The Specter of Internationalism
Garment workers participate in a May Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 01 May 2019. Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto.
The Haymarket Martyrs' Monument.
“8 Hours Work, 8 Hours Recreation, 8 Hours Rest.” The slogan, originally coined by English Socialists, was raised by the laborers and tradesmen of Victoria, Australia in 1856. Inspired by their great victory, American workers soon also raised the call. Thirty years would pass, and the first great wave of militant labor organizing came underway in the United States, and soon enough, on 01 May 1886, a great general strike was called in the city of Chicago, Illinois. Over 40,000 working people heeded the call to strike, and thousands more came to join them in the streets: they marched through the city in a peaceful demonstration of organized worker power, demanding better conditions, better pay, and the adoption of the eight hour workday. Overpowered by the display, no reactionary violence was brought upon them: doing so would have meant certain doom for the reactionaries. Rather than an expression of the capitalist class being willing to bend peacefully, the forces of reaction and oppression began lying in wait for their opportunity to unleash terror on the brave workers: two days later, as the protests continued, they would show their hand — martyring two workers outside of a local factory.
The working people, preferring peace over violence, did not waste any time in their response, and thousands more gathered in Haymarket square the following day to commemorate the fallen, reissue their demands, and, furthermore, to demand peace. As storm clouds gathered overhead, all but a couple hundred began to leave, including the mayor of Chicago. Stopping by a local police station to report that the mourners were peaceful, and had largely already begun to disperse, it seemed the events of that evening would pass by without issue. Until, once again driven by their bloodlust and hatred for the working people, the police sprang at the opportunity to assault and detain the now-dwindling numbers that had remained in the square. As the rain came down on the streets of Chicago that night, and the forces of oppression bore down on those who had gathered to commemorate their fallen brethren, a blast rang out. For the first time in the history of the United States, a civilian, whose identity remains unknown to this day, had hurled a dynamite bomb into the advancing police line. Four more workers would be martyred that day, and more than a hundred more wounded and/or arrested. As shock gave way to fury that organized laborers — Anarchists and Communists, even — would dare fight back against the repressive forces of the State, a wave of reprisal soon swept across the city.
Eight men were arrested for alleged involvement in the Haymarket massacre:
Oscar Neebe — Was not present, sentenced to 15 years. Pardoned after serving seven.
Michael Schwab — Briefly attended, but left in order to speak at another rally. Sentenced to life. Commuted after serving seven years.
Samuel Fielden — Was seen complying with orders to disperse at the time the bomb was thrown. Sentenced to death, later commuted to life, and finally pardoned after serving seven years.
Louis Lingg — Was not present, sentenced to death. The day before his execution, he martyred himself by lighting a blasting cap in his mouth that had been smuggled to him by another prisoner. Initially surviving the blast, having lost his lower jaw and greatly damaging his face, he inscribed his final words in his own blood on the stones of the cell floor:
“Hurrah for Anarchy!”
Adolph Fischer — Briefly attended, but left prior to the outbreak of violence. Sentenced to death. His final words are recorded as:
“Hurrah for Anarchy! This is the happiest moment of my life!”
George Engel — Was not present, and had been at home on that evening playing cards. Sentenced to death. He is recorded as having once written:
“Can anyone feel any respect for a government that accords rights only to the privileged classes, and none to the workers?”
Albert Parsons — Briefly attended, but left prior to the outbreak of violence. Sentenced to death. His final words are recorded as:
“Let the voice of the people be heard!”
August Spies — Briefly attended, but left earlier in the evening, having been the first speaker. Sentenced to death. His final words remain enshrined at the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument in Illinois:
“THE DAY WILL COME WHEN OUR SILENCE WILL BE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE VOICES YOU ARE THROTTLING TODAY”
Three years following the bloody massacre at Haymarket, in 1889, the Second International, inspired by, and in solidarity with, the fighting spirit of organized labor militancy around the world, set about ensuring their legacy by planning and organizing protests around the world on 01 May 1890. The following year, in 1891, the International established 01 May of every year to be International Workers Day, in honor of the martyrs of Haymarket square.
First scientific seminar between the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and Communist Party of Cuba. 29 April 2023. Vientiane, Laos. | Pasaxon.
As working and oppressed peoples gather around the world to celebrate this day, to raise high the banner of struggle, and to commemorate all of our fallen comrades, so too it is a day to reflect on the Marxist-Leninist values of internationalism and solidarity. As the new era sees continued shifts in our shared geopolitical reality, it is now more important than ever that we uphold our devotion to the working and oppressed peoples, and our Comrades, all around the world, and to our commitment to the great International Soviet that will someday be the home of our whole human family. For more than two centuries the reactionaries and oppressors have sought to silence the voices of the working and oppressed, and for more than two centuries they have failed to crush the undying human spirit of peace, solidarity, and cooperation. As the final conflict ignites once again, we remain ever-hopeful, and ever-certain, that the triumph of the working and oppressed peoples is the inescapable trend of history, and a force that, in the end, cannot be defeated. As Communist Parties around the world meet and exchange their experiences and observations with one-another, as Comrades sharing weal and woe, the hope of Internationalism and Socialism in the new era have once again cast a light over the hearts and minds of oppressed people around the world; for the imperialists, a specter has once again risen in haunt.