William D. Haywood


Pages Torn from “The Class Struggle”
and Other Haywood Lectures

(November 1911)


Source: From International Socialist Review, Vol. 12 No. 5, November 1911, pp. 279–281.
Transcription: Matthew Siegfried.
HTML mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists Internet Archive (2019).
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2022). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


YOU will all remember with me the 22d of January, 1905. It is recorded in history as Bloody Sunday. On that day there occurred a terrible massacre in St. Petersburg, Russia. It seems that the people of that country had been ground down to such terrible conditions that they could no longer stand it. Families were living in single roomed huts or hovels, sleeping on the bare floor. Bed ding and clothing were scant. They ate out of a common bowl. Their only food was a coarse mush. To improve these conditions they determined to appeal to their Little White Father. They called the Czar of Russia their Little Father. But these peasants had never learned to write. So it must needs be a living petition.

The word went forth and thousands upon thousands of them gathered in the city of St. Petersburg. They marched toward the winter palace and as they marched they carried aloft the holy Cross of Christ. They bore upon their breasts their sacred icons. They were singing religious hymns. They were a religious people. They came within a hundred feet or less of the palace gates when a volley rang forth from the guns in the hands of the Czar’s soldiers. Hundreds upon hundreds of these peaceful supplicants fell dead in the snow, their warm red blood mingling with and melting the white mantle that covers Darkest Russia at that season of the year. And when you heard the echo of that volley you heard the echo of the world wide class struggle.

When you heard the echo of the volley that killed the Russian peasants at St. Petersburg you heard the shrieks and groans of the Russian girls exiled from home who were burned to death in that terrible factory fire in New York City last winter. The same people, the same conditions, the same anguish, the same struggle everywhere.

Across the sea from Russia in Finland our comrades are protesting because the constitution of their country has been abrogated by the authorities of Russia. They are protesting because the youth of that land are compelled to serve as soldiers in the Czar’s army or to pay a tribute in gold.

Their protest is a voice in the class struggle!

It has only been a few years ago since the unions of this country were sending money to assist the workers of Sweden who were involved in a great general strike. I visited Sweden while across the water and while there met many who took part in that great struggle. The workers who were on strike were not asking for an increase in wages or a reduction in hours. They had ceased to work in sympathy with thousands of their members who had been locked out because they dared to organize. They were opposed by the employers’ association who were backed up by the capitalists of the continent and the world. The Swedish workers were beaten to their knees. Women and children were compelled to subsist on black bread and water but they were not vanquished. As I was leaving Stockholm they said to me:

“Comrade Haywood when you return to America, tell the workers of your country that we will be fighting with them in the vanguard until the working class of the world are victorious!”

They are doing their part in the class struggle!

From Sweden I went to the Latin countries and while there learned something of the conditions in Spain. It seems that certain French capitalists had made investments in the gold mines of the Riff Country. It is well known that the capitalist class does not confine its operations within the borderlines of any nation. The capitalist goes to any locality where he can ‘make profit out of the sweat, blood and tears of the workers. The capitalist has no country, no flag, no patriotism, no honor and no god but Gold. His emblem is the dollar mark. His ensign is the black flag of commercial piracy. His symbol is the skull and cross bones of little children that are ground up in the mill. And the pass word of Capitalism is graft.

The Moors objected to their lands being exploited by capitalists, so the French bankers called upon the King of Spain to protect them in their vested interests. The King of Spain being one of the ruling class and a capitalist himself, called upon the young men of his country to go to war and he called upon the people of Spain to furnish the sinews of war. At this period, the Socialists combining with the labor unions of Spain declared a campaign against war. The Socialists of all countries are opposed to war and when we get just a little stronger in Spain, just a little stronger in the United States, just a little stronger in the nations of the world, the time will forever have passed when one workingman will shoot down another workingman in the interests of the capitalist class. And so declared the workers of Spain.

The building trades of Barcelona declared a general strike against war. At that time there lived in Spain a great educationalist. One of the foremost men of letters in ‘the world. Like all humanitarians, he was opposed to war. He wrote, he spoke, he contributed a little money toward the general strike. And because of this, he was arrested as a revolutionist. They called him an anarchist. He was thrown into prison. His trial was a travesty upon justice. He had no lawyer. He was allowed no witness. He neither heard nor saw the witnesses that testified against him. In spite of these conditions, he was convicted and sentenced to be executed. As this brave man stood at the open ditch that was to be his grave, he looked the twelve that were to take his life square in the eye and said:

“Long live the modern school.” When the volley rang out that sounded the death knell of Francisco Ferrer, it sounded the death knell of Capitalism in Spain.

It was the class struggle!

Last updated on 10 June 2022