Connolly: Socialism and Nationalism

Pdf Socialism and Nationalism: a selection from the writings of James Connolly
Size: 18.8M bytesModified: 25 May 2009, 14:36

Socialism and Nationalism: A selection from the writings of James Connolly with an introduction by Desmond Ryan is a collection of essays that were published in a range of left wing publications over many years by the Scottish born Irish socialist revolutionary and 1916 Easter Rising leader James Connolly (1868-1916).

James Connolly was born in Edinburgh in 1868 into dire poverty to Irish parents. As a young man he briefly served in the British Army and became an life long opponent of British rule in Ireland and a Marxist radical committed to the overthrow of capitalist society. Years of unsuccessful industrial agitation in the late 19th and early 20th century culminated in the defeat of Irish strikers during the 1913 Dublin Lock-out convincing him to plan an armed insurrection using his Irish Citizen Army.

Hardline Irish nationalists led by Thomas Clarke and Patrick Pearse who were planning their own rebellion convinced Connolly to join forces. The 1916 Easter Rising led to a week of bloody fighting with the British military leaving much of Dublin city centre in ruins. Clarke, Pearse and Connally along with other rebel leaders were executed by firing squad. The executions awoke dormant Irish republican fervour that led directly to the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).

Connolly considered himself a socialist first and a nationalist second. He warned nationalists of the dangers of overthrowing British rule without aiming to establish a Workers' Republic in the aftermath:

'If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle , unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs... '

The socialist outlook of James Connolly was sidelined by the conservative leadership of Sinn Féin who overwhelmed the Irish Parliamentary Party in the subsequent 1918 general election. There were few socialists among the mainly rural rank and file of the Irish Republican Army who fought in the subsequent guerilla war against British forces in Ireland .

A bloody civil war split between rival nationalist factions came about due to differences over an oath of allegiance to the British Crown, the failure to achieve a fully independent Irish Republic and the loss of the six north eastern counties of Ulster to a Unionist dominated Northern Ireland . Those supportive or opposed to the Irish government came from all social classes and walks of life.

Following 1923 Irish politics was dominated for decades by the two rival 'civil war parties', Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both of whom had a similar conservative Catholic nationalist outlook and a deep rooted hostility to Marxism and socialism. The moderately left wing Labour Party meanwhile was forced to be the minor partner in coalition governments.

During the remainder of the 20th century hard-line Irish socialists and marxists who considered themselves the ideological successors of Connolly lamented high levels of poverty and emigration. Their splintered political parties were rife with internal ideological schisms and enjoyed only marginal support among a largely homogenously devout Catholic Irish working class who often viewed them with a mixture of fear, paranoia and hostility or else indifference. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland attempts by socialists to create working class unity were repeatedly defeated by ingrained sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants.

previousPrevious - Connolly: Labour in Ireland
Next - Connolly: The Workers' Republicnext

Upload to this page

Upload to this page

Add your photos, text, videos, etc. to this page.

Map Search



Popular Sections