Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Palestinian Land Day

Today is the 45th anniversary of  Palestinian Land Day, which also happens to coincides with the third anniversary of the Great March of Return in Gaza, and  is marked by Palestinians wherever they live. Land Day is held on the anniversary of March 30, 1978,when Palestinian villages and cities across the country witnessed mass demonstrations against the states plans to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land in and around the Arab villages of Araba and Sakhnin as a part of a plan to "Judaise the Galilee".Israel's Galilee region. In coordination with the military, some 4,000 police officers were  dispatched  to quell the unrest. At the end of the day, six Palestinian citizens  were Killed by occupation forces, Kheir Mohammas Salim Tasin, Khadija Qaeem Shavaboch, Raja Hssein, AbuRayva, Khader Eid, Mahmoud Khalayleh, Muhsin HasanHasan, Said Taha and Raafar Ali-Zheir, as they defended their land, and over one hundred injured by state security forces..
The Day of the land - or Land Day marked the first mass mobilization of Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft. It also signalled the failure of Israel to subjugate Palestinians who remained in their towns and villages, after around 700,000 of them were either expelled or forced to flee massacres committed by Zionist armed groups in 1948.
Today's commemoration of Land Day is an emblematic reminder of the countless human rights violations that have characterised more than 72 years of Palestinian land confiscation and dispossession. Forty-five years on, Israeli land theft continues  unabated. Settlements are expanding; land confiscations for military, security, or industrial purposes are increasing; and, especially unsettling, measures to rid Jerusalem - the aspired capital of a future Palestinian state.
The Israeli policy of land theft and expropriation has never ended. The Annexation plan of the occupied Palestinian territory is being implemented with more land  being seized and more people  becoming forcibly displaced. In the last few days Israeli confiscated lands in the South, East and West of Bethlehem, and on on.06/01/2021 alone, the Israeli occupation forces uprooted more than 3400 olive trees in Deir Ballut village in the Salfit Governorate .for settlement expansion and for military purposes, a clear violation of the international Humanitarian Law.The Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel also now face the appropriation of 800,000 dunams of the Negev by the Israeli state.The housing situation for the Bedouin remains dire. Settlements that house 160,000 people are deemed "Illegal" by Israel, and risk demolition. The issue of land allocation and housing for Palestinian citizens of Israel has now reached crisis point.
This important day in Palestinian history commemorates the Palestinians sense of belonging to a people, to a cause and a country, to stand united against racial oppression and rules of apartheid,and the discriminatory practices of the Israeli government, giving continual potency to the Palestinians cause , its quest for justice and Palestinian rights, and its resistance to injustice,who never cease to fight for their land while holding passionately to their history and identity. It is the right of return, recognised in the United Nations Resolution 194, that drives Palestinians to continue with the commemoration of Land Day - regardless of their geographical location.
The day is commemorated  annually by Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and further afield in refugee camps and among the Palestinian diaspora worldwide, with demonstrations, marches and by planting olive and fruit trees, as a symbol of their resilience to daily occupation..This year, despite  the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left much of the world’s populations under lockdown and curfew. Being confined to their homes or their villages and towns is not a new experience for Palestinians which is perhaps why so many have taken it in their stride, and continue to show  show incredible strength, courage and sumud (steadfastness) in the face of great adversity. While Israeli settler colonial expansionism does not rest, neither does Palestinian perseverance and Palestinians are continuing to mark Land Day with anti-Israel protests around Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Land Day continues to be poignantly relevant as Israel continues to confiscate land, expand their colonies, and continue to build their illegal settlements in flagrant violation of all international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.  Land day is  a Palestine day, a day for its people to  proudly declare that they are one from the River to the Sea. It serves to remind the world that the Israeli denial and suppression of Palestinian resistance and their right to self-determination is a policy intended to squash the Palestinian people’s will and dominate them to expand Israel’s settler colonialism.
 The Keep Hope Alive - Olive Tree Campaign works to support the Palestinian farmers to protect their land, to restore their hope, to empower them and to strengthen their steadfastness, by providing them with olive trees and share with them actions of solidarity and support from partners and friends worldwide.
In 2018, the Day of the Land once again bore witness to the popular organizing of the people, as thousands upon thousands gathered in Gaza for the Great March of Return, and occupation foces again shot down Palestinians defending their land and upholding their rights, 47 years after the first Land Day massacre. Israel occupying forces killed 16 martyrs of the land and return, with over 200 more shot down in the marches in the months and days to come.
 In the Palestinian reality, every day is Land Day. Today and tomorrow I continue to stand side by side with my sisters and brothers in solidarity with  their struggle for peace, justice, equality and an end to the illegal occupation of their land.I would urge others who may read this to do the same.
The Land Day strike  inspired the following powerful poem by Tawfiq Zayyad, Palestinian poet, writer, scholar and politician, that continues to resonate across the Palestinian generations.

Here we will stay - Tawfiq Zayyad ( 7/5/ 29 - 5/7/ 94)

In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain
like a wall upon your chest,
and in your throat
like a shrad of glass,
a cactus thron,
and in your eyes
a sandstorm.
We shall remain
a wall upon your chest,
clean dishes in your restaurants,
serve drinks in your bars,
sweep the floors of your kitchens
to snatch a bite for our children
from your blue fangs.
Here we shall stay,
sing our songs,
take to the angry streets,
fill prisons with dignity.
In Lidda, in Ramla, in the galilee,
we shall remain,
guard the shade of the fig
and olive trees,
ferment rebellion in our children
as yeast in the dough.

Link to poem by Mahmoud Darwish on the same theme :-


Saturday, 27 March 2021

Police accused of heavy-handed tactics at Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ protests

