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Created: By James Connolly (1868-1916) Date range: 1898-1916.
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Ruth Murphy (ed.)
Julianne Nyhan (ed.)
Peter Flynn (conversion)
Margaret Lantry (ed.)
Floor Hondelink (ed.)
Mavis Cournane (ed.)
Donnchadh Ó Corráin (ed.)
Dara Mac Domhnaill (ed.)
Dara Mac Domhnaill (ed.)
A socialist republic is the application to agriculture, and industry; to the farm, the field, the workshop, of the democratic principle of the republican ideal.James Connolly.
I first met James Connolly in the year 1910 on one of his visits to Belfast to engage in Socialist propaganda, soon after his return from America. I was at that time a member of the Independent Labour Party, which had many branches in the city of Belfast, and was actively engaged in Socialist propaganda work. I knew little of James Connolly and his work at this stage, as we were nurtured on the British brand of Socialist propaganda, and all the literature we read, as well as all our speakers were imported from Great Britain.
I had been introduced to the faith by some of my friends, who like myself worked in Messrs. Harland & Wolff's shipyard, and although my mind, like most teen-agers at the time, was concentrated on sport to the exclusion of almost every other consideration, I was induced to take home and read Robert Blatchford's Merry England and Britain for the British, and I was kept judiciously supplied with pamphlets on various aspects of the Socialist movement until I became quite interested in the subject, and shortly afterwards did not object to the description of Socialist being applied to myself, although at the time, in the circumstances and particularly in the environment this was quite a momentous decision to make. I soon became a frequent attender at Socialist meetings and found myself taking the chairas we described itat street corner meetings, and introducing the speaker to the audience, which invariably was not large in those days if one excluded periods of stress or the Sunday afternoon meetings at the Custom House steps, where a large crowd was attracted by the variety of oratorical fare offered, from the vending of quack medicine
p.182to the robust oratory of some of the political cum religious orators. There was at this stage a very active Socialist movement in Great Britain, and as our school of Socialist thought had no nationalist tradition, and was not conscious of, and even if it had been would have been contemptuous of, a Socialist movement in any other part of this country. We did not give any thought to much, save the conversion of as many of our fellow workers as possible to the Socialist creedand often marvelled at their obtuseness in not embracing itand regarded ourselves as being part of a vast International Socialist movement, which one day would emancipate the toiling masses from the thraldom of wage slavery through the disintegration of the capitalist system of society, a fact which we too fatalistically accepted as being inevitable in the fullness of time.
It is quite true I had heard James Connolly and his works discussed, and an odd copy of his magazine The Harp, which was published during his sojourn in America, (1903-10), had fallen into my hands. As it expressed Socialism in a different way, I was sufficiently interested, when he appeared in person, to listen to anything he had to say, and secure copies of his writings from the easily read and easily assimilated Socialism Made Easy and the Axe to the Root to his more ambitious Labour In Irish History, and the Reconquest of Ireland, both of which latter books particularly opened up a vista before me of which I was but dimly conscious.
Prior to seeing him and meeting him, and hearing him speak, I had conjured up a picture of him in my mind, which actual contact with him proved to be an illusion. I had conceived of himmy imagination had undoubtedly been coloured by the visits of some oratorical gladiators I had heard from Great Britainas being tall, commanding, and as the advance notices said of him, a silver-tongued orator. I found him, however, to be the opposite of my mental picture; short, squat, unpretentious, with a distinctive even if with a slightly raucous
p.183brogue, which seemed to be a blend of his native Monaghan and the city of his adoption Edinburgh. I recall that the subject matter of his speech, and his method of delivery, were different to what we had been used tothere were no highly imaginative flights of flamboyant oratory. The appeal was not to the emotions, but to the head. Calm, clear, incisive analysis of his subject, interlarded with frequent references to Irish history, and a restrained eloquence calculated to carry conviction. I was impressed but disappointed, as he was somewhat less spectacular than I had expected, but of course I was young, and my standards were false.
My mind was, accordingly, attuned to his message a year later in 1911, when he came North to settle in Belfast, and later became District Organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. Meantime, I had considered myself sufficiently conversant with Socialist philosophy and trade unionism to mount the rostrum at the various street corner meetings and lecture my fellow citizens on the errors of their political and economic ways. I was also ready to embrace all of the invitations extended to me by Connolly to assist him in addressing meetings of dockers and mill workers whom he was organising into the Union at this time.
His permanent advent to our City meant that we had two main political Socialist organisations where one had mainly held sway, i.e., the Socialist Party of Ireland and the British organisation, the Independent Labour Party, of which I was a member, and of which James Keir Hardie, M.P., was one of its leading figures. Connolly's organisation was Marxist and nationalist in outlook, while the Independent Labour Party was reformist and pseudo-internationalist. Obviously the latter in such an environment as Belfast was the more popular organisation, although Connolly, being on the spot and engaging in active propaganda, was attracting a number of the more thoughtful elements of the Socialist movement
p.184of the City to his standard. Perhaps it is pertinent to mention here that in the main in those days, the members of the Socialist movement in the City were Protestants, as the Catholics were in the main followers of the Irish Parliamentary Party and their local parliamentary representativeJoe Devlin, M.P., for West Belfast, who was credited with having Labour sympathies. This was an additional handicap to the growth of the Socialist Party of Ireland, and the obvious reason why no attempt had been made to have the Socialist movement in Belfast Irish based until then. This fact, however, did not prevent a few of the leading members of the I.L.P., such as Tom Johnson and the late Davy Campbell, and others, from being interested. Connolly was, of courseincorrigible optimist that he wasstriving unremittingly to get the entire movement of the City to leave the Independent Labour Party and join the Socialist Party of Ireland. This was a much more difficult matter than Connolly, realist as he was, appeared to apprehend. In those times it was difficult enough for one to break with the Unionist family tradition and embrace Socialism, but much more difficult to swallow the hook, line and sinker of Irish Republicanism as well. A number there were who did it and paid the inevitable price some twelve months later, during the fierce sectarian troubles which broke out in the Belfast Shipyards when practically every known Socialist found it impossible to continue at work, and were subjected to physical violence, or exposed to the threat of it, as also was every Catholic employed there, and it was a long time following before passions became sufficiently cooled to enable either to return with safety to their former places of employment.
Connolly's permanent advent to Belfast synchronised with the fierce debates proceeding in the British House of Commons on the question of Home Rule, and the organisation of the Ulster Volunteers in the North of Ireland. Sir Edward Carson, K.C., Bonar Law, Galloper F. E. Smith, K.C., Lord
p.185Londonderry, Sir James Craig, and many lesser lights, were organising the movement for the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant to resist the granting of Home Rule by every means in their power, and this phase of the agitation culminated a couple of years later in the signing of this Covenant by the leaders in their own blood on a Saturday in June, outside the City Hall, Belfast, as a symbolical gesture of their determination to resist Home Rule, even by the shedding of their blood. In addition, the utmost political, social and economic pressure, was applied in home, factory and workshop to secure the maximum number of signatures for the Covenant, and some there were who, against their better judgment, succumbed to the pressure, and it was only the most determined who withstood it.
This is the background against which Connolly and a few of us kept alive and engaged in active propaganda work, an Irish based political organisation, having as our dual purpose the spread of Socialise ideals and the securing of Home Rule for the country. It had been the practice during my membership of the I.L.P. if we were interrogated at question time regarding our attitude to Home Rule, to reply that a person could hold whatever views he liked on that question and still be a Socialist, but I remember Connolly advising me, as I was invariably the Chairman at all the meetings, at this stage, that if we were asked our views on this question that we had to be brutally blunt about the matter, and categorically state that we favoured the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, and that it was entirely inconsistent with the principles of Socialism to deny such a right to Ireland, or any other country struggling to be freed from the rule of their conquerors. We henceforth nailed our colours to the mast, and whatever part of the City we held forth in, there was no dissembling on this vital but highly unpopular matter in some quarters of such a city as Belfast.
