New book will "prove" Haymarket martyrs were guilty. . .

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David in Atlanta
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Feb 17 2011 21:45
New book will "prove" Haymarket martyrs were guilty. . .

https://blogs.bgsu.edu/trial/
This chap apparently thinks he's the first historian to read the trial transcripts.

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Tojiah
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Feb 17 2011 22:50

He says he uses "thousands of pages of previously unexamined materials". Doesn't say why they were never examined, though, whatever they may be.

David in Atlanta
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Feb 17 2011 23:33

I read the excerpt from the introduction. He pretty much states he read the transcripts online. Big deal.

Boris Badenov
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Feb 17 2011 23:36

"anarchist conspiracy"

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Messer-Kruse
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Mar 8 2011 21:02

As the author of The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists, I am glad that my work has prompted a discussion of the memorialization of Chicago's revolutionaries as "martyrs." In the forthcoming issue of the Fifth Estate, I have an article that explores this issue directly where I argue that the memory of Spies, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, and Lingg, has been distorted by focusing on their “innocence” and ignoring their true revolutionary commitment. My study is aimed not at a particular audience or purpose other than historical accuracy. If in the process I happen to give back to these revolutionaries their true place in history—as radicals who in a rare moment actually acted on the belief that they needed to spark a worker’s uprising by violent means, then so be it.

My book is the result of ten years of close and careful research into many sources never consulted by historians of the Chicago Haymarket Bombing of 1886. What I've discovered is that this event has never been thoroughly researched--the reason being that generations of historians have simply summarized and retread each others' conclusions, comfortable in facts and assertions that confirmed their biases and provided a very "usable past." A relatively small amount of the available sources are actually cited by any of the authors on this event.

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playinghob
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Mar 8 2011 21:28

First of all I have to say that I have not read your book. I do not doubt that you must have done a considerable amount of research in 10 years. May I suggest however that it is probably a little unfair to suggest

Quote:
A relatively small amount of the available sources are actually cited by any of the authors on this event.

In my humble opinion I would suggest that The Haymarket Tragedy by Paul Avrich is a pretty comprehensive tome (over 500 pages), which in my estimation, has an extensive bibliography? I am also pretty sure that a writer and researcher of Paul Avrich's calibre would not have overlooked much, if anything?

Boris Badenov
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Mar 8 2011 23:07
Messer-Kruse wrote:
As the author of The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists, I am glad that my work has prompted a discussion of the memorialization of Chicago's revolutionaries as "martyrs." In the forthcoming issue of the Fifth Estate, I have an article that explores this issue directly where I argue that the memory of Spies, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, and Lingg, has been distorted by focusing on their “innocence” and ignoring their true revolutionary commitment.

That is actually a good point. The same is true of Sacco & Vanzetti, and most libertarian theoreticians who are today being referred to as "gentle anarchists" (Kropotkin, Reclus, Ward, etc.).
I was a bit put off by your claim that the new research is supposed to uncover a vast "anarchist conspiracy." This echoes the state propaganda of early 20th c. Western authorities too closely. If indeed the Haymarketers were responsible for the bomb, and if indeed there was a grand plan behind it all to spark off a "workers' revolt," that still does not warrant Secret Agent-like conspiratorial intrigue (unless you're looking to give the book a spectacular twist).

Quote:
What I've discovered is that this event has never been thoroughly researched--the reason being that generations of historians have simply summarized and retread each others' conclusions, comfortable in facts and assertions that confirmed their biases and provided a very "usable past."

That may very well be. Anarchist history in general is still a curiosity within the field of "legitimate" political and social history.
However, like playinghob, I'd be very interested to know what you think of Avrich's account and any specific weaknesses you find in his argument.

Black Badger
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Mar 9 2011 16:12
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I'd be very interested to know what you think of Avrich's account and any specific weaknesses you find in his argument.

