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Haymarket Tragedy
Note: This is not presented as a general overview of May Day history and the Haymarket Martyrs. For a general overview, please see my other diary on the topic. I'd also like to use this opportunity to announce a new group, Anarchism & Libertarian Socialism, which will explore anarchist history, theory, and anarchist literature and voices.
The history of May Day has been obscured in many mainstream historical accounts, and the biographies of those who were central to the history, while available, are not very well known in contemporary America. For a fascinating account of just one example of how the history is revised, even by our own government and labor organizations, read this essay. Few know today of its connection to the Haymarket Tragedy, or know much about the life of Albert Parsons, one of the hanged men, or of his wife Lucy Parsons, or of August Spies, another of the eight men who stood trial, five of whom were sentenced to death by the Chicago court. And few know that it was due to the persecution of these labor activists, that May Day became, in addition to its pagan roots (click the link for the history leading up to modern times) the commemorative day of labor justice and worker's rights.
Albert Parsons
Albert Parsons
And few know today that the Haymarket eight were not just labor activists, but also were all anarchists, and active in what was at the time a very strong and widely followed anarchist movement, which played a very important and influential role in worker's movements around the world. And few today really know what anarchism is, or have a well grounded understanding of anarchist socioeconomic theory.

And yet, like Emma Goldman and so many others, had you been alive at the time of the trial, especially if you were interested in worker's rights and social justice, you would have followed the events as if it were the mesmerizing trial of the century. It cannot be over stated that the entire world was riveted to the story, and it was widely reported and discussed internationally. Albert Parsons, August Spies and the six others on trial were hot topics. Many high profile personalities called out for pardons of these men, and there was an international outcry against the corruption of justice.

 But the state was determined to use the persecution of these men to deal a blow to the labor movement:

Lucy Parsons
The authorities had believed at the time of the trial that such persecution would break the back of the labour movement. As Lucy Parsons, a participant of the events, noted 20 years later, the Haymarket trial “was a class trial — relentless, vindictive, savage and bloody. By that prosecution the capitalists sought to break the great strike for the eight-hour day which as being successfully inaugurated in Chicago, this city being the stormcentre of that great movement; and they also intended, by the savage manner in which they conducted the trial of these men, to frighten the working class back to their long hours of toil and low wages from which they were attempting to emerge. The capitalistic class imagined they could carry out their hellish plot by putting to an ignominious death the most progressive leaders among the working class of that day. In executing their bloody deed of judicial murder they succeeded, but in arresting the mighty onward movement of the class struggle they utterly failed.” [Lucy Parsons, Op. Cit., p. 128] In the words of August Spies when he addressed the court after he had been sentenced to die:
August Spies
“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement ... the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in misery and want, expect salvation — if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread on a spark, but there and there, behind you — and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.” [quoted by Paul Avrich, Op. Cit., p. 287]

At the time and in the years to come, this defiance of the state and capitalism was to win thousands to anarchism, particularly in the US itself. Since the Haymarket event, anarchists have celebrated May Day (on the 1st of May — the reformist unions and labour parties moved its marches to the first Sunday of the month). We do so to show our solidarity with other working class people across the world, to celebrate past and present struggles, to show our power and remind the ruling class of their vulnerability.

As Nestor Makhno put it:

    “That day those American workers attempted, by organising themselves, to give expression to their protest against the iniquitous order of the State and Capital of the propertied ...

    “The workers of Chicago ... had gathered to resolve, in common, the problems of their lives and their struggles...

    “Today too ... the toilers ... regard the first of May as the occasion of a get-together when they will concern themselves with their own affairs and consider the matter of their emancipation.” [The Struggle Against the State and Other Essays, pp. 59–60]

To understand why the state and business class were so determined to hang the Chicago Anarchists, it is necessary to realise they were considered the leaders of a massive radical union movement. In 1884, the Chicago Anarchists produced the world’s first daily anarchist newspaper, the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeiting. This was written, read, owned and published by the German immigrant working class movement. The combined circulation of this daily plus a weekly (Vorbote) and a Sunday edition (Fackel) more than doubled, from 13,000 per issues in 1880 to 26,980 in 1886. Anarchist weekly papers existed for other ethnic groups as well (one English, one Bohemian and one Scandinavian).

Anarchists were very active in the Central Labour Union (which included the eleven largest unions in the city) and aimed to make it, in the words of Albert Parsons (one of the Martyrs), “the embryonic group of the future ‘free society.’” The anarchists were also part of the International Working People’s Association (also called the “Black International”) which had representatives from 26 cities at its founding convention. The I.W.P.A. soon “made headway among trade unions, especially in the mid-west” and its ideas of “direct action of the rank and file” and of trade unions “serv[ing] as the instrument of the working class for the complete destruction of capitalism and the nucleus for the formation of a new society” became known as the “Chicago Idea” (an idea which later inspired the Industrial Workers of the World which was founded in Chicago in 1905). [“Editor’s Introduction,” The Autobiographies of the Haymarket Martyrs, p. 4]

Haymarket Persecutions and the Impact on the Labor Movement

That the Haymarket Affair and the persecution of activists had a profound impact on energizing the labor movement is an understatement. Thousands around the world were stirred to activism by the events. Emma Goldman describes the impact on her by the Haymarket tragedy in her autobiography, Living My Life (download  ebook). At the time of the Haymarket Massacre, in 1886, Emma was a young teenager, just 17 years old, having turned 18 during the months of the trial in 1887, and she, like the entire world, had followed the trial blow by blow. Her account of the events provides a wonderful glimpse of the mood of those times among activists, and how the tragedy and the wrongful executions of the labor martyrs formed the catalyst that awakened her to her life's work as labor activist, feminist, anarchist (i.e., libertarian communist), writer, speaker, and organizer.

Emma immigrated to the U.S. From her native Russia at the age of 16, and was horrified to discover that the America she had envisioned in her dreams, one of freedom and democracy, was firmly in the throes of the horrors of the industrial revolution, and the terrible hardships imposed on the working class of those times, with poor worker conditions, low wages, exploitative practices, long hours, and hegemony of the owning class.

