Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

– September –

Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

Compiled by Ulli Diemer



September 1843
Karl Marx writes a letter to Arnold Ruge sketching out his vision of the socialist publishing project they have been discussing. Marx writes “Constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair; it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be. Therefore I am not in favour of raising any dogmatic banner.”

Related Topics: Critical TheoryKarl MarxMarxismRadical TheoryRevolutionary Politics

September 1873
The U.S. economy enters a crisis leading to a five-year depression.

September 1896
Start of the Leadville Miners’ Strike, in the United States, precipitated by the mine owners’ determination to crush the mineworkers’ unions, a goal in which they are ultimately successful.

Related Topics: Killings by PoliceLabour HistoryLock-outsMineworkers (Miners)Mining SafetyPolice ViolenceStrikebreakingStrikes/U.S.U.S. HistoryWorkers’ HistoryWorkplace Death and Injury

September 1898
Publication of Rosa Luxemburg’s articles refuting Eduard Bernstein’s contention that socialism could be achieved by a slow process of gradual reforms. Luxemburg’s response was initially published as a series of articles in the Leipziger Volkszeitung, and then issued as a pamphlet under the title Social Reform or Revolution.

Luxemburg writes: “It is contrary to history to represent work for reforms as a long-drawn out revolution and revolution as a condensed series of reforms. A social transformation and a legislative reform do not differ according to their duration but according to their content... people who pronounce themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modifications of the old society. If we follow the political conceptions of revisionism, we arrive at the same conclusion that is reached when we follow the economic theories of revisionism. Our program becomes not the realisation of socialism, but the reform of capitalism.”

Further Reading:
Social Reform or Revolution, by Rosa Luxemburg
The Mass Strike, the Political Party, and the Trade Unions, by Rosa Luxemburg
Theory and Practice, by Rosa Luxemburg
A Revolutionary Woman in Mind and Spirit: The Passions of Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Political Writings
The Rosa Luxemburg Reader

Related Topics: MarxismRadical TheoryReformismRevolutionary PoliticsRosa LuxemburgSocialismStrategies for Social ChangeTransition to Socialism

September 1906
U.S. forces intervene in Cuba to ‘protect American interests’ and establish a compliant government. They leave – for the time being – on January 23, 1909.

Related Topics: CubaIntervention

September 1917
A rebellious Russian division of the Russian Expeditionary Force in France, refusing to participate any longer in the ongoing slaughter, is encircled by French troops (i.e. their allies) and bombarded with cannon fire, killing 19. The leaders of the rebellion are shipped off to North Africa in penal servitude while the rest of the Russian troops (about 10,000 men) are demobilized and transferred into forced-labour battalions. This mutiny follows an earlier one in June 1917, during which a large number of French soldiers mutinied against their own commanders.

Related Topics: Mutinies

September 1931
Start of the Estevan Coal Miners’ Strike in Saskatchewan.

September 1938
Founding Congress of the Fourth (Trotskyist) International, near Paris.
The Fourth International brought together the followers of Leon Trotsky, one of the key leaders of the Russian Revolution, who had been driven from power and expelled by Stalin. Trotsky and his followers saw themselves as representatives of the revolutionary principles of Bolshevik-Leninism that had been betrayed by Stalin.

Further Reading:
The Transitional Program: The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International
Encyclopedia of Trotskyism Online

Related Topics: Fourth InternationalTrotskyism

September 1

September 1, 1939
Nazi Germany invades Poland, triggering the bloodiest conflict in human history. Before World War II ends, some 50 to 75 million people will die, two-thirds of them civilians.

Related Topics: World War II

September 2

September 2, 1885
White coal miners, led by the Knights of Labor, violently attack their Chinese co-workers in Rock Springs, Wyoming, killing 28 and burning the homes of 75 Chinese families. The white miners want the Chinese barred from working in the mine. The mine owners and operators had brought in the Chinese ten years earlier in a successful attempt to keep labour costs down by dividing the workers and suppressing strikes.

September 2, 1918
Birth of Claire Culhane (1918-1996), Canadian socialist, anti-Vietnam War activist, prisoner rights advocate.

Further Reading:
One Woman Army: The Life of Claire Culhane
Barred from Prison, by Claire Culhane
Still Barred from Prison, by Claire Culhane
No Longer Barred from Prison, by Claire Culhane

Related Topics: Correctional InstitutionsIncarcerationPrison ReformPrisonsVietnam War

September 2, 1945
Ho Chi Minh declares Vietnam a republic and independent from France. Half a million people gather in Hanoi to hear him read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence. France refuses to recognize Vietnam's independence and sends troops to put down the independence movement. France hangs on another nine years until French forces are crushed by the Vietnamese at Dien Bien Phu.

September 2, 1962
About one thousand members of the ‘Sons of Freedom’ Doukhobors begin a trek out of their village of Krestova in British Columbia, Canada. They leave behind the ruins of two hundred homes which they have themselves burnt to the ground, as a way of showing their freedom from property. They are trekking to a jail, about 650 kilometres away, where some 200 men from the community are imprisoned for acts of bombing and arson. At the root of the situation is a conflict between Doukhobors who have compromised their traditional beliefs by buying land, and the Freedomites, who believe that land should not be owned as private property, and that it is wrong to compromise with state authority or wealth.

September 3

September 3, 1838
Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery. He goes on to become an abolitionist, journalist, and author.

September 3, 1934
Start of the 1934 textile workers’ strike in the United States, the largest strike in the history of the U.S. at that time, involving 400,000 textile workers and lasting 22 days.

Related Topics: Labour HistoryStrikes/U.S.U.S. HistoryWorkers’ History

September 3, 1991
Twenty-five workers die at the Hamlet Chicken Processing plant fire in North Carolina when locked doors prevent workers from escaping when a fire breaks out.

September 4

September 4, 1870
Emperor Napoleon III of France is deposed, two days after his defeat and capture in the Franco-Prussian War. In Lyon, citizens rise up and declare the creation of a provisional revolutionary government.

September 4, 1926
Birth of philosopher and social critic Ivan Illich (1926-2002).
In Deschooling Society (1971) Illich argues against institutionalizing education in schools, and for alternatives approaches that include life-long learning in a variety of social settings.
In Tools for Conviviality, he critiques the institutionalization of specialized knowledge, which he says means the centralization of knowledge and power in the hands of an elite. He argues that it is necessary to “give people tools that guarantee their right to work with independent efficiency.”

September 4, 1949
Paul Robeson defies a racist red-baiting mob and sings to 15,000 at a Labour Day gathering in Peekskill, New York.

September 4, 1970
Salvador Allende, a moderate socialist, is elected President of Chile. Having failed in its efforts to prevent Allende’s election, the American CIA immediately begins efforts to overthrow him. They succeed in organizing a bloody coup on September 11, 1973.

Further Reading:
Conversations with Allende

Related Topics: Chile

September 4, 1978
Simultaneous demonstrations in Moscow’s Red Square and in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., organized by the War Resisters League, call for nuclear disarmament.

September 5

September 5, 1839
The First Opium War: Britain declares war on China in order to compel the Qing Dynasty to allow opium imports, a lucrative source of profits for the British.

September 5, 1917
In 48 coordinated raids across the United States (the Palmer Raids, so-called because they were ordered by Attorney General Palmer), federal agents arrest hundreds of activists and radicals, and seize records and destroy equipment and books.

Related Topics: U.S. History

September 5 - 12, 1917
The third ‘Zimmerwald’ conference of anti-war socialists takes place in Stockholm.

Further Reading:
The Junius Pamphlet, by Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg: Her Fight Against the German Betrayers of International Socialism, by Klara Zetkin

Related Topics: Anti-ImperialismAnti-War MovementFirst World WarMarxism

September 5, 1957
Publication of On the Road, by Jack Kerouac.

September 5, 1977
German business leader Hanns Martin Schleyer is kidnapped in Cologne by the Red Army Faction and is later murdered.

September 5, 1981
“Women For Life On Earth” set up the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp outside Greenham Air Base in England.

September 6

September 6, 1492
Christopher Columbus and crew leave the Canary Islands aboard three ships on what will turn out to be a five-week voyage westward.

September 6 - 12, 1869
The First International holds its Congress in Basle, Switzerland.

Related Topics: First InternationalWorkers’ History

September 6, 1920
Anarchists set off a bomb on Wall Street in front of J.P. Morgan’s bank. The explosion kills 38 and seriously injures 143. Most of the dead and injured are young workers working at poorly paid jobs in the area; the presumed target, banker J.P. Morgan, is not in his office: he is several thousand miles away, in Scotland.

Further Reading:
Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb, by Mike Davis
You Can’t Blow Up a Social Relationship

Related Topics: AnarchismAnarchism/CritiquesBombersBombingsPolitical ViolencePropaganda of the DeedTerrorismViolence Against Civilians

September 6, 1941
All Jews over the age of six in German-occupied territories are ordered by the Nazi regime to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.

September 6, 1969
A group of left-leaning members of Canada’s New Democratic Party adopts a statement known as the Waffle Manifesto, which becomes the basis for the Waffle group within the NDP.

Related Topics: New Democratic Party (NDP)Waffle Movement

September 7

September 7, 1903
U.S. forces intervene in Syria to ‘protect American interests.’

Related Topics: InterventionSyria

September 7, 1992
South African troops kill at least 24 people and injure 150 more at an African National Congress (ANC) rally.

Related Topics: ApartheidSouth AfricaState-Sponsored Violence

September 8

September 8 - 12, 1919
U.S. forces intervene in Honduras to ‘protect American interests’ when an attempted revolt breaks out.

September 8, 1965
Start of the Delano Grape Strike, a strike, boycott, and secondary boycott led by the United Farm Workers (UFW) against growers of table grapes in California.