Almost simultaneous with his taking up residence in Belfast,
p.186Connolly, who was a frequent contributor to the Socialist press, wrote an article in Forward (Glasgow), a weekly Socialist journal, in the issue on the 27th May, 1911, headed A Plea for Socialist Unity in Ireland. After mentioning that there were two Socialist organisations in Ireland, the I.L.P. in the North and the S.P.I. in the South, although the latter had a Branch in Belfast, and that as organisations they had more in common than various sections within each organisation, he proceeded to make an appeal for an effort to merge these two organisations into one, in view of the impending political change in the status of the country with the granting of Home Rule. He posed the question of what kept the two organisations divided, and proceeded:
Laying aside all questions of personality, personal ambitions and personal jealousies as being accidental and unessential, it may be truthfully asserted that one point of divergence is that the I.L.P. in Belfast believes that the Socialist movement in Ireland must perforce remain a dues-paying organic part of the British Socialist movement, or else forfeit its title to be considered a part of International Socialism, whereas the Socialist Party of Ireland maintains that the relations between Socialism in Ireland and in Great Britain should be based upon comradeship and mutual assistance and not upon dues-paying, should be fraternal and not organic, and should operate by exchange of literature and speakers rather than by attempts to treat as one, two peoples of whom one has for 700 years nurtured an unending martyrdom rather than admit the unity or surrender its national identity. The Socialist Party of Ireland considers itself the only international Party in Ireland since its conception of Internationalism is that of a free federation of free peoples, whereas that of the Belfast branches of the I.L.P. seems scarcely distinguishable from Imperialism, the merging of subjugated peoples
p.187in the political system of their conquerors. For the propagation universally of our ideal of a true internationalism there is only required the spread of reason and enlightenment amongst the peoples of the earth, whereas the conceptions of internationalism tacitly accepted by our comrades of the I.L.P. in Belfast required for its spread the flash of the sword of militarism, and the roar of a British 80-ton gun. We cannot conceive why our comrades should insist that we are not Internationalists, and that we cannot be unless we treat the Socialists of Great Britain better than we treat the Socialists of the Continent, or of America or Australia.
This article of Connolly's evoked a reply from William Walker, who was and had been the chief spokesman of the I.L.P. in the North of Ireland for many years. Before dealing with Walker's reply, it might be well to say a few words about the type of man he was. A joiner by trade, at the material time he was the Trade Union representative of the Joiners for Belfast. He was a highly intelligent man. In appearance he would have passed for one of the professional classes, was a brilliant and gifted speaker, was universally popular with the citizens as well as the workers, and was generally held in very high esteem. He had been a Poor Law Guardian, a City Councillor, and had contested North Belfast as candidate of the British Labour Party on several occasions, and had also, unsuccessfully, contested an election in Leith Burgh, Scotland, as a Labour Party candidate. In addition, he had been a member of the Executive of the British Labour Party, and was a former President of and also a regular Delegate to the Irish Trade Union Congress. He, however, had the disadvantage of his upbringing and environment, and while as Connolly reminds him during this controversy he was guilty when a candidate for North Belfast of the most egregious offences a Socialist could commit in giving an undertaking to the Belfast Protestant
p.188Association that he would vote against the extension of self-government to this country, and more heinously still that he would vote in favour of the Protestant succession. Yet it has to be said that he was a man of great courage, possessing a progressive mind, if one could pardon his reactionary views concerning Ireland, and undoubtedly had fought a strenuous fight throughout his life to make his particular brand of Socialism a factor in the public life of Belfast and the North of Ireland. This controversy with Connolly revealed, however, that he was abysmally deficient in his knowledge of Irish History and the history and philosophy of Socialism. In my judgment he proved an unworthy opponent for Connolly on the question of Socialist polemics.
However, we better let him speak for himself. He describes Connolly's brand of Socialism in these words
For if what he preaches therein be Socialism then surely he has a monopoly of the brand he adumbrates. I hold no brief for Belfast, but past bigotry aside, we have moved fast towards municipal Socialism, leaving not merely the other cities of Ireland far behind but giving the lead to many cities in England and Scotland. We collectively own and control our gas works, water works, harbour works, markets, tramways, electricity, museums, art galleries, etc., whilst we municipally cater for bowlers, cricketers, footballers, lovers of band music (having organised a Police Band), and our works department do an enormous amount of time and contract work within the municipality. With the above in operation, we in Belfast have no need to be ashamed of being compared in municipal management with any city in the Kingdom.
Referring to Connolly's remark on the relationship that should exist between the Irish and British Socialist movements, he comments:
That the S.P.I. want the Trade Unionists of Ireland to cease to contribute dues to [British] amalgamated Unions. That the co-operative movement should cease its
p.189financial connection, that the great Friendly Society Branches in Ireland should divorce themselves (financially) from their brethren across the Channel, and that having done so, we would raise aloft the flag of Internationalism and declare that we, and we alone, are the only true Socialists and Internationalists.
Walker also cited Scotland as a nation seeking, academically at least, legislative independence, which in the earlier years started a Scottish Labour Party, and continues
For years that Party appealed in vain to the workers with the result that in 1909 the Scottish societies agreed to affiliate with the British Labour Party and their national organisations, whilst the delegates to the Portsmouth [Labour Party] Conference (theoretically Home Rulers) unanimously adopted this policy.
Bailie Jack (Scottish Ironmounders) declared that what was wanted was the unity of our forces all over. Just so, but Ireland has to be, must be, treated differently. Why? Because of the conservative temperament of certain Irish propagandists, and because of their insistence on viewing the class war as a national question instead of as it is, a world-wide question.
He next quotes from the report of the British Labour Party, Internationalism, regarding the reception accorded to British Labour Party delegates during a visit to Germany. They were entertained to lunch in the Reichstag building in Berlin. One of the speakers who welcomed them was Dr. Von Bethmann-Hollweg, afterwards Imperial Chancellor, who expressed the hope that the German Socialist delegates would be treated in the same hospitable way on a return visit. Walker comments:
This is internationalism, and it is the I.L.P. who has pioneered this, and with their policy and aims on the question, I, at least subscribe to. My place of birth was accidental, my duty to my class is world-wide, hence my internationalism.
In an attempt to justify the role the North had played in the National struggle, he wrote in reply to Connolly
p.190just to correct your history. You say that nationalist Ireland contains all the elements of social struggles and warring political theories. . .. But in all the warring the advanced sections of Nationalist Ireland have looked in vain for help to the sturdy Protestant Democracy of the North. Did you understand what you wrote and what a libel the above is upon many of the greatest leaders whose recorded deeds illumine the pages of Irish history?
The leader and founder of the '48 revolt was a Presbyterian from UlsterJohn Mitchel. It was in Ulster that the Irish Volunteer movement had its birth, and its President (Colonel Irvine) and its Commander (Lord Charlemont) were of the sturdy Protestant Democracy of the North. It was in Belfast their first grand review took place. Twenty years before Michael Davitt started on the great career for the solution of the Irish Land problem, Ulster had taken and given a lead to Ireland. A meeting was held in Dublin on 6th August, 1850, presided over by an Ulster Protestant, James McKnight, L.L.D., to protest and organise a crusade against landlordism in Ireland, and in the great fight of the '50's both in Parliament and the country for the three F's, the name of three sturdy Protestant Democrats of the North are always found leadingWilliam Sharman Crawford, M.P., Rev. Mr. Rodgers of Comer and Daniel McCurdy Greet, B.L., are names whose association with agrarian agitation is so intimate as to call for no further comment.
It was a sturdy Protestant Democrat of the North who led the revolt of the Irish Party, and began that career of obstruction so effective to Ireland. And Joseph Gillies Biggar, the Belfast Pork Merchant, can challenge any section of Nationalist Ireland for work done for the country, whilst in the great fight on the Land Bill of Gladstone, Lord Russell's name, a Belfast Catholic is inseparably associated, and the famous Protestant Theobald Wolfe Tone found Belfast to be
p.191the most favourable place to found that wonderful organisation the Society of United Irishmen, an organisation that has to its credit at least wonderful doughty deeds. In fact, whilst not disparaging the other provinces of Ireland, one can truthfully say that Ulster has given her fair quota to the work so much believed in by Comrade Connolly, viz.Nationalism.
And may I further point out that the Protestant faith has given more leaders to the Irish rebels than the Catholic faith, Grattan, Davis, Butt, Mitchel, Parnell, Shaw, Biggar, etc., are all names to conjure with, and all without exception were Protestants. . .. May I remind Comrade Connolly of the famous dictum of that still more famous rebel James Fintan Lalor, who declared that The land question contains and the legislative question does not contain the materials from which victory is to be manufactured.. . .. But it does seem a peculiar brand of Socialism that aims at legislative independence before socialism.
In a second article Connolly, as was to be expected, waxes sarcastic over what he describes as tawdy rhetoric, cheap and irrelevant schoolboy history, and badly digested political philosophy, all permeated with an artfully instilled appeal to religious prejudice and civic sectionalism, carefully calculated to make Belfast wrap itself round in a garment of self-righteousness, and to look with scorn upon its supposed weaker Irish brethren. And continuing in the same vein he refers to Lord Charlemont as an aristocratic poltroon who deserted and betrayed the Irish Volunteers when they proposed to use their organisation to obtain a Democratic extension of the suffrage and religious toleration. That he should be cited as a Democrat proves that there is a kink somewhere, either in Walker's conception of Democracy or in his knowledge of Irish history.
