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(en) Brazil, Anarchist Organisation Libertarian Socialism - SÃo Paulo - May Day: Anarchism, the Haymarket Massacre and the Martyrs of Chicago (pt) [machine translation]
Thu, 02 May 2013 15:30:29 +0300
The First of May, the society of yesterday and today ---- Every year we are faced with
such celebrations of May Day, promoted by the big unions and fill squares and avenues with
thousands of people. In order to attract the public, amid the shows of famous artists,
cast lots to cars and apartments. We forget, however, the origins of this important date
that marks the struggle of working men and women against the evils of capitalism and its
brutal consequences for men and women. ---- As always, history is written by the winners,
and so did the story of May Day, which to this day is not known. The mobilization of the
working men and women of Chicago and other places in the world to the late nineteenth
century, claiming eight daily hours of work, reflected a struggle against the capitalist
system and the terrible conditions they were under workers.
The current relevance of this topic is that the reasons that led to this mobilization have
not changed much since then.
We still live in a capitalist society, based on the exploitation of labor, the low wages
in poor working conditions, unemployment. We still live in a society where the prevailing
poverty and hunger of many for the benefit and prosperity of the few. We have no control
over the work we do and not about the decisions that affect us. Some of the fruits of our
labor still going into the hands of the ruling classes. When we mobilize to demand a
better life, and is always there for us to repress and show the proper place of the
oppressed classes in capitalism. These are just some similarities of the late nineteenth
century and the present day.
The work in the United States of the 1880s
The late nineteenth century, the United States continued its rising tide of economic
growth, largely driven by the effects of the Civil War. The possibility of factory jobs
attracted foreigners and natives. However, the working conditions were precarious in the
extreme. In the name of profit, the capitalist leaders meant that men and women worked 12,
14 and 17 hours per day, in environments without any condition to work: many had no proper
ventilation and lighting, etc. were extremely dirty. Neither children and pregnant women
were spared. The development of the growing industrialization of poor working conditions
and workers' organizations, creating an environment conducive to the mobilization, with
the aim of improving living conditions.
Oscar Neebe - known anarchist militant and Tinker that period - gave a description of the
context of the time in her autobiography: "I worked in a factory that made ââoil cans and
boxes for tea. It was the first place I saw children 8-12 years old working as slaves on
the machines. Almost every day happened to be a finger mangled. But what does it matter
... They were paid and sent home, and others would take their places. I believe that child
labor in factories have done in the last twenty years, more victims than the war with the
south, and the fingers mutilated and mangled bodies brought gold monopolies and producers. "
The workers mobilizations and the Haymarket Massacre
It is within this context that gives the movement that claims that marked this important
date in the history of May Day. Years ago, there was the idea that the day of the working
men and women should be divided into three parts: eight hours for work, eight hours of
sleep and eight hours for recreation and study. In 1884, the Federation of Trade Unions
organized in the United States and Canada (the forerunner of the American Federation of
Labor - AFL) stated that from the 1st of May 1886 the eight hours of work would become
effective, despite Capitalists claim that it was impossible. This movement, in fact,
reflected one of the central demands of the labor movements of the time, and continued
mobilization has previously started in countries like England, France and Australia.
Accessions to the movement were very large, since the central claim was common to all
workers. Just before the long-awaited May Day 1886, thousands of workers had joined the
fight to reduce journey. "Whites and blacks, men and women, natives and immigrants, were
Specifically in the United States, anarchism, strength protagonist of this movement had
been growing since the Congress of Pittsburgh in 1883, and the founding of the
International Working People's Association (IWPA), mass expression anarchist who, in 1886,
came to be in 2500 militants and 10,000 employees. Among its founders, we highlight Lucy
Parsons - black woman and former slave - who had a decisive role in organizing workers of
Chicago, incorporating the agenda of women and black men and women. Remember that the
IWPA, understanding the specific conditions of women and black / those in society,
defended the agenda of oppression, denouncing the way the world of work using such terms
to promote greater casualization and exploitation of labor, profiting even more . In one
of his numerous speeches she hearkened to our criticism, as workers could go beyond the
figure of the bosses, also us to reflect on the world of work: "So you can not see from
the image of the 'good boss' and the 'bad boss' whatever? And that you are the common prey
of both, and that his job is simply to explore? You can not see that the industrial system
is not the 'boss' that should be changed?. " Other significant milestones were the daily
Chicagoer Arbeiter Zeitung and the foundation, in 1884, the Central Labor Union (CLU),
which reached 28 thousand workers, only in Chicago in 1886.