Emma gives several biographical anecdotes of her first exposure to America, this excerpt from her autobiography being typical:

    One morning, as I looked up from my work, I discovered [Tanya] all huddled in a heap. She had fallen in a faint. I called to the foreman to help me carry her to the dressing-room, but the deafening noise of the machines drowned my voice. Several girls near by heard me and began to shout. They ceased working and rushed over to Tanya. The sudden stopping of the machines attracted the foreman's attention and he came over to us. Without even asking the reason for the commotion, he shouted: "Back to your machines! What do you mean stopping work now? Do you want to be fired? Get back at once!" When he spied the crumpled body of Tanya, he yelled: "What the hell is the matter with her?" "She has fainted," I replied, trying hard to control my voice. "Fainted, nothing," he sneered, "she's only shamming."
Young Emma Goldman, 1886
     "You are a liar and a brute!" I cried, no longer able to keep back my indignation.
     I bent over Tanya, loosened her waist, and squeezed the juice of an orange I had in my lunch basket into her half-opened mouth. Her face was white, a cold sweat on her forehead. She looked so ill that even the foreman realized she had not been shamming. He excused her for the day. "I will go with Tanya," I said; "you can deduct from my pay for the time." "You can go to hell, you wildcat!" he flung after me.
Emma's background in working in the garment factories, where she was exposed to the exploitation, the hard work and low pay, and brutal treatment of workers, prepared her to be drawn to the labor movement. She describes her fascination with the Haymarket trial in her autobiography, Living My Life, which has entered public domain and is available online.  Her account of the events begins in chapter one of her biography, beginning the night after she had first met Johann Most, the well known German-American anarchist and publisher/editor of the newspaper, Freiheit(freedom). Most had given a talk on Haymarket, and Emma was enraptured by his fiery spirit:
    That night I could not sleep. Again I lived through the events of 1887. Twenty-one months had passed since the Black Friday of November 11, when the Chicago men had suffered their martyrdom, yet every detail stood out clear before my vision and affected me as if it had happened but yesterday. My sister Helena and I had become interested in the fate of the men during the period of their trial. The reports in the Rochester newspapers irritated, confused, and upset us by their evident prejudice. The violence of the press, the bitter denunciation of the accused, the attacks on all foreigners, turned our sympathies to the Haymarket victims.
     We had learned of the existence in Rochester of a German socialist group that held sessions on Sunday in Germania Hall. We began to attend the meetings, my older sister, Helena, on a few occasions only, and I regularly. The gatherings were generally uninteresting, but they offered an escape from the grey dullness of my Rochester existence. There one heard, at least, something different from the everlasting talk about money and business, and one meet people of spirit and ideas.
     One Sunday it was announced that a famous socialist speaker from New York, Johanna Greie, would lecture on the case then being tried in Chicago. On the appointed day I was the first in the hall. The huge place was crowded from top to bottom by eager men and women, while the walls were lined with police. I had never before been at such a large meeting. I had seen gendarmes in St. Petersburg disperse small student gatherings. But that in the country which guaranteed free speech, officers armed with long clubs should invade an orderly assembly filled me with consternation and protest.
     Soon the chairman announced the speaker. She was a woman in her thirties, pale and ascetic-looking, with large luminous eyes. She spoke with great earnestness, in a voice vibrating with intensity. Her manner engrossed me. I forgot the police, the audience, and every thing else about me. I was aware only of the frail woman in black crying out her passionate indictment against the forces that were about to destroy eight human lives.
It's remarkable that the hall, a private facility, was "lined with police"! This underscores the tension of the times, when worker strikes and protests were common, with thousands taking to the streets, and the persecution of the worker's movement by the state and industry, which used beatings, murders, and the judiciary to suppress the movement. The largest strike undertaken by US labor had occurred in 1877, and it was a bloody episode in labor history.

Emma Continues with a Brief Account of the Haymarket Affair:


The entire speech concerned the stirring events in Chicago. She began by relating the historical background of the case. She told of the labour strikes that broke out throughout the country in 1886, for the demand of an eight-hour workday. The center of the movement was Chicago, and there the struggle between the toilers and their bosses became intense and bitter. A meeting of the striking employees of the McCormick Harvester Company in that city was attacked by police; men and women were beaten and several persons killed. To protest against the outrage a mass meeting was called in Haymarket Square on May 4. It was addressed by Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, and others, and was quiet and orderly. This was attested to by Carter Harrison, Mayor of Chicago, who had attended the meeting to see what was going on. The Mayor left, satisfied that everything was all right, and he informed the captain of the district to that effect. It was getting cloudy, a light rain began to fall, and the people started to disperse, only a few remaining while one of the last speakers was addressing the audience. Then Captain Ward, accompanied by a strong force of police, suddenly appeared on the square. He ordered the meeting to disperse forthwith. "This is an orderly assembly," the chairman replied, whereupon the police fell upon the people, clubbing them unmercifully. Then something flashed through the air and exploded, killing a number of police officers and wounding a score of others. It was never ascertained who the actual culprit was, and the authorities apparently made little effort to discover him. Instead orders were immediately issued for the arrest of all the speakers at the Haymarket meeting and other prominent anarchists. The entire press and bourgeoisie of Chicago and of the whole country began shouting for the blood of the prisoners. A veritable campaign of terror was carried on by the police, who were given moral and financial encouragement by the Citizens' Association to further their murderous plan to get the anarchists out of the way. The public mind was so inflamed by the atrocious stories circulated by the press against the leaders of the strike that a fair trial for them became an impossibility. In fact, the trial proved the worst frame-up in the history of the United States. The jury was picked for conviction; the District Attorney announced in open court that it was not only the arrested men who were the accused, but that "anarchy was on trial" and that it was to be exterminated. The judge repeatedly denounced the prisoners from the bench, influencing the jury against them. The witnesses were terrorized or bribed, with the result that eight men, innocent of the crime and in no way connected with it, were convicted. The incited state of the public mind, and the general prejudice against anarchists, coupled with the employers' bitter opposition to the eight-hour movement, constituted the atmosphere that favoured the judicial murder of the Chicago anarchists. Five of them ---Albert Parsons, August Spies, Louis Lingg, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel --- were sentenced to die by hanging; Michael Schwab and Samuel Fielden were doomed to life imprisonment; Neebe received fifteen years' sentence. The innocent blood of the Haymarket martyrs was calling for revenge.
Young Emma, at age 18, learns about Socialism, but wonders, "What is anarchism?"


