Through an accident of timing, I actually did teach on this today.
I hadn’t intended to. The media is saturated with both the appropriate, and the biliously hypocritical, observances of the date. Rather, I opened the lecture with Carnegie, and “Wealth.” Worked through his prediction of the price we pay for the miracles of industrial society — the mutual suspicions and lack of understanding between the haves and have-nots.
Then, as counterpoint, the testimony of George Engel, about to be executed for his role in the Haymarket Square Riot. They call him an anarchist, but what that actually means is “marxist terrorist.” And why was he an Anarchist? According to his own words, he became an anarchist when he got recruited in the factory by a man who had both a grievance, and an entirely new worldview to sell. Once sold on the vocabulary of the proletarian, he was able to say with a straight face, without shame, that he didn’t throw the bomb on Haymarket…but that if more “workingmen” had bombs, the world would be a better place.
That’s all you need… it’s not the arguments, but how you frame them. Not the issue, but how it’s defined. And once you’re sold on the idea that the dude running a donut shop, or working as a lawyer, doesn’t fit within the “Working Class,” but is instead a class enemy… the bombs come next.
It’s surprising how many of my students get played by Engel. It’s even more surprising, and somewhat gratifying, to see the horror on their faces once the lightbulbs come on.