I'd like to venture a guess: if it's in his bibliography it's not cited.

petey
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Mar 9 2011 17:46
Boris Badenov wrote:
Messer-Kruse wrote:
In the forthcoming issue of the Fifth Estate, I have an article that explores this issue directly where I argue that the memory of Spies, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, and Lingg, has been distorted by focusing on their “innocence” and ignoring their true revolutionary commitment.

That is actually a good point. The same is true of Sacco & Vanzetti, and most libertarian theoreticians who are today being referred to as "gentle anarchists" (Kropotkin, Reclus, Ward, etc.).

exactly right, both quotes. 'propaganda of the deed' was not a fiction of the capitalist press. clearly neither haymarket nor the other actions amounted to the vast national and/or international conspiracy used to justify the often murderous state reaction. but why is it a shibboleth to assert anarchists' involvement?

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Ed
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Mar 9 2011 23:28
petey wrote:
'propaganda of the deed' was not a fiction of the capitalist press. clearly neither haymarket nor the other actions amounted to the vast national and/or international conspiracy used to justify the often murderous state reaction. but why is it a shibboleth to assert anarchists' involvement?

I dunno, the idea that the Haymarket Martyrs were guilty doesn't rub well with me.. I mean, I always had the impression that it would be near impossible to ascertain who did it anyway (someone in a crowd chucking a bomb at a crowd of cops). But if they had done it and it would have been part of a 'propaganda by deed' thing, then why deny it to the end, one guy killing himself in prison, and have a world-wide campaign based on your fictitious innocence (which would involve lying to the entire international labour movement at the time, the people you would have supposedly doing this for).. it doesn't seem to fit with what I'd always thought of as 'propaganda by deed'.. surely once your nabbed you'd claim it for your group and the international toiling class or whatever..

Obviously this doesn't count as proof of innocence but it's just something that struck me.. not a shibboleth to mention anarchist involvement in terrorism (anarchists have done lots of dumb stuff), but it's something that doesn't seem right here..

EDIT:

Boris Badenov: are you saying that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty?

radicalgraffiti
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Mar 10 2011 00:00

didn't most anarchist who carried out propaganda of the deed intend to use any trial as a platform form which to spread the message?

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arminius
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Mar 10 2011 00:38

Aside from any opinions any of us may have on the event and this book in particular (which I have not read), I think there is a whole lot of truth about historical research, as well as "experts" on various ideological thinkers - of virtually ALL tendencies, not just anarchist and marxist, but also those - in these comments from this book's author:

Messer-Kruse wrote:
What I've discovered is that this event has never been thoroughly researched--the reason being that generations of historians have simply summarized and retread each others' conclusions, comfortable in facts and assertions that confirmed their biases and provided a very "usable past." A relatively small amount of the available sources are actually cited by any of the authors on this event.

Another point - without doing any research and going only from memory, isn't it a fact that some of them weren't anywhere near the McCormack Works, so therefore not guilty by any reasonable standard? Not sure about *all* of them. And if someone in the crowd (our side) did chuck the bomb, it needn't have been any of the names we know, but still could have been one of 'ours'. And, afaik, *also* could have been from the other side as well, whether provacateur or other. But I suppose that makes him hope we read his book...

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Mar 10 2011 11:52

Thanks to all for your very thought-provoking comments. Let me address a few points.

1. Haymarket scholarship: I was just as surprised as Playinghob to discover that a historian as accomplished and talented as Paul Avrich did not use many vital sources in constructing his award winning book, The Haymarket Tragedy. I could go on for pages detailing these, but the most important is that he relied on a two-volume summary of the trial prepared by the defense lawyers for purposes of appeal and not the actual three thousand page trial transcript. Both because of the nature of his source (written by lawyers to slant all evidence, testimony, and rulings in their direction, naturally) and what he didn't get to see (because the full actual quotes of witnesses were not included) Avrich missed much. Secondly, both Avrich and an earlier scholar he drew heavily from, Henry David, chose to rely primarily on sources that originated from the anarchist defense committee and discount the daily press and the important memoir written by the chief investigator of the bombing, Michael Schaack.