A civil liberties group and a Labour MP have raised concerns about “heavy-handed policing” after a second consecutive weekend of “Kill the Bill” protests in Bristol produced footage of police punching a woman and attacking a newspaper reporter.
Liberty, the civil liberties group, called the footage following a prolonged stand-off in central Bristol on Friday "Disturbing scenes at #BristolProtests last night. Protest is a right not a privilege.Heavy-handed policing and further restrictions in the #PoliceCrackdownBill are a threat to that right."
Boris Johnson blamed the violence on “disgraceful attacks” by protesters against the Police Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently before parliament. The bill has produced a string of demonstrations because of concerns that it would give police more power to  curtail the right to protest. https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2021/03/defend-right-to-protest.html
Our officers should not have to face having bricks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at them by a mob intent on violence and causing damage to property,”The police and the city have my full support" Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter 
Whatever he was watching, the rest of us saw ' his officers'  in Bristol battering seven shades out of peaceful protestors, using their shields to chop at the heads, necks and limbs of unarmed people . sitting down, in a deliberate and savage attempt to  cause serious bodily harm.
 Protesters tweeted videos showing a police officer’s apparent punching of a woman and officers’ use of the edges of their riot shields to hit protesters sitting on the ground. Matthew Dresch, a reporter from the Daily Mirror, tweeted a video of an officer hitting him with a baton, he said: “Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers. I have muted the latter part of the video to spare you all the pain of hearing my shrill voice.
Labour MP Nadia Whittome called for an investigation into the policing of the demonstrations.“Reports of protesters and journalists injured last night in Bristol. The case for an independent investigation into the policing of the #BristolProtests is clear,” she tweeted.
Two reporters from the Bristol Cable were also reportedly assaulted by police during protests earlier in the week. Bristol Cable editor Alon Aviram shared a video of protesters shouting “we are peaceful, what are you”, while police in riot gear brutally hit a defenceless demonstrator to the ground. He noted that this was the moment the peaceful sitting protest descended into violence:
 "This went from a sitting protest into this in no time pic.twitter.com/SGkeXoRQS2
— Alon Aviram (@AlAviram) March 26, 2021
Protetors tweeted videos showing a police officer apparantly punching a woman and officers  using the edges of their riot shields to hit protestors sitting on the ground.
 Griff Ferris shared videos of police charging peaceful protestors – and hitting them with batons. Police even hit protesters who had their hands in the air:
" Just before the dogs came – police hitting people with batons and shields, many with their hands up in the air pic.twitter.com/iROYuvYBNf — Griff Ferris (@g__ferris) March 26, 2021
 And Michael Volpe circulated a video of police using their riot shields to strike sitting protesters:
"Taking careful aim. Savagery and a deliberate attempt to cause serious bodily harm. These officers will be hailed as brave in the morning by their boss. This needs to be seen and shared. "pic.twitter.com/DeeyeCMWvg
 Responding to the home secretary’Priti Patels statement calling protestors a “criminal minority”, James Felton shared a video of police in riot gear hitting a woman in the face:
Forgive  my ignorance, but isn't a shield  a defensive device, used passively to protect the holder?When a shield is used as a weapon to hit an unarmed  person, that's misuse of power. And when police charge at you with horses and dogs, with batons and pepper spray, think it's only right that people defend themselves against that.
Whatever your political views ask yourselves how you would feel  if it was your son, your daughter, your neighbor on the recieving end of those savage blows. This cannot be allowed, it has to stop. Defend this and your complicit, quietly accept it and your complicit.For every beating that is caught on camera, there are so many more the police hide.
As during the miners strike in the 1980's once a right wing government gives carte blanche to the police they go at it with gusto. We're but a whisker away from a police state at times,and will only continue if this draconian Bill is passed.Violence only ever seems to start when the police arrive, so how about we send no Police to the next protest and see what happens. The policing of the Kill the Bill protests has underlined concerns about police tactics against demonstrations following the manhandling of women by officers from London's Metropolitan Police at a vigil on Clapham Common in London for Sarah Everard, a murdered woman.
A serving Metropolitan Police officer, is awaiting trial for Everard's kidnap and murder.
It is worth noting that thousands of deaths in police custody in England and Wales since 1990. No officers have ever been convicted of their deaths, which have a number of different causes.
Further Kill the Bill protests have continued today throughout England, with further demonstrations scheduled.  It is imperative that we defend the right to peacefully  protest, a cornerstone of democracy. So please sign the following  https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/579012?fbclid=IwAR289xE1hWrm_NdPnHqW0KcMSsAZBvHwPZJK9SIs7QRvVgyrdxs-6WI9XHM

Thursday, 25 March 2021

David Graeber – After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep


In the following essay penned shortly before his tragic and untimely death  at the age of fifty-one in September 2020, the well respected anthropologist, and active anarchist David Graeber wrote  on what life and politics could look like after the COVID-19 pandemic. (It was was published  in. Jacobin ’for the first time. ). 
In it  David Graeber argued that post-pandemic, we can’t slip back into a reality where the way our society is organized , is  to serve every whim of a small handful of rich people while debasing and degrading the vast majority of us. 
The pandemic has  despite  much worry and disruption,  has at least exposed  aspects of our current culture and economy that has long needed fixing, .a world which is stained with inequalities and based on dirty capitalist exploitation. At the moment  though  the government's response to all  this, is to  arm the police with more powers and to crank up repression , whilst flying the flag for right wing Britain, in the name of jingoism and patriotism.
Despite Boris Johnson's recent proclamations, it is  now beyond doubt  that it is the greed' and rampant capitalism, that .his and our Government's  culpability has caused, resulting in the needless deaths of tens of thousands.  Capitalism has  long been under an extended period of decay, bringing untold misery to peoples lives, that puts profit  first instead of the needs of people. Hopefully at the end of this pandemic we can all be be given  the tools we need to nail its coffin shut.  In the times ahead, we can't afford to go back to sleepy normal.

 After the Pandemic . We Can't Go Back to Sleep

At some point in the next few months, the crisis will be declared over, and we will be able to return to our “nonessential” jobs. For many, this will be like waking from a dream.

The media and political classes will definitely encourage us to think of it this way. This is what happened after the 2008 financial crash. There was a brief moment  of questioning (What is “finance,” anyway? Isn’t it just other people’s debts? What is money? Is it just debt, too?  What's debt? Isn’t it just a promise? If money and debt are just a collection of promises we make to each other, then couldn’t we just as easily make different ones?) The window was almost instantly shut by those insisting we shut up, stop thinking, and get back to work, or at least start looking for it.

Last time, most of us fell for it. This time, it is critical that we do not.

Because, in reality, the crisis we just experienced was waking from a dream, a confrontation with the actual reality of human life, which is that we are a collection of fragile beings taking care of one another, and that those who do the lion’s share of this care work that keeps us alive are overtaxed, underpaid, and daily humiliated, and that a very large proportion of the population don’t do anything at all but spin fantasies, extract rents, and generally get in the way of those who are making, fixing, moving, and transporting things, or tending to the needs of other living beings. It is imperative that we not slip back into a reality where all this makes some sort of inexplicable sense, the way senseless things so often do in dreams.

How about this: Why don’t we stop treating it as entirely normal that the more obviously one’s work benefits others, the less one is likely to be paid for it; or insisting that financial markets are the best way to direct long-term investment even as they are propelling us to destroy most life on Earth?

Why not instead, once the current emergency is declared over, actually remember what we’ve learned: that if “the economy” means anything, it is the way we provide each other with what we need to be alive (in every sense of the term), that what we call “the market” is largely just a way of tabulating the aggregate desires of rich people, most of whom are at least slightly pathological, and the most powerful of whom were already completing the designs for the bunkers they plan to escape to if we continue to be foolish enough to believe their minions’ lectures that we were all, collectively, too lacking in basic common sense do anything about oncoming catastrophes.

This time around, can we please just ignore them?

Most of the work we’re currently doing is dream-work. It exists only for its own sake, or to make rich people feel good about themselves, or to make poor people feel bad about themselves. And if we simply stopped, it might be possible to make ourselves a much more reasonable set of promises: for instance, to create an “economy” that lets us actually take care of the people who are taking care of us.

David Graeber (1961-2020)

  source: Jacobin Magazine

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Remembering Sharpeville Massacre


