Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

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

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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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, 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.

Kollontai writes: “The basis of the controversy is namely this: whether we shall realize communism through workers or over their heads by the hands of soviet officials.....
There can be no self-activity without freedom of thought and opinion, for self-activity manifests itself not only in initiative, action, and work, but in independent thought as well. We are afraid of mass-activity. We are afraid to give freedom to the class activity, we are afraid of criticism, we have ceased to rely on the masses, hence, we have bureaucracy with us. That is why the Workers' Opposition considers that bureaucracy is our enemy, our scourge, and the greatest danger for the future existence of the Communist Party itself.
In order to do away with the bureaucracy that is finding its shelter in the soviet institutions, we must first of all get rid of all bureaucracy in the party itself....
Wide publicity, freedom of opinion and discussion, right to criticize within the party and among the members of the trade unions – such is the decisive step that can put an end to the prevailing system of bureaucracy. Freedom of criticism, right of different factions to freely present their views at party meetings, freedom of discussion – are no longer the demands of the Workers’ Opposition alone.”
The pamphlet is banned less than two months after it appears, and the ‘Workers’ Opposition’ is forced to end its activities within a year.
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 solidaritybased, 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: Arab SpringEgyptian Revolt 2011Revolts

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For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: