Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
– January –
Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Compiled by Ulli Diemer
Etienne Cabet: Voyage en Icarie [excerpt]
January 1, 1804 Haiti declares itself a free republic. Haiti becomes the first independent nation in Latin America, the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was gained through a successful slave rebellion.
January 1, 1818 Publication of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.
January 1, 1831 William Lloyd Garrison publishes the first issue of The Liberator, calling for the immediate abolition of slavery. There are 400 copies of the first issue, printed in the middle of the night using borrowed type.
January 1, 1851 Henry Bibb founds The Voice of the Fugitive, an abolitionist newspaper which is the first black-owned newspaper in Canada.
January 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation takes effect, slaves in the Confederate States declared free.
January 1, 1959 Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro overthrow the Batista dictatorship.
Related Topics: Cuba
January 1, 1983 44 women break into a missile base at Greenham Common.
January 1, 1994 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect and in Mexico, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation launches a rebellion, occupying the town of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Related Topics: Zapatistas
January 2 - 27, 1858 American forces invade Uruguay in order to protect American-owned property during a revolt.
January 2, 1873 Birth of Antonie Pannekoek (1873-1960), Dutch Marxist and council communist.
Pannekoek: There are Reforms and There are Reforms Or Two Sorts of Reforms
January 2 - February 11, 1904 U.S. forces intervene in the Dominican Republic to ‘protect American interests.’
January 2, 1905 The Conference of Industrial Unionists in Chicago forms the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
January 2, 1920 U.S. Attorney General Alexander Palmer orders the arrest and detention without trial of 6,000 people, including suspected Bolsheviks, communists, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists and others considered radicals, including many members of the IWW.
Related Topics: Political Repression
January 2, 1996 An estimated 100,000 Bangladeshi women travel to attend a rally in Dacca, to protest Islamist clerics’ attacks on women’s education and employment.
January 3, 1948 The Kinsey Report: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and others, is published. The report, and its 1953 successor, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, both based on interviews with many American men and women, are controversial, because they challenge conventional beliefs about sexuality and because they discuss subjects that were previously taboo. Kinsey concluded that sexual orientations are diverse, that sexuality is prone to change over time, and that sexual behavior can be understood both as physical contact as well as purely psychological phenomena (desire, sexual attraction, fantasy).
In Defense of Sex and Science (Review of Kinsey film)
Related Topics: Peasant Uprisings
January 4, 1901 Birth of C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Trinidadian Marxist, philosopher, historian, author, and cricket journalist.
James: The Black Jacobins
January 4, 1989 U.S. naval forces conducting a deliberately provocative mission off Libya shoot down two Libyan planes about 70 miles north of the Libyan coast. The U.S. later claims the Libyan planes had demonstrated ‘hostile intentions’.
January 5, 1534 Radical Anabaptists attempt to establish a communal religious government in the German city of Münster. They establish the practice of adult baptism, signifying their belief that only adults capable of consciously accepting religious faith should be initiated into a church. They reject the prevailing religious practice of automatically baptizing infants who are incapable of understanding the religion that is being imposed on them. They also take steps to introduce community of goods, that is, holding property in common rather than as private property. They hold the city for 18 months, but ultimately Münster is conquered, and the Anabaptist leaders are tortured and killed. Subsequently their bodies are displayed in cages hung from the steeple of St. Lambert’s Church: the cages remain there to this day (2013), though the bones inside have been removed.
January 5, 1891 Start of the 1891 Shearers’ Strike, one of Australia’s oldest and most important industrial disputes.
January 5, 1919 Outbreak of the Spartacist uprising in Germany, a general strike, and armed battles, initiated by radical workers. The uprising begins spontaneously, after the newly formed Social Democratic government dismisses Berlin’s chief of police, a socialist who has refused to use force against striking workers. Workers take to the streets in protest. Some leaders of the newly formed Communist Party (formerly known as the Spartakusbund), including Karl Liebknecht, urge turning the protests into an armed uprising to overthrow the government. Others, notably Rosa Luxemburg, warn that an uprising is premature and likely to lead to disaster. The Social Democratic government, headed by Friedrich Ebert, brings in heavily armed right-wing Freikorps militias to attack the workers. The uprising is put down within a week. Luxemburg and Liebknecht are both captured and murdered by the Freikorps. The suppression of the revolt is generally considered to mark the defeat of the German revolution.