On March 21, 1960. at a police station  in the  small Black South African  township of Sharpeville near  Johannesburg , following a day of demonstrations, police opened fire on a crowd of around 5,000 to 7,000 protestors. The crowds had gathered  to protest the establishment of apartheid pass laws which restricted movement of non-whites. designed to segregate the population.
 The Sharpeville Massacre took place in a South Africa that denied even basic democratic rights and freedoms to those considered as "non-white" under an apartheid (racial segregation and discrimination) system.
 Apartheid means “apartness” in the Afrikaans language. The concept was endorsed, legalized and promoted by the National Party, which was elected in South Africa in 1948 by a minority, exclusively white electorate.
 Apartheid laws placed all South Africans into one of four racial categories: “white/European,” “native/black,” “coloured,” (people of “mixed race”) or “Indian/Asian.” White people – 15 percent of the South African population – stood at the top, wielding power and wealth. Black South Africans – 80 percent of the population – were relegated to the very bottom. Apartheid laws restricted almost every aspect of black South Africans’ lives.
The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) planned a series of national protests against the pass laws in 1960. Black South Africans were asked to gather outside police stations around the country on March 21 and offer themselves up for arrest, for not carrying their pass books. 
 At Langa Township in Cape Town, two people were killed and 49 injured when police opened fire. Sharpeville, was through the 1950s a community untouched by anti-apartheid demonstrations that occurred in surrounding towns.  By 1960, however, anti-apartheid activism reached the town.  In March 1960, Robert Sobukwe, a leader in the anti-apartheid Pab=Adricn Congress (PAC)  organized the town’s first anti-apartheid protest.  In order to reduce the possibility of violence he wrote a letter to the Sharpeville police commissioner announcing the upcoming protest and emphasizing that its participants would be non-violent.
Nearly 300 police officers arrived to put an end to the peaceful protest.  As they attempted to disperse the crowd, a police officer was knocked down and many in the crowd began to move forward to see what had happened.  Police witnesses claimed that stones were thrown, and in a panicked and rash reaction, the officers opened fire into the crowd.  Other witnesses claimed there was no order to open fire, and the police did not fire a warning shot above the crowd.  As the thousands of Africans tried to flee the violent scene, police continued to shoot into the crowd.  Sixty-nine unarmed Africans were killed and 186 were wounded with most shot in the back.
 Sharepville became a symbol of the violence and racist cruelty of the apartheid regime that divided black and white and reduced Africans to third class citizens in the land of their birth.
 But there was also resistance. As the bodies were being carted away so news of the massacre raced around the countries’ poverty stricken townships. In Cape Town thousands of African workers stopped work and stevedores walked off the ships.
Aday of mourning” a week later resulted in riots and shooting around Johannesburg, and police baton charges at the crowds in Cape Town.
Nelson Mandela and his 29 co-accused in the infamous Treason Trial were still on trial when the massacre happened. In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela recalled: “The massacre at Sharpeville created a new situation in the country ... A small group of us – Walter [Sisulu], Duma Nokwe, Joe Slovo and I – held an all-night meeting in Johannesburg to plan a response. We knew we had to acknowledge the events in some way and give the people an outlet for their anger and grief. We conveyed our plans to Chief Luthuli, and he readily accepted them. On March 26, in Pretoria, the chief publicly burned his pass, calling on others to do the same. He announced a nationwide stay-at-home for March 28, a national Day of Mourning and protest for the atrocities at Sharpeville. In Orlando, Duma Nokwe and I then burned our passes before hundreds of people and dozens of press photographers.

                                                        Nelson Mandela burning his pass

The world was shocked too and condemnation was universal. International solidarity and the isolation of apartheid South Africa became one of the key elements contributing to its demise. People abroad, by linking hands with South Africa’s oppressed, provided inspiration and decisive support. On April 1, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a resolution condemning the killings and calling for the South African government to abandon its policy of apartheid. A month later, the UN General Assembly declared that apartheid was a violation of the UN Charter. This was the first time the UN had discussed apartheid. Since then, apartheid and many of its elements have been codified as crimes against humanity.
The massacre also sparked hundreds of mass protests by black South Africans, many of which were ruthlessly and violently crushed by the South African police and military.  On March 30, the South African government under Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd declared a state of emergency which made any protest illegal.  The ban remained in effect until August 31, 1960.  During those five months roughly 25,000 people were arrested throughout the nation.  The South African government then created the Unlawful Organizations Act of 1960 which banned anti-apartheid groups such as the Pan Africanist Congress and the African National Congress. 
The South African’s government’s repressive measures in response to the Sharpeville Massacre, however, intensified and expended the opposition to apartheid, many  members of both organizations mentioned decided to go underground. Nelson Mandela was among those who chose to become outlaws. He would later say, “We believe in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that ‘the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of the government, and for us to accept the banning was the equivalent of accepting the silencing of Africans for all time.'
Mandela and others no longer felt they could defeat apartheid peacefully. Both the PAC and the ANC formed armed wings and began a military struggle against the government.Nelson Mandela became commander-in-chief of the ANC’s armed wing, “Umkhonto we Sizwe” or “Spear of the Nation”They took to acts of sabotage against government targets, which sometimes killed civilians. These were denounced by South Africa’s main backers, Britain and the United States and the ANC was labelled as a “terrorist organisation”.Following his arrest, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment on four counts of sabotage.
However, many foreign investors pulled out of the country and a number of sporting boycotts followed. Many long years of struggle and suffering lay ahead. but the  Sharpeville massacre was a turning point South African history and led to a chain of events that shaped the direction of resistance to apartheid both in South African and internationally and heped  create a receptive political setting for the British Boycott Movement’  Sharpeville certainly played a decisive role in the Boycott Movement's transformation into the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM).
The incident and its repercussions alsp led to the growing politicisation of the South African working class and created a more militant younger generation in the townships. The struggle in the townships grew steadily, with a major uprising in Soweto, Johannesburg in1976. By 1985, the regime had lost control of these working class districts and declared a state of emergency. The country was on the brink of civil war. Elements in the regime and leading businessmen opened talks with the ANC, recognising that it was the only organisation that could quell a revolutionary upsurge.
President F. W. de Klerk released the ANC’s Nelson Mandela from prison on February 2, 1990, heralding the end of the Apartheid system. White minority rule finally collapsed in 1994 in elections that brought the ANC and Mandela to power. Had he not released Mandela when he did, de Klerk said, “The prospects for a satisfactory negotiated settlement would have diminished with each successive cycle of revolution and repression”.
 Symbolically in 1994, Mandela signed the nation’s first post-apartheid constitution near the site of the 1960 massacre. The anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre is remembered the world over every March 21as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
In South Africa, Human Rights Day is a public holiday wbich is celebrated on 21 March each year. The day commemorates the lives of those who died to fight for democracy and equal human rights for all in South Africa during apartheid an institutionally racist system built upon racial discrimination. 
 While the Sharpeville Massacre and its annual commemoration serve as a stark reminder of the violent consequences of the apartheid regime in South Africa and its threat to fundamental rights, freedoms, and human dignity, it is also a time to commemorate the ultimate defeat of this institutionalised system of oppression, and encourages us to continue to work to bring an end to all forms of racial discrimination, racial segregation, and apartheid around the world. But this work is not done, particularly as apartheid endures in Palestine.
 For decades, Israel has established and maintained an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, through a plethora of laws, policies, and practices designed to ruthlessly segregate, fragment, and isolate Palestinians. The Palestinian people have been deliberately divided into four separate legal, political, and geographic domains, including Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza subject to Israeli military law, and as a result, Israel ensures that the Palestinian people are unable to meet, group, or live together, nor exercise any collective rights.
As I mark 61 years since the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, more efforts must be taken to ensure the legacy of apartheid, and all other forms of racial discrimination and oppression, are finally brought to an end. In the same way that apartheid fell in South Africa, supporters of human rights, international law, social justice, and equality must exert pressure today to uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
"Remember Sharpeville" was the late South African activist, educator, journalist, former inmate with Nelson Mandela at Robben Island in the mid -1960s, and poet  Dennis Brutus memorial to the Sharpeville massacre of 1960,
 Remember Sharpeville - Dennis Brutus
 What is important

about Sharpeville

is not that seventy died:

nor even that they were shot in the back

retreating, unarmed, defenseless

and certainly not

the heavy caliber slug

that tore through a mother’s back

and ripped through the child in her arms

killing it

Remember Sharpeville

bullet-in-the-back day

Because it epitomized oppression

and the nature of society

more clearly than anything else;

