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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March 14, 1883
In London, at 2:45 in the afternoon, a stateless refugee named Karl Marx draws his last breath. Eleven people attend his funeral four days later, including his life-long friend Friedrich Engels, who gives a eulogy in which he says:
“Before all else, Marx was a revolutionist. To collaborate in one way or another in the overthrow of capitalist society and of the State institutions created by that society; to collaborate in the freeing of the modern proletariat ... this was his true mission in life. Fighting was his natural element. Few men ever fought with so much passion, tenacity, and success....
“Because he was an active revolutionist, Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. He was shown the door by various governments, republican as well as absolute. Bourgeois, ultra-democrats as well as conservatives, vied with one another in spreading libels about him. He brushed these aside like cobwebs, ignored them, only troubled to answer them when he positively had to. Yet he has gone down to his death honoured, loved, and mourned by millions of revolutionary workers all over the world, in Europe and Asia as far eastward as the Siberian mines, and in America as far westward as California. I can boldly assert that, while he may still have many adversaries, he has now hardly one personal enemy.
“His name and his works will live on through the centuries.”
March 14 - 15, 1910  
Rosa Luxemburg’s controversial article The Next Step is published, challenging the timidity of the German Social Democratic Party. Written in the midst of widespread agitation for the reform of the Prussian electoral system, which guarantees control to a reactionary ruling class, Luxemburg argues for an escalating struggle. She says the current strategy of holding regular demonstrations will eventually lead to discouragement, if the demonstrations produce no results and do not move on to more forceful means. Specifically, she argues that moving on to mass strikes must be on the agenda, as a possible development that the SPD should embrace and encourage. In response to the party leadership’s fears that radical tactics could bring down government repression on the party, she criticizes “the peculiar conclusion that the greater and stronger our organization, the less capable of action, the more hesitant we become.”
She adds, “Of course the mass strike is not a miraculous method guaranteeing success under all circumstances. In particular, the mass strike must not be regarded as an artificial, unique and mechanical method, a neatly applicable way of exerting political pressure according to regulations and commands. The mass strike is merely the external form of an action which has its own inner development, logic, intensification and consequences... The mass strike ... is certainly not the final word on the incipient political campaign. Rather it is the campaign's first word at its present stage.”
March 14, 1910
The Lakeview Gusher, a huge oil spill, erupts in California. In the eighteen months it takes to bring it under control, it spills 9 million barrels of oil, making it the largest accidental oil spill in history. (By comparison, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf of Mexico spilled about 4.9 million barrels.)
Related Topics: Oil Spills
March 14, 1916  
A group of leading anarchists, including Peter Kropotkin and Jean Grave, publish a manifesto supporting the ‘Allied’ (Russian-British-French) imperial powers in the war against German-Austrian imperialism in the First World War. The original statement is signed by 15 prominent anarchists; another 100 sign later.
Related Topics: AnarchismFirst World WarManifestos
March 14, 1970
The SS Columbia Eagle incident. Two American merchant marine sailors, Clyde McKay and Alan Glatkowski, use guns they have smuggled on board to take over the SS Columbia Eagle, an American supply ship carrying napalm to US bases for use in attacking Vietnam. The sailors force the ship to sail into Cambodian waters, and then ask for asylum.
About Napalm: Napalm, the production and use of which was condemned by the Stockholm War Crimes Tribunal, is a form of jellied gasoline used by the United States in aerial bombing of ‘enemy’ peasant villages in its war against Vietnam. When it hits and ignites, the burning napalm splatters over a wide area, consuming every burnable thing which it strikes, including especially human flesh. An added feature that makes the use of napalm especially vicious is that flesh ignited by napalm is extremely difficult to extinguish. Water doesn’t work. People hit by it keep on burning. Napalm is particularly indiscriminate because the fires it causes continue to spread, destroying everything in a large area. It is also effective against people hiding in bomb shelters or tunnels because it suddenly pulls all the oxygen out of the tunnel by its enormous gulp of combustion, thus suffocating anyone inside.
Related Topics: MutiniesVietnam War

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