History Archive of the German Revolution 1918 - 1923
January 5, 1968 Alexander Dubcek becomes the leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party; inaugurating the liberalization known as the Prague Spring, which ends with a Soviet invasion in August 1968.
Related Topics: Czechoslovakia
January 5, 1978 Police in Toronto lay charges against Pink Triangle Press, publishers of the gay liberation newspaper The Body Politic, and three of its officers for possession of obscene material for distribution (i.e. the newspaper) and use of the mails for purpose of transmitting anything that is indecent, immoral or scurrilous (i.e. the newspaper).
Body Politic periodical profile 1978
Related Topics: Gay & Lesbian History
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
January 7, 1979 The Vietnamese army ousts the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Western governments, including the United States and Britain, as well as China, continue to support the Khmer Rouge, sending them arms, and allowing them to continue to hold Cambodia’s seat in the United Nations until 1993.
Related Topics: Cambodia
January 7, 1994 Tens of thousands of urban workers in Mexico protest the government’s military siege against the Zapatistas.
January 8, 1885 Birth of A.J. Muste (1885-1967), American socialist and pacifist.
Related Topics: Pacifism
January 8, 1902 Birth of Carl Rogers (1902-1987), American psychologist, advocate for a humanistic person-centered approach to therapy and learning.
Carl Rogers: Client-Centered Therapy
January 8, 1912 Founding of the South African Native National Congress (renamed the African National Congress in 1923) in Bloemfontein to fight for the rights of the black South African population.
Related Topics: South Africa
January 9, 1831 Twenty-three workers in England are sentenced to death for destroying a paper-making machine that is being used to deprive them of work. In the next few days, more workers are convicted and sentenced by government commissions charged with crushing workers’ resistance to the machines that capitalists are using to increase their profits at their expense.
Related Topics: Luddism
January 9, 1908 Birth of Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), French philosopher, feminist, political activist, and writer.
January 9, 1959 Birth of Rigoberta Menchu, advocate for indigenous rights and human rights in Guatemala.
January 9, 1964 Protests break out in the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone. The trigger is a conflict over the right of the Panamanian flag to be flown alongside the American flag in the Panama Canal Zone. The underlying cause is Panamanian resentment over the US.-imposed treaty which gives the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone “in perpetuity.” The protests escalate into three days of fighting in which more than 20 Panamanians, and three U.S. soldiers, are killed. The events are a major reason for the subsequent U.S. decision to agree to transfer control of the Zone back to Panama.
January 10, 1776 Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, is published in Philadelphia. Writing in a time of ferment in the American colonies, when most people are undecided about whether to seek independence from Britain and fearful of revolutionary means, Paine makes an unequivocal case for independence, and argues that revolution is justified when people are oppressed by an unjust government. Because its contents are treasonous, the first edition is published anonymously. Common Sense is enormously popular: 120,000 copies are sold in the first three months; 500,000 in the first year. It goes through 25 editions in the first year alone, and, in proportion to population at the time, it has the largest sales and circulation of any book in American history. Passages from the pamphlet are read aloud at public meetings, bringing its message of revolution even to people who are illiterate. Historians consider it crucial in turning the tide in the colonies toward revolution; one says “It would be difficult to name any human composition which has had an effect at once so instant, so extended and so lasting.” Paine makes no money on Common Sense: he donates all the royalties to the revolutionary army.
Thomas Paine: Common Sense
January 10, 1864 The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground line, opens in London. It uses gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.
January 10, 1908 In South Africa, Mohandas Gandhi is jailed for the first time, for refusing to register as an “Asian”.
January 10, 1966 Vernon Dahmer, a businessman and farmer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, offers to pay the poll tax for those who can’t afford the fee that was then required before a citizen could vote. The night after a radio station broadcasts Dahmer’s offer, his home and store are firebombed. Dahmer dies later from severe burns. The man responsible for the arson attack, Ku Klux Klan Wizard Sam Bowers, is finally charged and convicted 32 years later.
Related Topics: De-segregation
January 11, 1887 Birth of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), American ecologist and author.
January 11, 1894 The Donghak Peasant Revolution in Korea. Rebels defeat a government army on January 11. The peasants demand land redistribution, tax reduction, democracy and human rights. Taxes are so high that many farmers are being forced to sell their ancestral homesteads to rich landowners at pitifully low prices.
January 11, 1912 The start of the Lawrence textile strike, a strike by immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts led by the Industrial Workers of the World. Sparked by one mill owner's decision to lower wages, the strike spreads rapidly through the town, growing to more than twenty thousand workers at nearly every mill within a week. The strike, which lasts more than two months, succeeds in achieving its goals and also in proving that immigrant, largely female, and ethnically divided workers could organize successfully.
January 11, 1923 French and Belgian armies occupy the Ruhr after Germany defaults on reparations payments. The German government urges ‘passive resistance’.
January 11, 1937 A key event in the Flint sitdown strike: Flint police, who are controlled by General Motors, attempt to enter the plant on January 11. Strikers inside the plant turn fire hoses on the police while pelting them with hinges and other auto parts, while members of the women’s auxiliary break windows in the plant to give strikers relief from police tear gas. The police make several charges, but withdraw after six hours. The strikers dub this “The Battle of Bulls Run,” a mocking reference to the police (“bulls”).
January 11, 1943 Anarchist Carlo Tresca, an outspoken critic of the Mafia and fascists in the Italian-American community, is assassinated in New York.
January 11, 1998 Twenty-five thousand people occupy the site of one of 30 dams to be built on the Narmada River in India. They are protesting against a World Bank-funded project to build 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams to harness the waters of the Narmada and its tributaries.
Related Topics: Dams
January 11, 2002 The first group of prisoners seized during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan are brought to the American incarceration and torture facility in Guantanamo Bay, a military base occupying land seized from Cuba.
January 12, 1876 Birth of Jack London (1876-1916), journalist, novelist and socialist.
Jack London: The Iron Heel
January 12, 1904 The indigenous Herero people begin a revolt against German colonial rule in Southwest Afrika (now Namibia). Germany’s response is a war of extermination: the first genocide of the twentieth century.
January 12, 1987 Twenty West German judges are arrested for blockading the U.S. Air Force base at Mutlangen, where nuclear-armed cruise missiles are deployed. Judge Ulf Panzer states: “Fifty years ago, during the time of Nazi fascism, we judges and prosecutors allegedly ‘did not know anything.’ By closing our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, we became a docile instrument of suppression, and many judges committed cruel crimes under the cloak of the law. We have been guilty of complicity. Today we are on the way to becoming guilty again, to being abused again. By our passivity, but also by applying laws, we legitimize terror: nuclear terror. Today we do know...”
January 12, 1994 A massive worker-student demonstration in Mexico City demands an end to the government’s offensive against indigenous peoples.
January 12, 2002 The “Refusenik” movement begins when 53 Israeli soldiers sign an ad refusing to serve in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Their letter concludes: * We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people. * We hereby declare that we shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves Israel’s defense. * The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve this purpose – and we shall take no part in them.
Personal Testimony of an Israeli Refusenik
January 13, 1874 The Tompkins Square Riot. Police in New York attack a demonstration of unemployed workers in Tompkins Square Park. They begin beating people with clubs, while mounted police ride down people who flee into the surrounding streets. Labour leader Samuel Gompers, describes what he saw: “mounted police charged the crowd on Eighth Street, riding them down and attacking men, women, and children without discrimination. It was an orgy of brutality.” In the aftermath, police increase their harassment of political organizations, intimidating landlords into evicting radical groups and cancelling meetings on their premises.
