James Connolly

The churches and the mobs in the battle for human freedom

This puncturing of the smug self-satisfaction of the Protestant Unionists in this article is valuable, not least in teaching socialists why we must fight religious bigotry in all its forms. The article is also an illustration of the limitations of the “but-what-about…” riposte in politics. Connolly told the truth about the past of the Anglicans and the Scottish Presbyterians, but the horrors he recounts were by and large things of the past. Catholic clericalism was very much of the present... And the future. Some of the details were different, but Lecky’s-Connolly’s account of the Presbyterian...

Kino Eye - Ireland on film: Strumpet City

The recent articles in Solidarity on James Connolly and other aspects of Irish labour history bring to mind what some have called the “great Irish novel”: James Plunkett’s Strumpet City, adapted for TV by Hugh Leonard and broadcast in Ireland in 1980 and then the UK. Strumpet City covers the period from 1907 to 1914, taking as its central event the Dublin Lockout of 1913. Connolly doesn’t make an appearance (he was in the USA for some of this time) but we are offered a surprisingly bravado performance from Peter O’Toole as the famous labour leader Jim Larkin. For me, however, the TV adaptation...

James Connolly on the yellow unions in Ireland

James Connolly, Jim Larkin and the rest of the executive of the Irish TUC and Labour Party, 1914 Slightly more than half the original text is missing from the version of this article in circulation, in the Cork Workers’ Club pamphlet Ireland Upon the Dissecting Table and on the web — the first part, detailing an attempt to set up a “yellow” union in Catholic Ireland. It contains a valuable portrayal of the use by a Home Rule politician of pseudo-nationalist cant. Sean Matgamna Our readers who have read in the Socialist press of the doings of the “Yellow Unions” of the Continent know that the...

James Connolly and the Catholic "Orange Order"

Introduction, by Sean Matgamna The partition of Ireland in 1920-1 was and is an imperialist crime. Why? In principle Marxists are in favour of the right of compact minorities to separate off the area where they are a territorial majority from an existing state, if that is what most of them want. Vladimir Lenin outlined socialist principles here in a 1913 Bolshevik Party resolution: Insofar as national peace is in any way possible in a capitalist society based on exploitation, profit-making and strife, it is attainable only under a consistently and thoroughly democratic republican system of...

Ballots, bullets or...

In 1909, as now, right-wing politicians in the USA were pushing new voter-suppression laws; and at that time vast voter suppression was already routine, against African-Americans in the Southern states. The Socialist Party was still weak (2.8% of the poll in the 1908 presidential election), as was the US union movement, but the SP discussed the threatened block to political advance by electoral means as did the much stronger German Social Democratic Party at the same time. This was the contribution (International Socialist Review, October 1909) by James Connolly, active in the USA between 1903...

Why public ownership?

Labour has pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to “put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run”. These are some reasons for doing this: • Those industries are central to economic life. To make a real socialist Green New Deal, to reshape economic life to cut carbon emissions adequately, requires public control of those industries rather than just nudging and coaxing their private owners. • They are, to one degree, or another, monopolies or semi-monopolies. Private-profit companies running such industries acquire big chances to make...

“He was also for something. He was for socialism”

Shaun Harkin has produced a timely and useful addition to the profuse and growing literature on James Connolly, the Irish revolutionary Marxist and socialist republican leader. Published in May 2018 to mark the 150th anniversary of Connolly’s birth in dire poverty to working-class Irish parents in Edinburgh, the book begins with a long introduction by Harkin, which sets out the context in which Connolly operated, how his politics were shaped by both his lifelong attachment to his class and his serious commitment to Marxist ideas. Harkin highlights how Connolly, as a ceaseless fighter against...

James Connolly: An Spailpin Fanach

An Spailpin Fanach (Phrases in italics are James Connolly's) Young nightsoil man who shovels human shit Left in the streets for such as you to lift, Half-starved Hiberno-Scot untouchable Who sign yourself in print 'R. Ascal', Here in the crumbling 'Labour Chronicle' Of Edinburgh and Leith, I find your tracks: A young man's anger stains the page like blood; A thoughtful, humorous, loving, bitter man, In hasty, driven, sometimes muddled work, Still rages, jokes, is fervent: - Hope, and fight! A full free happy life for all, or none! Rage, for a father's useless, broken bones, For childhood in a...

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