The Haymarket Martyrs

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gwry
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Nov 11 2008 12:02
The Haymarket Martyrs

I would just like to remind people that today (November 11th) is the 121st anniversary of the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs in 1887. Anarchists wore black ribbons to commemorate the day, in the years following the executions. They should be remembered the world over. Is anyone doing anything, public meetings, social events, and such like?

nastyned
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Nov 11 2008 16:28

That sort of thing got shifted to mayday after Nov 11th became armistice day.

gwry
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Nov 11 2008 20:49

So when the anarchists shifted, "that sort of thing", to the 1st of May, didn't they know it was already a pre-Christian festival of fertility? And isn't May Day, a protest for the rights of Labour and against Capitalism? Few mention the poor bastards who died in Chicago. Those who died should be remembered, on the 11th irrespective of Armistice Day.

martinh
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Nov 11 2008 22:48

Gwry,
The anarchist didn't shift "that sort of thing" to May 1st, that was a decision of the 2nd International. And I am sure that the links to the pre-Xtian festivals were well known, as it was precisely those links that caused there to be a May Day demo in Chicago in 1886...

In the days of the DAM, we used to commemmorate Nov 11th, though it was not something that was observed throughout the organisation nor was it spread outside it much.

Regards,

Martin

devil hoof
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Nov 11 2008 23:19

We have organized events here in past years, but this year I dropped the ball and no-one picked it up I'm afraid. (Not that it's anyone else's fault---I am ashamed of and accept full responsibility for my inaction.) I agree it's important to directly honor Parsons, Spies, Engel, Fischer, and Lingg on this the anniversary of their execution. They were anarchists as well as 'men of labor', so it is important that we as anarchists keep the memory of both their struggle and their ideal alive--cause no one else will. Now that I am done with my work for the day, I am going out to (musically) harangue passers-by, cause I don't know what else to do. "Let the voice of the people be heard."
Solidarity-
DH

freemind
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Nov 12 2008 09:39

4 Anarchists hanged and 4 imprisoned for lenghthy terms by the State for protesting for an 8 hour day! The origins of why we commemorate Mayday are therefore Libertarian and dont belong to some psuedo Communist Trot sect! Their sacrifice was a pivotal point in Anarchist and working class struggle and
as Martin said we have not paid it the attention it deserves. Even a gathering at a certain place with a speaker on its anniversary by us somewhere every year
would be something.I may be wrong but wasn't there a halfhearted attempt to raise money for a Memorial by DAM comrades 20 years ago?

syndicalist
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Nov 12 2008 15:20
Quote:
In the days of the DAM,

Bring them back!

On a more serious note... the Haymarket was an important event that has been lost here in the US. When I first started out in the movement (1970s) the "old timers" would always promote , "Black November, Red November" . To the Spanish anarchists credit, they have been some of the staunchest promotors of the Haymarket comrades.... In November, the Spanish anarchists truly remember.
Something American anarchists need to be a bit more keen on.

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fnbrill
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Nov 12 2008 15:30

Respectfully, one problem I have with the Haymarket martyrs thing is that it forgets/ignores that the workers

• hundreds of thousands of workers went on a general strike for the 8 hour day in dozens of cities
• general strikers were murdered by the state in a number of cities too (Milwaukee for example) it wasn't just the ones executed who were killed unjustly.
* the executions are used to promote one or another ideology rather than what they *all* died for: the right for workers to strike to better life

YEs we should remember the martyrs, but we should remember the other acts and motivations as well.

syndicalist
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Nov 12 2008 15:40
fnbrill wrote:
Respectfully, one problem I have with the Haymarket martyrs thing is that it forgets/ignores that the workers

• hundreds of thousands of workers went on a general strike for the 8 hour day in dozens of cities
• general strikers were murdered by the state in a number of cities too (Milwaukee for example) it wasn't just the ones executed who were killed unjustly.
* the executions are used to promote one or another ideology rather than what they *all* died for: the right for workers to strike to better life

YEs we should remember the martyrs, but we should remember the other acts and motivations as well.

Well said.

petey
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Nov 12 2008 16:26
syndicalist wrote:
fnbrill wrote:
Respectfully, one problem I have with the Haymarket martyrs thing is that it forgets/ignores that the workers

• hundreds of thousands of workers went on a general strike for the 8 hour day in dozens of cities
• general strikers were murdered by the state in a number of cities too (Milwaukee for example) it wasn't just the ones executed who were killed unjustly.
* the executions are used to promote one or another ideology rather than what they *all* died for: the right for workers to strike to better life

YEs we should remember the martyrs, but we should remember the other acts and motivations as well.

Well said.

i second

gwry
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Nov 13 2008 09:09

I agree too. The event can be used to illuminate much, not least of which how little has changed with respect to the position of labour vs capital in the world, that is not just North America and Europe. Jesus, no insults, and people generally agree! Call yerselfs anarchists?!

David in Atlanta
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Nov 14 2008 23:47

We need to remember that most of the north american anarchist movement at the time opposed the eight hour day demand as reformist, Johan Most and a very young Emma Goldman particularly. The Chicago movement was almost alone in it's total support. There's a tendency to forget that the strike call did not come from anarchists but from the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions which became the AFL in Dec. of 1886.

I'd also be very hesitant to say that the workers were influenced by the pre-christian origins of mayday celebrations although they may well have known it was a traditional holiday. Most of the working class leaders of the day were either materialists influenced by Marx and or Bakunin or were Catholic immigrants.

Also we should remember Nat Turner, the slave rebel, hung Nov. 11, 1831.

freemind
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Nov 16 2008 00:08

Re;David-I take the point on the position of the American Anarchist position and the 8 hour day however i wasnt suggesting that Anarchists were solely responsible for the movement but that they played a major role and suffered considerably in that struggle.Would it be fair to say that Most and Goldman were opposed to the 8 hour day because they were essentially Individualists?

David in Atlanta
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Nov 16 2008 18:18

freemind, sorry if i came off as targeting you, that really wasn't my intent. But no, I don't think Most was a individualist, unless you consider the entire "propaganda of the deed" school of thought to be so. Certainly the Pittsburgh Proclamation of 1883 which Most co-wrote with some of the Haymarket defendants was not individualist. Emma had a strong Nietzschean streak throughout her life but was still a communist

freemind
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Nov 17 2008 10:11

David:Accept your point but it stresses an interesting dichotomy in some Anarchist theorists. I admire Goldman and in many ways she was ahead of her time in pushing Womens issues and sexual matters to the forefront of Libertarian politics.I accept that she was a Communist too but she also had the "Nietzchean"streak of individualism . F ederica Montseney was at the head of the greatest Libertarian movement in history but was a Stirnerite!!!! That goes someway to explaining her Counter revolutionary role in Catalonia.The Haymarket Martyrs and other Libertarians who struggled deserve a more fitting recognition and should be remembered always as class conscious libertarian communists because Anarchism is in a battle for its heart and soul as individualists, mystics and lifestylists seek to pervert and destroy a once great movement.The State can just relax because for many reasons Anarchism has ghettoised itself and failed to mature or learn historical lessons and therefore ha become relegated to a punk/mystic sect/anarcho-this/that . Its believers,martyrs,fighters and deserve better

Anarcho
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Nov 17 2008 14:03
martinh wrote:
Gwry,
The anarchist didn't shift "that sort of thing" to May 1st, that was a decision of the 2nd International.

Actually, it was an American union (the fore-runner of the AFL) which called for 1st of may, 1886 to mark the start of the 8 hour day, a call the anarchists took up. The actual events in Haymarket happened a few days later, after cops opened fire on strikers fighting for the 8 hour day.

The 2nd international decided upon the 1st of May after this, in part because of the Haymarket events. Engels, of course, did not have a good word to say about the Chicago anarchists....