But friend Walker blunders on from absurdity to absurdity. Remember that he is opposed to self-government to Ireland,
p.192and then admire his colossal nerve in citing the glorious example of sturdy Protestant Democrats who gave their whole lives in battling, suffering and sacrifice for the cause of National Freedom which Comrade Walker rejects. He cites Theobald Wolfe Tone. Wolfe Tone recognised that National Independence was an essential element to Democracy, and declared that to break the connection with England the never failing source of all our political evils. He cited James Fintan Lalor. Lalor declared that the Irish people should fight for full and absolute independence for this island, and for every man within this island. Lalor was not a Protestant, but our Comrade also cites Lalor's contemporary, Mitchel, whom he wrongly describes as a Presbyterian. He was instead a Unitarian. Mitchel summed up his politics in these words We must have Ireland, not for certain peers, and for nominees of peers in College Green; but Ireland for the Irish.
Comrade Walker also cites Joseph Gillies Biggar, a sturdy and uncomprising Home Ruler. In fact, practically all the sturdy Protestant Democrats he cited are men who would have treated with contempt Walker's pitiful straddle on Irish politics. They are all men to whom he would have been opposed were he living in their time. He reminds us of this section by quoting among the names of Irish Rebels, Grattan, Butt and Shaw, a quotation that must have brought a grin to the face of anyone who read it, and had even a rudimentary knowledge of Irish history.
In passing let me remark that the names cited by Comrade Walker but confirm my point. We do not care so much what a few men did as what the vast mass of their co-religionists do. The vast mass of the Protestants of Ulster, except during the period of 1798, were bitter enemies of the men he has named, and during the bitter struggle of the Land League, when the peasantry in the other provinces were engaged in a life and death struggle against landlordism, the sturdy
p.193Protestant Democracy of the North were electing landlords, and the nominees of landlords, to every Protestant constituency in Ulster. . .. All these men will live in history, because they threw in their lot with the other provinces in a common struggle for political freedom. In the exact measure that we admire and applaud them must we condemn and deplore the sectional and parochial action of Comrade Walker.
To demonstrate that Walker's Socialist theories for the movement in Ireland was not any more sound than his Nationalistic ones, Connolly quotes an extract from a letter written by Karl Marx to his friend Dr. L. Kugelmann, on the 29th November, 1869, as follows:
I have become more and more convincedand the only question is to bring this conviction home to the English working classthat it can never do anything decisive here in England until it separates its policy with regard to Ireland in the most definite way from the policy of the ruling classes, until it not only makes common cause with the Irish, but actually takes the initiative in dissolving the Union established in 1801 and replacing it by a free federal relationship. And, indeed, this must be done, not as a matter of sympathy with Ireland, but as a demand made in the interests of the English proletariat. If not, the English people will remain tied to the leading-strings of the ruling classes, because it must join with them in a common front against Ireland. Every one of its movements in England itself is crippled by the disunion with the Irish, who form a very important section of the working class in England. The primary condition of emancipation herethe overthrow of the English landed oligarchyremains impossible because its position here cannot be stormed so long as it maintains its strongly entrenched outposts in Ireland. But, there, once affairs are in the hands of the Irish people itself, once it is made its own legislator and ruler, once it becomes autonomous, the abolition of the landed aristocracy (to a large extent the
p.194same persons as the English landlords) will be infinitely easier than here, because in Ireland it is not merely a simple economic question, but at the same time a national question, since the landlords there are not like those in England, the traditional dignitaries and representatives, but are the hated oppressors of a nation. And not only does England's internal social development remain crippled by her present relation with Ireland; her foreign policy, and particularly her policy with regard to Russia and America, suffers the same fate.
In a further reply Walker attempts to answer Connolly with the following:
Into a pitfall of errors Comrade Connolly falls when he assumes that I was quoting the Protestant Rebels as approving of them. I wasn't, but I was pointing out that Catholic Ireland had many Protestant leaders in all the great revolutionary movements, and this evidently was information to friend Connolly. But to get to essentials. What do you want an Irish Labour Party for? Will Ireland more readily respond to it than to the British Labour Party? What is your experience? Have you proved that? No; everything that the people of Ireland want can be safeguarded much better under the protection of the United Democracies than if we were isolated. This truth has been reaffirmed at the recent Irish Trade Union Congress [Galway, 1911] when once again a Congress of Irish representative workmen pledged themselves over to the British Labour Party, recognising therein the elements of protection; but Comrade Connolly, who three weeks ago found me without Nationalism, finds me to-day full charged with parochialism, and this he declares is why I am not an Internationalist like unto him. Just so. That is just the reason. Whilst frothy talk about Nationalism forming the basis of Internationalism has been plentiful with some people, some of us in Belfast have been doing something to improve conditions
p.195in the Poor Law Board, in the City Council and the Trade Union Branch. Amongst the textile workers, the sweated and oppressed, the dockers and the carters, we have gone to help to lift them up to a better condition of life. Of course, this is parochialism. Well, friend Connolly, I am proud of my parochial reputation. It has meant something to the poor consumptive, to the workhouse child, and the Trade Union member; with this knowledge I am well content to be so labelled. But my parochialism is true nationality. I would give each locality (within certain well defined limits) local autonomy, and thus develop a healthy rivalry in the supply of those amenities to our municipal life, which, alas, in the larger part of Ireland are in the hands of the private speculator. . .. Against clericalism I am (and I have said much more about the Protestant than the Catholic Clergy); yet there is not a worker in either ranks who doesn't know that my activities are not self-interested.
Connolly further replied:
All that unctuous self-glorification and holier-than-thou attitudinising about his work for the poor consumptive, the workhouse child and the Trade Union member, the textile worker, the dockers and the carters, the sweated and the oppressed, and that work bringing no personal remuneration or glory, yet lifts the veil of poverty a little from the face of the people, all that is valuable, as a study in the psychology of Comrade Walker, and as an indication that the Pharisaical spirit of the unco guid and rigidly righteous still walks abroad amongst us, but as a real contribution to the question in dispute, like the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la, they have nothing to do with the case.
Reverting to the main theme of the controversy, he wrote:
We of the Socialist Party of Ireland now, as in the past, hold it to be our duty to assist and foster every tendency of
p.196organised Labour in Ireland to found a Labour Party capable of fighting the capitalist parties of Ireland upon their own soil. Comrade Walker and his followers insist that every such tendency is to be fought to the death, that in its upward march the ideal of a Labour Party in Ireland must fight its way against the combined hosts of Orangemen, Redmondism and I.L.P.ism. That the Labour Party of England is the enemy of every attempt to found a similar party in Ireland. I refuse to believe him. I hold that his policy in Ireland is the very reverse of all that the I.L.P. stands for in Great Britain.
At the Irish Trade Union Congress, held in Galway on Whit Tuesday,  a motion to establish a Labour Party in Ireland was defeated by an amendment moved by Comrade Walker to the effect that the way to secure Independent Labour Representation was to affiliate with the Labour Party in England. If he had moved an amendment leaving it optional upon the Trade Unions to choose which Labour Party they should join, no one could find fault, but no such option was left. His motto was Either affliate with England or we will squelch you. His amendment was carried by 32 votes to 29. The unborn Labour Party of Ireland was strangled in the womb by the hands of the I.L.P.ers. The 29 votes for the motion represented all the militant forces of the more progressive Trade Unions of Ireland; forces anxious for a battle on behalf of Labour against the political forces of Irish Capitalism; the 32 votes for Walker's amendment represented the forces of reaction anxious at all costs to save the present political parties from the danger inherent in a proposal to give the political forces of Labour an Irish home, and an Irish basis of operations. Had the motion been carried, next General Election would have seen some seats in Ireland fought by Labour against all comers. The motion was defeated by an unholy alliance, and reaction in Ireland breathes freely once more.
After a long citation from a speech delivered by the Socialist
p.197orator and publicist, Gabriel Deville, in Paris in 1893, setting forth the position the Socialist Parties of the various countries of the world should occupy in the Socialist International movement, Connolly quotes Jean Jaurès, whom he describes as the peerless orator of the International Socialist movementon the Nonvay and Sweden Parallel to Ireland and England, speaking at Limoges in 1905:
Norway, conquered nearly a century ago by Sweden, and seeking ever since at intervals, but with increasing vigour, to recover its automony, has at last proclaimed its national independence. It has broken the link which for nearly a hundred years has bound it to Sweden. And there has been in Sweden certain of the Conservative governing class proud and obstinate, who, for a time, have dreamt of resorting to war to compel Norway to submit in spite of herself to the Swedish Union. If this war of the Swedish bourgeoisie had broken out in spite of the Norwegian Socialists, in spite of the Swedish Socialists, it is very clear that the Norwegian Socialists who, beforehand, had by their votes, by their suffrages, affirmed the independence of Norway, would have defended it even by force against the assaults of the Swedish oligarchy. . .. But at the same time that the Socialists of Norway would have been right in defending their national independence, it would have been the right and duty of the Swedish Socialists to oppose, even by the proclamation of a general strike, any attempt at violence, at conquest, at annexation, made by the Swedish bourgeoisie.