Related Topics: Labour HistoryStrikes/U.S.Workers’ History

September 9

September 9, 1739
Outbreak of the Stono Rebellion (also known as Cato’s Rebellion), a slave rebellion in the British colony of South Carolina. A group of slaves obtains arms and battles the South Carolina militia before eventually being defeated.

Related Topics: Slave Revolts

September 9, 1828
Birth of Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), novelist, social reformer, and pacifist. (August 28 old style calendar).

September 9, 1911
Birth of Paul Goodman (1911-1972), writer, social critic, anarchist, poet.
Goodman wrote about a broad range of topics – urban planning, Gestalt therapy, education, militarism, technology, sexuality, and literary criticism. He once commented that “I might seem to have a number of divergent interests – community planning, psychotherapy, education, politics – but they are all one concern: how to make it possible to grow up as a human being into a culture without losing nature. I simply refuse to acknowledge that a sensible and honorable community does not exist.”

Further Reading:
Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life, by Paul and Percival Goodman
Compulsory Miseducation, by Paul Goodman
Gestalt Therapy, by Frederick Perls, Ralph E. Hefferline, Paul Goodman
New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative, by Paul Goodman
People or Personnel, by Paul Goodman
The Politics of Being Queer, by Paul Goodman
Speaking and Language: Defence of Poetry, by Paul Goodman
Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals, by Paul Goodman

September 9, 1922
Birth of Manolis Glezos, Greek socialist. On May 30, 1941, Glezos and Apostolos Santas climbed on the Acropolis in Athens and tore down the swastika flag planted there by the Nazi occupation forces. Glezos was captured, imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death, but managed to escape. In the Greek civil war in 1948, he was again imprisoned and sentenced to death by the right-wing government of the time, but was saved by an international outcry. He was imprisoned again for his leftist views in 1958, and in 1961 was elected to parliament while in prison. He was imprisoned again under the Greek military dictatorship of the late 1960s. In 2012, 89-year-old Glezos was again arrested, by riot police in Athens, while protesting against the current government.

September 9, 1971
Outbreak of a prison riot in Attica, New York. Protesting against abusive and racist treatment, inmates rebel and take control of the prison, taking 33 staff hostage. After four days of negotiations, police and national guard troops suddenly storm the prison, resulting in the deaths of 29 inmates and nine hostages. In the aftermath, police and guards engage in sadistic reprisals and acts of revenge, including forcing inmates to strip naked and crawl through the mud, and vicious mass beatings.

Related Topics: IncarcerationPrisons

September 9, 1976
The death of Mao Zedong sets off a power struggle in China.

September 10

September 10, 1676
Death of English radical Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676). Winstanley was one of the founders of the “True Levellers”, whose egalitarian beliefs were based upon Christian communism. They were also known as the Diggers because they took over public lands and dug them over to plant crops.

Further Reading:
The True Levellers Standard Advanced, by Gerrard Winstanley
The Law of Freedom in a Platform, by Gerrard Winstanley
The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, by Christopher Hill

Related Topics: The CommonsDiggers

September 10, 1897
In the Latimer massacre in Pennsylvania, 19 striking coalminers are murdered by sheriff’s deputies, and many others are wounded. Some of the murdered men had originally been brought in as strikebreakers but had subsequently joined the striking workers. Most of those killed were shot in the back.

Related Topics: Killings by PoliceLabour HistoryMineworkers (Miners)Police ViolenceState ViolenceStrikebreakingStrikes/U.S.U.S. HistoryWorkers’ History

September 10, 1923
Birth of Uri Avnery, Israeli writer and peace activist.

Further Reading:
The Lion and the Gazelle
The Power of the Israel Lobby: Two knights and a dragon
Truth Against Truth

Related Topics: Israel

September 10 - 15, 1924
American forces intervene in Nicaragua to ‘protect American interests.’

September 10, 1941
Birth of Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), palaeontologist, evolutionary biologist, and essayist.

Further Reading:
Kropotkin Was No Crackpot
The Mismeasure of Man, by Stephen Jay Gould

Related Topics: BiologyEvolutionEvolutionary TheoryPalaeontologyScientists

September 11

September 11, 1903
Birth of Theodore Adorno (1903-1969), leftist philosopher, critical theorist, and musicologist, member of the Frankfurt School.

Further Reading:
The Frankfurt School and “Critical Theory”
Dialectic of Enlightenment

Related Topics: Critical TheoryFrankfurt School

September 11, 1973
Chilean President Salvador Allende is overthrown and killed in a bloody coup orchestrated by the U.S. government through the CIA, and carried out by General Augusto Pinochet. Thousands are murdered, tortured, and ‘disappeared’ in the ensuing reign of terror.

Further Reading:
Salvador Allende: Last Words to the Nation. September 11, 1973, 9:10 am
Remembering Pinochet’s Coup: A Taste of Justice for Chile
Eyewitness Chile: After 30 Years
Conversations with Allende: Socialism in Chile

Related Topics: ChileCIACoups

September 11, 2001
Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon kill almost 3,000 people, and provide the U.S. government with the opportunity to launch an indefinite ‘war on terror’ and massively restrict civil liberties.