At the end of Greie's speech I knew what I had surmised all along: the Chicago men were innocent. They were to be put to death for their ideal. But what was their ideal? Johanna Greic spoke of Parsons, Spies, Lingg, and the others as socialists, but I was ignorant of the real meaning of socialism. What I had heard from the local speakers had impressed me as colourless and mechanistic. On the other hand, the papers called these men anarchists, bomb-throwers. What was anarchism? It was all very puzzling. But I had no time for further contemplation. The people were filing out, and I got up to leave. Greie, the chairman, and a group of friends were still on the platform. As I turned towards them, I saw Greie motioning to me. I was startled, my heart beat violently, and my feet felt leaden. When I approached her, she took me by the hand and said: "I never saw a face that reflected such a tumult of emotions as yours. You must be feeling the impending tragedy intensely. Do you know the men?" In a trembling voice I replied: "Unfortunately not, but I do feel the case with every fibre, and when I heard you speak, it seemed to me as if I knew them." She put her hand on my shoulder. "I have a feeling that you will know them better as you learn their ideal, and that you will make their cause your own."
Had you been alive in 1887, you would likely have known that the accused men were anarchists, and since anarchism had a larger following in that era, you would likely have had some idea that they were socialists, and that anarchism is one of two major strains of socialism, the other being Marxism. During the cold war years, and the Soviet Union, anarchism was overshadowed by Marxist-Leninism, and only began to rise in popularity again after the Soviet Union collapsed. Anarchism, since the 1999 Seattle WTO direct action events coordinated by the Global Justice Movement to shut down the World Trade Organization conference, has begun to have an influence again, aided as well by the Occupy uprising. Young people taking a new look at the increasingly horrific effects of capitalism, and not raised during the era of cold war anti-communist propaganda, are seeing socialism with new eyes, and anarchism, as it really is, rather than the scary image it was made out to be, is once again an item of interest and exploration.

Its interesting to note that Emma implies Greie described the Chicago men as “socialists”, which of course they were, but they were advocates of a specific strain of socialism. Many anarchists and anarchist-influenced historical events were and still are often obscured this way. One reason for this is Marxists often felt they were in rivalry with anarchists, stemming largely from Marx and Engels, who wanted to dominate the socialist movement of the 19th century, and thus in their writings often attacked and mischaracterized anarchist theory and its movement spokespersons.  Many contemporary accounts found online still refrain from identifying the Haymarket labor martyrs as anarchists, some accounts even leaving out that they were socialists, preferring to call them “labor activists”, which of course, they were. Parsons, in particular, and Spies, as well, were prominent labor activists, socialists and anarchists in the years leading up to their false arrests and executions. Parsons worked against racism, classism, and agitated for labor rights and equality from the time he was 19 years old.  

Back to Emma's story, where she reveals what impassioned her to begin her life's work:


 I walked home in a dream. Sister Helena was already asleep, but I had to share my experience with her. I woke her up and recited to her the whole story, giving almost a verbatim account of the speech. I must have been very dramatic, because Helena exclaimed: "The next thing I'll hear about my little sister is that she, too, is a dangerous anarchist."
     Some weeks later I had occasion to visit a German family I knew. I found them very much excited. Somebody from New York had sent them a German paper, Die Freiheit, edited by Johann Most. It was filled with news about the events in Chicago. The language fairly took my breath away, it was so different from what I had heard at the socialist meetings and even from Johanna Greie's talk. It seemed lava shooting forth flames of ridicule, scorn, and defiance; it breathed deep hatred of the powers that were preparing the crime in Chicago. I began to read, Die Freiheit regularly. I sent for the literature advertised in the paper and I devoured every line on anarchism I could get, every word about the men, their lives, their work. I read about their heroic stand while on trial and their marvellous defence. I saw a new world opening before me.
     The terrible thing everyone feared, yet hoped would not happen, actually occurred. Extra editions of the Rochester papers carried the news: the Chicago anarchists had been hanged!
     We were crushed, Helena and I. The shock completely unnerved my sister; she could only wring her hands and weep silently. I was in a stupor; a feeling of numbness came over me, something too horrible even for tears. In the evening we went to our father's house. Everybody talked about the Chicago events. I was entirely absorbed in what I felt as my own loss. Then I heard the coarse laugh of a woman. In a shrill voice she sneered: "What's all this lament about? The men were murderers. It is well they were hanged." With one leap I was at the woman's throat. Then I felt myself torn back. Someone said: "The child has gone crazy." I wrenched myself free, grabbed a pitcher of water from a table, and threw it with all my force into the woman's face. "Out, out," I cried, "or I will kill you!" The terrified woman made for the door and I dropped to the ground in a fit of crying. I was put to bed, and soon I fell into a deep sleep.
Emma Goldman
The next morning I woke as from a long illness, but free from the numbness and the depression of those harrowing weeks of waiting, ending with the final shock. I had a distinct sensation that something new and wonderful had been born in my soul. A great ideal, a burning faith, a determination to dedicate myself to the memory of my martyred comrades, to make their cause my own, to make known to the world their beautiful lives and heroic deaths. Johanna Greie was more prophetic than she had probably realized.
Linked Articles to Explore Below the Fold
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Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 12:13 PM PDT


by ZhenRen

In comments yesterday I lashed out unfairly against some members here, and made remarks which today, with a nights rest, I now find to be embarrassing.

My sincere apologies to Brecht. And to Serendipity.

I wasn't exactly at my best yesterday.

I'd been to a dentist yesterday for the first time in years, and major work was done, and the whole experience was quite agitating to my system. It was actually a miracle for me to get this done, but the stress to my system along with the effects of the drugs was fairly intense. I took some pain medication. My head is still hurting, and several problems still await many more visits to get my teeth back to good health.

I should not have taken my angst and agitation and stress out on Brecht, who didn't deserve to be treated unkindly. Serendipity, as well, didn't deserve this behavior. The same applies to anyone else I spoke harshly to.

Getting this dental work is one of the rare good things that has happened to me in ages. I've been experiencing the effects of poverty for the last several years, and really have needed help, and there has been little in the way of support to help my partner and I get through this. We have not been through this kind of deeply inadequate income before. We both kind of switched off, and hid under a metaphorical bed, as a coping mechanism, a tendency we both seem to share. We became introverted, hiding in the dark. Easier to just pretend it isn't happening, and live in the bliss of denial, ensconced away, hidden from the from the harsh reality of having to once again reinvent our lives, and forge a new path into a better future. We really just shut down, and didn't know we had shut down, so complete was our retreat.