Anarcho
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Nov 17 2008 14:10
freemind wrote:
Would it be fair to say that Most and Goldman were opposed to the 8 hour day because they were essentially Individualists?

Goldman was influenced by Most's position to be opposed to reform campaigns for about 3 public meetings! She quickly rejected this ultra-leftist position in favour of supporting struggles for reforms, as I discuss here. Most later came to agree with her, becoming (like Goldman) a supporter of syndicalism.

To stress the point, Goldman's short-lived rejection of the 8 hour day was not due to her being "essentially" individualist! She was a class struggle communist-anarchist, supporter of unions and labour struggles. Anyone who suggests otherwise really knows little about Goldman or communist-anarchism!

freemind
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Nov 17 2008 16:57

Anarcho;Goldmans Vision on Fire supports your view and one i hold that Emma was a Libertarian Cmmunist and was not dismissive at all of Anarcho-Syndicalism. I was merely questioning her albeit temporary stance on fighting for reforms within the confines of the State and talking generally and critically of Individualism.People who reject even struggle for short term gain by workers are either Individualists or Millenarian Insurrecionists and Goldmans quick change points to her true position ie;Anarcho-Communism. I've read Goldman extensively but i must confess very little of Most so thanks for putting me in my place comrade.

Anarcho
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Nov 21 2008 14:15

Talking of the Chicago anarchists, someone has reprinted Parson's book on Anarchism (see my review). Worth reading to get a feel of the movement and the ideas influencing it.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 30 2008 15:06

Can someone recommend a book that is specifically about the events that led to the Haymarket uprising?

David in Atlanta
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Dec 1 2008 08:54

Vlad, there wasn't exactly a "Haymarket upraising". There was a brief, deadly attack by cops during the course of a national general strike

Nelson, Bruce C. Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago Anarchism 1870-1900. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
. Nelson gives a pretty good account of the course of events during the organizing and strike in 1886.
the book is really fascinating if you're a social history geek. Goes into the different immigrant groups and their social organizations, previous strikes and political struggles, splits and allies, etc. As i recall, Nelson breaks down the statistics and tells us the average Chicago anarchist at the time of Haymarket was German, male, 32 years old and had been in the States less than five years ( i could be wrong on age and time in the US)

gwry
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Dec 1 2008 12:36

The Haymarket Tragedy by Paul Avrich is too be recommended as well. A couple of novels have been written on the subject as well. There is also a fairly well balnced account in a PBS film which can be seen on Youtube.
Apparently Iraqi trade unionists were handing out leaflets on a 1st of May demo this year, pointing out the American origins of May Day! The issue is hot for us to at Royal Mail, as our area rep- a SWP member- sold our office a 4 day week, on the basis that we work from 05:00 - to !5:24 A 10 and a half hour day! Also, tempting people to sign away the other 2 free days by working overtime. This was sold as a pay rise! Needless to say the full-time rep and the unit rep signed up for the full 6 day week, as one does not do a delivery while the other rarely does. I argued against it, as did 2 others, using the struggle for reduced working day as an example. The rep had never heard of the Haymarket Martyrs!

Angelus Novus
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Dec 1 2008 21:13

Rosemont and Roediger's _Haymarket Scrapbook_.

One of the best. labor. history. books. ever.

Available from Charles H. Kerr publishers:

http://www.charleshkerr.net/

RSOA
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Dec 1 2008 21:18

It available anywhere on the internet?

David in Atlanta
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Dec 2 2008 15:28

You can buy it on Amazon. The Lucy Parsons Project has some excerpts dealing directly with Lucy and Albert.

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Hieronymous
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Dec 2 2008 16:54

I personally would have to say that the definitive book on Haymarket is James Green's recently published Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, The First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America, Pantheon Press (2006). It's excellent.

Anarcho
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Dec 9 2008 13:50
David in Atlanta wrote:
Nelson, Bruce C. Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago Anarchism 1870-1900. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
. Nelson gives a pretty good account of the course of events during the organizing and strike in 1886.