September 11, 2012
A factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan, kills at least 289 workers. All but one of the doors had been locked by management to prevent workers from leaving. The factory owners had also placed iron bars over the windows. Earlier the same evening, another 25 workers died in a fire in a shoe factory in Lahore.

Related Topics: Corporate CrimeSweatshopsWorkers’ Health and SafetyWorkplace Death & Injury

September 12

September 12, 1837
Hundreds of black Canadians confront British troops attempting to deport Solomon Moseby, an escaped slave from Kentucky, back to the United States. Slavery is illegal in the British Empire, so slaves who reach Upper Canada are supposed to be safe, but U.S. authorities have demanded that Moseby be deported back to the U.S. because he stole a horse from the slaveowner in order to escape. When news of the planned deportation becomes known in late August, blacks encircle the jail in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Upper Canada in order to prevent his removal. When the authorities make their move on September 12, the crowd attacks the troops guarding Moseby and enable him to escape. Two people are killed by the soldiers in the melee, and 40 are arrested.

September 12, 1898
Birth of Ben Shahn, artist and leftist.

September 12, 1924
Birth of Amilcar Cabral (Abel Djassi) (1924-1973), left nationalist and leader of the struggle for the independence of Guinea-Bissau.

Further Reading:
The Weapon of Theory, by Amilcar Cabral

Related Topics: National Liberation Movements

September 12, 1944
Birth of Leonard Peltier, native activist and political prisoner who has been incarcerated in the United States since 1977.

Further Reading:
I Am Barak Obama's Prisoner Now, by Leonard Peltier
The Fight for Leonard Peltier
A Travesty of Justice: Why Peltier Remains in Prison
Why is Leonard Peltier Still in Prison? Justice is 33 Years Overdue for America's Most Famous Political Prisoner

Related Topics: Aboriginal PrisonersAboriginal RightsPeltier, LeonardPolitical Prisoners

September 12, 1945
Start of the Windsor Ford strike, a 99-day strike in which 10,000 workers walk off the job, eventually resulting in a victory for the workers.

Further Reading:
Ninety-Nine Days: The Ford Strike in Windsor, 1945

Related Topics: Labour HistoryPicket LinesStrikes/Canadian

September 12, 1977
Black liberation leader Steve Biko is murdered by South African police.

Related Topics: ApartheidKillings by Police

September 13

September 13, 1858
A group of citizens of Oberlin, Ohio, stop slavecatchers from abducting John Price, a black man. They free Price from the slavecatchers and help him escape across the Canadian border.

Further Reading:
Abolition of Slavery Timeline
The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights, by Robin Blackburn

Related Topics: Anti-SlaveryDirect ActionSlavery

September 13, 1961
33 protesters, including 89-year-old Bertrand Russell, are arrested at a major demonstration against nuclear weapons in Trafalgar Square, London.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementNon-ViolenceNuclear DisarmamentPeace Movement

September 13, 1983
The first group from Peace Brigades International (PBI) arrives in Guatemala to provide unarmed and nonviolent witness protection for indigenous leaders.

September 14

September 14, 1769
Birth of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), naturalist, scientist, geographer, opponent of slavery, philosopher.

September 14, 1867
Publication of the first volume of Das Kapital, by Karl Marx.
Karl Korsch writes: “Marx’s book on capital ... owes its tremendous and enduring impact to the fact that it grasps and articulates, at a turning point of history, the full implications of the new force breaking in upon the old forms of life. All the economic, political, and social questions, upon which the analysis in Marx’s Capital theoretically devolves, are today world-shaking practical issues, over which the real-life struggle between great social forces, between states and classes, rages in every corner of the earth. Karl Marx proved himself to posterity to be the great forward-looking thinker of his age, in as much as he comprehended early on how decisive these questions would be for the approaching world-historical crisis. But even as great a thinker as Marx could not have grasped these questions theoretically and incorporated them in his work, had they not already been posed, in some form or another, as actual problems in the real life of his own epoch.”

Marshall Berman had this to say about Capital in his book Adventures in Marxism: “What makes Capital so exciting is that, more than anything else Marx wrote, it brings to life his vision of modern life as a totality. This vision is spread out on an immense canvas: more than a thousand pages in the first volume alone; hundreds of characters – shopkeepers and sharecroppers, miners and millowners, poets and publicists, doctors and divines, philosophers and politicians, the world-famous and the anonymous – speaking in their own voices. The amazing multiplicity of real voices that Marx brings forth, and the skill with which he propels and deploys them, carry us back to the glorious days of the nineteenth-century novel, back to Lost Illusions and Bleak House and War and Peace. Some of the most vivid characters appear for only a moment; others stay with us for long stretches and engage Marx in long passionate argument; others disappear for hundreds of pages, only to return transformed. The people in Capital have a life that will outlive capitalism itself.”