Walker, in a subsequent contribution, descended to a personal attack on Connolly, and the Editor was constrained to state in a footnote that unless the controversy could be raised to a level of discussion on principles it had better cease. Despairing then of maintaining it on that level, Connolly forebore to write further.
These quotations serve to show the wide gap that separated
p.198the disputants in their approach to Socialist problems and particularly to the question of International Socialism, as well as to the claims of Ireland to the status of full nationhood. As I have already mentioned, neither the claims of Ireland to legislative independence nor the claims of the Socialist movement of the country to its rightful place in the international scheme of things ever entered the calculations of those who espoused this particular brand of Northern Ireland Socialism, and it may not be irrelevant to state that this tradition has continued since through all the vicissitudes of the national struggle, until to-day we have the pitiful spectacle of the Six Counties Labour Party recognising the territorial status of Northern Ireland and functioning as an open and avowed partitionist Labour organisation.
Little more need be added by way of comment on this controversy except to say that it is not without significance to add, in view of the reference to the workhouse child and the poor consumptive by William Walker that within a period of twelve months he had accepted a position from the British Government under the new National Insurance Acts, introduced by Lloyd George, and took his departure from the Labour movement and the scenes of his former activities.
He also proved an unreliable prophet during this discussion claiming, as he did, that the I.L.P. propaganda had so produced an atmosphere of toleration that anyone could be certain of a fair hearing, even if he did allege that Connolly, with his nationalistic brand of Socialism, was endeavouring to reap where he had not sown. How false this claim was, was revealed by the fierce outbreak of sectarian passion during the summer of 1912 already referred to, when none but the most orthodox, politically, economically and religiously, were permitted to work in the shipyards and leading engineering establishments of the city, and when unoffending citizens were subjected to excesses of brutality for no reason other than they worshipped
p.199at a different shrine to the bigoted Tories who held sway in the manufacturing industries or large districts of the city.
This controversy had not the effect of detaching many members of the I.L.P. from their allegiance to it, but the following year (1912) an attempt was made to secure the unity of the Socialist movement in Ireland, and during the summer a conference was convened in Dublin to consider ways and means and invitations were extended to organisations and individuals to attend. I remember travelling from Belfast to Dublin to attend this conference with amongst others, James Connolly, Tom Johnson, Davy Campbell, Danny McDevitt and Joseph Mitchell. The conference was held in the premises of the Socialist Party of Ireland in the Antient Concert Buildings, Gt. Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street) and there was a morning and afternoon session. I did not know any of the Southern delegates personally but, amongst them, I remember Francis Sheehy Skeffington and Bill O'Brien being present. An incident that occurred is fresh in my memory. The delegates from the British Socialist Party, i.e. the organisation founded by the late Victor Grayson, M.P. , which was operating in Belfast in a small way, had attended the morning session of the conference but failed to attend the afternoon one. On my enquiring the reason, I was informed they took objection to being compelled to walk over a Union Jack that was spread on the floor over which we crossed on our way to the conference room. This incident ended their interest in the proposal to unify the Socialist movement in Ireland.
The main decision of the conference was to found a new organisation, with the same principles as the Socialist Party of Ireland, but to name it the Independent Labour Party of Ireland. A short time after our return to Belfast, I was chosen as Chairman of the Belfast Branch of the Party, with a room in Upper Donegall Street, for business purposes, while we used the room above Danny McDevitt's tailoring premises
p.200in Rosemary Street, known as the Bounders College for our propaganda meetings during the winter. Our forum during the summer was at the lamp in Library Street where, on occasions, we drew large crowds.
As I have already mentioned, Home Rule for Ireland was being hotly debated, not alone in the British Parliament but from every political platform in the country as wide apart as from Portrush to Cork. The Unionist Party, under the vigorous leadership of Sir Edward Carson, had organised the Ulster Volunteer movement throughout the North of Ireland and had armed it with rifles, which had been run into Larne and parts of the Co. Down coast in an effort, as they stated, to prevent the extension of Home Rule to Ireland. The Liberal Government of the day, under the Premiership of Mr. Asquith, in an effort to avert what he regarded as the impending civil war in Ireland had induced the leaders of the Irish Parliamentary Party to agree to the temporary exclusion of certain counties of Ulster from the provisions of the Home Rule Bill. John Redmond, Joe Devlin and others had addressed their followers at a meeting in St. Mary's Hall, Belfast, early in 1914, and had secured their acquiescence to the Liberal Government's proposal to exclude Ulster for a period of years.
This betrayal of the Nationalist interests was not allowed to pass unchallenged by Connolly, who organised a demonstration in the same hall in April, 1914, under the auspices of the Independent Labour Party of Ireland, to protest against the exclusion of Ulster. As Chairman of the Party in Belfast, I presided at the meeting and, in addition to Connolly, I was supported on the platform by Captain J. R. (Jack) White, D.S.O., Thomas Johnson, Davy Campbell and Dick Breathwith, the latter who was known as the Bubbleburster was a convert from the Belfast Protestant Association. This was the first big political demonstration I had addressed indoors and the hall was packed to capacity, mainly by a Falls Road
p.201(Nationalist) audience. Two incidents occurred which are still fresh in my memory. I had been handed a list, containing the order of the speakers, by Davy Campbell and, according to this list, Connolly was to precede Captain White. I assumed this had been done by agreement with the speakers and soon after I had delivered myself of my speech as Chairman, without any consultation with him, I called upon Connolly to address the meeting, only to find there was no response from him. He sat rivetted to his seat without even deigning to offer me an explanation of what I regarded as his strange behaviour. I was, frankly, non-plussed and after hesitating for a few seconds to see if he would change his mind I turned to Captain White, who was sitting on my left on the platform and asked him if he would speak and, on his readily agreeing, the incident passed over. In a friendly way at the end of the meeting I asked Connolly why he would not speak when called upon and he replied he was not sure what Captain White was going to say and he desired to speak after him in case he did not take the right line on the subject. This fear, however, was groundless, as Captain White was quite sound on the question.
The other incident was the contrast in the reception given by this audiencean almost exclusively Nationalist oneto the speakers. Captain White, who was an indifferent sort of speaker in those days, had a short time prior to this been mixed up in some trouble with the police in Dublinan aftermath of the 1913 struggleand came to the meeting with his head swathed in bandages. He was given a vociferous reception by the meeting and an attentive hearing during the course of a short, hesitant speech. In contrast Connolly, who made an infinitely better speech, in fact one of the best I had heard him deliver, was received with tepid lukewarmness and had to shout above the subdued hum of conversation of the audience to make himself heard and understood by those who desired to hear him. The explanation of this was that Captain White
p.202was the scion of a Unionist family and a son of General Sir George White, of Boer War and the defence of Ladysmith fame, had forsaken the traditional politics of his family and had come over to the Nationalist side of politics. Hence the warm welcome that was given to him; whereas Connolly, during his propaganda in Belfast, was extremely critical of the Irish Parliamentary Party and Joe Devlin, M.P., in particular, as the local representative of the Party, and during the course of his speech at this meeting had been strong in his denunciation of that party for their treacherous conduct in agreeing to cut off from Ireland that portion which had been the home of the United Irishmen, and the cradle of the Republican movement of the country. It was at this meeting that I first heard him quote Charles Gavan Duffy's simile of Ireland as a corpse on the dissecting table and, as he added, amputating the Northern portion. The meeting was voted an overwhelming success, our resolutions condemning the exclusion of Ulster were unanimously carried and Connolly was quite jubilant at its close. It is, I think, worth recording that Connolly was the only Catholic amongst the platform speakers.
About this time the Countess Markievicz was induced by Connolly to visit Belfast and delivered a lecture in our Hall in Rosemary Street, entitled Revolution in the Balkan Provinces. As usual, I presided and, as I had anticipated, during the course of the lecture questions and discussions on this subject were difficult to stimulate, for the main reason that few of the small audience knew anything whatever of the subject. As was my custom, I asked Connolly at an early stage of the discussion if he desired to speak and he intimated that he did not. As was not unusual at the meetings in those days, discussion was not too strictly confined to the subject matter of the lecture and ranged over a variety of subjects, including the big industrial dispute in Dublin of 1913, some eight months previously. A young Dublin man, resident in Belfast, and a
p.203party member, who had returned from a day excursion to Dublin this Sunday evening and who had not heard a word of the lecture but didn't consider this any handicap or a cogent enough reason why he should not make a speech, related an incident which concerned a parish priest, who, it was stated, had been endeavouring at Amiens Street Station to prevent children being sent from Dublin to homes in Belfast and England during the course of the recent Dublin strike, and the speaker quoted a remark stated to have been made by a striker who was looking after the embarkation of the children to the parish priest, enquiring as to what business it was of his where the children went, as they didn't belong to him. The latter portion of this remark, which was capable of either an innocent or a slighting interpretation, was given the latter construction by Connolly, who rose to his feet in a white heat of indignation, passionately denouncing and literally wiping the floor with the speaker for daring to speak so slightly and so disparagingly of a parish priest and thundered that he considered the remark not alone irrelevant but irreverent as well and one that should not be made at a meeting of that kind. Some of the audience who had read Connolly's Labour, Nationality and Religion, and regarded him as being anti-clerical, or even unorthodox in religion, were at a loss to understand why he should have become so indignant about a remark which they didn't consider in good taste, but which they thought could have been ignored, either as having been related without intended disparagement or without consideration of its pointed implication.
Connolly was the complete propagandist and was a man with a mission in life. His aims whilst active in Belfast could be regarded as three-fold, the furtherance of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, of which he was District Organiser, and his desire to raise the standard of life, particularly of the dockers and the mill workers; the development of the
p.204Socialist movement, of which he was a keen student and an active propagandist; and the complete reconquest of Ireland and ultimately the establishment of a republican form of government. He, no doubt, found the Northern environment trying and uncongenial and it was only with difficulty he could be patient with the odd stolid Orangeman whom he encountered in his propaganda work up to this. One such occasion was when he was speaking at Library Street on a Sunday evening and was expatiating on Irish history when one of this type interrupted him, and drawing a copy of the Solemn League and Covenant from his pocket brandished it in the air and remarked there would be no Home Rule for Ireland and that he and his thousands of co-signatories would see to it. Connolly, with a sardonic smile, advised him to take the document home and frame it, adding your children will laugh at it.
For a period after William Walker's defection from the movement we had a joint committee, operating between ourselves and the I.L.P., to conduct propaganda in the city. This was responsible for producing my one difference with Connolly, as I usually found him an extremely easy colleague to work with, although I have known him to be rude, if not indeed intolerant, with those who differed from him on Socialist matters.
Under this arrangement at our open-air meeting in Library Street one Sunday evening in 1913 we had as speaker a member of the I.L.P. He was an Englishman, residing in Belfast and was employed in some managerial capacity. The title of his lecture is long since forgotten by me, the subject matter of it is, however, still fresh in my memory as being the Chairman of the meeting I have occasion to remember it. During the course of his speech he produced a sovereign from his waist-coat pocket and explained that, as he had always one of these to spare, his attitude to the Socialist movement was one of benevolence as he was not like the ordinary proletarian in a
p.205hard-up condition. This could have been passed over with the contempt it deserved but then he proceeded to indulge in comments on Ireland, worthy of an official Tory propagandist, that while the people of the North of Ireland were thrifty and industrious the people of the South of Ireland were slovenly and lazy, which accounted for the prosperity in the one area, and the poverty in the other. Young as I was, I was wondering if I shouldn't pull him down from the platform when Connolly, whom I hadn't seen at the meeting up to this, approached me and inquired if he would be allowed to speak after the speaker had finished, to which, in my distraught mood, I replied in an off-hand manner that he would have the same rights as any other member of the audience. This was the cause of the trouble, as Connolly interpreted this as giving the right to mount the platform and address the meeting, whereas I held that such right was at the discretion of the Chairman which I refused him, and all others who were clamouring to speaksome in opposition to himand got the meeting closed as quickly as possible. Immediately following this I left the city for a short course of study of economics and industrial history at Bangor University, Wales, and thinking that a breach had taken place between Connolly and myself I was approached by the I.L.P. to rejoin their organisation, but on my return I continued my association with Connolly as formerly and the incident was never again referred to between us.
Connolly occasionally made trips to Dublin during the week-ends, and whilst there, was certain to participate in some of the many industrial or political activities which agitated the Capital city in those days. After such a visit, during which he had made a political speech, a portion of which was reported in some of the Northern newspapers, he found a letter which had been addressed to his assistant awaiting him on his return signed by the dockers employed at the Liverpool boat resigning from the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and
p.206giving, as their reason, owing to Mr. Connolly's political opinions and ungodly propensities it left them no option but to dissociate themselves from such a man and from such a Union. On showing me this letterwhich is now in the possession of Bill O'Brienhe smiled faintly in appreciation of the difficulty of making speeches to suit two such diametrically opposed view points as obtained in Belfast and Dublin. He did not, however, on account of this temper the wind to the shorn lamb.
We held meetings to commemorate all sorts of events in the Socialist and Nationalist calendars. Two of which were outstanding. The celebration of the Paris Commune (1871), which he held was the classical example of a working class insurrection, as distinct from the many bourgeois attempts to throw off the feudal ties which were hampering the development of a rising manufacturing class; the other was on McArts fort on the top of the Cavehill, on the spot where Theobald Wolfe Tone and his colleagues prior to his departure to the United States and France swore never to desist in their efforts until the last chain with England had been broken, that never failing source of all our political evils. The speaker at this meeting was Ernest Blythe of Lisburn, active I understood, in the Nationalist movement of the time and later to attain eminence in the subsequent Nationalist struggles and become Finance Minister in the Cosgrave Government.
We also contested Dock Ward in the municipal elections of January, 1913, with Connolly as our candidate on a programme of wider municipal reforms on the part of the Belfast City Council. We had a Tory as opponent but failed to make any impression on the electorate, polling some nine hundred votes and being beaten by about two to one, receiving mainly a Nationalist vote, together with a small number of Protestant Labour votes.
The shadows of World War I began to hover over Europe.
p.207For some time hopes went high that if the capitalist states were forced through inexorable economic forces to make war upon each other, the Socialist movement of Europe which had been organising to prevent such a catastrophe would, through the aid of the general strike, make such a contingency an impossibility. With the collapse of the Second International when the Social Democrat representatives in the Reichstag voted the war credits for the war lords of Germany, and with the assassination of Jean Jaurès, the leader of the French Socialist movement and the death of James Keir Hardie, M.P., Europe and its workers seemed to be reeling headlong into the shambles of war. Connolly was bitter with those Socialists who had made common cause with their hereditary enemies, the capitalists, and who had betrayed the international working class movement. One listening to his speeches at this stage would have said he was pro-German, and he probably was, though not through any love of German capitalism, which he detested as much as British capitalism, but he saw in this struggle the possibility of the defeat of Great Britain, and an opportunity presented to the militant nationalists of Ireland to take advantage of England's difficulty and make it Ireland's opportunity. He felt this was the chance he had long waited for; and some passages of his earlier speeches which had appeared obscure to some of us at the time, took on a new meaning, and we were left in no doubt as to his possible course of action if war finally eventuated, as seemed likely.
As the war clouds gathered jingoism became more rampant in Belfast and the difficulty of our type of propaganda meetings increased in ratio. Indifference to our meetings gave way to hostility and we could only continue our open-air meetings at Library Street with very great difficulty. During this period, on a Sunday, when Connolly was absent in Dublin, I addressed the meeting and was subjected to interruption so continuous during the course of an hour's speech that I only got order on
p.208two occasions during the meeting, when I was quoting poetry. As the tempo of opposition rose we got a further glimpse of Connolly the man of action. War had been declared and at a meeting in Smithfield Square he demanded the introduction by the British Government of a Homestead Act based upon a United States of America precedent; which he had knowledge of during his sojourn in that country. At the last meeting I ever spoke with him I was absent at the start of the meeting so he commenced without a Chairman and was halfway through his speech when I arrived on the scene. The opposition was so strong that he was unable to make himself heard above the uproar. I relieved him for a spell when he took over again until the end of the meeting. He dismounted from the platform and literally bored his way through the dense hostile crowd out into Royal Avenue and proceeded on his way home to the Falls Road, followed by the angry crowd.
It was not Connolly's wish that the meetings should be abandoned; it was not his method nor yet his disposition to yield to the opposition of an irate mob, but rather to meet force with force sooner than tamely submit to a noisy and turbulent element swayed by war hysteria. A meeting of the party, however, called to consider the continuation or otherwise of the meetings in those fateful late August or early September days decided to suspend the meetings until more rational days returned with Connolly and myselfthe two main speakersthe minority in favour of continuing them. This decision filled him with disgust, as designs were already taking shape in his mind should the war situation continue and develop, which led unerringly to his challenge to the might of the British Empire and his heroic fight in the ruins of Dublin's General Post Office during Easter Week, 1916, and his no less valiant death before a firing party of British soldiers.
The story of my association with Connolly in Belfast would not be complete were I to omit from it a few names of those
p.209who while not figuring prominently or at all in the matters referred to herein were at the same time coadjutors of his and were active workers with him in his many sided Labour and Nationalist activities. There was the late Miss Winifred Carney (afterwards Mrs. McBride) who was employed as his Secretary in the office of the Union in Belfast and later served with him as his personal secretary in the General Post Office, Dublin, during the insurrection of Easter Week, 1916. My friend and former colleague Cathal O'Shannon, at this period also employed in the office of the Union in Belfast, as well as being Northern correspondent for The Irish Worker, was extremely active in the Language, Nationalist and Irish Volunteer movements, and lastly Mr. and Mrs. James Grimley, indefatigable workers in all phases of the movement, who, like myself, feel life-long gratitude for the privilege of having worked with and enjoyed the friendship of so great a man as James Connolly.
Let us free Ireland! Never mind such base, carnal thoughts as concern work and wages, healthy homes, or lives unclouded by poverty.
Let us free Ireland! The rackrenting landlord; is he not also an Irishman, and wherefore should we hate him? Nay, let us not speak harshly of our brotheryea, even when he raises our rent.
Let us free Ireland! The profit-grinding capitalist, who robs us of three-fourths of the fruits of our labour, who sucks the very marrow of our bones when we are young, and then throws us out in the street, like a worn-out tool when we are grown prematurely old in his service, is he not an Irishman, and mayhap a patriot, and wherefore should we think harshly of him
Let us free Ireland! The land that bred and bore us. And the landlord who makes us pay for permission to live upon it. Whoop it up for liberty!
Let us free Ireland, says the patriot who won't touch Socialism. Let us all join together and cr-r-rush the br-r-rutal Saxon. Let us all join together, says he, all classes and creeds. And, says the town worker, after we have crushed the Saxon and freed Ireland, what will we do? Oh, then you can go back to your slums, same as before. Whoop it up for liberty!
And, says the agricultural workers, after we have freed Ireland, what then? Oh, then you can go scraping around for the landlord's rent or the money- lenders' interest same as before. Whoop it up for liberty!
After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won't touch Socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won't pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the evicting
p.212party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic. Now, isn't that worth fighting for?
And when you cannot find employment, and, giving up the struggle of life in despair, enter the poorhouse, the band of the nearest regiment of the Irish army will escort you to the poorhouse door to the tune of St. Patrick's Day. Oh! it will be nice to live in those days!
With the Green Flag floating o'er us and an ever-increasing army of unemployed workers walking about under the Green Flag, wishing they had something to eat. Same as now! Whoop it up for liberty!
Now, my friend, I also am Irish, but I'm a bit more logical. The capitalist, I say, is a parasite on industry; as useless in the present stage of our industrial development as any other parasite in the animal or vegetable world is to the life of the animal or vegetable upon which it feeds.
The working class is the victim of this parasitethis human leech, and it is the duty and interest of the working class to use every means in its power to oust this parasite class from the position which enables it to thus prey upon the vitals of labour.
Therefore, I say, let us organise as a class to meet our masters and destroy their mastership; organise to drive them from their hold upon public life through their political power; organise to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops on and in which they enslave us; organise to cleanse our social life from the stain of social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon his fellow man.
Organise for a full, free and happy life FOR ALL OR FOR NONE.
We quite appreciate the fact that peasant proprietary is somewhat of a hindrance to the spread of socialist ideas, but an effective bulwark for capitalism it decidedly is not. Two of the countries named as possessing a peasant proprietary, and therefore as safe from socialism, are just the two countries in which socialism is strongest, viz., France and Germany.
In Germany the socialist party has the strongest voting power of any party in the state, polling over two millions and a quarter votes, and in France, we are informed on the authority of the clerical organ, the Gaulois, that the socialist party was the only party which emerged from the late general election in that country stronger and more hopeful than it entered it. In fact, peasant proprietary is rather belated in Ireland just now to be an effective barrier against the spread of socialist principles. We do not need to fight peasant proprietary, we only need to allow free scope for the development of capitalist enterprise in order to see the system of small farming crushed out by the competition of the great farms and scientific cultivation of America and Australia. Prices of agricultural produce have been falling for the last twenty-five years, are falling now, and will fall still lower in the future, and as they fall the peasant proprietor finds his margin of profit disappearing and himself drawing nearer to bankruptcy. Every fresh application of science to agriculture, every cheapening of transit brought about by the development of transatlantic commerce, everything in short which increases the facilities of trade, tends to cheapen the price of agricultural produce and leaves an ever-decreasing margin of profit for the cultivator. Landlordism is fast becoming an economic impossibility in Ireland, and peasant
p.214proprietary itself in nowise provides the small farmer with an outlet from the life of constant toil and hunger which is his lot to-day.
But the principle of socialism affords just that outlet and at the same time ministers to both his social and political aspirations. When agriculture ceases to be a private enterprise, when a free nation organises the production of its own food stuffs as a public function, and intrusts the management of the function to the agricultural population, under popular boards of their own election, then the keen individualism of the Irish peasant will find its expression in constant watchfulness over the common stock and supervision of each others' labour, and will form the best security against wastefulness, and the best incentive to honest toil. When the land is the property of the people in the fullest sense (all the people whether in town or country), then all the aids to agriculture which science supplies, but which are impossible to the poverty-stricken peasant, will be utilised by the national administrators and placed at the service of the cultivators of the soil. The same shrewd sense which has inspired the Irish farmers to appreciate the advantages of agricultural cooperation in dairies and banks, with only their little savings to finance the enterprise, will also lead them to appreciate the advantages which might be derived from co-operation on a national scale uith the entire resources of the nation to equip it. And such co-operation applied to industry as well as land is the basic idea of the future socialist republic.
For very many years we have seen the London Parliament sending forth Land Act after Land Act, each and every one of them heralded by a declaration that it embodied a complete cure for the land question in Ireland. To-day the land question is as far from being settled as ever it was; at least in appearance. The reason may escape the eye of the Home Rule or Unionist editor, who dare not notice any point of industrial development other than it suits the interests of his employers to bring before the public, but it is very palpable indeed to all who seek, with unbiassed minds, to ascertain the truth.
The successive Land Purchase Bills, Land Courts for adjustment of rents, etc., are perhaps powerful enough in softening the rigour of the relations between landlord and tenant; and were this island surrounded by a wall of brass shutting out the world from intercourse, might serve to settle for a long time the agrarian disputes in Ireland. But as long as the produce of Irish farmers must sell upon the market side by side with the produce of countries better situated, better equipped and better organised for agricultural operations, so long will the Irish produce be undersold: so long will Irish farming fail to pay. Were the landlords to disappear to-morrow, and their titles to land to become cxtinct, the peasant proprietors remaining would still be involved in a hopeless struggle for subsistence, whilst this island remains dominated by capitalistic conditions.
Every perfection of agricultural methods or machinery lowers prices; every fall in prices renders more unstable the position of the farmer, whether tenant or proprietor; and every yearnay every monthwhich passes sees this perfection and
p.216development of machinery going more and more rapidly on. We are left no choice but socialism or universal bankruptcy.
Meanwhile it is instructive to notice that the United Irish League agitatorsfrom Mr. William O'Brien downhave no remedy to offer which does not smack of socialistic principles. The compulsory expropriation of the graziers; the break up of grazing lands; the state help for agriculture; in fact, every proposal advocated proceeds upon the assumption that property has no rights as against the welfare of the community, and that the life and prosperity of the people is, or ought to be, the first care of statesmanship. So far our United Irish League agitators are borrowing the arguments of the socialists to suit their own purposes; but they, with characteristic class selfishness, stop short at the application thereof. They will not carry them beyond the rural districts; yet we challenge Mr. William O'Brien to tell us a single sufficient reason for refusing to apply to property in towns the same stern principles he would advocate in the country. Property of all kinds ought to be subject to the community, and if the welfare of the community requires that legal rights of property shall be subordinated, or even totally set aside, it must be done.
Those who seek a comprehensive remedy for the sufferings of the working classes look beyond trades unionism. They perceive that they must modify more profoundly the relations between labour and capital; to bridge across the chasm dividing them, and so to abolish that rivalry of interest out of which has grown so much inhumanity to man. One class of reformers propose to effect this change by the absolute abolition of private capitalby taking capital, or the material instruments of wealth production, out of the hands of the individuals and classes, and making it the property of the community, vesting it in the State. This schemea dream of the socialistimpossible to work out in practice, hopelessly breaking down wherever it has been tried, violates the fundamental conception of all property. What a free man creates by his labour, that is his property; if it is his property he can do with it what he willsconsume it by present use or reserve it for further production. To forbid him the right to reserve it or use it as capital would be to deny him the right to possess property. From this point of viewas well as from otherssocialism is seen to have much in common with slavery.
