27 March 2008
a haymarket affair
april showers bring mayflowers and what do the may flowers bring? RESISTANCE! that's right may first, or mayday known around the world as labour day, celebrates a dark period in american opression of class struggle, when workers, fed up with long days and low pay, set out to make a change that would change the way we work and live in the u.s. forever, well at least until reagan's eighties and a trickle down economy.
workers from all industries across the us unionized in the late 1800's and began a long legacy of worker resistance. fighting for those pesky liberal ideas, like safety, security, and fairness, the workers decided they wanted to stop going in before the sunrise and getting home after dark, and reap the benefits of their labor by spending time with their families, sounds crazy, i know, but hey, it sounded good at the time. they set their sights on an eight hour work day, and were preparing for a nation wide strike until their demands were met. i am not sure if a dolly parton song was in the prophetic visions of samuel gompers when bringing forth the idea of a 9 to 5, but fairness certainly was. the date was set for may 1st, 1886.
the general strike began with calls of "shut it down" ringing in the star spangled night. lumber workers, train yard workers, deli workers, stood in solidarity. unfortunately, the police were not on strike and on may 3, killed a group of striking workers outside a harvesting machine company building.
albert parsons, with a cry of an attack on one is an attack on all, led a charge to rally the workers of the world in haymarket square chicago the following day. what started then as a peaceful gathering of workers, turned to violence when a zealous group of police officers made an appearance. a bomb exploded at some point, by an unknown bomber, and the police opened fire, not only on the crowd, but on each other, killing seven of their own officers.
in the hysteria that followed, a group of eight men were arrested simply for being anarchists, and charged with the bombing and the deaths of men whom they never even knew. seven of the eight who remained in custody, after one fled the country, were sentenced to life in prison and three were to be hung by the state.
these men became martyrs of the workers cause and to this day, celebrations in their name are held the world over. mexican children celebrate their cause every year. never heard of this before, i am not surprised.
the powers that be have chosen to delete a large part of this history in the u.s. and for good reason. when the workers get a hero, they become aware of their strife. most families today have at least two jobs in the household, and with debt growing for every u.s. citizen, we are working upwards of 16 hours in a day just to make ends meet and pay the interest on our plastic lives. we have gone as far as to move labor day, which the world holds on may 1st, to september, in a staunch effort to remove the victory of the workers away from the tragedy of may 4th in chicago illinois when america hung it's working class heros out to dry.
so this mayday, this anarchist encourages america to stay home, read a good book, bake some bread, and enjoy your family and friends, in the name of those brave men who fell, in the haymarket affair.
Posted by AMEN at Thursday, March 27, 2008