Further Reading:
A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx (1859)
Introduction to Capital, by Karl Korsch (1932)

Related Topics: Accumulation of CapitalCapitalCapital Accumulation CapitalismCapitalism/History ofCapitalist Mode of ProductionCritique of Political EconomyEconomic HistoryMarxism Overviews

September 14, 1918
Socialist Eugene Debs is sentenced to 10 years in prison for opposing U.S. entry into World War One, which he characterized as a capitalist war. While in prison, he runs for President in the 1920 election and receives nearly one million votes.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementFirst World WarPolitical Prisoners

September 15

September 15, 1812
The French army, commanded by Napoleon, enters Moscow, to find it virtually abandoned. Napoleon’s apparent triumph is actually a prelude to disaster: of the 432,000 men in the French army when it set out on its campaign, only 10,000 will survive to return home.

September 15, 1835
The Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board, reaches the Galapagos. Darwin goes on shore for the first time the next day, September 16.

September 15-16, 1931
The Invergorden Mutiny. A mutiny breaks out among British sailors on a number of ships docked at Invergorden, Scotland.

Related Topics: Mutinies

September 15, 1935
Germany’s Nazi government passes the Nuremberg Laws, under which Jews are deprived of legal equality. The population is divided into ‘citizens of the state’ and ‘subjects of the state’, the latter being denied the rights of citizens. ‘Racially mixed’ marriages and relationships are made illegal.

Related Topics: Anti-SemitismNazi History

September 15, 1963
During Sunday School, 15 sticks of dynamite planted by the Ku Klux Klan blow apart a black church, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four children, and injuring 23 others. The bombing followed the court-ordered integration of public schools the previous week. A few days before the bombing, Alabama Governor George Wallace had said that in order to stop integration, Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”

Related Topics: De-segregationJim CrowRacismSegregationTerrorism

September 15, 1971
The first Greenpeace voyage. With a crew of 12, members of the newly formed Greenpeace organization set sail from Vancouver on the Phyllis Cormack (later renamed the Greenpeace) to try to stop a U.S. nuclear test near Amchitka in the Aleutian islands. Five months later, the U.S. announces that it is ending nuclear tests in the Aleutians.

September 15, 1996
6,000 people rally near the Headwaters Grove in California to protest plans by the Pacific Lumber Company to clearcut one of the last remaining large stands of redwood trees, where some trees are more than 2,000 years old. More than 1,000 are arrested during this day’s protest. Ongoing protests over a fifteen-year period are ultimately successful in saving about half the area, the other half was clearcut before being incorporated into the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Related Topics: Clearcut LoggingForest ConservationForest IndustryForestsLoggingOld Growth Forests

September 16

September 16, 1498
Death of Tomas de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, notorious for his persecution of Christians suspected of heresy, as well as of Jews and ‘crypto-Jews’. Torquemada was one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree, which expelled Jews from Spain in 1492. His approach to persons suspected of heresy was to first give them the opportunity to confess; if they refused to confess they would be tortured until they did. Many of those convicted of heresy were put to death by beheading or being burnt to death; some were left in prison until they died.
In Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, the figure of the Grand Inquisitor is based on Torquemada. In the tale, Jesus Christ returns to earth and is condemned to death for heresy. Torquemada goes to see Christ in his prison cell and explains to him that his religious beliefs are a danger to the Christian Church.

September 16, 1912
The Vancouver Island Coal Strike begins when miners at Cumberland walk out to protest an arbitrary firing. The issues in the strike are union recognition and safety (there have been hundreds of deaths in the mines). The mining companies lock them out and bring in scabs to break the strike. The government backs the companies by sending in a large force of militia and imprisoning striking miners. Eventually the strike is defeated.

Related Topics: Coal MiningLabour HistoryMineworkers (Miners)StrikebreakingStrikesStrikes/CanadianWorkers’ History

September 16, 1913
The German Marxist Rosa Luxemburg gives a speech in which she says that if the ruling classes start a war and call on workers to kill other workers, the reply must be “we will not do it!”
The German state charges her with calling for public disobedience of the laws, and jails her. When the Great War breaks out less than a year later, Luxemburg is in jail, and workers in all the imperialist states accept the call to arms and set out to kill other workers.

September 16, 1921
Birth of Ursula Franklin, Canadian scientist and author. Franklin has written and spoken extensively on the social and political effects of technology, and has been active in the anti-war, feminist, and social justice movements.

Further Reading:
The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map

Related Topics: PacifismTechnological ChangeTechnology and Society

September 16, 1971
In a series of continuing protests against the expropriation of land for Narita airport near Tokyo, 5,000 farmers and students battle police. Three policemen are killed in the riot.

September 16, 1973
Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara is murdered by the dictatorship which seized power in Chile on September 11, 1973. Jara is among thousands of prisoners held in the Chile Stadium after the coup. He is beaten and tortured; the bones in his hands are deliberately broken to ensure that he cannot play a musical instrument. On September 16 he is murdered by soldiers. Thirty years later, in 2003, the stadium in which he was murdered is renamed Estadio Victor Jara.