The above quotation, from the paper on Co-operation read by Father Thomas A. Finlay, S.J., before the fourth general meeting of the Maynooth union, calls for more than a passing notice, is deserving of more intelligent criticism than our capitalist contemporaries have been able to bring to bear upon it. For this reason we propose to place before our readers a brief statement of our position in so far at least as it is affected by the assertions contained in the paper quoted from above.
We readily allow that no man in Ireland within the clerical body, and few men in Ireland outside the ranks of the adherents
p.218of scientific socialism, can bring to bear upon questions of political economy, and the effect which theories of political economy have had upon the industrial life of the people, such a wealth of knowledge as the reverend gentleman whose paper we are now discussing. The feeble and ineffective efforts of the Home Rule pressmen to criticise the co-operative movement to which Father Finlay devotes so much of his energy and ability is in itself proof enough that, however efficient our journalistc guides may be as caterers to the palate of a reading public ready to forgive every inconsistency of statement or colouring of fact, if only it is seasoned with a dash of patriotism or true religion, as helps to the intelligent discussion of an economic question they are worse than useless.
The economic theories held by the non-socialist parties in Ireland to-day and voiced by their publicists on parties on press and platform, are in fact the theories which prevailed in England more than fifty years agoduring the agitation for the repeal of the corn laws, and for free trade in general. Such ideas are now regarded throughout the remainder of the world as outworn and obsolete; it is only in Ireland they survive, and in Ireland only among men, who having failed to keep step with the intellectual march of the world, would fain convince themselves that the intellectual incapacity which shuts them off from sympathy with the thought of the age is the distinguishing birthmark of a true celt. That the criticism of such persons should be of little effect in adding to our knowledge any important truth on an economic subject is, of course, to be expected, and we do not propose to waste our own or our readers' time in discussing them. But the arguments of Father Finlay naturally carry more weight, and deserve, we repeat, a much more serious study.
To begin with we would like to remind the reverend lecturer that he did not place before his hearers such a clear and definite idea of the true socialist position as he himself possesses. In
p.219a lecture delivered in Dublin before the Statistical Society some few years ago, in dealing with the teachings of Karl Marxthe ablest exponent of socialism the world has seen, and the founder of that school of thought which embraces all the militant socialist parties of the worldFather Finlay laid before his hearers an exposition of the evolutionary nature of the socialist doctrine, its historical derivation and materialistic basis, which is not at all compatible with the crudely false conception of socialism to be found in the foregoing quotation. Modern socialism, he showed, is not the product of the brains of any man nor of any number of men; it is the legitimate child of a long, drawn-out historical evolution, and its consummation will only be finally possible when that evolutionary process has attained to a suitable degree of development. As capitalist societythe system of wage-labour and free contract between master and manwas only developed according as the system of feudalismor serf labour under a hereditary landowning nobilitybroke down owing to the demand for new methods of industry produced by the opening up of new markets through the discovery of America, and the perfection of means of transit and communication, in like manner will socialism also come when the development of capitalism in its turn renders the burden of a capitalist class unbearable, and the capitalist system unworkable.
Socialists point out that the capitalist system depends upon the maintenace of an equilibrium between the producing and consuming powers of the world; that business cannot go on unless the goods produced can find customers; that owing to the rapid development of machinery this equilibrium cannot be maintained; that the productive powers of the world are continually increasing whilst the virgin markets of the world are as continually diminishing; that every new scientific process applied to industry, every new perfecting of machinery, increases the productivity of labour, but as the area of the world remains
p.220unaltered the hope of finding new markets for the products of labour grows ever less and less; that a time must come when all the world will be exhausted as a market for the wares of commerce, and yet invention and industrial perfectioning remain as active as ever; that then capitalismable to produce more in a few months than would supply its customers for yearswill have no work for the workers who, constituting the vast majority as they do, will have to choose between certain starvation and revolt for socialism. That the same economic development which will create the necessity for revolt will also provide the conditions required to make that revolt successful, in so far as it will have forced out of business the multitude of small capitalists, and replaced them by huge Companies, Stores, and Trustshuge aggregations of Capital under one head, a unification of industry, requiring only the transference of the right of ownership from the individual to the democratic community to bridge the chasm between capitalism and socialism. That the private property which the worker should possess in the fruits of his toil is continually confiscated to-day by the capitalist process of industry, and that socialism by making all citizenssocietyjoint heirs and owners of the tools of production, will restore to the workers that private property of which capitalism deprives them.
Here then is a statement of the aims and principles of modern socialism. The intelligent reader will observe that this is not a mere piece of speculative philosophy, nor yet the product of disordered brains acted upon by hunger-weakened stomachs. On the contrary it is primarily a scientific analysis of the past and present structure of societya comprehensive summing up of the facts of history.
In face of this fact, which we would most respectfully remind Father Finlay he has himself most loudly explained ere now, what becomes of his statement at Maynooth that socialism had hopelessly broken down wherever it has been tried. The
p.221statement was crudely false, mischievous, and misleading, and Father Finlay would not risk his reputation by repeating it before any audience of scientists in the world. That he thought it quite safe to make such an utterance at Maynooth is an interesting indication of the low estimate in which he held the intellectual grasp of his hearers on the thought of their generation. Socialism has not broken down wherever it has been tried, because, being the fruit of an historical evolution yet to be completed, it has never heen tried.
If Father Finlay can tell when and where such an industrial order as would be recognised by the socialist parties of the world as socialism has been tried and failed then we will publicly recant our errors. Wanting such information we, and with us an ever-increasing band of the wage-slaves of capitalism will continue to prepare for that revolt which shall establish the socialist republic.
Having been again asked to contest the Wood Quay Ward in the interests of labour, I desire, in accepting this invitation, to lay before you a few of the principles upon which I conducted the campaign last election, and on which I shall fight this.
Our defeat of last year, brought about as it was by a campaign of slander and bribery, and a wholesale and systematic debauching of the more degraded portion of the electorate, did not in the slightest degree affect the truth of the principles for which we contested. These principles still remain the only principles by which the working class can ever attain its freedom.
When the workers come into the world we find that we are outcasts in the world. The land on which we must live is the property of a class who are the descendants of men who stole the land from our forefathers, and we who are workers, are, whether in town or country, compelled to pay for permission to live on the earth; the houses, shops, factories, etc., which were built by the labour of our fathers at wages that simply kept them alive are now owned by a class which never contributed an ounce of sweat to their erecting, but whose members will continue to draw rent and profit from them while the system lasts. As a result of this the worker in order to live must sell himself into the service of a masterhe must sell to that master the liberty to coin into profit the physical and mental energies.
A shopkeeper in order to live must sell his goods for what he can get, but a worker in order to live must sell a part of his life, nine, ten, or twelve hours per day as the case may
p.223be. The shopkeeper, if he is lucky, may get the value of his goods, but the worker cannot get under the capitalist system the value of his labour; he must accept whatever wage those who are unemployed are willing to accept at his job. This is what I call wage-slavery, because under it the worker is a slave who sells himself for a wage with which to buy his rations, which is the only difference between this system and negro slavery where the master bought the rations and fed the slave himself. There is only one remedy for this slavery of the working class, and that remedy is the socialist republic, a system of society in which the land and all houses, railways, factories, canals, workshops, and everything necessary for work shall be owned and operated as common property, much as the land of Ireland was owned by the clans of Ireland before England introduced the capitalist system amongst us at the point of the sword. There is only one way to attain that end, and that way is for the working class to establish a political party of its own; a political party which shall set itself to elect to all public bodies in Ireland working men resolved to use all the power of those bodies for the workers and against their oppressors, whether those oppressors be English, Scotch, or sham Irish patriots. In claiming this we will only be following the example of our masters. Every political party is the party of a class. The Unionists represent the interests of the landlords and the big capitalists generally; the United Irish League is the party of the middle class, the agriculturists, the house jobbers, slum landlords, and drink sellers. If an Irish landlord evicts a tenant farmer he is denounced by the Home Rule press as an eneny to Ireland, but an Irish employer can lock out and attempt to starve thousands of true Irishmen, as was done in the building trade in 1896, in the tailoring trade in 1900, and in the engineers of Inchicore in 1902; and not a member of parliament would take up the fight for the workers, or bother himself about them. Nay, the capitalists who thus
p.224try to crush their workers are highly honoured by the official parliamentary party, and some, like Mr. P. White, are members of the United Irish League Executive. If a man takes a farm from which a tenant has been evicted, he is rightly called a traitor, but who ever heard or read of the capitalist Home Rule press of this country saying a hard word about the scabs who go in on a strike or lock-out, even when those scabs were imported, as was the case during the tailors' lock-out, the saddlers' strike, or the engineers' lock-out? If the men who were imprisoned for threatening black-legs during the engineers' lock-out had been engaged in a dispute over farms, we would have been told that they were patriots suffering for their country. But as they were only workmen fighting for their class interests, we were told by the Home Rule newspapers that they were misguided individuals.
