The Triangle Fire 1911
Source: The Call (New York) April 5, 1911;
Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.
Little will be gained if the march of the 300,000 workers today ends at the grave of their murdered fellow toilers. That vast body of men and women in itself pictures the number of other workers that have been slaughtered by capitalism in the last seven or eight years. A body four times that size would not equal the number of the mangled who have been rendered unfit further to produce wealth for capitalism. If 50,000 of the marchers were picked from the ranks and led to the shambles it would show only what is happening every year in this great and magnificently wealthy land of ours.
It is not the old and worn out who are thus sacrificed. Today youth, that has been ended in blood and fire, is to be commemorated. And it is youth, strength, hope and ability that are blotted out in the mines, factories and mills and on the railroads. That is the toll that capitalism takes, and almost all of it is due to criminal recklessness in the pursuit of profits.
This demonstration is going to be more than a protest. It is going g to be an exhibition of growing working class solidarity. For a few hours there will pass silently through the streets of the city the largest body of workers that ever assembled in this country. All of them are imbued with one idea, and that is a bitter resentment of a system that piles its sacrifices to Mammon as was done in the triangle fire.
But some of them are beyond this bitterness and resentment. They know how to put a stop, for good and all, to such murders. They know that this was but one incident in the endless carnival of death that is due to capitalism. They know that it will happen again and again, and that more and ever more numbers of the working class will go down to death unless the whole system is changed. They will not cease their protests when the earth covers the charred and mangled bodies of the victims. They will leave the graves with hearts set on wiping out the cause of this.
Perhaps many will be merely numbed with grief and will feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. The portion of so many of the working class has been violent death that it appears inseparable from working class existence. It is not so. Today’s protest shows it. The climax is not reached by this. The real, effective demonstration is swelling and gaining strength and before long it will manifest itself in ways other than of grief at wholesale murder done.
The tragedy of such things does not rest in the victims themselves. At the mine mouths the agonized widows and the little children indicate where the blow has fallen hardest. There is tragedy when a dismembered body is borne to a house where a family has been waiting expectantly for a husband or brother. It is shown when news is brought to a tenement that a woman breadwinner has been caught in the machinery and crushed, or has dropped at her machine. There is the accumulated horror, but the details are hidden from all but those who are directly concerned.
Today’s march will be as much a demonstration against the general cruelty of capitalism as it is against that particular cruelty enacted in Washington place.
The Socialists know it, and they know how to end it. There will be many recruits to the Socialist ranks from the ranks of the marchers. Success will be won just in proportion to the number and determination of the recruits.
So the march must go on. The marchers must demand protection in their work. The must force their recreant city officials to do their duty, , force them, for they lack the decent intelligence to be reasoned with, and they lack the spark of humanity that would lead them to act as a matter of duty. Present legislators are the tools of those who are responsible for the murder. They must be replaced with men and women who are of the working class and for the working class. Such a march has for its goal Socialism, and only under Socialism can there be safety and decency for the workers.