On 1 May 1886, the streets of Chicago were taken by the people, protests and strikes whose
main objective was the reduction of the working day. Chicago at the time was the main
center of political unrest and U.S. anarchists exerted the greatest influence on the
movement. According to the report of a newspaper of the time, "would not leave any smoke
from tall chimneys of factories and mills, and things took on a look of Shabbat (the
Jewish Sabbath)." Between 80 and 90 thousand people took to the streets in support of the
growing movement only in the city of Chicago. Large demonstrations over 10,000 people also
took place in New York and Detroit. Meetings and rallies took place in Louisville,
Kentucky, Maryland and Baltimore. It is estimated that around half a million people have
taken part in the demonstrations of May Day in the U.S.. It is also estimated that around
1200 factories went out on strike across the country in support of the motion.
The position of the leading capitalist was clearly reflected in the press at the time he
called the protesters "miscreants, lazy, and scoundrels who sought to create disorder."
Another vehicle of the press stated that "These brutes [those / the workers / the] only
understand force, a force that can remember for generations." The capitalists bought
firearms to the local police. These are just some examples of the "support network" that
formed between employers and media, all in defense of the Capital and the established order.
On May 3 strikes and demonstrations continued. August Spies, a printer and editor of the
anarchist newspaper Arbeiter-Zeitung , spoke to 6000 workers. Even as he spoke, the scabs
McCormick Harvester factory were leaving, and part of the protesters moved to the front of
the factory, in order to disturb the scabs. This happened because the place in which he
spoke Spies was one block from the factory. Protesters descended the street and made ââthe
scabs came back into the plant. Then the police arrived. Were approximately 200 police
officers, to crack down on protesters, ended up killing six people (other sources say four
or seven), wounding and arresting many others. Spies, seeing the result of brutal police
repression, went to the office of the Arbeiter-Zeitung and made ââa circular, calling on
workers and workers for another event in the evening of the following day.
The protest took place May 04 in Haymarket Square, and it spoke, and Spies, Albert
Parsons, typographer, and fellow militant anarchist Lucy Parsons, and Samuel Fielden,
English immigrant, workers in the textile industry and also militant anarchist. The
speeches calling for unity and continuity in the movement. There were about 2500 people on
the site, which has so far made a peaceful protest, so peaceful that Mayor Carter
Harrison, at the beginning of this speech, said that "anything that happened seemed to be
no need for police intervention." At the end of the night the bad weather contributed to
that there were only about 200 people in the square. In order to disperse the
demonstration immediately, a group of 180 police arrived at the scene. Although Spies have
said that the protesters were peaceful, the police began the process of dispersing the
act. That was when a bomb exploded amid policemen, killing seven and wounding about 70,
between police and protesters. The police immediately opened fire on the population, being
responsible for countless deaths. Some reports speak of 100 dead and dozens injured and
arrested. Nobody knew if anyone dropped the bomb were protesters or police itself, to
frame the movement.
In his autobiography, Spies say some time later that "anarchism was not even mentioned.
But anarchism was good enough to serve as a scapegoat for Bonfield [police chief of
Chicago]. This demon, in order to justify their murderous attack at the meeting, said:
'were anarchists'. - 'Anarchists! Oh, how awful! ' The stupid mass imagined - anarchist -
should be something very bad, and incorporated the chorus along with his enemies and
spoilers: 'Crucify them! Crucify them! '"
The fact is that the event pump was used as a reason for the persecution of any radical
movement of workers. Police raided homes and offices of suspects and there were many
arrests. Many people who do not know what it was socialism or anarchism were arrested and
tortured. Definitely, the first police attacked and arrested, and then see if there was
any "guilt" of the accused.
Repression and the Martyrs of Chicago
The result of this process was the Rudolph Schnaubelt temporary prison, accused of
throwing the bomb. He was released after some time without charges and some say that he
was a paid agent of the authorities to commit the attack. With Schnaubelt loose, police
arrested six Fielden German immigrant anarchists: Spies, Neebe, Adolph Fischer,
typographer, Louis Lingg, carpenter, George Engel, Michael Schwab and typographer,
bookbinder. Police also sought Albert Parsons, as he was an important leader of IWPA in
Chicago, but he managed to hide and not be caught. Parsons ended after performing at the
day of judgment. Although only three of them have been present on the day of the bomb
blast, were all indicted and held accountable for that reason.
The trial began on June 21, 1886 with a jury clearly manipulated. It was composed of
entrepreneurs, their employees and a relative of one of the dead policemen. There was no
evidence against the anarchists and nothing that would lead to a clear connection of the
accused with the bomb blast. There was also no evidence that they had incited violence or
something in his speeches. However, the outcome of the trial was a clear reflection of the
fear on the part of civil society in relation to the workers organized and combative. In a
deliberate attempt to contain the growing labor movement, seven of the accused were
sentenced to death on 19 August. Neebe was sentenced to 15 years in prison. While
insisting not guilty, Neebe, in a show of solidarity with his fellow, told the judge he
felt not being hanged with others. The punishment the anarchists should serve as an
example to society, showing what happens to those who defy the power of the institutions
of the state and capital.
Spies ruled in his last defense talking about the hangings: "Here you have deleted a
spark, but there and there, behind and in front of you, everywhere, flames will grow. It
is a subterranean fire and you can not delete it " . Also important to the defense given
by Albert Parsons: "The property of the machines as a privilege of a few is what we fight
the monopoly of the same, here what we fight against. We wish all the forces of nature
that all social forces, this gigantic force, the product of labor and intelligence of past
generations, are made ââavailable to the man, referred to the man forever. This, and no
other, is the goal of socialism. "
Schwab and Fielden had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, after a major
campaign for the freedom of the accused. Lingg committed suicide in prison the day before
he was hanged. On November 11, 1887 Spies, Parsons, Fischer and Engel were hanged, and
thus became known as the Martyrs of Chicago. Thousands of people took part in the funeral
procession and the campaign for freedom of Fielden, Schwab and Neebe continued. On June
26, 1893 Governor Altgeld freed them, claiming they were innocent of the crime for which
they were being charged.
The May Day spreads worldwide
In 1890 the demonstrations of May Day became widespread in the U.S. and Europe as well as
in Chile, Peru and Cuba. The move by eight daily hours of work gained much support, which
he did with the first of May was a day of global mobilization. After that, the
demonstrations became widespread in Brazil, Russia and Ireland, and took the world so
high. In Brazil, May Day is celebrated since 1894 and became a national holiday by a
decree of the former president Arthur Bernardes in 1925. The eight daily hours of work was
incorporated under Brazilian law by GetÃlio Vargas in 1930. Still in his government,
regulates the right to vacation and retirement, promulgating the Consolidation of Labor
Laws (CLT). This attitude of GetÃlio, much more than benevolence reflected acceptance by
the government, the claims that were made by the labor movement since the 1910s. In
addition, many industries already gave these benefits to this point in time. With the
Constitution of 1988, he joined the Brazilian law paid holidays, the 13th salary, a 40%
penalty on the guarantee fund in case of dismissal, maternity leave, and other "benefits"
known by us today.
Currently, with the adoption of neoliberal policies by our past governments and with the
proposed new "flexibility" of labor relations, we are losing the rights won after long
days of mobilization and lobbying. Workers and workers who still have a formal contract
can be considered privileged, as many have no formal records. Not entitled to paid
vacation, vouchers, fine in case of dismissal, 13th salary, among other benefits that a
worker has formally registered. Also, having a job today, be able to sell their labor
power and let themselves be exploited by employers, has become a boon. There are millions
around the world who do not get it. We can see only now, nearly 200 years later, entering
into force a bill that guarantees to domestic workers the maximum shift of 8 hours per
day, payment of overtime, the right to organize a union and all other benefits conquered
by the struggles and mobilizations that marked the Day of Workers and Workers. And even
the unions, mostly, became corrupt and bureaucratic strongholds, aiming only to their own
interests. The people are treated with the policy of the bread-and-circus, now, besides
being propagated by the government, has the help of the unions with the "First of May"
party and raffles. Definitely institutional policies have proven ineffective to conquer,
or at least ensure the few rights that the state still gives us. It is time to be inspired
in the old militant workers, and through the direct action of the masses, reclaiming the
right to a life of freedom and equality.
Long live May Day!
Viva Day Labor and Working!
Viva anarchism and the popular movements!
August Spies. Autobiography .
Jorge E. Silva. Tragic and Forgotten Origins of May Day.
L. Gaylord. First May .
Lazarus CURVELO Keys. May Day - International Workers Day .
Lilian Caramel. Origin of Labor Day .
Michael Thomas. May Day in the USA: A Forgotten History .
Neebe Oscar. Autobiography .
Moates Tom . Reclaiming Our History. May Day & the Origins of International Workers Day .
WT Whitney, Jr. May Day and the Haymarket Martyrs .
Workers Solidarity Movement. Anarchist The Origins of May Day .
This text was published in Portuguese as a notebook for May 1, which can be downloaded in
PDF at the link: http://anarquismosp.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/primeirodemaio.pdf
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