January 13, 1898 J’accuse!, an open letter by the prominent French novelist Émile Zola about the Dreyfus Affair, appears in the newspaper L’Aurore. In the letter, Zola accuses the French government of anti-Semitism for its persecution and jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French army officer sentenced to imprisonment for allegedly engaging in espionage. In his letters, Zola points out the lack of serious evidence against Dreyfus, and legal irregularities in the case. After his letter appears, Zola is convicted of libel, sentenced to prison, and removed from the Légion d’honneur. He flees to England to avoid imprisonment. Dreyfus is eventually exonerated, 12 years after he was charged and imprisoned.
Related Topics: Anti-Semitism
January 13, 1958 Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling presents the “Scientists’ Test Ban Petition” to the United Nations, signed by over 11,000 scientists (including 36 Nobel laureates) from 49 countries. It calls for an end to nuclear weapons testing. Subsequently, Pauling is forced to resign as Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech (California Institute of Technology) after having served in that role for 22 years.
January 14, 1601 The Roman Catholic Church burns sacred Hebrew books in Rome.
January 14, 1875 Birth of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), physician, theologian, musician, opponent of nuclear weapons, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Quote: “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”
January 14, 1918 Mass strikes in Austria-Hungary.
January 14, 1919 Rosa Luxemburg writes her last article, “Order Prevails in Berlin,” hours before she is murdered. She concludes with the words: “You foolish lackeys! Your ‘order’ is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will ‘rise up again, clashing its weapons,’ and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!”
January 14, 1921 Birth of Murray Bookchin (1921-2006), American anarchist, author, and founder of the social ecology movement.
January 14, 1963 Reesor Siding: A lumber workers’ strike begins in Northern Ontario when workers walk off the job. Among the workers’ grievances are a wage freeze and a plan by the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company to make them work seven days a week to meet production quotas. Local farmer-landowners who make money selling wood to the company are extremely hostile to the strike, and on February 10 they launch an armed attack on the unarmed strikers, killing three and wounding eight others. Twenty landowners are charged in the attack; eventually three of them are found guilty of firearms violations and fined $150 each. The police also charge 237 strikers for ‘illegal assembly’; 138 of them are found guilty.
Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian
January 14, 1967 The day of the “Human Be-In,” a ‘happening’ in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park; a prelude to San Francisco’s “Summer of Love”.
January 14, 1998 Death of Victor Papanek (1927-1998), designer and author.
January 15, 1809 Birth of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French philosopher and anarchist.
January 15, 1925 American military forces intervene in Shanghai, China. They remain until August 29, 1925.
Related Topics: Intervention
January 15, 1929 Birth of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American civil rights leader.
January 16, 1855 Birth of Eleanor Marx (1855-1898), socialist activist and translator.
January 16, 1893 U.S. forces land in Hawaii, ostensibly to protect American lives and property, but actually to support a provisional government proclaimed by Sanford B. Dole with the support of American plantation owners.
January 16, 1969 Jan Palach, a university student, sets himself on fire in Wenceslas Square in Prague in a protest against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Russian and other Warsaw Pact forces. He dies three days later. His action sparks widespread protests against the occupation. In the three months that follow, 26 other people attempt suicide as an act of protest; seven die.
January 16, 1979 The Shah of Iran is overthrown. Ayatollah Khomeni takes power.
January 17, 1893 Queen Lili’uokalani of the independent kingdom of Hawai’i is arrested at gunpoint by U.S. Marines and overthrown. The Queen had been working on a new constitution that would restore voting rights to native Hawaiians. American businessmen, particularly sugar plantation owners, want Hawai’i annexed to the United States. A new provisional government with Sanford B. Dole as president takes over. Five years later, U.S. President William McKinley signs a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress authorizing the annexation of Hawai’i. Hawaiians are not asked whether they want to be annexed.
January 17, 1906 A political mass strike takes place in Hamburg as workers demand the extension of the right to vote.
January 17, 1961 Murder of Patrice Lumumba, Congolese independence leader, first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after it gained its independence from Belgium. Considered too radical by the Western powers and their local allies, Lumumba is seized, a few weeks after becoming prime minister, in a coup orchestrated by the American and Belgian governments. He is tortured and then executed by firing squad.