I won't pretend I haven't had several periods of anger at the world. I'm heavily in debt with student loans, my partner has had medical debt and just a few days back had to go to small claims court over a ludicrous, wrongly coded and incorrectly billed medical expense, which we are fighting tooth (!) and nail.

I finally qualified, after months of bureaucratic wait time, to get into Oregon's health plan, which partially covers dental care, and I was able to get some severe dental problems addressed which have been longstanding, which I'd been enduring for years, and which in the last few days became acute.

The dentist, Asian and female, was great. First time with a female dentist, and I really liked her abilities, and her small, skilled hands were an asset. I've experienced some malpractice from a dentist, and I'm frankly scared of going to a dentist, so the process of selecting a dentist was in itself stressful. I've noticed a lot of females are dentists these days in my area, so I admit to sexism and deliberately selected a female, and I'm happy with the choice.

We're getting through life day to day. I have, during this period, to my surprise and astonished embarrassment, without warning broken down and uncontrollably cried while talking to collection agents, forcing me to end the conversation. And I've alternated this with yelling at them over their incompetence (which is all part of the intended design) only to have them finally realize a couple of days ago "an error" in putting me into default (again), and apologizing to me. This came after I had turned the case over to a mediating ombudsman. The student loan industry, with a complicit federal government, is criminal, a topic of which deserves a diary.

Not asking for pity, nor am I excusing my rudeness, just giving some background to my situation, which has been far more severe than I generally like to share. These have been without doubt the most stressful years of my life.

While I can be tenacious debater, the behavior yesterday isn't how I want to conduct myself. I'm not going to back away from criticizing industrial agriculture, and I won't allow myself to be bullied, but Brecht is no bully, and Serendipity, while not a person whose views I generally agree with, is not a bully, and she didn't deserve the treatment I gave her. Sometimes when I feel attacked for my views, I cross over lines in pushing back.


While I don't have a lot of free time available (that is not owned and controlled by my employer) in which to write the kind of polished post this topic warrants, I believe an under-reported situation with the Kurds and the attacks upon them by ISIS deserves some attention, to make people aware of the character of new social developments within the Kurdish community. I will let the story tell itself through several recent articles:

In today's Guardian a new essay by David Graeber asks why the international media is ignoring a development in Rojova, the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria, where Kurds have been trying out what Graeber calls a "remarkable democratic experiment" which has elements similar to the Spanish Revolution during the civil war in Spain (1936 to 1939).

In Spain, during the Spanish Civil War, the urban and agrarian populations in Catalonia and neighboring regions implemented a form of socialism based on direct democracy, free association, worker self-managed workplaces, equality and horizontal worker relationships, with all social and political organization extending from the circumference to the center, or from the bottom upward, rather than from central authority or from the top-down. This experiment in libertarian socialism lasted almost three years, involving 3 to 8 million people, until the fascist forces prevailed and took over the country. The world stood by, even in some cases assisted the fascists, while an emerging new socialist society based on freedom and bottom-up organization was violently crushed.

In his essay, Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?, Graeber, whose own father fought in the International Brigades in defense of the Spanish Republic, explains the significance of this threat, and why it is personal to him:

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.

I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again. Obviously, no historical event ever really happens twice. There are a thousand differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, the three largely Kurdish provinces of northern Syria, today. But some of the similarities are so striking, and so distressing, that I feel it’s incumbent on me, as someone who grew up in a family whose politics were in many ways defined by the Spanish revolution, to say: we cannot let it end the same way again.

Graeber gave a hint of his upcoming article in his comment recently on Daily Kos:
actually in Rojava it's a lot like Spain(4+ / 0-)

   in Spain a fascist coup was defeated, in parts of the country like Barcelona, by a left-wing uprising that created radical social experiments in worker self-management, local direct democracy, and women's empowerment, often anarchist or else Marxist in inspiration. In Rajava (the predominantly Kurdish-speaking areas of Syria) the rise of a fascist Islamic group (IS) was met by the consolidation of a leftist revolutionary government, which is also doing such experiments, involving both anarchist and Marxist elements.

   yes, they are close to the PKK, but the PKK has transformed radically from the old-fashioned Marxist guerrillas they used to be (with Ocalan, interestingly, leading the way, even from prison.) For one thing they were inspired by the Zapatistas in Mexico to give up any military operations other than defensive. They now claim they don't even want a state, but instead aim to create self-governing local governments based on Murray Bookchin's principles of "libertarian municipalism" that would confederate across international borders. There's a big ecological and feminist component in all this. Hence the womens' militias. (Even feminist spirituality: Ocalan is convinced the Kurds are the descendants of the neolithic goddess-worshipping pre-Semitic peoples of the Middle East, and reportedly the womens' militias fight under a banner with a star that represents the goddess Ishtar.)

   in Rojava they are trying to put some of these ideas into practice: directly democratic assemblies with women's and youth caucuses, for instance, and municipalities where official posts have to be divided between Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrian Christians (with at least one of the three being a woman), etc. They say they want this to become a democratic model for the region, more democratic than the Western model.

   it's hard to imagine how you could possibly have a more positive development in the Middle East. In fact it's kind of amazing that there's been no coverage of this - even if it didn't also involved units of women guerrillas rescuing the Yazidis from IS.

by david graeber on Thu Oct 02, 2014 at 03:42:48 AM PDT

He elaborates further in the Guardian:
The autonomous region of Rojava, as it exists today, is one of few bright spots – albeit a very bright one – to emerge from the tragedy of the Syrian revolution. Having driven out agents of the Assad regime in 2011, and despite the hostility of almost all of its neighbours, Rojava has not only maintained its independence, but is a remarkable democratic experiment. Popular assemblies have been created as the ultimate decision-making bodies, councils selected with careful ethnic balance (in each municipality, for instance, the top three officers have to include one Kurd, one Arab and one Assyrian or Armenian Christian, and at least one of the three has to be a woman), there are women’s and youth councils, and, in a remarkable echo of the armed Mujeres Libres (Free Women) of Spain, a feminist army, the “YJA Star” militia (the “Union of Free Women”, the star here referring to the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar), that has carried out a large proportion of the combat operations against the forces of Islamic State.
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This new acoustic version of his earlier song released just today (as I understand it) for the march on climate change. Click on the link to hear it:

Who’s Gonna Stand Up
Protect the wild, tomorrow’s child
Protect the land from the greed of man
Take down the dams, stand up to oil
Protect the plants, and renew the soil

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Damn the dams, save the rivers
Starve the takers and feed the givers
Build a dream, save the world
We’re the people know as earth

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Ban fossil fuel, draw the line
Before we build, one more pipeline
Ban fracking now, save the waters
And build a life, for our sons and daughters

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up

Here's an older version on youtube:

Neil Young's comments: (can't seem to embed video from Democracy Now)

I'm getting ready to join our local march in Portland, and have to visit my struggling bees first (!!!), so I'm off, and can't hang around, but I submit this for your enjoyment.

