[Marxism] Messer-Kruse on Haymarket

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 11:16:58 MST 2012

re Haymarket: as per Louis's comment re the debate's nonusefulness, see the
exchange below from an occupy labor list where there's a parallel
discussion about BBers.
I wrote (in response to what's below:)
"Well actually Parsons' comments on dynamite were somewhat more complex
than that. See page 405 at:
... where Parsons says RHETORICALLY that with dynamite, the technical
advantage of the bosses' guns has diminished (one can imagine Engels
reading that with approval, having bemoaned the loss of the old tactical
advantage of street barricades once cities were redesigned).One could argue
that Parsons was just making the same point that some Palestinian fighters
correctly do when they say RHETORICALLY: "you complain of our bombs? Fine,
give us your tanks and jets and we won't have to use bombs!"
More importantly, the entire labor movement -- anarchist, syndicalist,
socialist, reformist -- defended Parsons and the other Haymarket martyrs
because they were framed up.
Same with the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. Their most active defenders
were communists who never for one moment stopped criticizing anarchism
within the movement, while all the time defending their anarchist comrades
to the outside world because they were framed up.
But even aside from that, there's a basic principle of class solidarity
that says even when the capitalist cops and courts have a worker dead to
rights, we still demand the worker be freed. Because we don't respect the
right of the system to judge us.
That doesn't mean we don't tell workers to avoid making mistakes or
committing acts that they could be arrested for.
Yes, a mass insurrection, an uprising, is illegal. But those have nothing
in common with the planned stupidities of adventurers who have no organic
connection to the workforces and communities they're pretending to act on
behalf of.
 which was in response to this (name omitted):

---------- Original Message ----------
I'm glad in a way that Hedges' article broke open an explicit discussion
about this.�It's tempting to want to ignore it, but i'm curious to hear how
LOC members feel on the subject, both in the 'theoretical' way and from
their actual experiences in OWS assemblies and mobilizations.
�Considering the initial tensions LOC had at the May 1st planning
assemblies, we should acknowledge that the manufacturing of controversy
over stuff like Black Bloc anarchism *allowed�*labor to be persecuted so
harshly after Haymarket. The trial and murder of the Haymarket anarchists
(once considered�*martyrs!)�*wasn't just a miscarriage of justice, it was
genocide. It's the reason the world immediately recognized�May Day was
something important enough to commemorate with a holiday that everyone
still celebrates, and it's also the reason our State immediately worked to
erase it from the memory of all American workers. When we start to fear or
persecute political orientations (not to accuse anyone here of that), we
are accepting the revised history of May Day and the labor movement: yes
the martyrs were accused of being terrorists, but they were hanged for
being anarchists.�

The myth of the dynamite-tossing, bloodthirsty anarchist started with the
mainstream media's mischaracterization of the Haymarket events and the
identity of the alleged bombers. Read the NYT account of what happened-�
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/haymarket/newsnyt5-6.html ...
Needless to say, it's not true.�

� The whole point is the fact that because some anarchists endorsed
violence (Parsons thought dynamite was the "great equalizer" in the
people's war with capital) the entire ideology could be incriminated. The
debate over diversity of tactics, which was way more controversial in the
early labor movement than now, simply reflected the diversity of cultures,
races, religions and political tendencies that the immigrant workforce
brought to America, and whose confluence created the labor movement.

�Today we in OWS are having this debate in English, a language that doesn't
even belong to most of the American working class. We call for a general
strike on May 1st, but most of us don't know when or why it was first
called, or why the events that followed it mattered so much- and our
enemies like it that way. They probably like it even more that we still
fear anarchists- the ignorance within the movement is scary, but the
ability to overcome it seems encouraging. I worry that some
self-identifying anarchists who don't understand the history might wrongly
identify with the mischaracterization that enabled anarchist persecution.�

On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 12:05 PM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:

> I am not challenging his findings, only whether this is a useful project
> for a leftist scholar.

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