Further Reading:
Eyewitness Chile: After 30 Years

Related Topics: ChileCoupsState TerrorismState Violence

September 16, 1982
A massacre takes place in two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Sabra and Shatila. The actual massacre is carried out by a Lebanese Phalangist militia allied with Israel. However, at the time of the massacre, access to the camps is controlled by the Israeli armed forces (IDF), and later evidence shows that the Israeli authorities were well aware of what the Phalangists were intending to do, and gave them access to the camps so they could carry out their planned slaughter. The IDF also prevented Palestinians trying to flee the massacre from escaping.

Further Reading:
The Massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Thirty Years Later

Related Topics: Israeli MilitaryMassacresPalestinian RefugeesTerrorism

September 17

September 17, 1852
U.S. Marines land in Buenos Aires to ‘protect American interests’. They remain until April 1853.

Related Topics: ArgentinaInterventionU.S. Foreign PolicyU.S. Imperialism

September 17, 1961
British peace activists, supporters of the Committee of 100, block roads at Holy Loch and Trafalgar Square, 1314 are arrested.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementNon-ViolenceNuclear DisarmamentPeace Movement

September 17, 1961
UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold dies in an air crash in the Congo. Whether the crash was accidental or deliberately caused remains a source of controversy.

September 17, 1989
Coal miners at the Pittston Coal mine in Virginia go on strike. Their year-long strike receives almost no coverage in the U.S. media, who are busy providing extensive coverage of a coal miners’ strike in the Soviet Union.

September 17, 1997
A draft treaty banning anti-personnel mines is signed in Oslo. The United States refuses to sign.

September 17, 2007
Iraq: Blackwater mercenaries contracted by the U.S. occupation authorities kill 17 unarmed civilians and wound 27 others in Baghdad. Blackwater quickly changes its name to “XE”; many of the mercenaries switch to other security firms.
Even though the murders took place in Iraq, the U.S. claims jurisdiction, and to no one’s surprise, an American judge then dismisses all charges against the killers on legal technicalities.

September 17, 2011
Occupy Wall Street begins life in Zucotti Park, New York City.

Related Topics: Occupy Movement

September 18

September 18, 1968
In an ongoing campaign to repress any form of overt dissent in the period leading up the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, troops invade the National University in Mexico City. Riot police first invaded the campus in July; the repression culminates in the October 2 Tlatelolco Massacre of students.

Related Topics: MexicoMilitary Violence against Civilians

September 19

September 19, 1819
A beautiful day in the English countryside. John Keats, twenty-three years old, ill with tuberculosis, goes walking in the country near Winchester, and then, “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;” he returns home and writes To Autumn. It is the last poem he will write before tuberculosis kills him.

September 19, 1856
The United States invades Panama in order to ‘safeguard’ the Panama Canal, as it claims to have the right to do if it decides that the local government is ‘unfit’. More than 150 years later, the U.S. continues to claim the ‘right’ to intervene militarily any time, anywhere, it sees fit.

Related Topics: InterventionPanamaPanama CanalU.S. Foreign PolicyU.S. Imperialism

September 19, 1905
Apostrophes lead to a revolutionary upheaval. On September 19, typesetters at a Moscow printing plant go out on strike. The strike arises out of a demand by the typesetters, who are paid on a piecework basis according to how many letters they set, to be paid for apostrophes. They also ask for a shorter working day. The employer refuses. The strike spreads: by September 24, fifty print works are out on strike. On the 25th, police attempt to crush the strike. They fail: other workers, including bakers, and then railway workers, go out on solidarity strikes. By October 7, Russia’s entire railway system is shut down by the strike, by October 12, a Russia-wide general strike is underway. Revolutionary soviets (councils) form in St. Petersburg and other cities. The government offers concessions while attempting to regain control; by 1906, it has succeeded in defeating the revolution – for the time being.

September 19, 1921
Birth of Paulo Freire (1921-1997), Brazilian educator and proponent of critical pedagogy.
Freire in conversation with Myles Horton: “It is a time of confrontation, this transition, the time of transition of the old society to a new one that does not exist yet, but it’s being created with the confrontation of the ghosts. There are many ghosts in society fighting against the dream of a much more open society. Generally revolutions have this in common. We cannot decide this period cannot exist. We have to understand that it exists historically, culturally, socially. We must fight also. The struggle does not stop when the revolution is in power. It starts a new kind of struggle, new kind of fighting that all societies knew and are knowing.”

Further Reading:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
We Make the Road By Walking: Conversations on education and social change. Myles Horton and Paulo Freire

Related Topics: Critical PedagogyPopular Education

September 19, 1940
Witold Pilecki, a member of an underground Polish resistance group, deliberately sets out to be caught in a Nazi roundup, so that he will be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The only person to voluntarily become an inmate in Auschwitz, his goal is to gather intelligence in Auschwitz and attempt to organize inmate resistance. Pilecki is able to smuggle out reports on what is happening in Auschwitz, providing evidence that it is a death camp. In 1943, he is able to escape and subsequently takes part in the Warsaw Uprising.

