Why we celebrate May Day.

The ‘Haymarket Affair’, Chicago Martyrs, ‘bomb throwing anarchists’ and the fight for the eight-hour working day.

In 1887 four Chicago anarchists were executed. A fifth cheated the hangman by killing himself in prison. Three more were to spend 6 years in prison until pardoned by Governor Altgeld who said the trial that convicted them was characterised by “hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge”. The state had, in the words of the prosecution put “Anarchy.. on trial” and hoped their deaths would also be the death of the anarchist idea… Read the full story on Libcom.

Haymarket martyrs

Oscar Neebe not shown received 15 years.

There was never any pretence of proving their guilt, then as now, working class self-organisation was treated as a menace, to be eliminated by fair means or foul.

“We are all creatures of circumstance; we are what we have been made to be. This truth is becoming clearer day by day …

… My children — well, their father had better die in the endeavor to secure their liberty and happiness than live contented in a society which condemns nine-tenths of its children to a life of wage-slavery and poverty.” – Albert to Lucy Parsons, in his final letter.

So what’s changed?

Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe, and Samuel Fielden are brought back to life every May Day by the actions of militant workers across the world. (And not a fucking tank in sight!)

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement… the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in misery and want, expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread on a spark, but there and there, behind you – and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out”. – August Spies.

Take to the streets this May Day! What are you waiting for?

The Anarchist origins of May Day  – a leaflet by the Workers Solidarity Movement (pdf)

1erMayo

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  1. […] Why we celebrate May Day. […]

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