I don't mean to criticize these scholars too much. Because of the different eras in which they and I have lived, I had access to tools they did not. The trial transcript was digitized and placed on the web a decade ago. Four of the daily newspapers of Chicago and hundreds of thousands of nineteenth century imprints have been digitized and electronically indexed.

2. Propoganda by the Deed and the Trial: It is true that had the Chicago anarchists followed the revolutionary playbook of their day and followed the example of the Russian Nihilists or August Rheinsdorf, they would have freely admitted their actions and flung defiant words at the judge. However their behavior at the trial was confined and shaped by two facts: they were eight men being tried together and a large defense movement quickly rallied to their aid. No man, not even Louis Lingg until the end, could truly act independently without endangering his comrades. The narrative of the trial was then quickly shaped by the tactics and maneuvers of lawyers and their defense committee. Nonetheless, Lingg never denied manufacturing bombs and Spies admitted keeping dynamite in his editorial office.

3. Defendants not at Haymarket: Whether certain anarchists were at the Haymarket or not is besides the point. The "crime" for which the state of Illinois convicted these eight was not what happened on Desplaines street alone, but for playing roles in planning and preparing for that bombing in the days leading up to the riot. This is a crucial point and much of my work explores the actions of the eight (and many others) leading up to May 4, actions that reveal the inner thinking and working of the revolutionary movement of that era.

Black Badger
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Mar 10 2011 15:50
Quote:
actions that reveal the inner thinking

I hope I don't really need to point out that imputing thoughts to people long dead just because of the circles they run in is shitty detective work (i.e. would come under blazing objections in court) and even worse scholarship. Psychological history is a sham.

Blaming lawyers for everything that's wrong with judicial systems has a long populist tradition. Most legal scholars know that you can't be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for creating a climate; all evidence against the Haymarket defendants was circumstantial.

When we fight back, they call it class war; what do the capitalists call it when they and their cops, lawyers, legislators, judges, juries, and executioners routinely harass, beat, lock out, blacklist, or murder workers? Social peace?

As if the entire class-based system of capitalism resulted in a level playing field between the two sides of the class struggle. The foundations of class war are laid with property owners creating the laws (and lawyers and judges and prisons) that protect them; how can workers ever expect anything approaching a "fair trial" in such skewed circumstances?

The Haymarket defendants may have been guilty by the legal standards of the era and location, but that's primarily due to the inherently unbalanced mechanisms of the capitalist judicial system, not because of anything specific any of them did or didn't do -- or think -- on that day or in the weeks leading up to it.

LBird
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Mar 10 2011 16:34

Guilty or Innocent of bombing?

Perhaps we should give these seemingly innocuous terms some class content.

Any violent act which advances the class war for our side?

from the point of view of the bosses’ legal system, ‘Guilty’ means ‘criminal’
from the point of view of Communists, ‘Guilty’ means ‘admirable’

from the point of view of the bosses’ legal system, ‘Innocent’ means ‘safely servile’
from the point of view of Communists, ‘Innocent’ means ‘selfishly lacking in solidarity and class courage’

Guilty or Innocent of bombing? The terms only have meaning from a class perspective.

We have to define ‘violent’, ‘advances’, ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’.

Any violent act which advances the class war for their side?

Kissinger didn’t even get brought anywhere near a trial for bombing millions more Vietnamese than the Haymarket Martyrs were ever accused of bombing. And what about 'Bomber Harris'?

Still, we must presume them ‘Innocent’, eh?

Boris Badenov
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Mar 10 2011 22:41
Ed wrote:

Boris Badenov: are you saying that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty?

No, I wasn't saying that (just that they have been "recuperated" as "innocent martyrs"), although some revisionist accounts have argued that Sacco was indeed involved in the botched robbery (and certainly some in the anarchist movement at the time thought the same thing - Carlo Tesca for example - so it's not necessarily a case of "bourgeois falsifying" or whatever).