January 17, 1966 An American nuclear-armed B-52 bomber collides with the fuelling boom of an Air Force jet tanker while refuelling over the coast of Spain. Two 70-kiloton hydrogen bombs rupture when they hit the ground, scattering radioactive material including plutonium dust; a third lands intact near the village of Palomares; the fourth is found, also intact, by a submarine after weeks of searching. The U.S. tries first to cover it up, then downplays the seriousness of the incident.
January 17, 1991 The United States and its allies start bombing Iraq.
January 18, 1943 Beginning of the first phase of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. As Nazi forces prepare to ship more Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to extermination camps, Jewish resistance forces, organized in the Jewish Military Union and the Jewish Combat Organization launch an insurgency. Numbering between 400 and 1000 fighters, they build fighting posts, engage German forces in combat, and execute collaborators. The second phase of uprising begins on April 19, when German forces enter the Ghetto, and continues until early May, when the resistance is finally crushed.
January 18, 1962 The U.S. military begins widespread spraying of herbicides in Vietnam in an effort to eliminate trees that provide cover for Vietnamese guerrillas. The U.S. ultimately drops more than 20 million gallons of defoliants, in violation of international treaties against using chemical weapons. Many of the herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, manufactured by Dow Chemical, Monsanto and others, cause birth defects and cancer in humans. Vietnam continues to suffer high rates of birth defects and illnesses caused by the American chemical warfare up to the present day.
Resisting Agent Orange
January 18, 1975 Founding conference of the Coalition for Gays Rights in Ontario, at the Don Vale Community Centre in Toronto.
Related Topics: Gay & Lesbian History
January 19, 1990 Death of Myles Horton (1905-1990), radical educator and socialist, founder of the Highlander Folk School, which played an important role in teaching organizers and activists in the American Civil Rights Movement.
January 20, 1899 The first of four shiploads of Doukhobors (the name means "spirit wrestlers) arrive in Canada, After disembarking, they travel west by train, to what is now Saskatchewan.. Altogether 7,500 Doukhobors, fleeing persecution in Russia, arrive in Canada in 1899, followed by a series of smaller groups until 1912. The Doukhobors are a minority Christian sect, pacifists who believe that property should be communally owned.
January 20, 1925 Birth of Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan priest, liberation theologian, and Sandinista.
January 20, 1936 Start of Syrian general strike against French colonial occupation. The French fire on protesters, killing dozens, but after 50 days of strike they are forced to give in and negotiate Syrian independence.
Related Topics: Syria
January 20, 1942 The Wanssee Conference: senior Nazis decide on a program for the ‘final solution’ of the ‘Jewish question’: mass murder.
January 20, 1973 Assassination of Amilcar Cabral (1924-1973), African socialist and intellectual, leader of the independence movements in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands.
Further Reading: The Weapon of Theory, by Amilcar Cabral
Related Topics: National Liberation Movements
January 20, 2009 Large demonstrations in Iceland against the financial crisis caused by local and international banks. Protesters banging pots and pans outside the Parliament demand the resignation of the government responsible for mishandling the crisis. The continuing protests lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister and new elections which usher in a new government.
January 21, 1775 Emelyan Pugachev, the leader of a peasant and Cossack rebellion against the imperial Russian government in 1774-1775, is executed. The rebellion arose out of the severe oppression of the peasants by the nobility and the imperial government; Pugachev’s main goal was the end of serfdom. More than fifty peasant revolts occurred in the Russian empire between 1762 and 1775; Pugachev’s rebellion was the largest. (January 10 according to the old calendar.)
January 21, 1793 The deposed French king, Louis XVI, is guillotined after being convicted of treason.
Related Topics: French Revolution
January 21, 1924 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin dies. He had been ill and largely unable to participate in political activity in the last year-and-a-half of his life. His death sets off a power struggle in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which ends with Josef Stalin achieving control of the party and the state.