it was the classic event

Nowhere is racial dominance

more clearly defined

nowhere the will to oppress

more clearly demonstrated

what the world whispers

apartheid with snarling guns

the blood lust after

South Africa spills in the dust

Remember Sharpeville

Remember bullet-in-the-back day

And remember the unquenchable will for freedom

Remember the dead

and be glad.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

150th Anniversary of the Paris Commune


150 years ago on this  day March 18th, 1871, artisans and communists, labourers and anarchists took over the city of Paris and established the Paris Commune, rising  up against a despised and detested government and proclaimed the city independent, belonging to itself. The workers of Paris, joined by mutinous National Guardsmen, seized the city and set about reorganising society in their own interests based on workers' councils. It is said to be one of the first examples of  working people taking power.
This radical experiment in socialist self government lasted 72 days before being violently  being crushed in a brutal massacre that established France's Third republic.
This rebellion  would shake the foundations of European society to the core, the people rising up against a despised and detested government and its  its capitalist rulers  proclaiming  the city an  independent municipality, belonging to itself .  a commune where they would directly and collectively manage their society through new institutions and voluntary associations of their own creation. It would mark the first major experience of the proletariat seizing  political power. Taking charge of their own destiny.
The Paris Commune came into being in the context of the Franco-Prussian war which led to the collapse of the Second French Empire under the rule of Napoleon III, which was replaced by the Third Republic in late 1870. The Prussian army had surrounded Paris and held the city under a siege for around 4 month in the cold winter of 1870/71. It is reported that the people in Paris first ate the animals in the zoo and later rats in order to survive. Eventually, the French army surrendered and accepted the conditions for the peace treaty imposed by Bismarck.
The city of Paris was mostly defended by the National Guard instead of the regular army. A large fraction of the National Guard were proletarians, some of which were said to be undisciplined and rejected to wear the official uniform. While there was a general discontent with the unconditional surrender of the French army and nationalist calls to continue the war or revenge Prussia for the defeat were widespread, the First International had gained significant influence especially within the working class of Paris, as well. This combined the general frustration within the population due to the lost war and the devastating siege with a general urge for profound social change due to arising class consciousness. Accordingly, already within the last month of the war, some attempts of uprising were undertaken with popular demands like the civil control of the military and elections of a commune. However, those early attempts were repressed and foiled. An important detail of the peace deal between the French army and the Prussians was the fact that the National Guard were allowed to keep their weapons in order to “maintain law and order” in Paris.
The central government, not unaware of the revolutionary potential of an armed Paris, secretly sent troops into the city in the night of March 17th/18th in order to bring the cannons of the National Guard under the control of the central army. However, the attempt was soon revealed and the people of Paris quickly rushed to defend their cannons. Only a few shots were fired before the soldiers defected to the crowd that had surrounded them. On March 18th, authorities of the central government started to flee from the city, followed by a general retreat of the French Army which left the National Guard in control of the city. The republican tricolor was replaced with the red flag. The Paris Commune was born.
The Paris Commune  was  the high point  in the surge  of the workers movement also expressed in the First International  founded in 1867. Ideologically charged, with lots of division, the backlash following the defeat of the Commune, also broke up the International in 1872, which would see it splitting into  two factions; Marxist and Anarchist. The leading  figures  on the two sides were Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin.
Both Marx and Bakunin supported and hailed the Commune - unlike some English trade unionists in the International, who recoiled in horror. Bakunin and his followers would use the word 'commune' a  lot saying  that the state could  be immediately abolished by transforming society into a federation of free communes. The Paris  Commune  reflected anarchist ideas of community control, workers associations and confederations, and surprisingly at the time Karl Marx strongly embraced the Commune, writing at the time he said " Working men's Paris, with  its commune,  will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. It's martyr's are enshrined in the great heart of  the working class."
Since then the Paris Commune has been thus variously described as either Anarchist or Socialist  depending on the ideology of the commentator.  It still fills me with much cause for celebration and inspiration. Along with the establishment of a state of, by, and for the working class, the Commune’s claim to greatness is the remarkable range of measures it passed. Rent payments were deferred, as were debt obligations for a period of three years, with no accrual of interest; goods held in the government pawnshop were released to their owners; the separation of church and state was declared, with the government no longer funding church operations and all religious emblems removed from classrooms; the standing army was abolished, replaced by the National Guard, with its officers elected by its members; the guillotine was publicly burned; all elected members of the Commune’s council were made revocable, with their wages limited to those of a worker; factories closed down by their owners during the siege and Commune were to be turned into cooperative enterprises under worker control; and night work for bakers was banned. The Vendome Column, the symbol of Napoleonic military glory, was torn down, its demolition organized by Gustave Courbet.
From March 18 to 28 May the two million  residents of Paris ran their city as an autonomous commune, establishing 43 worker co-operatives,  and advocated for a federation  of revolutionary communes across France, establishing an 8 hour day,and began to regulate workers wages and contracts, abolishing fines for workers, giving them compensation, this was truly a government who put the interest of workers first . It also aimed to make education free, opening up culture for the people, formerly the sole property of the wealthy, opening reading rooms in hospitals to make life pleasant for those sick. Paris was filled with life, ideas and enthusiasm , though their city was  under siege, attempts made to starve  and break the will of the people surrounded by a hostile army. 
The Commune also opened the way for the emancipation of women, allowing them a greater role in politics than they had previously enjoyed. The name of Louise Michel, who headed a vigilance committee and organized an ambulance service, is the best known of the female Communards, but there were others of note. The most important organization was the Union of Women for the Defense of Paris and the Care of the Wounded, co-founded by the Russian emigré Elisabeth Dmitrieff, who also fought at the barricades in the final days of the Commune and later fled to Switzerland. Women weren’t granted the vote or the right to sit on the Commune, but they played a key role at the barricades and were involved in the fight from its first day. The Communards famously set fire to many of Paris’ most famous and important buildings, the arson attributed to roving bands of revolutionary women known as Les Petroleuses.
Peter Kropotkin later enthused "Under  the name of the Paris Commune,  a new idea was born, to become a starting point for future revolutions.' But many others thoughts that the Paris Commune did not go far enough . 
Anyway the French government was not going to tolerate this radicalism in its capital, and finally the French army  marched from Versailles, but retaking the city would prove to be difficult, the communards would hold out for several weeks. The revolutionaries had built 600 barricades around the city which had to be cleared one by one. The French army finally entered Paris on May 21 and crushed the movement by May 28. Paris burned and was drowned in blood , the  estimate of Parisian civilians killed usually tally's to be around 20,000, many died on the barricades. The leaders of the Commune might have had faults  but for all their mistakes , they chose to fight to the end alongside  the other workers.  At the Père Lachaise Cemetery the French army lined up and executed 147 Commune members.
In reckoning with the French state’s actions concerning the Commune, it is important to also highlight that even after the mass executions had ended, a further 9,000 Communards were sentenced to either imprisonment or exile. In the forts along the French Atlantic Coast, but above all in the penal colony on New Caledonia—known as the “dry guillotine”—Communard resistance fighters died in great numbers, before an amnesty declared in 1880 permitted survivors to return to their homeland.
The amnesty, however, was no rehabilitation; the sentences received by the Communards retained their legal validity, and to this day French authorities have staunchly refused efforts to have them revoked. This means that the Communards retain the status of political criminals. The intent here is clear: to delegitimize the Paris Commune. In this sense, the depiction of the aforementioned events published in an 1881 issue of the German magazine Der Sozialdemokrat to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Commune’s defeat remains as apt as ever. A sea of blood separating two worlds; on the one side, those who struggled for a different and better world, and on the other, those who sought to preserve the old order
 There is a wall at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, known as “Le Mur des Fédérés”. It was there that the last fighters of the Paris Commune were shot and every year, thousands, and sometimes, as in 1971, tens of thousands, of French people, but also people from all over the world, visit this exalted place of memory of the labour movement. They come alone or in demonstrations, with red flags or flowers, and sometimes sing an old love song, which became the song of the Communards: “Le Temps des Cerises”. We do not pay homage to a man, a hero or a great thinker, but to a crowd of anonymous people who we refuse to forget.
After its demise, the Commune became all things to all people on the left; for some, the first socialist state, for others, anarchism in action. For Friedrich Engels, as he wrote in his postscript to Marx’s The Civil War in France, it was the “dictatorship of the proletariat” that he and Marx and the First International had long called for. It was, in reality, not just the first revolution of its kind, but in many ways the last, above all a product and prisoner of France’s particular conditions and history. The measures implemented by the Commune, a form of government that, like so much else about its foundations, harked back to the French Revolution, would be echoed through the decades, inspiring movements around the world and playing an essential role in the rise of the left. But if Engels is right and the Paris Commune was the embodiment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, many of those who later invoked their ideas ultimately betrayed them..Engels’s description was championed by Marx and later by Lenin who, in the months leading up to the Russian Revolution, called for the creation of “a state of the Paris commune type.”
As Walter Benjamin said in his theses “On the Concept of History” (1940), the struggle for emancipation is waged not only in the name of the future but also in the name of the defeated generations; the memory of enslaved ancestors and their struggles is one of the great sources of moral and political inspiration for revolutionary thought and action. The Paris Commune is therefore part of what Benjamin calls “the tradition of the oppressed”, that is to say, of those privileged (“messianic”) moments in history when the lower classes have succeeded, for a while, in breaking the continuity of history, the continuity of oppression; short - too short - periods of freedom, emancipation and justice which will, each time, serve as benchmarks and examples for new battles.
Since then  both Communists, left wing societies,  socialists, anarchists and others have seen the Commune as a model for a  prefiguration of a liberated society, with a political system based on participatory democracy from the grass roots up.Just as Lenin saw the October revolution in the tradition of the Paris Commune as he proved by euphorically counting every day up to the historical 73 day mark of resistance of the Commune, this legacy has been continued in the resistance of Sur in Bakur (North-Kurdistan) as well as with the revolution in Syria and Rojava (West-Kurdistan). It is a story of possibility not failure, evidence that points to the seeds of building an alternative society, that unites a spring of peoples, resisting together., and committed to continue building up the practical alternative we want to live. 
Many aspects of this first attempt at social emancipation of the oppressed retain an astonishing relevance and should be reflected on by the new generations. Without the memory of the past and its struggles there will be no fight for the utopia of the future.The people of Paris began the fight for a new world, I guess it's up to us to finish the task.
If socialism wasn’t born of the Commune, it is from the Commune that dates that portion of international revolution that no longer wants to give battle in a city in order to be surrounded and crushed, but which instead wants, at the head of the proletarians of each and every country, to attack national and international reaction and put an end to the capitalist regime.” —Edouard Vaillant, a member of the Paris Commune.