Boris Badenov
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Mar 10 2011 22:56
petey wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
Messer-Kruse wrote:
In the forthcoming issue of the Fifth Estate, I have an article that explores this issue directly where I argue that the memory of Spies, Parsons, Fischer, Engel, and Lingg, has been distorted by focusing on their “innocence” and ignoring their true revolutionary commitment.

That is actually a good point. The same is true of Sacco & Vanzetti, and most libertarian theoreticians who are today being referred to as "gentle anarchists" (Kropotkin, Reclus, Ward, etc.).

exactly right, both quotes. 'propaganda of the deed' was not a fiction of the capitalist press. clearly neither haymarket nor the other actions amounted to the vast national and/or international conspiracy used to justify the often murderous state reaction. but why is it a shibboleth to assert anarchists' involvement?

I am all for asserting whatever the facts suggest. I just think it's not helpful to perpetuate the myth that anarchists were a "conspiracy" of bomb-throwers; even if the Haymarket bomb was a prop-by-deed, that does not mean that the Chicago 7 were collectively guilty (not that that is necessarily what this book is arguing; I guess I'll just have to read it when it comes out).

Black Badger
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Mar 11 2011 02:50

There were eight Haymarket defendants from 1886; the Chicago 7 (originally 8) were from 1968.

Incidentally, one of the main reasons Tresca casually mentioned that Sacco was probably guilty (based on uncorroborated rumor) was due to sectarianism; Tresca and the Galleanisti hated each other.

petey
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Mar 11 2011 15:04
Boris Badenov wrote:
petey wrote:
'propaganda of the deed' was not a fiction of the capitalist press. clearly neither haymarket nor the other actions amounted to the vast national and/or international conspiracy used to justify the often murderous state reaction. but why is it a shibboleth to assert anarchists' involvement?

I am all for asserting whatever the facts suggest. I just think it's not helpful to perpetuate the myth that anarchists were a "conspiracy" of bomb-throwers; even if the Haymarket bomb was a prop-by-deed, that does not mean that the Chicago 7 were collectively guilty

i doubt they were collectively guilty, and n.b. different sentences were handed out, and each one of them may have been completely uninvolved, though i don't think that either. the entire business has been recast as a matter of competing authorities, and in cases like that i tend to suspend judgement (perhaps there will be excerpts of the trial record in the OP's book?). this is why i call belief in the innocence of the haymarket defendants a shibboleth: it's a thing one is supposed to think to show bona-fides.

Boris Badenov
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Mar 11 2011 15:54
Black Badger wrote:
There were eight Haymarket defendants from 1886; the Chicago 7 (originally 8) were from 1968.

Fair enough. I think the popular image of the "Haymarket martyrs" involves 7 individuals though. E.g.

Obviously I wasn't referring to the late 60s activists.

Quote:
Incidentally, one of the main reasons Tresca casually mentioned that Sacco was probably guilty (based on uncorroborated rumor) was due to sectarianism; Tresca and the Galleanisti hated each other.

That may very well be. Certainly Tresca was a syndicalist, and most in the labour movement abhorred insurrectionist tactics. I wasn't trying to claim that Sacco was indeed guilty, just that there was debate about his actual involvement within the anarchist movement itself, and that the image of S&V as martyrs is at the least misleading and depersonalized.

Black Badger
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Mar 13 2011 00:20

Don't know where that graphic is from, but Oscar Neebe (one of the three eventually pardoned) is missing.

The rumor that Tresca said that Sacco was guilty was started by the ex-radical Max Eastman writing in the paleo-conservative National Review in1962, claiming that Tresca told him -- in 1942! -- that Sacco was guilty (which Tresca's daughter vehemently denied by the way). Even if it's true that Tresca said this, one anarchist holding such an opinion hardly constitutes a debate.

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Mar 13 2011 06:59

We learned about this in history recently. The teacher said, "Police never found out who threw the bomb, but we do know that they were anarchists." And I said, "If we don't know who it was...how do we know they were anarchists?"

