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Sat Mar 17, 2012, 01:25 PM

Happy St. Patrick's Day to Socialist Progressives. [View all]


Ryan vividly sketches his struggles. Born in Ulster in the same year as Comrade Lenin, “Connolly was ‘dragged up’ like most proletarian boys. . . . Of his parents we know little beyond the fact that the father was a labourer. . . . In 1880 Connolly’s family became exiles and arrived in Edinburgh, where his father obtained work as a corporation dustman. James became a printer’s devil in the office of the local Evening News. He was then under legal age, but his employer for a year defeated the law . . .” Then the sack. “But he was lucky enough to find work soon afterwards in a bakery . . . later . . . two years in a mosaic tiling factory. . .” The company of his uncle, an old Fenian, kept vivid in his memory the glamour and agony of the national struggle. Mitchel, too, he read, and much Irish history. Brooding, intense, silent, outwardly cold and inwardly aflame, a spirit of adventure called him to new scenes. Leaving Edinburgh at eighteen, Connolly was in turn tramp, navvy and pedlar, spending a roving and eventful life in different parts of Britain. He was married in Perth at the age of twenty-one. “An accident to his father recalled him to Edinburgh. His parent was permanently disabled, and James Connolly took up his work as dustman in the cleansing department of the corporation. . . . But many tomes of ancient and modern history had he handled, the revolutionary phases of Irish history in particular . . . Marx, Engels . . . Association with British Socialists, Morris, Hyndman, Leslie . . . Then to Dublin in 1896 as Socialist agitator, and to start the Irish Socialist Republican Party and edit its organ The Workers’ Republic. Revolt against the Boer war . . . Anti-Jubilee Empire Demonstration . . . writing Labour in Irish History . . . . representative of the Irish S.P. at the International Socialist Congress in 1900 . . . In at the split of the S.D.F. in 1903, and the formation of the Socialist Labour Party in line with De Leon. Later in that year he departed for America. Back again in 1910. . . . The Organisation of the I.T.W.U. . . . The great industrial revolt of 1913. . . . The final martyrdom after Easter week, 1916.”

Here was no complacent trade union leader, but a working-class warrior with heart aflame. What could be the use of talking about the philosophy of gradualism to this man steeped in revolutionary lore and compelled to do battle at every step? Once the goal of social revolution becomes his consuming aim, and he has grasped the Marxist method of reading history, his evolution towards Leninism becomes a certainty as the years sweep us onward towards the great crisis of 1914. His divergence from the Kautskys lies in the revolutionary purpose. They had no revolutionary purpose, but turned Marxism into a fatalism which saw Socialism emerging through the gradual transformation of capitalism. What to them was a paralysing blow was to Connolly the great opportunity. Ryan’s account of the effect of the imperialist war on Connolly reads like Zinovieff’s account of its effect upon Lenin. “His whole being cried out against it, and where Lenin called for the transformation of the imperial war into the civil war of the classes, Connolly called the subject nation of Ireland to war upon the Empire.”

We shall continue in season and out of season to teach that “the far-flung battle line” of England is weakest at the point nearest its heart, that Ireland is in that position of tactical advantage that a defeat of England in India, Egypt, the Balkans or Flanders would not be so dangerous to the British Empire as conflict of armed forces in Ireland, that the time for Ireland’s battle is now, the place for Ireland’s battle is here.

James Connolly, Presente!

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Reply Happy St. Patrick's Day to Socialist Progressives. [View all]
Starry Messenger Mar 2012 OP
TBF Mar 2012 #1
postulater Mar 2012 #2
Starry Messenger Mar 2012 #3
TBF Mar 2012 #6
mitchtv Mar 2012 #4
Starry Messenger Mar 2012 #5
TBF Mar 2012 #7
socialist_n_TN Mar 2012 #8
MichaelMcGuire Mar 2012 #9