And so, the same story continues. Don't get me wrong, I believe that we have undeniably made a certain sort of progress within the constructs of this private property based aristocracy conceived, capitalist civilization, but with that weak link, how far can we go? You know what we say about team efforts: "a team is only as strong as its weakest link." If 'the people' don't recognize that they are ALL 'the people' and rather, continue to get caught up in the ploys of the 'ruling class' to play upon their egos as well as their basic needs for survival, to pit them as groups against each other, then the playing field will never be balanced. If 'the people' continue to advocate and propagate the belief system of the ruling capitalists, then 'the people' remain divided and, though they are the majority, their influence, power and rights remain regarded as though the small pesky minority attempting to get their hands on more of the pie than they deserve.
What does this mean: to deserve? And in what belief systems and core values and psychological constructs are we basing our decisions of who deserves what? Clearly these decisions are being made...
So in these pages we are being told about the intense struggle that 'the people' were making to come together, to get beyond their cultural and color differences, to unite around their basic needs and their similar unjust treatment. Unions were THE thing to break through the ruling, aristocracy bred, capitalists' ploy to 'Divide and Conquer'.
The Haymarket Affair is one of the most known events of the Labor Union Movement of the late 1800's. It occurred in response to a previous string of strikes that ended in violence and killing by the police. These strikes were about obtaining an eight hour work day for workers. Seems fair enough to me.
I will include below the entire story of the Haymarket Event as Zinn includes it in his book, and then I will include the description of the Thibodaux (Louisiana) Massacre. I realized more and more how important it is to know our history. I don't think it is far fetched at all to learn of the history of Louisiana and see the connection between the poverty that exists there to this day and our failings around Hurricane Katrina. This history can help us recognize our responsibility as 'the people' to the remaining affects of those decisions made by the ruling capitalists of that time and of our weak link that has repeatedly kept us divided and, thus, conquered. Poverty and unjust treatment of human beings remains in our country. The Hurricane Katrina response and residuals hold a sparkling clean mirror up to us on this fact. Any beliefs that we hold that separate us from this group of people, are probably just rationalizations to keep us more cozy in our own "separate" lives, and the same ones that keep us from identifying ourselves as 'the people', and the same ones that keep us divided and, thus, conquered. Conquered how? You tell me. I'm just saying, my basketball coach always taught us to remember that if there is a weak link, it must be addressed, because it affects the whole team. Go team 'THE PEOPLE'!
THE HAYMARKET EVENT:
"Under the leadership of Parsons and Spies, the Central Labor Union, with twenty-two unions, had adopted a fiery resolution in the fall of 1885:
"Be it Resolved, That we urgently call upon the wage-earning class to arm itself in order to be able to put forth against their exploiters such an argument which alone can be effective: Violence, and further be it Resolved, that notwithstanding that we expect very little from the introduction of the eight-hour day, we firmly promise to assist our more backward brethren in this class struggle with all means and power at our disposal, so long as they will continue to show an open and resolute front to our common oppressors, the aristocratic vagabonds and exploiters. Our war-cry is "Death to the foes of the human race.""
"On May 3, a series of events took place which were to put Parsons and Spies in exactly the position that the Chicago Mail had suggested ("Make an example of them if trouble occurs"). That day, in front of the McCormick Harvester Works, where strikers and sympathizers fought scabs, the police fired into a crowd of strikers running from the scene, wounded many of them, and killed four. Spies, enraged, went to the printing shop of the Arbeiter-Zeitung and printed a circular in both English and German:
"Revenge! Workingmen, to Arms!!!
. . . You have for years endured the most abject humiliations; . . . you have worked yourself to death... your Children you have sacrificed to the factory lord-in short: you have been miserable and obedient slaves all these years: Why? To satisfy the insatiable greed, to fill the coffers of your thieving master? When you ask them now to lessen your burdens, he sends his bloodhounds out to shoot you, kill you!
... To arms we call you, to arms!""
"A meeting was called for Haymarket Square on the evening of May 4, and about three thousand persons assembled. It was a quiet meeting, and as storm clouds gathered and the hour grew late, the crowd dwindled to a few hundred. A detachment of 180 policemen showed up, advanced on the speakers' platform, ordered the crowd to disperse. The speaker said the meeting was almost over. A bomb then exploded in the midst of the police, wounding sixty-six policemen, of whom seven later died. The police fired into the crowd, killing several people, wounding two hundred."