Further Reading: Victor Serge: From Lenin to Stalin
January 21, 1919 The Dáil Éireann, the revolutionary Irish parliament, proclaims Irish independence and an end to British rule. Britain does not recognize the proclamation, and fighting breaks out the same day. In the ensuring Irish War of Independence, Irish guerrillas fight against British forces until a truce is declared in 1921. Negotiations then lead to the recognition of the Irish Free State, although the six northern counties (Ulster) remain under British rule as Northern Ireland.
January 22, 1879 The Battle of Isandlwana. Zulu forces defeat a British army invading the Zulu kingdom.
January 22, 1891 Birth of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Italian Marxist, revolutionary and political theorist, known especially for developing the concept of cultural hegemony as a crucial means of maintaining capitalist rule. Gramsci stressed the need for popular education of working people to counteract the hegemony of the ruling class. Imprisoned by Italy’s fascist government from 1926 almost to the end of his life, he characterized his political attitude with a quote from Romain Rolland: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”
January 22, 1905 ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Russia: a massacre of workers by the Czar’s soldiers leads to the outbreak of revolution. A peaceful demonstration of St. Petersburg workers, led by a priest, assembles at the Winter Palace, hoping to present a petition to Czar Nicholas II. They are singing hymns, dressed in their best clothes, and carrying portraits of the Czar to show their faith that the ‘Little Father’ will help them. Their trust in the Czar is repaid with bullets: without warning, troops fire into the terrified crowd; more than a thousand are killed. The next day, 125,000 workers go on strike protesting the massacre: the strikes spread like wildfire, and suddenly revolution is on the agenda. For the next two months, Russia is engulfed in a revolutionary upheaval that threatens to overthrow the regime, but ultimately falls short.(January 9 on the old Russian calendar)
Neil Faulkner: A Marxist History of the World: The 1905 Revolution
January 22, 1933 German President Hindenburg agrees to appoint Adolf Hitler as Chancellor. Hitler’s Nazi Party had won 33% of the vote in the recent Parliamentary elections.
Related Topics: Nazi History
January 22, 1953 Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” opens on Broadway. The play is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials which took place in Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote it as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the U.S. government engaged in a witch hunt of suspected Communists and their alleged sympathizers and ‘fellow-travellers’. Miller himself was convicted of ‘Contempt of Congress’ three years later, when he refused to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
January 23 - 30, 1937 A Stalinist show trial in Moscow convicts 17 Old Bolsheviks of being members of a fictitious ‘Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Centre’. Thirteen of them are executed.
January 24, 1878 Vera Zasulich shoots Col. Theodore Trepov, the brutal governor of St. Petersburg. Trepov is seriously injured but survives. Zasulich is put on trial, but unexpectedly a sympathetic jury acquits her. She quickly flees to Switzerland before the government can re-arrest her and arrange a different outcome.
January 24, 1986 Start of the Wapping dispute: British newspaper publishers set out to break the printers’ and journalists’ unions.
Related Topics: Union-busting
January 25, 1759 Birth of Robert Burns (1759-96), Scottish poet. Burns is popular as a ‘people's poet’ for writing about ordinary working people, and because of his sympathy for the American and French revolutions and the egalitarian principles they represent.
January 25, 1787 Shays’ Rebellion: Rebels in western Massachusetts, most of them poor farmers protesting crushing levels of debt and taxes, engage in an armed clash with government militia. The rebellion is put down, and alarmed members of the elite move to take steps to strengthen the power of government to protect property owners from “the abuses of liberty.”
Related Topics: Rebellions
January 25, 1857 Gustave Flaubert goes on trial for public immorality for his novel, Madame Bovary. The principal character in the novel is a married woman who has sexual relations outside of marriage. Flaubert is acquitted on February 7. The publicity resulting from the prosecution ensures that Madame Bovary will become a runaway bestseller.
January 25, 1921
Publication of “The Workers Opposition”, a pamphlet by Alexandra Kollontai outlining the program of the ‘Workers Opposition’ group in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The ‘Workers’ Opposition’ argues that workers rather than managers should control production, and expresses concern about the growing bureaucratization of the party and the Soviet state.
