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Commentary :: Labor
HONOR JAMES CONNOLLY-IRISH REVOLUIONARY SOCIALIST
06 Apr 2006
THIS YEAR MARKS THE 90TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EASTER UPRISING, 1916. HONOR ONE OF THE GREAT LEADERS OF THAT REBELLION
ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF JAMES CONNOLLY, COMMANDANT- IRISH CITIZEN ARMY- EXECUTED BY THE BLOODY BRITISH IMPERIALISTS MAY, 1916. ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF BOBBY SANDS, MP AND THE 10 MARTYRED LONG KESH HUNGER STRIKERS. ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF THE 90th ANNIVERSARY OF THE EASTER UPRISING, 1916. BRITISH TROOPS OUT OF IRELAND TODAY (AND WHILE WE ARE AT IT OUT OF IRAQ).

A word. They tell a story about James Connolly that just before the start of action in Easter, 1916 he told the members of the Irish Citizen’s Army (almost exclusively workers, by the way) that if the uprising was successful to keep their guns handy. More work with them might be necessary against the nationalist allies of the moment organized as the Irish Volunteers. The volunteers was mainly a petty bourgeois formation and had no intention of fighting for a Socialist Republic. True story or not, I think that gives a pretty good example of the strategy and tactics to be used in colonial and third world struggles by the working class. Would that the Chinese Communists in the 1920’s and other colonial and third world liberation fighters since then had paid heed to that strategic concept.

James Connolly, June 5, 1868-May 12, 1916, was of Scottish Irish stock. He was born in Edinburgh of immigrant parents. The explicit English colonial policy which created the Irish diaspora produced many such immigrants from benighted Ireland to England, America, Australia and the far flung parts of the world. Many of these immigrants left Ireland under compulsion of banishment. Deportation was a standard English response in the history of the various “Troubles’ from Cromwell’s time on.

Connolly, like many another Irish lad left school for a working life at age 11. The international working class has produced many such self-taught and motivated leaders. Despite the lack of formal education he became one of the preeminent left-wing theorists of his day in the pre- World War I international labor movement. In the class struggle we do not ask for diplomas, although they help, but commitment to the cause of the laboring masses. Again, like many an Irish lad Connolly joined the British Army, at the age of 14. In those days the British Army provided one of the few ways of advancement for an Irishman who had some abilities. As fate would have it he was stationed in Dublin. I believe the English must ruse the day they let Brother Connolly near weapons and near Dublin. As the old Irish song goes- ‘ Won’t Old Mother England be Surprised’.

By 1892 Connolly was an important figure in the Scottish Socialist Federation which, by the way, tended to be more militant and more Celtic and less enamored of parliamentarianism than its English counterpart. The failure to gather in the radical Celtic elements was a contributing factor to the early British Communist Party’s sterility. Most of the great labor struggles of the period cam from the leadership in Scotland and Ireland. Connolly became the secretary of the Federation in 1895. In 1896 he left the army and established the Irish Socialist Republican Party. The name itself tells the program. Ireland at that time was essentially a classic English colony so to take the name Republican was to spit in the eye of the English. Even today the English have not been able to rise to the political level of a republic. Despite Cromwell’s valiant attempt and no thanks to the British Labor Party’s policies this is sadly the case today. All militants can and must support this call- Abolish the monarchy, House of Lords and the state Church of England.

In England Connolly was active in the Socialist Labor Party that split from the moribund, above-mentioned Social Democratic Federation in 1903. During the period before the Easter uprising he was heavily involved in the Irish labor movement and acted as the right hand man to James Larkin in the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 when Larkin led a huge strike in Dublin but was forced to leave due to English reprisals Connolly took over. It was at that time that Connolly founded the Irish Citizens Army as a defense organization of armed and trained laboring men against the brutality of the dreaded Dublin Metropolitan Police. Although only numbering about 250 men at the time their political goal also became to establish an independent and socialist Ireland.

Connolly stood aloof from the leadership of the Irish Volunteers, the nationalist formation based on the middle classes. He considered them too bourgeois and unconcerned with Ireland's economic independence. In 1916 thinking they 'were merely posturing, and unwilling to take decisive action against England, he attempted to goad them into action by threatening to send his Irish Citizens Army against the British Empire alone, if necessary. This alarmed the members of the more militant Irish Republican Brotherhood, who had already infiltrated the Volunteers and had plans for an insurrection as well. In order to talk Connolly out of any such action, the IRB leaders, including Tom Clarke and Patrick Pearse, met with Connolly to see if an agreement could be reached. During the meeting the IRB and the ICA agreed to act together at Easter of that year.

When the Easter Rising occurred on April 24, 1916, Connolly was Commandant of the Dublin Brigade, and as the Dublin brigade had the most substantial role in the rising, he was dc facto Commander in Chief. Following the surrender he was executed by the British for his role in the uprising. Although he was so badly injured in the fighting that he was unable to stand for his execution he was shot sitting in a chair. The Western labor movement, to its detriment no longer produces enough such militants as Connolly (and Larkin, for that matter). Learn more about this important socialist thinker and fighter. ALL HONOR TO HIS MEMORY. Chocky Ar La.

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