Not only has labor matured very much in the fifty years that have passed since 1886, but so also has the capitalist system that gives it birth. In 1886 American capitalism was young, strong and growing. It had before it a long period of unparalleled expansion, during which the workers became afflicted with many illusions about the possibilities of prosperity under capitalism. Now, however, American capitalism, like the world capitalist system of which it is a part, has exhausted its constructive role of building the industries. It is now obsolete and gradually sinking into decay. Industrial crises follow each other with increasing severity and the masses are becoming more and more pauperized. The growth of fascism and war is the attempt of this outworn capitalist system to keep in existence although history has imperatively summoned it to leave the stage and to make way for the next order, socialism.
The modern working class, although it has not learned all the needed lessons of the situation in which it finds itself, is nevertheless rapidly becoming free from capitalist illusions and is reorganizing itself accordingly, industrially and politically. Of this renaissance, the C.I.O. is the greatest mass expression.
The Haymarket martyrs were bold pioneer fighters for socialism and they paid with their lives for their devotion and clear-sightedness. Although they sleep all these years in Waldheim Cemetery, their work was not in vain and they are not forgotten. In keeping green the memories of these proletarian heroes, the International Labor Defense, the Communist Party and other progressive and revolutionary organizations are preserving one of the most glorious of all American revolutionary traditions. The lives of Parsons, Fischer, Engel, Spies and Lingg, and Sacco and Vanzetti, must be made more than ever the inspiration of the proletarian youth. We must indeed realize in life the noble last words of Spies, spoken as he stood on the gallows with the hangman’s noose around his neck:
"There will come a time when our silence
will be more powerful than
the voices you are strangling today."
By Vito Marcantonio President, International Labor Defense
"These are my ideas. They constitute a part of myself. I cannot divest myself of them, nor would I if I could. And if you think that one can crush out these ideas that are gaining ground more and more every day; if you think you can crush them out by sending us to the gallows; if you would once more have people suffer the penalty of death because they have dared to tell the truth—and I defy you to show that we have told a lie—if death is the penalty for proclaiming the truth, then I will proudly and defiantly pay the costly price."—(August Spies, just before he was sentenced to death on October 9, 1886.)