Related Topics: Anti-Nazi ResistanceAuschwitzHolocaustPolish History/World War II

September 20

September 20, 1260
Prussian tribes revolt against Teutonic Knights. The Knights were a crusading military order, supported by the Popes and the rulers of Christian Europe, that sought to conquer the pagan Prussian tribes and impose Christianity on them. The Prussians revolted against the invaders repeatedly; in later rebellions, class divisions came to the forefront, to the extent that peasants rising in revolt began by killing their own nobility, who had meanwhile converted to Christianity and formed alliances with the Teutonic knights. The Prussian tribes were eventually swamped by colonists from Germany, and were assimilated; their language is thought to have disappeared around the beginning of the 18th century.

Related Topics: Colonial-Settler StatesColonialismPrussia

September 20, 1878
Birth of Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), American journalist, socialist, and political activist.
His 1906 muckraking novel The Jungle depicts the horrific conditions faced by workers in the meat-packing industry of the time, including terrible working conditions, poverty wages, and unhealthy living conditions; and contrasts them with the wealth and corruption of those in power. The novel causes a public outcry that helps to lead to the passage, a few months later, of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

Further Reading:
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

Related Topics: Meat Packing Industry

September 20, 1997
3,000 protesters in Germany rip up railroad tracks leading from the Krummel nuclear power station to the main Hamburg-Berlin line. Scientists had linked the nuclear station to an increased incidence of leukemia among the population around the plant.

Related Topics: Anti-Nuclear Movement

September 21

September 21, 1797
Sailors on the British warship HMS Hermione mutiny against a sadistic captain, killing the captain and most of the officers.

Related Topics: Mutinies

September 21, 1963
The War Resisters League organizes the first American anti-Vietnam War demonstration in New York City.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementVietnam War

September 22

September 22, 1980
Iraq invades Iran, starting a war which will go on until August 1988, and result in the deaths of perhaps a million people on both sides.

September 23

September 23 – October 9, 1873
American forces intervene in Colombia to ‘protect American interests.’

September 24

September 24, 1968
Anti-Vietnam-War activists destroy thousands of draft files in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementVietnam War

September 24, 1969
Start of the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial.

Related Topics: Anti-War MovementJudicial BiasLegal Systems as Instruments of OppressionSixties (1960s)

September 25

September 25, 1940
Suicide of Walter Benjamin, German Marxist, philosopher, literary critic, and cultural theorist. A Jew, Benjamin was part of a refugee group which had fled to Spain from Nazi-occupied France. Learning that Spain is about to deport them back to France into the hands of the Nazis, Benjamin commits suicide by taking an overdose of morphine.

September 25, 1957
Federal troops force desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.

Further Reading:
Racial Segregation
Separate but Equal

Related Topics: De-segregationJim CrowRacismSegregation

September 25, 1961
Mississippi justice: Herbert Lee, a farmer working to register black voters, is gunned down in Liberty, Mississippi by E.H. Hurst, a state legislator.
Mississippi justice is nothing if not swift: a ‘trial’ before an all-white jury takes place later the same day. The ‘jury’ finds Hurst not guilty.

Related Topics: De-segregationJudicial BiasLegal Systems as Instruments of Oppression

September 26

September 26, 1905
The physics journal Annalen der Physik publishes “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”, a paper submitted by a 26-year-old employee of the Swiss Patent Office, a recent physics graduate who has so far been unable to find a job in his field. In his paper, the author, Albert Einstein, outlines what will become known as the special theory of relativity.

Further Reading:
Einstein's 1905 Revolution: New Physics, New Century
Why Socialism? by Albert Einstein

September 26, 1926
Birth of Daniel Singer, socialist journalist.

Further Reading:
Remembering Daniel Singer, by Percy Brazill
Notes on the Millenium: Jane Slaughter interviews Daniel Singer
Whose Millenium: Theirs or Ours, by Daniel Singer

September 26, 1936
Spain’s anarchist federation, the CNT, drops its long-standing opposition to taking government positions and agrees to enter the Catalan government, with three CNT leaders receiving positions. The left-socialist POUM also enters the government, receiving one position.

Further Reading:
History Archive of the Spanish Revolution
The Historical Failure of Anarchism, by Chris Day
Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, by Vernon Richards
Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, by Pham Binh
Remembering Spain's Revolution, by Jane Slaughter

Related Topics: AnarchismSpanish Civil War

September 27

September 27, 1480
Start of the Spanish Inquisition.

September 27, 1860
American forces invade Colombia to ‘protect American interests’ during an attempted revolution.

September 27, 1962
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s landmark study documenting the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds, is published.

Further Reading:
The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement

Related Topics: BirdsEnvironmental ImpactsForest ManagementHerbicide ToxicityPesticide ToxicityPesticidesPesticides/Overuse

September 27, 1967
A statement headed “A Call To Resist Illegitimate Authority,” signed by over 320 influential people (professors, writers, ministers, and other professional people), is published, asking for funds to help youths resist the draft.