"With no evidence on who threw the bomb, the police arrested eight anarchist leaders in Chicago. The Chicago Journal said: "Justice should be prompt in dealing with the arrested anarchists. The law regarding accessories to crime in this State is so plain that their trials will be short." Illinois law said that anyone inciting a murder was guilty of that murder. The evidence against the eight anarchists was their ideas, their literature; none had been at Haymarket that day except Fielden, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty, and they were sentenced to death. Their appeals were denied; the Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction."
"The event aroused international excitement. Meetings took place in France, Holland, Russia, Italy, Spain. In London a meeting of protest was sponsored by George Bernard Shaw, William Morris, and Peter Kropotkin, among others. Shaw had responded in his characteristic way to the turning down of an appeal by the eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court: "If the world must lose eight of its people, it can better afford to lose the eight members of the Illinois Supreme Court.""
"A year after the trial, four of the convicted anarchists-Albert Parsons, a printer, August Spies, an upholsterer, Adolph Eischer, and George Engel-were hanged. Louis Lingg, a twenty-one-year-old carpenter, blew himself up in his cell by exploding a dynamite tube in his mouth. Three remained in prison."
"The executions aroused people all over the country. There was a funeral march of 25,000 in Chicago. Some evidence came out that a man named Rudolph Schnaubelt, supposedly an anarchist, was actually an agent of the police, an agent provocateur, hired to throw the bomb and thus enable the arrest of hundreds, the destruction of the revolutionary leadership in Chicago. But to this day it has not been discovered who threw the bomb."
"While the immediate result was a suppression of the radical movement, the long-term effect was to keep alive the class anger of many, to inspire others-especially young people of that generation-to action in revolutionary causes. Sixty thousand signed petitions to the new governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, who investigated the facts, denounced what had happened, and pardoned the three remaining prisoners. Year after year, all over the country, memorial meetings for the Haymarket martyrs were held; it is impossible to know the number of individuals whose political awakening-as with Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, long-time revolutionary stalwarts of the next generation-came from the Haymarket Affair."
"(As late as 1968, the Haymarket events were alive; in that year a group of young radicals in Chicago blew up the monument that had been erected to the memory of the police who died in the explosion. And the trial of eight leaders of the antiwar movement in Chicago around that time evoked, in the press, in meetings, and in literature, the memory of the first "Chicago Eight," on trial for their ideas.)"
"After Haymarket, class conflict and violence continued, with strikes, lockouts, blacklisting, the use of Pinkerton detectives and police to break strikes with force, and courts to break them by law. During a strike of streetcar conductors on the Third Avenue Line in New York a month after the Haymarket Affair, police charged a crowd of thousands, using their clubs indiscriminately: "The New York Sun reported: "Men with broken scalps were crawling off in all directions....""
THE THIBODAUX (Louisiana) MASSACRE:
"By 1886, however, the Knights of Labor was organizing in the sugar fields, in the peak year of the Knights' influence. The black workers, unable to feed and clothe their families on their wages, often paid in store scrip, asked a dollar a day once more. The following year, in the fall, close to ten thousand sugar laborers went on strike, 90 percent of them Negroes and members of the Knights. The militia arrived and gun battles began."
"Violence erupted in the town of Thibodaux, which had become a kind of refugee village where hundreds of strikers, evicted from their plantation shacks, gathered, penniless and ragged, carrying their bed clothing and babies. Their refusal to work threatened the entire sugar crop, and martial law was declared in Thibodaux. Henry and George Cox, two Negro brothers, leaders in the Knights of Labor, were arrested, locked up, then taken from their cells, and never heard from again. On the night of November 22, shooting broke out, each side claiming the other was at fault; by noon the next day, thirty Negroes were dead or dying, and hundreds wounded. Two whites were wounded. A Negro newspaper in New Orleans wrote:
". . . Lame men and blind women shot; children and hoary-headed grandsires ruthlessly swept down! The Negroes offered no resistance; they could not, as the killing was unexpected. Those of them not killed took to the woods, a majority of them finding refuge in this city.. . . Citizens of the United States killed by a mob directed by a State judge. .. . Laboring men seeking an advance in wages, treated as if they were dogs! . ..
At such times and upon such occasions, words of condemnation fall like snow-flakes upon molten lead. The blacks should defend their lives, and if needs must die, die with their faces toward their persecutors fighting for their homes, their children and their lawful rights.""