Update: Scroll to bottom for a discussion of victim's intent. Was Powell sending a message, or was it just another "suicide by cop"?
Another police killing of an African American has occurred. Caught on camera by a bystander (see video below the fold), apparently the man, identified as Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old, had gone into a convenience market, deliberately took two cans of soda, walked out without paying for them, proceeded to set the two cans symbolically down on the sidewalk, and waited for police to come, as if having planned and predicted the entire sequence of events.

The police soon arrived, and Powell approached them, telling them to shoot him. And without the slightest hesitation, they did, firing nine shots in rapid succession into Powell at close range, several of the shots occurring after he had already fallen to the ground. Then they had the audacity to cuff him, ridiculously acting as if a man with nine bullets in him, who for all the world looked dead or unconscious on the ground, was still a threat. It was all over within seconds of their arrival on the scene.

Powell's actions looked to me to be a deliberate, symbolic protest of police, clearly intended to induce a replay similar to the events which had recently occurred with Michael Brown, who had been shot while surrendering with arms raised, allegedly minutes after taking cigarillos from a nearby store. And the police behaved exactly as Powell expected they would.

Powell allegedly had a knife, although one is not visible in the video, and his arms were not raised in aggression, and he was not brandishing any weapon in a threatening manner. They could have easily backed away 30 paces, deescalated the situation, talked him down. They could have tasered him (or maybe not), or any other number of nonlethal methods. No, in my mind this was murder. We expect more from police. We expect professionalism. We expect them to think before acting.

The police, in an earlier press conference, before the revealing video had been released, had clearly lied about Powell having allegedly threatened the shooting officers with a knife in an "overhand grip". In the video, Powell's hands are at his side, with no overhand motion. No object is visible in his hands. Powell seemed to be expecting to be shot with minimal effort, and his motions were slow and non-threatening, simply moving toward the police, reflecting what he thought would be sufficient to provoke an overreaction by the police.

The striking implications of the new police killing seems to be that cops in the St. Louis area are so reliably prone to shoot Black people with the slightest provocation, that anyone can elicit a reenactment of the Brown incident by simply arranging the same pieces on the chessboard all over again. And the police obligingly cooperated by willingly playing their part, firing nine lead bullets into Powell, completing the events as if a planned theatrical drama, as if performance art. But sadly, this is not art, but tragically real, and now another man is dead from the eagerness of police to kill anyone who presents even the slightest opportunity.

I've read that a tweet apparently claims Powell's mother recently died. Others say he was acting erratically, and assume he was disturbed. Ezra Klein remarked that he might be mentally ill. Perhaps all this is true. But why is he cast this way before this is known as a fact? Why wouldn't Blacks be understandably driven to extreme levels of distress over what has occurred, over how they have been treated over the many decades which have led to these recent atrocities? Why isn't it immediately perceived as a statement of protest of the peril that Blacks live with on a daily basis? Was he mentally ill, or was he understandably distraught over how Blacks are treated in his community? Or was it, perhaps, a combination of these possibilities?

Whatever else this is, it is obviously a protest against the police. He didn't have to end his life using this particular avenue. He could have chosen any one of other methods to commit suicide, if that was his intent. Powell meant this to be a statement. Let's not allow his act to be in vain.

In my mind, regardless of the aggregate of motivations that were in Powell's mind, it is a potent commentary on how easy any black youth can be murdered in cold blood, on any street corner, and so reliably predictable that it was easily orchestrated by a person who was willing to end his life to make the point.

Is this any different, really, than Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire to protest war? Few would debase their noble sacrifice as mental illness. Powell's act, whatever else it may prove to be, is powerful symbolism of Black experience, of a police force gone wild, and the deeply systemic racism that exists in institutions of authority in the United States.  

I fear for the safety of people in the St. Louis area tonight and in the days to come. I really don't know what else to say. This has left me speechless. I have no words.

Missouri state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, during an interview with Amy Goodman on today's Democracy Now, commented about Black young men, and how outraged they are about the shooting of Brown:

"A lot of young men, they're willing to die for justice".
"On Sunday night, right after the killing of Michael Brown, I was between police officers and people who were willing to die."
St. Louis Police Release Video Of Kajieme Powell Killing That Appears At Odds With Their Story

[N]ewly released cell phone footage undermines the statement, showing Powell approaching the cops, but not coming as close as was reported, with his hands at his side. The officers began shooting within 15 seconds of their arrival, hitting Powell with a barrage of bullets.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released the video and 911 calls, telling St. Louis Public Radio that it plans to act transparently.

The shooting death occurred less than four miles from where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in the suburb of Ferguson on Aug. 9.

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I awaken this morning to see several other diaries on Mayday, and maddeningly, all seem to indulge in revisionist history by leaving out the central fact that it was anarchists and the anarchist movement at the heart of the events that led to May 1st becoming International Workers' Day. It has sadly become common for Labor organizations to indulge in historical revisionism, deliberately leaving out the true history, and once again, as has become so common in many historical recounts involving the anarchist movement, the history is either distorted or completely swept under the rug.

For a fascinating account of just one example of how the history is revised, even by our own government and labor organizations, read this essay.

Since this revisionism is occurring right here, on this very day, on Daily Kos, which prides itself as being a reality based community, I'm republishing this diary I wrote last year to provide a more accurate history.

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!"

These words were shouted into the crisp, cold Chicago air on November 11, 1887 by an anarchist labor organizer, August Spies, just before he and three others of the eight fellow anarchist defendants were brutally hanged, then left to gruesomely dangle under the gallows while slowly choking to death by the nooses around their necks. After an international outcry, the death sentences of two of the eight defendants were commuted to life in prison, another was given a sentence of 15 years, while a third took his own life in his cell rather than face his execution. The three who were imprisoned served 6 years until pardoned by Governor Altgeld, who said the trial was characterized by "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge". New Picture (1)

All eight were widely considered to be innocent of the crime they were accused of committing. During the trial, the jury were told...

"Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial. These men have been selected, picked out by the Grand Jury, and indicted because they were leaders. They are no more guilty than the thousands who follow them. Gentlemen of the jury; convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society."
In the moments before their deaths, the four men to be hanged stood on the gallows platform and sang the Marseillaise, which was an anthem popular with the revolutionary workers movement at the time, especially among anarchists. It became an iconic moment around the world which was etched into the history of the worker's rights movement.

Who were these men?

For those who don't know the story, which is known as the Haymarket affair, these courageous men, all anarchists, were trade union organizers who were falsely convicted of the crime of throwing a bomb, on May 4th, 1886, into the midst of 180 Chicago police who had marched in to break up a peaceful public assembly of demonstrating workers. The explosion killed one officer, fatally wounded six others, and injured 70 more -- members of the same police force which, on the day before, on May 3rd, had shot and killed a striking worker and wounded several others during a scuffle at the picket line. After the bomb went off, the police then randomly opened fire into the crowd of workers, killing at least four and wounding countless others. These events had been sparked by a general strike called by the American Federation of Labor to demand an 8 hour workday, which occurred days before on May 1st, 1886. The strike was national, and 400,000 workers participated in the Chicago strike alone.

"Reliable witnesses testified that all the pistol flashes came from the center of the street, where the police were standing, and none from the crowd. Moreover, initial newspaper reports made no mention of firing by civilians. A telegraph pole at the scene was filled with bullet holes, all coming from the direction of the police."
The unfortunate truth of this awful event is that the eight men were convicted with no evidence other than having a history of being anarchist labor organizers. Various theories exist which speculate as to whom the bomber was, with historians still arguing over the case, but most don't hold the accused responsible for the bombing. Workers around the world were glued to the unfolding events of the trial, and were aghast that these men were found guilty based on a witch hunt by authorities who admitted openly that despite lack of evidence, they wanted to set an example with a conviction.

After the Haymarket catastrophe, the enraged press and religious leaders were calling for punishment, and socialists, anarchists and labor activists were the target. Officers stormed into meeting halls, offices, and private residences, rounding up and arresting activists and even bystanders indiscriminately. Julius Grinnell, the state's attorney, publicly commented, "Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards".

They eventually arrested eight men for being "accessories to murder", the names of whom are Spies, Fielden, Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg and Oscar Neebe.

In the Chicago courts, juries were usually chosen by randomly drawing names from a box of prospective jurors, but state's attorney Grinnel and the Court nominated and appointed a special bailiff to hand pick the candidates. This bailiff, not even feigning impartially, publicly declared that "I am managing this case and I know what I am about. These fellows are going to be hanged as certain as death".  Despite this development, the defense counsel was disallowed by the court to present the bailiff's compromising statement as evidence.

The eventual composition of the jury was farcical; being made up of businessmen, their clerks and a relative of one of the dead policemen. No proof was offered by the state that any of the eight men before the court had thrown the bomb, had been connected with its throwing, or had even approved of such acts. In fact, only three of the eight had been in Haymarket Square that evening.

No evidence was offered that any of the speakers had incited violence, indeed in his evidence at the trial Mayor Harrison described the speeches as "tame". No proof was offered that any violence had been contemplated. In fact, Parsons had brought his two small children to the meeting.

The injustice of the hangings fueled the passion that surrounds the tradition of the annual May 1st commemorations of the labor movement, known as International Worker's Day, which has been observed around the world ever since. The events which led up to the trail and hangings, known as the Haymarket affair, were instrumental in establishing May 1st as a historical date of significance.

A Brief Excerpt of the History

In Chicago the anarchists were the main force in the union movement, and partially as a result of their presence, the unions translated this call [for strikes by the AFL] into strikes [in the Chicago area] on May 1st. The anarchists thought that the eight hour day could only be won through direct action and solidarity. They considered that struggles for reforms, like the eight hour day, were not enough in themselves. They viewed them as only one battle in an ongoing class war that would only end by social revolution and the creation of a free society. It was with these ideas that they organised and fought.

In Chicago alone, 400 000 workers went out and the threat of strike action ensured that more than 45 000 were granted a shorter working day without striking. On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of pickets at the McCormick Harvester Machine Company, killing at least one striker, seriously wounding five or six others, and injuring an undetermined number. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality. According to the Mayor, "nothing had occurred yet, or looked likely to occur to require interference." However, as the meeting was breaking up a column of 180 police arrived and ordered the meeting to end. At this moment a bomb was thrown into the police ranks, who opened fire on the crowd. How many civilians were wounded or killed by the police was never exactly ascertained.

Haymarket Martyrs Monument


In the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a monument was erected in 1893 to commemorate the seven defendants (see photo, right). The monument is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The actual site of the incident is listed as a Chicago Landmark, where, in 2004, a sculpture was erected to commemorate the victims.  

Recognition as an International Worker's Day

In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests.[5] May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.[citation needed]

Subsequently, the May Day Riots of 1894 occurred. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on "all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace." The congress made it "mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers."

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups.

Why Labor Day is not held on May Day in the United States
In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. After the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus he moved in 1887 to support the Labor Day that the anti-anarchist union the Knights Of Labor supported.

Right-wing governments have traditionally sought to repress the message behind International Workers' Day, with fascist governments in Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers' holiday, and the Conservative party in the UK currently [2011] attempting to abolish the UK's annual May Day Bank Holiday.

More History Below the Fold:

Were you aware of the historical role played by anarchists in May Day?

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The website,, has a post up about a report issued by a Russian Food Not Bombs group claiming that on March 9th, 2014, Food Not Bombs anti-war protest organizers were kidnapped and beaten, and threatened with murder, by a dozen masked men. The group had organized and had been participating in an "Against the War in Ukraine" anti-war protest when the attacks occurred.

As previously reported in this diary many on the Russian left have taken a strong anti-war stance against Russia's militarism in Ukraine.

Update: What this means is the Russians have no greater desire to sacrifice their lives in battles of their government hegemonic interests than Americans or Europeans do in their own respective countries. What's informative about this is that the perspective of the left varies relative to which central government under which it lives. This in no way should be interpreted as indicating support for the hegemony of the United States, the European Union, or the International Monetary Fund. What this demonstrates is the illusion of needing to choose between central authority at all. Note that this information comes from an anarchist (libertarian communist) website. Anarchists believe that central authority is the source of the problem, and they refuse to take sides of one over the other, since that route simply perpetuates the oligarchical meddling in the lives of the working class, and would replace this with bottom up, horizontal forms of direct democracy based on participatory communities, which form federations on local, regional, national, and international scale with mandated, recallable delegates.


