May Day 2011: A tribute to modern-day Haymarket heroes and heroines
On this day, amid spiraling resistance around the world, we pay respects to struggles that gave birth to May Day as an international workingclass holiday 125 years ago in Chicago, Illinois. The fight for the eight-hour day, led by anarchists and socialists, was gaining steam. In an attempt to destroy the movement, police provocateurs threw a bomb at a peaceful labor rally in Haymarket Square. Eight radical leaders were charged with murder, and four were hung. A defiant August Spies exclaimed before his execution:
“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement…the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery expect salvation–if that is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon 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.”
The Freedom Socialist Party offers its gratitude to the Haymarket Martyrs and those who tried to save them, such as Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, the widow of Albert Parsons. She spent the rest of her life building international recognition for her fallen comrades, while also speaking out as an ardent Chicana feminist and antiracist agitator.
These early radicals were principled internationalists. Albert Parsons dismissed bigots who derided his Haymarket brothers for being “foreigners”:
“My patriotism covers more than the boundary lines of a single state; the world is my country, all man- kind my countrymen. That is what the emblem of the red flag signifies; it is the symbol of the free, of emancipated labor.”
Today, the Haymarket rebels’ vision of international class solidarity is alive and growing. This was dramatically clear when democracy protesters in Egypt and labor activists in Wisconsin carried signs supporting each other’s struggles. Both movements have wakened ever-widening revolts.
Rebels across North Africa and the Mideast, from Tunisia to Yemen, are exchanging strategies and tactics to foment change. Many workers and students are realizing they need to move beyond replacing corrupt officials at the top. Protests globally are opposing imperialist intervention in Libya. Solidarity with Palestine is rising. Iraqis are demanding that the U.S. get out of their country. The U.S. and its allies are doing everything possible to contain these insurgencies and prevent them from concluding that socialism is the solution. But is this possible in a world where rebellion is reaching the boiling point?
In the Ukraine this March, female electronics workers who had not been paid for 14 months stormed the bosses’ offices and overwhelmed top officials and the police who tried to save them.
Throughout March, teachers in Honduras held massive demonstrations against privatization of schools that sparked a general strike against austerity measures. For several weeks in April, thousands of Bolivian workers, farmers and students protested neoliberal economic policies. Miners expressed their discontent by throwing dynamite and battling police in the capitol of La Paz.
In the U.S., outrage is mounting over the criminal slashing of needed social services and jobs by both Democrats and Republicans. Radical voices are calling for a new political party, one that will represent workers’ interests and make the bosses pay for their crisis.
The Freedom Socialist Party offers solidarity to modern-day Haymarket heroes and heroines across the globe. This is a crucial time for those on the left to work together in united front efforts to challenge capitalist rulers and create revolutionary change. Together, we will prevail!