There’s a good intro to the history of Haymarket on Truthout:
One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, a bomb exploded in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. The explosion, the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of labor strife, came as Chicago police officers broke up a peaceful protest of union men and anarchists rallying for an eight-hour day and protesting the killing of striking workers the day before by police. In the bombing’s aftermath, eight anarchists were arrested for the bombing that left eight police officers dead, even though six of the accused were not present when the bomb exploded. The first Red Scare had descended on America. By mid-November 1887, four Chicago anarchists – including its two foremost leaders, Albert Parsons and August Spies – swung from the gallows pole, while another would commit suicide. [more at link]
Here is my comment:
Yes good history, but poor analysis. The revolutionaries of Chicago were not advocates of a better, so-called “worker-owned” capitalism. What they advocated, along with the Lowell Mill Girls, was outright control of their workplaces, which generally was termed “Socialism.” A term that originally did not mean state-owned enterprises. ESOPS are for the most part simply scams to gain tax benefits and in only a tiny minority does real control rest with the worker/shareholders.
There are true worker-cooperatives where each worker has one share and one vote. Several hundred of these co-ops are organized as the US Federation of Worker Coops (http://www.usworker.coop) .
But the larger issue is what sort of economy do we want? One where we are beholden to shareholders, or one where the community runs the economy to benefit everyone? Few may want to face the obvious, but unless you live in a cave you must recognize the simple fact that the system is not working for us. And distributing shares of a broken system is no solution. Neither are worker cooperatives, that at best offer a glimpse into a democratic economic system, but which are too few to be of decisive significance given the multiple crises we face.
The significance of Haymarket I believe lies in the vision of a better, totally transformed society that the workers in Chicago strove to attain. They lost. Repression and the unbelievable expansion of capitalism as a world system defeated them.
We need to do better.