Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Kent State and Haymarket

Today is the anniversary of two major events...
The first is 25th anniversary of the the murders of four students at Kent State.
The above link announces a news-flash that a group of trash-talking right wing, Nazi agitators (their words) Quinn and Rose will be broadcasting live from Kent today, calling the murdered anti-war students "communists." If you see that website I just linked to, you might decide the "nazi" label is not a libel.
The other major anniversary of the day is the 119th anniversary of the bomb throwing from the crowd at the corner of Randolph and Desplaines in Chicago, beginning what is known as the "Haymarket Tragedy." Although the bomb-thrower was never discovered, the Chicago police used the incident as an excuse to round up all the labor leaders in the city, destroy their presses, and ultimately, arrest eight, and execute four of the city's radicals: George Engel, August Spies, Albert Parsons, and Adolph Fischer. Louis Lingg, the most charismatic and dashing of the group, committed suicide on the night before the executions.
Some of you may not know this, but that May 4th rally near Haymarket Square was a protest against the police shooting, the day before, of several strikers outside the McCormick Reaper works.
The contemporary labor movement has yet to revive that spirit of '86. Instead, the few big merged unions that are left are engaged in a bureaucratic tangle. The Haymarket Tragedy was one of several pitfalls for the democratic and multi-racial Knights of Labor that led to the ascendancy of "Business Unionism" in the U.S. 119 years later, we are still feeling the effects.

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