Category Archives: Internationalism

Engels on internationalism and Irish freedom

imagesFrom Report by Engels to the May 14, 1872 meeting of the General Council of the First International:

“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.”

 

Connolly, the Dublin Steampacket Company dispute and the 1916 Rising

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“The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland; the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour. They cannot be dissevered” – James Connolly

The article below is an extended version of a paper given to the Dublin Dockworkers’ Preservation Society on 23 May 2015.  Thanks to the author for sending this fascinating article to the blog.

by D.R. O’Connor Lysaght

All too often, James Connolly’s last months tend to be seen as a period in which he compartmentalised his tasks, dividing his time between preparing a military uprising and, to a lesser extent, performing basic trade union work. An extreme variation of this is that he followed the majority of his socialist contemporaries in abandoning the class struggle at least until the end of the World War, if not altogether, and that, in any case, he never organised an actual, or, anyway a major strike.

None of these assumptions is true. The full facts of his wartime career show him to have been acting as a socialist, even if, as he admitted, other socialists would not understand.

Guiding strategy

His guiding strategy was summarised in the last paragraph of the Resolution on War, passed in 1907 by the Socialist International’s Congress at Stuttgart:
“In case war should break out… it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives to intervene in favour of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilise the economic and political crisis created by the war to rouse the masses and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.”

This has been ignored all too often by those trying to explain Connolly’s first World War strategy. This ignorance is helped by the fact that Read the rest of this entry

Short report on Frank Conroy commemorative meeting

by Mick Healy

On Saturday 12th December 2015, a very interesting Frank Conroy Commemoration took place in The Liffey Studio, Newbridge. The commemoration featured a screening of the new documentary The Republican Congress, presented by Donal Fallon and directed by Donal Higgins. The film tells the story of  the political organisation that was founded in 1934 by Left-wing republicans Nora Connolly O’Brien, Roddy Connolly, Frank Ryan, George Gilmore and Peadar O’Donnell.

Donal Higgins said, “I was attracted to the story of the Republican Congress as it seems to me to be a fairly overlooked part of our history. In fairness, the Congress only lasted two years, so it’s not surprising that they’ve been overlooked. But these were the people who went to Spain to defend Republican values at a time when the whole country was supporting Franco. I also think that the Congress has some resonances for society today.”

Paul McCormack sang:

Men and women heard the call
and went to fight for good and all
and in the ranks there standing tall
a young man named Frank Conroy

Conroy, who had been an IRA and Republican Congress activist, died in 1936 fighting with the International Brigade in Spain.

 

Annual Frank Conroy commemoration

rc screening poster

James Connolly, imperialism and anti-imperialism

JamesConnollyby Liam O Ruairc

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

Peter Daly commemoration, Enniscorthy, Sunday, September 5

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C.L.R. James on importance of James Connolly and Easter Week

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

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.[1] 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

Irish solidarity with Greece

mqdefaultA great march of several thousand people in Dublin on Saturday in solidarity with the Greek people resisting austerity.

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.

Greece votes No to austerity, what now?

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.

40th anniversary of victory in Vietnam

download (1)Today, April 30, marks the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Vietnamese masses over imperialism.

I’ve written about it here:

https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/vietnam-40th-anniversary-of-the-triumph-over-imperialism/

Palestine solidarity

downloadAs readers will be aware, as well as doing this site I am part of the collective behind Redline, a great little marxist site based way down in New Zealand.

One of the main areas covered by Redline is the struggle for Palestinian liberation and, within that context, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  A number of us at Redline were engaged a few years ago in a campaign to raise funds for the PFLP.  A campaign which, sadly, no longer exists.  However, it managed to raise several thousand dollars in its only too-brief existence.

The Palestine/PFLP connection also fits neatly with this blog because of the solidarity between éirígí and the PFLP.  Indeed, it was an earlier incarnation of Redline which was able to put éirígí in touch with Leila Khaled and the PFLP, although Leila has been banned from entering the twenty-six counties (ironically, she has been able to enter Britain – another case of the neocolonial lackeys sometimes being worse than their imperialist masters!).

Anyway, this is a plug for the Redline coverage of Palestinian and PFLP material, as I keep this site for specifically Irish material.

We have numerous articles up on Redline on the cause of Palestinian liberation and the PFLP, including an interview that was done with Leila as part of the fundraising campaign.

Below are a few pieces:

Remembering George Habash: Palestinian revolutionary intellectual and freedom fighter: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/remembering-george-habash/

For a world free of racism, imperialism and capitalist exploitation – message from PFLP to 2014 éirígí conference: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/for-a-world-that-is-free-of-racism-colonialism-imperialism-oppression-and-capitalist-exploitation-pflp-message-to-eirigi-conference

Palestinian liberation and the PFLP today – interview with PFLP deputy-general-secretary: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/palestinian-liberation-and-the-pflp-today-an-interview-with-abu-ahmad-fouad-deputy-secretary-general-of-the-pflp/

PFLP on the Palestinian Authority: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/pflp-on-the-palestinian-authority/

NZ solidarity activist interview with Palestinian revolutionary icon Leila Khaled: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/nz-solidarity-activist-interviews-leila-khaled-2010/

The case of Ahmad Sa’adat: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-case-of-ahmad-saadat-palestinian-revolutionary-leader-and-political-prisoner/

Also, check out the Palestine and PFLP categories on the site.