The only good anarchist is a dead one…

    In the United States, whose CEO arrives in Sydney today, the first Monday in September is ‘Labor Day’. Supposedly a day of rest for US workers, one celebrated since the 1880s, and the subject of an Act of Congress in 1894 declaring this to be so, the institutionalisation of Labor Day sought to erase the memory of May Day, and to supplant it as a day of working class rebellion. 113 years later, The Boston Globe has an interesting editorial on ‘The labor day that wasn’t’:

“LABOR DAY has its origins in the worker-management strife [sic] stemming from the industrialization of the country after the Civil War, but it has never had the hard edge associated with International Workers’ Day, or May Day, celebrated in the rest of the world. Yet May Day became a labor holiday because of the suppression of a protest in the United States.

In the 1880s, American workers were trying to get their employers to adopt an eight-hour workday. In Chicago, a union alliance called a general strike for May 1, 1886, which generated intense opposition from business people [capital] and their allies in city government [state]. Protests continued throughout the week, climaxed on May 6 by a peaceful rally in Haymarket Square. But then 200 police officers marched in to disperse the crowd, someone threw a bomb, and seven officers died. Seven labor leaders were eventually convicted of “conspiracy to murder” on flimsy evidence, and four were executed. “There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today,” the anarchist August Spies said before he was hanged.

Protests to save the condemned men galvanized the international labor movement, which coalesced around May 1 as a day of protest, remembrance, and solidarity. In the United States, however, state legislatures took up an idea proposed by labor leaders a few years earlier that the first Monday in September be designated Labor Day. In 1894, Congress made it a holiday in the District of Columbia and US territories. The September Labor Day, with its barbecues and ball games, has been an American tradition ever since.

Some harbor the suspicion that legislators acted so quickly to prevent American unions from looking to the Haymarket model as a reminder of the need for militancy and unity. That may be so, but the date of a holiday isn’t going to affect great social movements unless other factors are at work.

Despite many successes since the Haymarket violence (including the adoption of the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour week), American labor unions haven’t shown the cohesion and aggressiveness of their counterparts in Europe. Perhaps this spared [sic] the United States the class divisions that facilitated the rise of communism and fascism during the first half of the 20th century. It also denied American workers the benefits of the social-welfare state that became the norm in Western Europe after 1945.

Today there’ll be a few labor parades but it’s mostly a time for a visit to the beach and a traffic jam after a long weekend. Perhaps a thought could be spared for the Haymarket protesters and their fallen leaders, who braved the wrath of their city leaders and employers to make life better for themselves and the generations of workers who would succeed them.”

    63 Arrested in Copenhagen Clashes
    September 3, 2007

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A protest by hundreds of youth activists turned violent Sunday, with protesters setting fire to cars and smashing shop windows, police said. One officer was injured and 63 people were arrested as riot police clashed with the rock-throwing youths, police said. “Three or four people will be charged for violent behavior against police officers,” said police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch. “The others have been released.” The unrest started after a demonstration late Saturday commemorating the Youth House, a makeshift cultural center for the city’s anarchists and disaffected youth, which was demolished in March. “It’s six months since we cleared the house there, and they want to show they’ve not forgotten,” police spokesman Mads Firlings said. “Almost immediately they started building barricades and throwing rocks through the windows of shops and banks.”…

…But, 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 and live in want and misery — the wage slaves… if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.


upon which you stand. You can’t understand it. You don’t believe in magical arts, as your grandfathers did, who burned witches at the stake, but you do believe in conspiracies; you believe that all these occurrences of late are the work of conspirators! You resemble the child that is looking for his picture behind the mirror. What you see, and what you try to grasp is nothing but the deceptive reflex of the stings of your bad conscience. You want to “stamp out the conspirators” — the “agitators?” Ah, stamp out every factory lord who has grown wealthy upon the unpaid labor of his employees. Stamp out every landlord who has amassed fortunes from the rent of overburdened workingmen and farmers. Stamp out every machine that is revolutionizing industry and agriculture, that intensifies the production, ruins the producer, that increases the national wealth, while the creator of all these things stands amidst them, tantalized with hunger! Stamp out the railroads, the telegraph, the telephone, steam and yourselves — for


About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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