News & Politics » Letters

Usurping the Anarchist Legacy

by

comment

To the editors:

I am writing in response to the disappointing article of Jeff Huebner's entitled "Haymarket Revisited" [December 10]. It is not a coincidence, I am sure, that the title is the same as Mr. Adelman's revisionist history. Instead of providing a soapbox for Adelman and his cronies, why didn't he just let Adelman write the article? It's ironic that Mr. Huebner would begin his piece by citing the proverb: "Until lions have their own historians, histories of the hunt will glorify the hunter." The reformist labor movement was the winner of the support of the American working class. The revolutionary anarchist movement was the loser, obscured and forgotten by mainstream historians, including and especially by Mr. Adelman.

I would hope that Mr. Huebner's errors were errors of ignorance and poor research and not inspired by the social democratic agenda of the ILHS. I suggest that he read a far more thorough and accurate work on Haymarket, The Haymarket Tragedy by Paul Avrich (Princeton University Press, 1984) or, perhaps, some original source material from the time. Avrich has pointed out that Adelman's Haymarket Revisited contains over 100 factual errors in addition to its ideological slant.

I have always wondered why reform-minded socialists and liberal labor historians have rewritten history to include the Haymarket anarchists in their pantheon. Don't they have their own history? Why usurp the anarchist legacy, a legacy in violent opposition to their own? It is not a question of equally legitimate "claims" to history, as Orear states, but a question of actual history.

All eight Haymarket martyrs were self-proclaimed anarchists. Most of them even opposed the eight hour movement until the last instant. Their own words shout anarchism before, during and after their spectacular trial. Their anarchist beliefs were precisely what was on trial. They were targeted as anarchists because the anarchist influence in the labor movement caused the ruling class the most alarm. At their own execution the martyrs shouted, "Hurrah for Anarchy!" They did not shout "Hurrah for Social Democracy" or "Hurrah for Steelworkers for Democracy."

Hurrah for Anarchy!

Steve Craig

N. Whipple

Add a comment