Category Archives: Ireland and British revolution
What is taking place today in the British Parliament in connection with the Bill on Irish Home Rule is of exceptional interest as far as class relationships and elucidation of the national and the agrarian problems are concerned.
For centuries England has enslaved Ireland, condemned the Irish peasants to unparalleled misery and gradual extinction from starvation, driven them off the land and compelled hundreds of thousands and even millions of them to leave their native country and emigrate to America. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Ireland had a population of five and a half millions; today the population is only four and one-third millions. Ireland has become depopulated. Over five million Irish emigrated to America in the course of the nineteenth century, so that there are now more Irish in the United States than there are in Ireland!
The appalling destitution and sufferings of the Irish peasantry are an instructive example of the lengths to which the landowners and the liberal bourgeoisie of a “dominant” nation will go. Britain owes her “brilliant” economic development and the “prosperity” of her industry and commerce largely to her treatment of the Irish peasantry, which recalls the misdeeds of the Russian serf-owner Saltychikha.
While Britain “flourished”, Ireland moved towards extinction and remained an undeveloped, semi-barbarous, purely agrarian country, a land of poverty-stricken tenant farmers. But much as the “enlightened and liberal” British bourgeoisie desired to perpetuate Ireland’s enslavement and poverty, reform inevitably Read the rest of this entry
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx and the 135th anniversary of his death; also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. Marx and his political partner and friend Frederick Engels were staunch supporters of the struggle for Irish freedom against British political rule and economic exploitation.
So, over the course of this year, I’ll be sticking up various bits and pieces of Marx (and Engels) on the Irish national liberation struggle – and also on its relationship to the British revolution.
Anyway, here’s an extract from a letter by Marx to Engels, December 11, 1869:
“As to the Irish question. . . . The way I shall put forward the matter next Tuesday is this: that quite apart from all phrases about “international” and “humane” justice for Ireland – which are to be taken for granted in the International Council – it is in the direct and absolute interest of the English working Glass to get rid of their present connection with Ireland. And this is my most complete conviction, and for reasons which in part I cannot tell the English workers themselves. For a long time I believed that it would be possible to overthrow the Irish regime by English working class ascendancy. I always expressed this point of view in the New York Tribune. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. That is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.”
Unfortunately, most of the British left, especially in England, have never really grasped Marx’s work on Ireland and the British revolution. Instead they Read the rest of this entry