There is useful information in the book, but Nelson really needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. This is because he basically suggests that the Martyrs were not anarchists! Which suggests a basic ignorance of both anarchism and the actual ideas of the movement.

However, he is not the only academic to suggest that. The American ISO published an interview by an academic which suggested that the Martyrs remained Marxists! Again, that suggests a fundamental ignorance of anarchism. I discuss it here ("On The Bolshevik Myth"), along with refuting an attack on the Makhnovists and the Kronstadt rebels.

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GrouchoMarxist
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Mar 5 2012 02:07

My collectives doing a may day picnic. Can anyone give me some detailed information on the haymarket riot?

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x359594
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Mar 5 2012 02:16

It's out of print, but The Haymarket Scrapbook (1986) edited by Fellow Worker Franklin Rosemont and David Roediger and published by Charles H. Kerr is one of the best books on the Haymarket. Contributors include William J. Adelman, Carlotta Anderson, Carolyn Ashbaugh, Paul Avrich, Alan Dawley, Heiner Becker, Sam Dolgoff, Richard Drinnon, George Esenwein, Philip Foner, Paul and Elizabeth Garon, Joseph Jablonski, Stuart Kaufman, Sidney Lens, Blaine McKinley, Bruce Nelson, Penelope Rosemont, Beryl Ruehl, Sal Salerno, Stephen Sapolsky, Morris U. Schappes, Diane Scherer, Richard Schneirov, Fred Thompson, Fred Whitehead and also features reprints of hard-to-find writings, speeches and poems by Jane Addams, Oscar Ameringer, Kate Austin, Edward Bellamy, John Brown, Jr., Ralph Chaplin, Voitairine de Cleyre, Eugene Debs, Floyd Dell, David Edelshtat, Emma Goldman, Sam Gompers, Lizzie Holmes, Mother Jones, Harry Kelly, Peter Kropotkin, Jo Labadie, Lucy Parsons, Kenneth Rexroth, Carl Sandburg, Nina van Zandt, with more than three hundred cartoons and other illustrations by Flavio Costantini, Walter Crane, Robert Green, George Herriman, Mike Konopacki, Man Ray, Robert Minor, Thomas Nast, Ernest Riebe, Mitchell Siporin, "Dust" Wallin, and Art Young.

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GrouchoMarxist
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Mar 15 2012 03:51

Any PDF?

syndicalist
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Mar 15 2012 13:08
Anarcho wrote:
David in Atlanta wrote:
Nelson, Bruce C. Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago Anarchism 1870-1900. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988.
. Nelson gives a pretty good account of the course of events during the organizing and strike in 1886.

There is useful information in the book, but Nelson really needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. This is because he basically suggests that the Martyrs were not anarchists! Which suggests a basic ignorance of both anarchism and the actual ideas of the movement.

However, he is not the only academic to suggest that. The American ISO published an interview by an academic which suggested that the Martyrs remained Marxists! Again, that suggests a fundamental ignorance of anarchism. I discuss it here ("On The Bolshevik Myth"), along with refuting an attack on the Makhnovists and the Kronstadt rebels.

I've not read your linked article, Anarcho. But I would like to comment on the Nelson book.
I tend to agree with your overall criticism of the book. But reflecting a bit on the time period,
it would not be hard to say that American class struggle anarchism (as opposed to individualism) was in a period of transition.

A transition from a collection of anarchistic/socialistic/agrarian radical ideas into some form of a more class struggle anarchist, hence anarcho-syndicalist, viewpoint. I would think this transition was taking place during the 1880s, leading up theough the period of the height of the IWPA influence in Chicago. With large numbers of German-American working folks in industry (and in America) at this point, they helped to transform and shift the discussion and influence the mish-mash of anarchistic/socialistic/agrarian radical ideas towards a more solid
anarchist footing. But even here, anarchism itself was in transition and in conflict within its own house.