Image and text from

On 9th of March, along with the traditional Food Not Bombs action, demonstration "Against the war in Ukraine" supposed to happen in Petrozavodsk, for a peaceful solution of tense situation there and prevention of bloodshed continuation.

On 8th of March evening, two organizers of the demo and one of their friend were attacked. Two cars arrived and a dozen strong men in masks immediately went to a fight. They were screaming "You f*cking want to give away our Crimea to Bandera people?", "You will learn how to demonstrate, *" and so on. After a quick but technical execution attackers got straight back into cars and drove away.

The next morning, half an our before the demo, while leaving the house after cooking for Food Not Bombs four participants of the action and the demo were again attacked by unidentified masked men, beaten again and pushed into two cars and driven away. As it became known later they were taken to a forest, 40-45 km from the city. On the way they were told by attackers that they are going to dig their graves, all the way they were being beaten and abused. After arrival victims were taken out from the car one by one in different places (each one was followed by 3-4 masked people and after this car drove some distance), again beaten up and abused. Police batons and wrapped in polyethylene chains were used. Attackers were threatening to cripple or kill.

Meanwhile, some unknown people came to the demo with provocative signs, irrelevant to the demonstration topic, made a photo and fled away, so the breakdown of the demo was clearly planned. Participants of the event, as well as other social activists, have very reason to fear for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

Right now people have stable health situation, except broken fingers, dislocated vertebrae and hematomas.

Information was given straight from Food Not Bombs Petrozavodsk group.

Please share this information.

Update: What this means is the Russians have no greater desire to sacrifice their lives in battles of their government hegemonic interests than Americans or Europeans. Note that this information comes from an anarchist (libertarian communist) website. What's informative about this is that the perspective of the left varies relative to which central government under which it lives. This in no way should be interpreted as indicating support for the hegemony of the United States, the European Union, or the International Monetary Fund. What this demonstrates is the illusion of needing to choose between central authority at all. Anarchists believe that central authority is the source of the problem, and they refuse to take sides of one over the other, since that route simply perpetuates the oligarchical meddling in the lives of the working class, and would replace this with bottom up, horizontal forms of direct democracy based on participatory communities, which form federations on local, regional, national, and international scale with mandated, recallable delegates.

If you were Russian, would you support military action in Ukraine?

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My partner has a new portable internet viewing device, and I can't tear her away from it, so I'm minding my own business. She had begun laughing to the point of tears.  Then she brings it over and demands that I view some damn cartoon. Okay... I watched the thing, thinking "what now?" and within a few seconds I'm literally in danger of spewing my coffee all over her nice new device.

This video sums up, more or less, my current political experience. Tell us what you think in the poll at the end of the diary. Notice Daily Kos is mentioned in the cartoon. Watch for it. Apparently the same company which produces Saturday Night Live created this YouTube channel, called Above Average. It's comedy, folks.

It's on HuffPost, and various sites all over the net.

Talking politics with smart people can be tough.

Fortunately, Above Average released a fool-proof guide to talking politics with your smartest friends -- liberal and conservative -- on Wednesday.

"Politics is the smart person word for yelling about the government," the video explains.

"Smart people are confused, too," it says. "Their knowledge of how the government theoretically works gives them the delusion that they can change how the government actually works. Unfortunately for them, knowledge is not power. Money is. And only rich people can actually change things."


So, the video is best defined as:

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Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:42 PM PDT

Basic sh*t - just a friendly reminder

by ZhenRen

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

These words, I think, are among the most relevant and beautiful words ever written. Too often quoted, perhaps, but too often forgotten. Yet, these words are the essence of all that is meaningful to me vis-a-vis my sociopolitical views. It is the essence of anarchist theory. You have a right to be here.

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God [or the universe], whatever you conceive Him [or her, or it] to be [or not to be], and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."
Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata".

The discussion on Daily Kos about Ukraine has largely fallen into the typical Daily Kos factional pro-U.S. administration/anti-U.S. administration battle lines.The debate on dkos seems to often revolve around which State Power to support, ignore, or denounce (relative to one's support of, or opposition to United State's policy) and nuance is sacrificed. I don't dispute most of what is claimed by the more anti-administration crowd on Daily Kos. But based on my readings, what is occurring on the ground in Ukraine and Russia is more complicated than the standard polemics offered.

Despite enormous differences, disparate groups in Ukraine may coalesce around commonalities during a crisis, only to later fall apart due to differences when circumstances change. Borders historically crafted and imposed by external Powers create superficial, weak, and easily exploited divisions of nationalism, pitting one faction against another. Foisting economic policy from outside due to the expression of global capitalistic warfare competition, which results in a complex morass of adversarial relationships and alliances, may serve to exacerbate these internal conflicts, subjecting people to a ruling class tug-of-war between opposing oligarchical elites, with no benefit to the quality of life for everyday people offered by either side. To put it in other terms, it seems some are more concerned about the fate of the various States involved, but don't have much to say about the fate of people living in the midst of the crossfire and the economic realities of people living their lives, regardless of geopolitical intrigues.

The radical left in the region seems to have a deep distrust of Russia's involvement that is not part of the consciousness of the American left. They just don't view Russia as an honest player. In statement after statement, they cite Russia's self-serving capitalism, imperialism, authoritarianism, its willingness to foment, manipulate, and exploit the divisiveness of nationalism, and they fear loss of autonomy, a sealing off of future possibility to powerful Russian influences, with no improvement of their everyday circumstances (this is not to say they have any greater trust of the EU, the IMF, the meddling of the US).  Here's a quote from excerpts below:

The power struggle between oligarchic clans in Ukraine threatens to escalate into an international armed conflict. Russian capitalism intends to use redistribution of Ukrainian state power in order to implement their long-standing imperial and expansionist aspirations in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine where it has strong economic, financial and political interests.

On the background of the next round of the impending economic crisis in Russia, the regime is trying to stoking Russian nationalism to divert attention from the growing workers' socio-economic problems: poverty wages and pensions, dismantling of available health care, education and other social services. In the thunder of the nationalist and militant rhetoric it is easier to complete the formation of a corporate, authoritarian state based on reactionary conservative values and repressive policies.

