the Alarm of November 15, 1884 read:
“Dynamite is the emancipator! In the hand of the enslaved it cries aloud: "Justice or—annihilation!” But best of all, the workingmen are not only learning its use, they are going to use it. They will use it, and effectually, until personal ownership—property rights—are destroyed, and a free society and justice becomes the rule of action among men. There will then be no need for government since there will be none who will submit to be governed. Hail to the social revolution! Hail to the deliverer—Dynamite.“
Walter Crane Memorial to the Haymarket Martyrs, London 1894
Crane’s poster is a memorial to the 4 anarchists who were judicially murdered after the Haymarket Demonstration for the 8 hour work day were violently assaulted by the police, and several cops were killed BY POLICE FIRE. Those executed were August Spies, Albert Parsons, George Engel and Adolph Fischer. Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab and Oscar Neebe each served extended prison terms. Louis Lingg apparently committed suicide while i jail (blowing his head up with a dynamite cap?!?!) or was murdered while behind bars.