January 25 30, 2001 The first World Social Forum brings together 12,000 people in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It defines itself as “an opened space – plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan – that stimulates the decentralized debate, reflection, proposals building, experiences exchange and alliances among movements and organizations engaged in concrete actions towards a more solidarity, democratic and fair world....a permanent space and process to build alternatives to neoliberalism.”
Related Topics: World Social Forum
January 25, 2002 A group of Israeli reservists issues a declaration (the Combatants’ Letter) saying they will not serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) if assigned to the occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip.
January 25, 2011 Revolt in Egypt: A popular uprising begins in Egypt, with tens of thousands of protesters gathering in cities across the country, including in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to protest against the repressive regime of Hosni Mubarak. The continuing protests force Mubarak to resign on February 11.
Related Topics: Egyptian Revolt 2011
January 26, 1911 U.S. forces intervene in Honduras to ‘protect American interests.’
January 26, 1935 Birth of Lee Baxandall (1935-2008), American Marxist, naturist, and author.
January 26, 1990 Death of Hal Draper (1914-1990), American Marxist and author. In The Two Souls of Socialism, Draper writes: “Marxism came into being, in self-conscious struggle against the advocates of the Educational Dictatorship, the Savior-Dictators, the revolutionary elitists, the communist authoritarians, as well as the philanthropic do-gooders and bourgeois liberals. This was Marx’s Marxism, not the caricatured monstrosity which is painted up with that label by both the Establishment’s professoriat, who shudder at Marx’s uncompromising spirit of revolutionary opposition to the capitalist status quo, and also by the Stalinists and neo-Stalinists, who must conceal the fact that Marx cut his eyeteeth by making war on their type. ‘It was Marx who finally fettered the two ideas of Socialism and Democracy together’ because he developed a theory which made the synthesis possible for the first time. The heart of the theory is this proposition: that there is a social majority which has the interest and motivation to change the system, and that the aim of socialism can be the education and mobilization of this mass-majority. This is the exploited class, the working class, from which comes the eventual motive-force of revolution. Hence a socialism-from-below is possible, on the basis of a theory which sees the revolutionary potentialities in the broad masses, even if they seem backward at a given time and place. Capital, after all, is nothing but the demonstration of the economic basis of this proposition. It is only some such theory of working-class socialism which makes possible the fusion of revolutionary socialism and revolutionary democracy.”
Introduction to Hal Draper
Related Topics: Abolition of the State – Anarchism – Class Analysis – Democracy – First International – Left History– Libertarian Socialism – Marxism – Marxist Theory of the State – Marxist Theory of Revolution – Revolutionary Politics – Socialism
January 26, 2011 In an attempt to stop the use of cell phones and social media such as Facebook and Twitter to organize protests, the Egyptian government shuts down Internet and mobile services. The plan backfires: the result is that people head out into the streets to see what is going on, and the size of the protests multiplies.
Related Topics: Egyptian Revolt 2011
January 27, 1847 Several hundred citizens of Marshall, Michigan help a group of former slaves escape to Canada rather than let them be returned to their "owner" by bounty hunters. Adam Crosswhite and his family, escaped Kentucky slaves, were tracked to the abolitionist town of Marshall by bounty hunters. Both black and white residents detain the bounty hunters and threaten them with tar and feathers, while helping the ex-slaves escape.
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
January 27, 1945 The Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Monowitz are liberated by the Soviet Red Army.
January 27, 1969 In Detroit, black auto workers, known as the Eldon Avenue Axle Plant Revolutionary Union Movement, lead a wildcat strike against racist practices and bad working conditions at the Chrysler plant.
January 28 – May 25, 1521 The Diet of Worms, an imperial assembly in the Holy Roman Empire, is held in the German city of Worms. The dissident priest Martin Luther, who had posted his 95 Theses criticizing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church four years earlier, is called to the Diet to defend his religious views. The Diet ends with the Edict of Worms, which declares Luther to be an obstinate heretic, and calls for his works to be banned. After the Diet, Luther is taken under the protection of a dissident noble and begins his translation of the Bible into German, an important event in the developing Protestant Reformation.