September 28

September 28, 1864
An international meeting of workers’ delegates meets in St. Martin's Hall, London, and agrees to form an international organization of workers. The organization becomes the International Workingmen’s Association – (also known as the First International).

Further Reading:
The International Workingmen's Association Documents: 1864 - 1874
History of the International Workingmen's Association
The International Workingmen's Association: Writing by Marx and Engels
General Rules of the International Workingmen's Association
The Marxism of the First International, by Karl Korsch

Related Topics: First International

September 28, 1870
Farce in Lyon: Three weeks after citizens of Lyon set up a provisional revolutionary government and raise the red flag over their city hall (Sept 4, 1870), a small group of anarchists led by Mikhail Bakunin, calling themselves the “Committee for the Salvation of France,” walk into Lyon city hall, and declare themselves in charge. In the name of the (imaginary) “Revolutionary Federation of Communes” they announce that the state is ‘abolished’ effective immediately. They nevertheless propose to exercise state-like powers themselves: they name one of their number commander-in-chief of the army, and Bakunin declares that anyone who tries to interfere, in any way whatsoever, with the activity of the revolutionary communes (i.e. his group), will be executed. The self-proclaimed vanguard is ejected from city hall a few hours later, and Bakunin leaves Lyon the next day.

Related Topics: Anarchism

September 28, 1917
As part of a U.S. government campaign to cripple the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members and former members of the IWW, 166 in all, are indicted for protesting against World War I. This is 10 months after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson won re-election on a promise to keep the U.S. out of the war. The radicals are accused of trying to “cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces” in violation of the so-called Espionage Act. 101 defendants are found guilty and given prison sentences ranging from days to twenty years, plus enormous fines.

Related Topics: Free SpeechIndustrial Workers of the WorldLabour HistoryLegal Systems as Instruments of Oppression

September 28, 1932
Birth of Victor Jara, Chilean singer-songwriter and political activist.

September 28, 1943
In Denmark, hearing of imminent plans by the Nazi occupation forces to arrest and deport Danish Jews, anti-Nazi activists begin planning to smuggle Danish Jews to Sweden. In just three weeks, all but 481 of Denmark’s 8000 Jews are moved to safety.

Related Topics: Anti-Nazi ResistanceHolocaustHolocaust Survivors

September 28, 1969
The FLQ, an underground Quebec nationalist group, bombs the home of Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau.

September 28, 2000
Start of the Second Intifada in Palestine. The underlying cause of the revolt is the continuing occupation of Palestine and oppression of Palestinians; the immediate trigger is a deliberately provocative march by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, accompanied by an entourage of right-wingers and hundreds of armed police, through the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem, which contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Related Topics: IsraelPalestine

September 29

September 29, 1931
The Estevan Coal Miners’ Strike in Saskatchewan is crushed by police. Three miners are murdered by the police and many injured.

Related Topics: Killings by PoliceLabour HistoryMineworkers (Miners)Police ViolenceStrikes/CanadianWorkers’ History

September 29 - 30, 1941
Babi Yar massacres. Nazi occupation forces kill 33,771 Jews in a ravine near Kiev. It is the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust. The Nazis subsequently use the site for other massacres of Soviet prisoners of war, communists, Romani, Ukrainian nationalists and civilian hostages. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 were killed at Babi Yar.

September 30

September 30, 1938
The Munich Pact: British and French leaders agree to let Nazi Germany annex the Sudeten regions of Czechoslovakia. The government and people of Czechoslovakia are given no choice in the matter.

September 30, 1959
In Canada, 14-year-old Steven Truscott is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His death sentence is eventually commuted to life imprisonment, and in 1969 he is released from prison. In 2007, his conviction is overturned and he is declared the victim of a miscarriage of justice and awarded compensation.

Related Topics: Capital PunishmentMiscarriages of Justice

September 30, 1974
Carlos Prats, a former Chilean vice-president exiled in Argentina, is assassinated by General Pinochet’s secret service.



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, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.

For more information about some of the events and people mentioned, see the following pages in Connexipedia and in the Connexions Subject Index:

Events Listed in Connexipedia
Organizations & Movements Listed in Connexipedia
Persons Listed in Connexipedia
History Focus page
Oral History and Memoirs Focus page
Radical & Left History Focus page
Aboriginal History
Agricultural History
Arab History
Art History
Black History & Identity
Canadian History
Capitalism/History of
Chinese History
Economic History
Egyptian Revolt 2011
European History
French History
French Revolution
Gay & Lesbian History
General Strikes
German History
German History/World War II
Greece/Modern History
History/Twentieth Century
Hungarian Revolution 1956
Immigrant History
Irish History
Jewish History
Killings by Police
Labour History
Left History
Marxist Theory of Revolution
Oral History
Reference Sources/Chronologies
Revolution/Study of
Russian History
Russian Revolution
Revolutionary Moments
Sixties (1960s)
SOURCES: History experts & sources
Soviet History
Spanish Civil War
State-sponsored Violence
State Violence
United States History
Urban History
Women’s History
Workers’ History

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