Vive la Commune!

further reading :- 

History of the Paris Commune - Lissagary

Voltarine de Cleyre on the Paris Commune


The Paris Commune: Revolution and counter revolution in Paris 1870 -1871


                                Communards at the barricades.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Defend the Right to Protest


Labour's U-turn on how to vote on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court's  Bill is to be welcomed but it is solely down to the brave women who attended Clapham Common vigil over the weekend. Women wanted to gather to express their pain, grief, anger and solidarity in memory of Sarah Everard. instead we saw the atrocious scenes from south London where totally unwarranted policing led to women manhandled, handcuffed and arrested for participating in a vigil for a murdered woman despite the fact that one of their own serving police officers has been charged with this vile crime.
Policing like this do not happen by accident. It’s hard to find words. I don’t think I need to. The condemnation has been almost universal, with calls for the resignation of the Met police chief Cressida Dick  and even of the Home Secretary. They won't of course and despite the disgraceful police violence at the Sarah Everard vigil, this week Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are attempting to force through legislation to vastly restrict our right to protest, despite much opposition..
The government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts which is being debated today and voted on tomorrow, includes a huge and dangerous extension of police powers , the legislation allows for protestors to be thrown into jail for up to ten years. It will increase the use of stop and search. It will drastically reduce the scope for the public to peacefully protest while empowering the police to go much further in their efforts to stop it. 
The bill will also be able to say when demonstrations should start and finish; they will be able to determine maximum noise levels at static protests, thus, for example, affecting the noise pickets mounted by grassroots unions like CAIWU, UVW and the IWW. Even “one-person protests” will be subject to these new police powers. Already the police and the State have huge powers to restrict protest, increased with the pandemic, and now the Johnson regime wants to up the ante by increasing these powers even more. This bill is a massive attack on our freedoms and civil rights. What we saw at the weekend has again shown why that is totally unacceptable.but will be our future unless we protect the fundamental right to assemble 
The Good Law project points out that the Bill will give ‘new powers to the police to restrict peaceful protests’ which would ‘legislate that right out of meaningful existence.’It is the sort of legislation that one would expect to see in a military junta. All, it seems, in response to the Extinction Rebellion protests, after the climate activist group brought central London to a standstill and blockaded printing presses last year.  Home Secretary Priti Patel said on  Extinction Rebellion tactics she said they represent“a shameful attack on our way of life. The very criminals who disrupt our free society must be stopped.‘She also previously expressed outrage at Black Lives Matter protests saying “protesting in the way that people did last summer was not the right way at all …. Those protests were dreadful.” On Extinction Rebellion tactics she said they represent“a shameful attack on our way of life. The very criminals who disrupt our free society must be stopped.‘
The whole point of protest is that it will have an impact. It may well cause  unease or annoyance to those who don't agree with its aims, but that cannot outweigh the value of our freedom to peacefully assemble and to express our views. Without loud, disruptive protest  causing "annoyance" , wives would still be husband's property, women wouldn't have the vote. rape within  marriage would still be legal. Imagine telling the suffragettes to be quiet, the poll tax protestors not to a nuisance, or civil rights marchers that they can't stop traffic,
Black Protest Legal Support, a group set up to monitor policing of the BLM protests last summer,said that it is “vital we stand firmly against narrowing the space for civil disobedience, the attempted silencing of black voices and the chilling effect this will have on protest rights more broadly.”
If we do not stand up now. This new Bill will be used against our children and young people peacefully protesting whether over climate change or racism. Shami Charkrabati has called the plans “worryingly authoritarian”. Liberty has branded them a staggering assault on our right to protest as well as an attack on other fundamental rights.
Liberty interim director Gracie Bradley told LBC radio that she was concerned about the proposals amid the use of coronavirus regulations to curb protest.
 We’ve seen nurses fined £10,000 at the weekend for protesting about their pay and it looks like these supposedly temporary measures are going to become permanent and our right to stand up to power … will be reduced,” she said. 
Over 100,000 people have now signed Netpool's petition opposing the government's new Policing Bill and calling  on the National Police Chief's Council to adopt their Charter for Freedom of  Assembly Rights,  setting out how police should protect not restrict the right to protest. You can sign it here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-the-freedom-to-protest
In total more than 150 groups have expressed alarm at the government’s plans.
 Political protest is the cradle of law making in society. Attempts to restrict it touches upon the fundamental cornerstones of our democratic rights.
 Tony Benn once remarked that every generation has to fight the same battles against the powerful. To protect our democracy, our public services, our rights and liberties. It now falls to this generation to defend our right to protest and challenge the power of government.
Our freedoms are under threat like never before . We cannot stand by and watch this hard right Tory government take away our democratic rights.
Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Protest is not only a right but a duty in the face of the many social, economic, environmental and political injustices in this society. Change only comes about by organising protest. 
 If you haven't already contacted your MP  it is now a matter of urgency to urge them to vote against it. As mentioned Labour has confirmed they will be voting against the Bill but we need others to join them. You might have an MP who you think immovable on the issue, but a lot of surprising voices were raised in anger over the Met’s atrocious behaviour on Saturday.
Protests can change  politicians minds. We must fight for our right to protest.This shocking attempt to curtail basic human rights and freedoms must be opposed.  It is certain that we shall have to be prepared to protest. We can do so safely and peacefully. For it is not a right we can allow to be taken away. Please sign the following petitions, Protect the right to protest, stop the assault on our freedoms. 