He said "If they throw bombs at cops, I think that makes it pretty obvious that they were against the government." If I wasn't so baffled by how stupid that normally-smart teacher was being, I would have said "You do realize that makes the Bolsheviks, the SA, and pretty much every self-described "revolutionary" group anarchists, right?"

LBird
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Mar 13 2011 10:46
Jazzhands wrote:
If I wasn't so baffled by how stupid that normally-smart teacher was being...

You must be near the beginning of your educational career, eh, mate?

One thing that'll soon dawn on you is that the vast majority of, not only 'teachers', but academics of all stripes from classroom assistants to university professors, are only seemingly 'smart' in 'normal' circumstances. As soon as you move them, not even off their academic speciality, but just into theoretical and methodological issues within their own supposed area of 'expertise' or even 'teaching' itself, they are all at sea, and quickly revert to 'bar-room' assertions of 'common sense', as you've apparently found out.

I personally have always had far more rewarding conversations in the pubs in town than I've ever had in an academic setting - though, sometimes with teachers, I should add, away from the day job, where they don't have to play the 'know-it-all' role they've been trained for.

Don't forget, though, you being a Communist gives you a head start in life. We already know their arguments (through socialisation, daily life, the media, 'education', we're 'experts' at what they're going to say), and we're constantly trying to refine our own ideas, so we can always compare two ways of looking at things. Most teachers are just like most people - they've been programmed into bourgeois ways of thinking: as you said, the 'bombs equal Anarchists' sort of nonsense.

So, don't be baffled, mate, look on the bright side - you're streets ahead in the game of life already. You'll be ready in the future for the next clown in academia who presumes to hold forth against a Communist. It gets easier with practise. And I've never met a teacher yet who looks happy at being put straight - but then, that's an essential part of their role, isn't it? Y'know, to be the unquestioned expert, who we 'learn' from, so we get used to 'leadership' and doing as we are told, in all other areas of life.

Behaviorism, eh?

Ding? Food!
Bomb? Anarchist!

Stick to Communist curiosity, doubt and criticism - and 'normally-smart' won't do for the coming 'abnormal' period.

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Mar 13 2011 17:23
Jazzhands wrote:
We learned about this in history recently. The teacher said, "Police never found out who threw the bomb, but we do know that they were anarchists." And I said, "If we don't know who it was...how do we know they were anarchists?"

He said "If they throw bombs at cops, I think that makes it pretty obvious that they were against the government." If I wasn't so baffled by how stupid that normally-smart teacher was being, I would have said "You do realize that makes the Bolsheviks, the SA, and pretty much every self-described "revolutionary" group anarchists, right?"

Normally smart people often look stupid when they're repeating ideas they've never questioned and then try to defend them.

LBird
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Mar 13 2011 20:59
jef costello wrote:
...they're repeating ideas they've never questioned ...

Yeah, but while this might be acceptable for the average 'normally smart person', it's quite shocking when you first realise that teachers similarly 'don't question, just repeat'. It goes against everything that we are taught from an early age that teachers are, well, teachers.

You'd think that, not only that the aim of education is to teach people to be critical, but also that teachers would be critical themselves in their own thinking, and be prepared to learn.

As it is in this system, 'education' is actually 'training', and most 'teachers' are merely trainers.

I know why this is so, but I'm always shocked at meeting teachers.

You'd think I'd just grow up, wouldn't you? I'm not shocked anymore that priests bugger kids, or that police baton women to the ground, or that soldiers torture suspects, but I'm always shocked that teachers don't seem to be either curious or critical.

In some ways, it's quite frightening.

petey
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Mar 14 2011 00:33

fucking christ, not again

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jef costello
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Mar 14 2011 01:16
petey wrote:
fucking christ, not again

Someone throw another bomb?

petey
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Mar 14 2011 02:15

of a sort

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jesuithitsquad
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Mar 14 2011 02:48

whatever mind jailer.