Category Archives: Internationalism
“If members of a conquering nation called upon the nation they had conquered and continued to hold down to forget their specific nationality and position, to ‘sink national differences’ and so forth, that was not Internationalism, it was nothing else but preaching to them submission to the yoke and attempting to justify and to perpetuate the dominion of the conqueror under the cloak of Internationalism. It was sanctioning the belief, only too common among the English working men, that they were superior beings compared to the Irish, and as much an aristocracy as the mean whites of the Slave states considered themselves to be with regard to the Negroes.
“In a case like that of the Irish, true internationalism must necessarily be based on a distinctly national organisation. . . (Irish sections of the First International) “not only were justified, but even under the necessity to state in the preamble to their rules that their first and most pressing duty, as Irishmen, was to establish their own national independence.”
Born in 1868 in Edinburgh of poor Irish parents, James Connolly is one of Ireland’s most important and controversial historical figures. He is known as Ireland’s foremost marxist thinker and activist, the working class leader who effected a union of socialist and nationalist forces in a radical anti-imperialist front. In 1896 he founded in Dublin the Irish Socialist Republican Party “to muster all the forces of labour for a revolutionary reconstruction of society and the incidental destruction of the British Empire” (Connolly 1973, 167), and remained committed to that aim until his death. Financial difficulties forced him to emigrate to the United States between 1903 and 1910 where he worked as an organiser for the Industrial Workers of the World (better known as the Wobblies). After his return to Ireland, he became the Belfast organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union from 1911 to 1913, was then deeply involved in the great Dublin lock-out of 1913-14 and had a key role in organising the Irish Citizen Army – a workers’ defence force.
Connolly was an outspoken opponent of Irish involvement in the First World War. A convinced socialist revolutionary, he was at the forefront of the struggle against the British Empire and allied with the revolutionary Irish nationalists to organise the 1916 Easter Rising. One of the signatories of the Proclamation of the Republic, he was appointed vice-president of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic and commandant-general of its army. Wounded in the Rising, he was shot in a chair by the British authorities on 12 May 1916. Throughout his life, Connolly was a prolific writer, and maintained a constant stream of books, pamphlets articles and speeches. His work is almost exclusively centred on Ireland and was elaborated largely in isolation from the international socialist movement and for that reason is not well known globally.
Connolly developed a number of innovative theoretical positions regarding the relationship between marxism and anti-imperialism; Read the rest of this entry
The great revolutionary writer, activist and theorist C.L.R. James wrote the article below in 1941 (April 14) on the 25th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. It appeared in the American left-wing paper Labor Action – James was living in the US and was a prominent figure in a Trotskyist group called the Workers Party at the time. His party name was Johnson. The piece is taken from the Marxist Internet Archive, having been transcribed and marked up by Einde O’Callaghan. Not surprisingly, it contains a few small errors – such as numbers – and James is wrong to say “Easter week was the herald of the Irish revolution and the first blow struck against imperialism during the war at a time when the Irish revolutionary movement in Europe seemed sunk in apathy and the futile squabblings of exiles in cheap cafes.” Hardly any Irish were political exiles living in Europe before the Easter Rising, let alone squabbling in cheap cafes.
by C.L.R. James
Easter Sunday morning, 1916. Three o’clock. James Connolly, Irish revolutionary leader, was talking to his daughter and. some of her friends, all asking why the revolt so carefully prepared had been countermanded.
Connolly knew that the arms from Germany had been intercepted, he knew that the arrangements had broken down, but he knew that the British government was going to strike. He could not let the revolt be stamped out without resistance. It seemed to him, and rightly, that the resulting demonstration would be too great. He would fight, come what may. There was a chance that if they held out long enough the whole country might rise. But, whether or not that happened, the blow had to be struck. It was in this spirit, long range revolutionary calculation, that Connolly sent the message to his followers calling on them to begin.
They prepared a declaration of the Irish Republic, signed by Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, P.H. Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett. About noon the next day a body of Irish volunteers marched down O’Connell Street, apparently on parade. In reality they were marching on the Post Office and they seized it. At that same moment, small detachments seized other key points in the city. A little over a thousand men, workers, and a few intellectuals at their head, had challenged the whole British Empire.
They held the center of the city for over five days. By Friday, 60,000 British soldiers were fighting 1,000 Irishmen while Dublin blazed in flames. The revolutionaries hoped that the country would follow them – but nothing happened, nothing at any rate that could then be seen and measured. On Saturday, President Pearse ordered the surrender. To even sympathetic observers it seemed that the Irish had merely once more shown themselves a brave but irrational and unpredictable people. Except Lenin, who wrote fiercely in their defense, not only as revolutionaries but in defense of the circumstances of their revolt.
A History of Bloody Repression
To understand this noble, but apparently futile heroism one must have some idea, however rough, of Ireland’s past at British hands.
It is customary to speak of Turks in the Balkans and Tsarism in Poland as classical examples of imperialist barbarism. Nothing in six centuries of European history has ever equalled the British strangulation of Ireland. To get some adequate idea of this, one has to study the Read the rest of this entry
I’m involved in another blog, Redline, which is based in New Zealand. That blog has a few new pieces on Greece, including several items from friends within Syriza.
A great NO from the Greek people (from our friends in Syriza)
We need a NO vote (from our friends in Syriza)
We have a lot of other material on Greece, but see in particular our pieces on the Vio.me factory occupation in Thessaloniki, including our interview with an occupation spokesperson.