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Fukushima Ten Years on.

Ten years  ago on March 11, 2011, at 2.46 pm Japan Time, a 9.0 magitude earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Honshsho Japan. It was the strongest tremor to hit the country and one of the strongest in the history of the world. The tremors lasted six minutes. Some 20 minutes after the earthquake hit, a  masive tsunami swept across coastal towns from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Okinawa, wiping out entire villages in the provinces of Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate destroying more than 400,000 buildings and homes, and killing 15,891people and and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee as radiation spewed into the air..
A nuclear disaster compounded the horror when tsunami waves reached the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, with power out,the emergency cooling generators weren’t functional, and explosions began in the reactor containment buildings; this in turn caused nuclear material to leak out of the plant. causing the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. In addition too those already lost more than 3,700 people  mostly from Fukushima, died from illness or suicide in the aftermath of the tragedy.ad more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-japan-tsunami-nuclear-tragedy-years.html#jCp
In addition, more than 3,700 people—most of them from Fukushima—died from illness or suicide linked to the aftermath of the tragedy, according to government data

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-japan-tsunami-nuclear-tragedy-years.html#jCp
Unsurprisingly, critics of nuclear power  seized upon the accident to argue that because nature is unpredictable, nuclear power is simply too risky. Following the nuclear meltdown, Japan's entire stable of nuclear reactors were gradually switched off. But almost half a decade on, Japan is considering whether it should recommence its pursuit of nuclear energy - especially given its continued struggle to decommission the Fukushima reactors that are still inundated by contaminated water. 
Nuclear reactor facilities, which need a reliable source of water for cooling purposes, are usually located near the ocean or alongside a large lake or river.That's a somewhat fraught positioning from the lens of climate science, particularly since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2007 found that ocean levels are rising roughly 1.2 inches each decade, with some scientists predicting that water levels could rise by as much as a meter by the end of the century.
That may not sound like much, with most nuclear power plants a full 20 to 30 feet above sea level, but each additional inch of water increases the risk of flooding and heightens storm surges, two of the more significant threats of a warmer planet.
The potential risks of tsunamis to nuclear power plants are well understood and a set of international standards has been developed to mitigate those risks. Yet, despite Japan’s history of tsunamis, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulator, did not apply those standards. It failed to review studies of tsunami risks performed by the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco. It also failed to ensure the development of tsunami-modeling tools compliant with international standards.
Tepco was also negligent. It knew of geological evidence that the region surrounding the plant had been periodically flooded about once every thousand years. In 2008, it performed computer simulations suggesting that a repeat of the devastating earthquake of 869 would lead to a tsunami that would inundate the plant. Yet it did not adequately follow up on either of these leads.
Many people still do not trust Tokyo Electric because of its bungled response to the disaster..Around 12,000 people who fled their homes for fear of radiation have  since filed dozens of lawsuits against the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken nuclear plant. Ten years later, about 5,000 workers pass through gates into the crippled plant each day to pull apart the plant, which still has about 880 tonnes of melted fuel debris in its reactors, and. radioactive water is continuing to flow into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled No ,1 plant, while the radiation levels at the crippled plant are still at unimaginable levels. 
 At 2:46 p.m.,the exact moment the earthquake struck a decade ago, Emperor Naruhito and his wife led a minute's silence to honour the dead in a commemorative ceremony in Tokyo. Silent prayers were held across the country.
 Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the memorial ceremony that the loss of life was still impossible to contemplate.
 “It is unbearable when I think of the feelings of all those who lost their loved ones and friends,” said Suga, dressed in a black suit.
At the ceremony attended by emperor and prime minister, the attendees wore masks and kept their distance, and did not sing along with the national anthem to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
 “I would like to express condolences from the bottom of my heart to everybody who suffered from the effects of the disaster,” Suga added, reaffirming support for those affected by the disaster. Carrying bouquets of flowers , many walked to the seaside or visited graves tp pay respect to friends and relatives washed away by the water. 
As people remember the thousands killed in the Great East Japan,  despite the billions poured into reconstruction efforts by the Japanese government, scars on the landscape remain visible and the tragedy continues to wreak misery for many,  more than 50,000 people  still remain displaced, because of this man made disaster.
However at least all of Japan's reactors were halted after the accident and nuclear safety regulations were tightened significantly. Just nine reactors are currently operational, compared to 54 before March 2011, and two dozen are set for decommissioning.
Nuclear accounted for just 6.2 percent of electricity generation in Japan in fiscal 2019, a fraction of the 30 percent before the accident, according to official figures.
The government's current goal, which is being reviewed, is for nuclear to account for 20-22 percent of electricity generation by 2030 -- a target viewed as impossible by many experts.
A majority of Japanese remain opposed to nuclear power after the trauma of the Fukushima disaster, and dozens of lawsuits have been filed by communities near plants in a bid to prevent them restarting.Also following Fukushima, a number of countries including industrial powers like Germany have dramatically cut their dependence on nuclear power.
Sadly ten years after Fukushima, the nuclear lobby is still trying again to sell nuclear power as a miracle cure against the climate crisis . It is therefore our duty as a society tirelessly to educate about the risks and devastating effects  of nuclear technology, for the world to look beyond dependence on  nuclear power and look into more environmentally friendly  sources of energy. and make sure. that the lessons  of Chernobyl and Fukushima should not ever be forgotten. for the earth not to be harmed and  for people not to scream in despair. feel the aftershocks of heartache and pain, the dangers of nuclear power have not gone away, and will never be safe for this beloved planet of ours..   

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

A Resilient Flame

We are contained, all prisoners 
Eyes flickering in search of sanction,
A brief call of freedom, a little respite
The flavoured  fruits of nourishment,
Beyond the shits storms that envelope
The flannel footed dawns that hold us,
How wild swings the compass these days
Every second swings into shuffling darkness,
We sit and watch beneath the skies
Gently bowing to an omnipresent God,
Pondering  existence of chain linked fences
Showering the world with our desperate cries,
Oh what a time of blistering deliverance
Coats hammered by the afternoon rain,
It's a long and winding road, energy depletes
But shared hallucinations, bring good will,
The sweetness of touch that lingers
Hearts of kindness, flowering the gloom,
Dreams still unravelling as we tread
With yearning, mind's adrift with hope;
Beyond the walls that divide and confuse
Unfettered we will kiss and hold hands.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Lucy Gonzales Parsons: ‘more dangerous than a 1,000 rioters’