Here's another excerpt:
[T]he Russian Federation government is controlled by the most conservative advocates of the interests of capital. And that is why those citizens who support a referendum on “reunification” with Russia had better prepare for a police state and for an antisocial policy. We will not allow for the precedent of a victory for Russian imperialism. Despite the claims of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists, there are no traces of socialism at all left in Russia. The population of Ukraine will start to hate Russians even more, while among the Russian masses imperialistic and revanchist illusions will grow stronger. Hitler-style promises of a better life will culminate in a catastrophe for the aggressor nation. Let us not forget that this war is also an opportunity for Western capital to bring in its own armies and to seize part of Ukrainian territory.
If these events were to flare up into violent conflict, it will be mostly the Russians and Ukrainians who suffer the real consequences of war, not Americans or members of the EU (the involvement of NATO notwithstanding). Russians (and Ukrainians too, of course) have as much legitimacy in opposing Russian militarism/imperialism as Americans have in opposing the same on the part of the United States. It is always the working class who end up on the front lines as cannon fodder to the economic benefit of the global 1%, the capitalist class. Rather than be coerced into shooting bullets at each other on behalf of oligarchical interests, the working class should join hands in solidarity against war. We must oppose the saber rattling in both the US and in Russia.

While I am no expert on Ukraine, and I find the complexity bewildering, I am doubtful that the current focus on the US/Russia divide will serve as an accurate model by which to understand the real situation as experienced by Ukrainians and Russians. There are many perspectives outside of this American framework.

In this context, to supplement the discussion on Daily Kos of the turmoil in Ukraine, I've posted a series of statements issued by the anarcho-syndicalist and socialist left in the region. I do not warrant or endorse all that is said in the following excerpts, and I also urge people to read the entire articles which I've terribly butchered to spark an interest here.

Most of these are declarations republished in full on numerous leftist websites.

The list of links I will draw upon, for your perusal:

Declaration of Internationalists against the war in Ukraine

Autonomous Workers Union statement on Russian intervention

Crimea—Not “Ours” or “Yours”

Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans against Putin's war

Left Opposition: Ukraine will be saved from intervention by solidarity

No war with Ukraine! A statement from the Russian Socialist Movement

Open Letter to the European Left

UKRAINE: Ukrainian anarchist dispels myths surrounding Euromaidan protests, warns of fascist influence

Maidan and its contradictions: interview with a Ukrainian revolutionary syndicalist

H/T to

H/T to anarchistnews dot org

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Recently I posted a comment, a rant really, in a diary about Ted Rall, the cartoonist we've all been debating as of late, explaining why I found myself deeply troubled over his depictions of President Obama, which, in the perception of many, frequently exhibited an ape-like appearance.

This issue crosses over the usual lines of debate so often seen on Daily Kos, between people who support the Obama administrations policies, and people who tend to be critical of it.

A number of people commented on my post, and I was asked by a friend to repost it here in diary form.

 It is never worth hurting people (63+ / 0-)

... not just one or two, but an entire people, to make a point. Have you any idea how much pain has been inflicted on African Americans? Oh sure... we all think we know. We intellectually know. We read books or saw a movie, but we white people didn't have to live it, or have all that pain passed down for generations, having to learn all those humiliating ways to survive in the white world. People lack the ability to understand. People can't place themselves in others shoes. They just don't know how... They lack the genes, or whatever it is that allows people to feel the pain of another. They don't care. Caring means feeling, feeling means understanding, understanding means standing in someones shoes. It takes imagination.

What is the deepest pain you've ever felt? Maybe some physical pain, some break up with a mate, the death of a loved one. Multiply it by a hundred, no, a thousand... torture, endless work, dying under a whip, a noose, the slave ships, the horrors, the domination, endless years of it. Fuck me, do I have to explain this? Fuck...

So, what does it matter that you inflict just a little bit more, eh? Some things have a greater priority. Some things are more important than the goddamn ego of a cartoonist. Some things matter more than insisting on some way of drawing another human being.

Dehumanizing a figure with the stature of Obama offends people. Can white people imagine what it means to millions of African Americans to have waited for eons for the moment, the goddamn miracle in white society that enslaved them, when a black person becomes the President? Can any non-black person conceive of this? Remember Jesse Jackson's tears when Obama became the President?

I thought my friends on the left had a working understanding of this. I thought you all got it. I thought you were all just contrarians, stubborn argumentative leftists, but that you that you understood the basic premise of the left.

It's all about the people. Mutual aid. I've cried tonight.

I have received kosmail from all sides, many expressing agreement with my short rant. This isn't just a rox/sux division. I have heard from white parents with Black children, African Americans, people in support and not in support of current Democratic party policy, even an anarchist or two, all in support of what I wrote. This saddens me to no end. I have learned that I wasn't alone, that the depictions have caused far more hurt and gut wrenching pain than I had understood.

Please understand I wrote the comment not to impugn or cast stones, but to express the deep anguish this issue has inflicted on many Daily Kos members, particularly members of the African American community.  And this issue has touched more than a few of us, regardless of where we typically stand. I have found solidarity and camaraderie with people with whom I've often had bitter arguments over our differing politics. I feel honored that this has happened, and I think the least I can do to accommodate the request.

I think it is worth pointing out that despite having strong opinions of the issue,  no one who contacted me engaged in strident attacks or diatribes against anyone. All were for the most part quite tolerant of people who didn't share the same views.

Understand that this is meant with nothing but goodwill, and that this is what community is all about, that of putting aside for at least a moment our own opinions and concerns, to see when something is hurting people.

And to do this one thing, this simple effort of understanding another human being, is the essence of what I believe in, what I fight for.

Yes, it made me cry, and I felt an overwhelming upwelling of emotion from my very core, and I can tell you all that I have learned that many persons have shed real tears over this ordeal. I can tell you this has been hurtful, really, deeply hurtful to a lot of people.

Please know it has caused pain.

And please keep the comment section civil. Debate policy, debate ideas, but don't mock people. Don't even inadvertently mock people. Don't ridicule the feelings of other people.

And I do realize that there has been pain on the other side of this debate, too. I know that a lot of people feel misunderstood. This is not lost on me, no matter how much I disagree with the view. I know we all have our way of seeing this.  

So let's begin the healing process. Let's all stand together in solidarity, even if just for this one diary.

We can do this. We can go back to our usual scheduled fighting later.  

In solidarity, equality, and fraternity,


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