Neil Faulkner: The Reformation
January 28 – February 9, 1573 A large-scale peasant revolt breaks out in territory which is part of present-day Croatia and Slovenia, sparked by the cruelty and oppression peasants are suffering at the hands of the ‘nobility.’ The revolt is crushed after twelve days, thousands of peasants are killed, and many are tortured and executed.
Related Topics: Peasant Uprisings
January 28, 1853 Birth of Jose Marti (1853-1995), Cuban poet, journalist, and revolutionary.
Related Topics: Cuba
January 28, 1905 Polish workers go out on a general strike. The strikes last for four weeks, and are a prelude to an even larger wave of strikes that will rock Poland over the next year.
January 28, 1918 Revolution breaks out in Finland. A workers’ government takes power, but is immediately plunged into a civil war against the Whites (the Right). In May, the civil war ends in victory for the Whites.
Related Topics: Finland
January 28, 1918 Strikes break out in over 50 German cities; with more than one million workers going out in Berlin.
January 29, 1860 Birth of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian writer.
January 29, 1914 U.S. forces invade Haiti to ‘protect American interests.’
January 29, 1927 Birth of Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American author and environmentalist.
January 29, 1929 Publication of All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues), Erich Maria Remarque’s novel about the First World War. It sells 2.5 million copies in 25 languages in its first eighteen months in print. When the Nazis come to power all of Remarque’s books are banned and burned.
January 29, 1965 A left-wing radical group bombs three American warplanes being retrofitted at an Edmonton airport.
January 29, 1969 Protesting students occupy the computer centre at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. On February 11, after 14 days of occupation, students set fire to the building; 97 are arrested by riot police.
January 29, 1998 Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who works as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, is killed when the clinic is bombed by anti-abortion terrorists.
January 30, 1649 King Charles I of England is beheaded after being convicted of treason. The monarchy is then abolished, but restored in 1660.
January 30, 1838 Seminole leader Osceola dies in prison after being captured by American military forces who, unable to defeat the Seminoles resisting theft of their land, offer peace talks, and then seize Osceola when he accepts the offer of a truce and comes to negotiate.
January 30, 1909 Birth of Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), American community organizer.
January 30, 1912 Outbreak of a general strike in Brisbane, Australia, fought over the right of workers to form a union.
January 30, 1933 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is sworn in as German Chancellor. Hitler’s Nazi Party had won 33% of the vote in the recent Parliamentary elections.
Related Topics: Nazi History
January 30, 1937 Birth of Martin Almada, Paraguayan human rights activist and political prisoner.
January 30, 1948 Mohandas Gandhi is assassinated.
Related Topics: Gandhi
January 30, 1968 Beginning of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. The National Liberation Front in South Vietnam and North Vietnamese troops launch a series of coordinated attacks on U.S. occupation forces and their South Vietnamese collaborators. They attack Saigon, 36 provincial capitals, and more than 100 cities and towns, as well as American military bases. They suffer heavy losses, but the attacks become a turning point in the war, as wide sections of the American public come to realize that the American invasion of Vietnam is not the success that U.S. government propaganda has said it is.
Related Topics: Vietnam War
January 30, 1972 In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, unarmed civil rights demonstrators are shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event that becomes known as “Bloody Sunday.” The protesters, all Catholics, are marching to protest the British policy of internment without trial of suspected Irish nationalists. British authorities issue an order banning the march, and send troops to confront the demonstrators when it goes ahead anyway. The soldiers fire indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters, killing 14 and wounding 17.
January 30, 2010 Thousands of protesters from across Japan march in central Tokyo to protest the U.S. military presence on Okinawa. Residents of Okinawa have been complaining for years about noise, pollution and crime around the American bases.
January 31, 1606 Guy Fawkes is hanged, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up Parliament.
January 31, 1970 Bertrand Russell writes his last article, on Palestine, two days before his death at the age of 98.
Seeds of Fire is compiled for Connexions by Ulli Diemer. References used include the Connexions Library generally, and Connexipedia specifically, Wikipedia, Sources, the Peace History feature on Peacebuttons.info, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.