Although the early years of Lucy Ella Gonzales Waller are shrouded in mystery, the historical record revealed that she came from African America, Native American, and Mexican ancestry,.the daughter of John Waller, a Muscogee, and Marie del Gather from Mexico.Parsons Her parents died when she was a child and was raised by relatives.
 Since she was born in Texas around 1853, her parents were probably slaves. Lucy quickly learned to function in her prejudiced society by using different names. Often giving Lucy Gonzales as her name, she used her Mexican ancestry to explain her dark skin tone instead of acknowledging her African American roots.
While Lucy was living with Oliver Gathings, a former slave, she met Albert Parsons.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 24, 1848, Albert Parsons was one of ten children of the owner of a shoe and leather factory. Both of his parents died when he was just five years old and Albert’s older brother William and Esther, a slave, helped raise him in Texas. After he attended school for about a year, Albert went to work as an apprentice at the Galveston Daily News. While still a teenager, Albert served in the Confederate Army including a stint in Parson’s Mounted Volunteers. 
After the Civil War, Albert settled in Texas, attending college at what is now Baylor University and working on several other newspapers. He became an activist for former slaves and a Republican overseer of Reconstruction which earned him the admiration and respect of the former slaves he championed and the hatred of his fellow southerners and the Ku Klux Klan. In what seemed to him a natural crossover, he also became interested in the rights of workers.
In 1869, Albert worked as a traveling correspondent and business agent for the Houston Daily Telegraph and during this time he met Lucy Ella Gonzales Waller. They were married in 1872, and Lucy Parsons, a political force in her own right joined her destiny with her political mentor and partner. Their marriage not only produced an interesting combination of political ideas, it also committed what southerners, especially Ku Klux Klan members, called miscegenation.
The South enforced both legal and social laws against miscegenation or racial mixing through marriage or cohabitation. In 1872, shortly after their marriage, the Parsons left Texas because of their political involvement and their interracial marriage. Four years before the formal ending of Reconstruction in 1876 when all federal troops left, the South methodically instituted restrictive Jim Crow segregation laws. Albert worked tirelessly to register Black voters and his enemies shot him in the leg and threatened to lynch him.  
In 1873, Albert and Lucy Parsons moved north to Chicago to what they hoped would be a better life. Albert began work as a printer for the Chicago Times.Life in Chicago didn’t provide a safe haven for the Parsons. They arrived in Chicago during the Panic of 1873, a financial collapse and depression that lingered on for years. Causes of the Panic of 1873 include post Civil War inflation, over speculation especially in railroads, a large trade deficit, declining bank reserves, and European economic problems stemming from the Franco-Prussian War. Chicago and Boston also suffered the financial losses from devastating fires, Chicago in 1871 and Boston in 1872.
As Albert’s tenure as a printer continued, so did the labor troubles of the United States. A law called the Contract Labor law of 1864 permitted American businesses to contract and bring immigrant laborers into the country which created a surplus of unskilled workers in cities like Chicago and lowered wages. Socialist and anarchist ideology also gained a toe hold in the United States and began to radicalize its labor force.
After they settled in a German-immigrant community, embracing first socialism and then anarchism Albert and Lucy became Labour actiists. In 1877, the Baltimore Ohio Railroad cut worker’s wages igniting a nationwide strike and motivating railroad workers all over the country to join picket lines. Reaction to the railroad strike rippled through Chicago in the summer of 1877 when Chicago railroad workers  took up the cause with a vengeance, derailing an engine and baggage cars fighting sporadic battles with the police.
Motivated by the plight of striking workers, Albert embraced an activist role, taking time from his work and family life to advocate peaceful ways for workers to negotiate. Soon the small number of workers he initially addressed grew to crowds of more than 25,000 people and Albert stood at center of the Chicago anarchist movement. Lucy stood by his side both literally and figuratively.
Albert and Lucy Parsons joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1876, and they were active members of the International Working People’s Association or the First International which supported racial and gender equality. Albert Parsons also became the editor of the Alarm, the anarchist weekly journal that the International Working People’s Association published. 
As Albert’s labor activities and speech making increased so did his fame and eventually the Chicago Times fired him for supporting striking workers and the printers’ unions in Chicago black listed him. Lucy Parsons opened a dress shop to support Albert and their two children, Albert Jr. and Lulu Eda.  Like Twentieth Century women, Lucy found herself jugging her family responsibilities and her career. She chaired meetings for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union with her friend Lizzie Swank, and she began to write for several radical publications.
 Both her friends and enemies considered Lucy Parsons  a more dangerous radical than Albert, because of her outspoken speeches and writing defending the rights of poor people. She also challenged the  establishment because she refused to be confined to the role of a homemaker but expanded her resume to include militant and radical woman. The Chicago Police Department describing her 'as more dangerous than a thousand rioters.'
Together she and Albert  would fight for African American voting rights, and against KKK terror, condemning racist attacks and killings. Getting involved also in  radical labour organising, they fought for the rights of political prisoners, women, people of color, and homeless people, advocating a syndicalist theory of society.
She began writing for the radical newspapers The Socialist and The Alarm.' On the topic of the growth of homeless people  begging for food on the streets of Chicago, the Chicago  tribune said ' When a tramp asks you for bread , put strychnine or arsenic on it and he will trouble you no more, and trouble will keep out of your neighbourhood.' In response to this depravity, Lucy wrote one of her most famous articles  called - ' To Trams, the Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable.' 
On May 1, 1886, Albert and Lucy Parsons and their two children, led 80,000 people down Michigan Avenue to support the eight hour work day, and this parade is considered to be the first May Day parade.  The International Working Peoples Association organized a campaign for the eight hour day and on May 1, 1886, a national strike of American workers began in support of an eight hour day.
Over the next few days over 340,000 male and female workers participated in the strike with more than 25 percent of them hailing from Chicago. The unity of the Chicago workers so surprised Chicago employers that they granted the workers a shorter work day.  Thrilled, Lucy Parsons proclaimed that the United States was ripe for a mass worker’s revolution.
On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of unarmed strikers at the McCormick Harvest Works in Chicago, wounding many strikers and killing four of them. The Radicals called a meeting for May 4, 1886, in Haymarket Square to discuss the situation. Many versions of the story say that the Chicago police fired on a peaceful rally and an unknown person threw a bomb, while some modern labor historians like Timothy Messer-Kruse argue that the anarchists had a premeditated plan and provoked the confrontation. However it started, a riot broke out and one officer was killed and several officers and workers were wounded.
Over the next few days, police scoured Chicago, searching for and arresting any anarchists and radicals they could capture. They raided homes, offices, and meeting halls of suspected radicals and Albert Parsons had not been in Haymarket Square that day, but the police accused him as one of the eight men responsible for the bombing. Albert Parsons went into hiding, moving to Waukesha, Wisconsin, and remaining there until June 21, 1886.
Both proud and angry that Albert Parsons believed in his anarchism enough to die for it, Lucy launched into a campaign for clemency. She toured the United States on a speaking tour, distributing fliers and pamphlets about the unjust arrests and trials, and raising funds to help the defendants. Armed policemen greeted Lucy had almost every place she visited, barring her admission to meeting halls and monitoring her speech and actions.
As well as outside threats, Lucy Parsons also had to fight a battle within the labor movement. She had belonged to the Knights of Labor for over ten years and she vehemently disagreed with Terence Powderly, the leader of the Knights. Terence Powderly opposed strikes and often discouraged Knights of Labor members from participating in them and he strongly disagreed with radicalism. He believed that the government should make an example of the Haymarket defendants and the Knights of Labor firmly stood against the Haymarket defendants. 
Despite these setbacks, Lucy continued her speaking tour, sparking more interest in the Haymarket case and becoming more and more famous in her own right.  
The police kept Lucy Parsons under constant surveillance and whenever they had the slightest suspicion she knew Albert’s whereabouts, they arrested her. Although they never charged Lucy with conspiracy in the bombing, the authorities did arrest and charge Oscar Neebe, Adolph Fisher, August Spies, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden, Carl Engle, and her husband Albert. Eventually, Albert turned himself in to stand with his fellow defendants and they were brought to trial, even though many of them were not even at Haymarket Square at the time of the riot.  
Corporate lawyer William Perkins Black defended the anarchists, and witnesses testified that none of the eight defendants had thrown the bomb. The jury found them all guilty. Oscar Neebe was sentenced to 15 years in prison and the others drew death sentences. Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab asked for clemency and eventually Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned them and they were released from prison on June 26, 1893. Albert Parsons could have been pardoned as well, but he didn’t petition Governor Altgeld for a pardon because he felt that asking for a pardon meant admitting guilt and he had committed no crime.
The day before his death,Albert Parsons wrote a letter to his two young children. Dated Dungeon No. 7, Cook County Jail, Chicago, Illinois, November 9, 1887, the letter read:

To my Darling, Precious Little Children Albert R. Parsons, Jr. and his sister Lulu Eda Parsons:

As I write this word, I blot your names with a tear. We will never meet again. Oh, my children, how deeply, dearly your Papa loves you. We show our love by living for our loved ones, we also prove our love by dying when necessary for them. Of my life and the course of my unnatural and cruel death, you will hear from others.

Your Father is a self-offered sacrifice upon the altar of liberty and happiness. To you I leave the legacy of an honest name and duty done.Preserve it. Emulate it. Be true to yourselves, you cannot be false to others. Be industrious, sober, and cheerful.

Your mother! She is the grandest, noblest of women. Love, honor, and obey her. My children, my precious ones, I request you to read this parting message on each recurring anniversary of my death in remembrance of him who dies not alone and for you, but for the children yet unborn. Bless you my darlings! Farewell,

Your Father,

Albert R. Parsons

On November 10, 1887, while in his jail cell, Louis Lingg committed suicide by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth and on November 11, 1887, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fisher and Carl Engle were hanged.
Lucy brought her two children. Lulu Etta and Albert Jr., to see their father one last time. The police arrested her and her children and took them to jail. They forced Lucy to strip and left her naked in a cold cell with her children while they executed her husband. When they finally released her, she vowed to continue her fight against injustice even though the authorities had killed her husband and she feared that they would kill her too.
The immigrant workers of Chicago revered her, politicians reviled her, and the general public maintained an intense fascination with her, all for good reason. Parsons lived a life that was rife with contradictions. She denied that she was of African descent, instead claiming that her parents were Hispanic and Indian.  She remained largely indifferent to the injustices faced by black laborers, focusing her attention on the white workers of Chicago and other big cities. In private, she took lovers after the death of her husband, but in public presented herself as a prim Victorian wife and mother and a grief-stricken widow.  She glorified the bonds of family, yet did not hesitate to rid herself of her son Albert Junior when he threatened to embarrass her by joining the U. S. army. In 1899 she had Junior committed against his will to an insane asylum, where he died twenty years later.
After her husbands death , Lucy came into her own as one of the leading radicals of the day. she continued to spread her anarchist message, and became known for her powerful oratory, urging the laboring classes to “Learn the use of explosives!” to protect themselves from predatory industrialists and police forces.  In describing her, Parsons’s enemies often evoked the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. She was a “firebrand” who delivered “fiery,” “red-hot,” “incendiary,” “inflammatory” speeches that her critics feared would spark a bloody uprising among her followers  
 In 1905 she participated in the founding of the International Workers of the World, in what became known as the 'Wobblies ' She was one of two women, the other being Mary Harris “Mother” Jones,  https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2012/11/mary-harris-jones-151830-30111930.htmlwho founded the IWW. The union welcomed all workers, regardless of nationality, religion, gender or skill, into its ranks. she believed in their committment  to direct action, which she believed  would inspire a strong working class movement. She was a founding member of the Chicago chapter and wrote for the organization’s paper. Drafted as a speaker at the IWW founding convention, Lucy used this opportunity to speak to the tactics required to end oppression and for success in strikes and outlined her vision:

We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much confidence in asking you. …

“We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is to organize the women. …

“Now, what do we mean when we say revolutionary Socialist?

“We mean that the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler, and the products to the producers. … I believe that if every man and every woman who works, or who toils in the mines, mills, the workshops, the fields, the factories and the farms of our broad America should decide in their minds that they shall have that which of right belongs to them, and that no idler shall live upon their toil … then there is no army that is large enough to overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army. …

“My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production. …

“Let us sink such differences as nationality, religion, politics and set our eyes eternally and forever toward the rising star of the industrial republic of labor; remembering that we have left the old behind and have set our faces toward the future. There is no power on earth that can stop men and women who are determined to be free at all hazards. There is no power on earth so great as the power of intellect. It moves the world and it moves the earth. …

“I hope even now to live to see the day when the first dawn of the new era of labor will have arisen, when capitalism will be a thing of the past, and the new industrial republic, the commonwealth of labor, shall be in operation.

She went on to found The Liberator newspaper writing extensively in the newspaper on topics such as worker strikes, industrial conflict, and classism. Parsons believed that revolutionary social change was possible through the empowerment of labor unions. She sought to overthrow capitalism and dismantle the federal government by advocating for the creation of a new society self-managed by workers. In her writings and speeches, Parsons addressed the oppression of women and the working class, and was among the first to address lynchings and racial oppression in the South, but largely arguing that capitalism and the economic conditions were to blame.
While she continued championing the anarchist cause, she came into ideological conflict with some of her contemporaries, including Emma Goldman  over her focus on class politics over gender and sexual struggles,  nevertheless she continued to work with various Labour groups, while raising two children that she had had with Albert. Finding time to organise demonstrations, talking to crowds of workers, for the unemployed, homeless and hungry delivering power passionate speeches against police brutality, judicial murder. Getting involved in the International Labour Defence, fighting for Sacco and Vancetti,https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2014/08/remembering-sacco-and-vanzetti-executed_23.html Tom Mooney, Scottbro Nine, 9 young African Americans who had become symbols of criminal injustice at the time, and for Women's emancipation,  for free birth control, advocating for organisation of sex workers,and the struggle and rights of the poor and disenfranchised. Preaching justice for the poor by way of revolution. Her radical beliefs prompted the police to arrest her many times but  believing in freedom of speech, she  would spend the rest of her life, fighting the forces that seeked to eliminate her voice.
Continuing to remain active into her eighties, she died in a suspicious house fire on  the 7th of March 1942 her lover, George Markstall, died the next day from wounds he received while trying to save her. She was believed to be 89 years old. It seems she was viewed as a threat to the political order in death, as well as in life,  it was revealed that her ashes barely being cold, the Chicago Police force seized  her entire personal library, in all it's 3,000 volumes,  on sex, socialism and anarchy and turned it over the F.B.I. Most of it would never be seen again, an attempt to whitewash and write her out of history as they tried to rob her of the work of her life.
 Fortunately some of her writings survived, as do her ideas,  fighting strongly for what she believed in, defying both racial and gender discrimination, at the forefronts of movements and battles for social justice, her entire life. She challenged the racist and sexist sentiment in a time when even Radical Americans, believed a woman's place was in the home.Parsons' radical vision for a just society was decades ahead of her time, making her the predecessor for so many women of color who sought to challenge the system.
The legacy of her fight for workers rights, freedom of speech, the African-American, is still a strong influential one. Her voice still resounding against all kinds  of oppression and the forces of capitalism long after her death. She is buried  near her husband in Waldheim Cemetery (now Forest Home Cemetery), Forest Park, Illinois.
 For more information on Lucy, The Lucy Parsons Project has a wealth of links including links to Lucy's own writings.