What is wanted then is for the workers to organise for political action on socialist lines. And let us take lesson by the municipal election of last year. Let us remember how the drink-sellers of the Wood Quay Ward combined with the slum owner and the house jobber; let us remember how Alderman Davin, Councillor McCall, and all their fellow publicans issued free drinks to whoever would accept, until on the day before election, and election day, the scenes of bestiality and drunkenness around their shops were such as brought the blush of shame to every decent man and woman who saw them. Let us remember the threats and the bribery, how Mr. Byrne of Wood Quay told the surrounding tenants, that if Mr. Connolly was elected their rents would be raised; let us remember how the spirit of religion was prostituted to the service of the drinkseller to drive the labourer back into his degradation; how the workers were told that socialism and freethinking were the same thing, although the free thinking government of France was just after shooting down socialist workmen at Martinique for taking part in a strike procession; let us remember how the paid
p.225canvassers of the capitalist candidatehired slanderersgave a different account of Mr. Connolly to every section of the electors. How they said to the Catholics that he was an Orangeman, to the Protestants that he was a Fenian, to the Jews that he was an anti-Semite, to others that he was a Jew, to the labourers that he was a journalist on the make, and to the tradesmen and professional classes that he was an ignorant labourer; that he was born in Belfast, Derry, England, Scotland and Italy, according to the person the canvasser was talking to. Remember that all this carnival of corruption and dishonesty was resorted to, simply in order to prevent labour from electing a representative who could neither be bought, terrified nor seduced, and you will understand how important your masters conceive to be their hold on the public bodies in this country. You will also understand that there can never be either clean, healthy, or honest politics in the City of Dublin, until the power of the drink-sellers is absolutely brokenthey are positively the meanest and most degraded section that ever attempted to rule a city.
Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, you understand my position. This is socialist republicanism, the politics of labour, of freedom from all tyrants, foreign and native. If you are a worker your interests should compel you to vote for me, if you are a decent citizen, whether worker or master, you should vote for me; if you are an enemy of freedom, a tyrant, or the tool of a tyrant, you will vote against me.
Believing that in this fight I am fighting the fight of my class, invite every self-respecting worker to join our committee and help the cause.
The farmers of Ireland denounced as unpatriotic everything that failed to serve their class interestincluding even the labourer's demand for a cottagelet the working class of Ireland follow their lead and test the sincerity of every man's patriotism by his devotion to the interests of labour. In the eyes of the farmers no wagging of green flags could make a landgrabber a patriot; let the workers apply the same test and brand as enemies of Ireland all who believe in the subjection of labour to capitalbrand as traitors to his country all who live by skinning Irish labour. For the working class of the world the lesson is also plain. In every country socialism is foreign, is unpatriotic, and will continue so until the working class embracing it as their salvation make socialism the dominant political force. . .. By their aggressiveness and intolerance the possessing classes erect the principles of their capitalist supremacy into the dignity of national safeguards; according as the working class infuse into its political organisation the same aggressiveness and intolerance it will command the success it deserves, and make the socialist the only good and loyal citizen.
extracts below are of interest as showing Connolly's earliest views on
political action and his opinion of the action of the trade unions in
deciding to run Labour candidates in the first elections to be held
under the Local Government
p.227Act of 1898. They are more definite than his references later in his article in The Harp of April, 1910.)
The action taken upon the Local Government Act by the representatives of the trade unionists of Dublin is perhaps the most important step yet taken by the organised workers in Ireland. . .. We do not, however, labour under the belief that delegates so chosen will be socialists, or consciously in favour of socialist principles. On the contrary, we are quite prepared to find each and every one of these representatives solemnly repudiating the taint of socialism. But we do believe, and not only believe but know that every workingman elected to the Municipal Council of Dublin, if he be true to his class when elected, will find that every step he takes in the Council in furtherance of the interests of his class, must of necessity take the form of an application of socialist principles. The direct employment of labour by the municipality and consequent abolition of contracting, the rigid enforcement of sanitary laws, reductions of the hours of labour, increase of the wages of the lower grades of workers and reduction of the absurdly high salaries of superior officials, exceptional taxation of unlet property, in short, every measure for the betterment of the condition of the workers which our working class representatives in the Corporation could urge for adoption, has long since been adopted into the palliative programme of the socialists, and is, in greater or lesser degree, the result of socialist principles applied to the working of our civic life.
Moreover, in pressing forward even the mildest of these reforms, it will be found that the representatives of property in the Corporation will, irrespective of party, line up solidly against reform, and our friends who imagine that they will secure the co-operation of the master class in safeguarding the interests of labour will be sadly deceived. It is because we realise these facts that we are unqualifiedly in favour of this proposed action of the Dublin trade unions.
When the worker has so far advanced as to realise that his master's interests are antagonistic to his own, that the master class use every weapon from Parliament to prison to maintain their position against what they consider the encroachment of their serfs, then we have no doubt that the next step in the intellectual development of the worker will be to consider whether it is wise to tolerate longer a class in society which requires to be watched so constantly and guarded against so vigilantly; whether there is indeed any useful function performed by the capitalist and landlord class which the organised workers cannot perform without them. Whether the ownership of property cannot be vested in the organised community, and the conduct of industry entrusted to our trade unions, who could surely furnish men who would organise production and distribution in the interests of all much better than it is at present done by a class animated solely by considerations of profit. When the logic of events forces this question on the Dublin workers as it surely will, we believe that they will not fail to answer it aright, and that the answer will be well for our hopes of a socialist republic.
We are trade unionists, but we are more than trade unionists. The trade unionist who is only a trade unionist is to the socialist what the believer in constitutional monarchy is to a republican. The constitutional monarchist wishes to limit the power of the king, but still wishes to have a king; the republican wishes to abolish kingship and puts his trust in the people; the trade unionist wishes to limit the power of the master but still wishes to have masters: the socialist wishes to have done with masters and pins his faith to the collective intelligence of a democratic community.
We, as socialist republicans, adopt in each case the more logical course and bend our energies to the abolition of that principle of evil, whose influence our moderate friends would seek only to minimise. A socialist republic is the application
p.229to agriculture and industry; to the farm, the field, the workshop, of the democratic principle of the republican ideal.
We repeat then, we hail with joy this action of the Dublin trade unions, our candidates will joyfully co-operate with them, for if they do not become lackeys of the capitalist class, they must inevitably become allies of the Socialist Republican.
Little more than a year later, in an article in the same paper, September 16, 1899, A Labour Lord Mayor, Connolly made this criticism of the Dublin Labour Party:
We have no desire to carp at, or needlessly to criticise, any party sailing under the banner of labour, but we feel we would not be performing our duty to the socialist working class of Ireland did we not point out the fact that the interests of labour were in no way involved in the contest for the mayoral chair. It could hardly be otherwise. It should be remembered that the Labour Party form but a fraction of the Municipal Council; moreover that of this number only a very small minority were elected on an independent ticket: the majority of the Labour members being chosen on the same lines as the middle class members, nominated by the same committee, and running on the same programme. All of them hold the same political and social beliefs as the remainder of the Municipal Councilbelieve equally with them in the capitalist system, and that rent, profit and interest are the necessary and inevitable pillars of society. . .. From the entry of the Labour Party into the Municipal Council to the present day their course has been marked by dissension, squabbling and recrimination. No single important move in the interest of the worker was even mooted, the most solemn pledges were incontinently broken, and where the workers looked for inspiration and leadership,
p.230they have received nothing but discouragement and disgust. . . .. The Labour Lord Mayor of the Dublin Labour Party declared he would represent no class or section and thus announced beforehand that those responsible for his nomination only sought to use the name of labour as a cover for the intrigues of a clique. . .. We see in this contest between the supporters of Alderman Patrick Dowd and Alderman Thomas Pile, not a fight between capital and labour but a sordid scramble for position between two sets of political wirepullers, both equally contemptible. . ..
We, like many others, confess to having been disappointed in the Labour men elected under the auspices of the Labour Electoral Association; we did not expect that the splendid class spirit shown by the Dublin workers at the late election would, through the arrogance and weakness of their elected representatives, be of no practical advantage to them as a class.2
Internationalism is not an invention of socialists. As socialism itself has sprung out of the combinations of modern society, and as the international organisation of labour and the international scope of commerce are but manifestations of these conditions, so the internationalism of the socialist movement simply reflects the development of society at large.
For example: Certain ignorant people in Ireland, (politicians and such like) claim that Ireland should have no concern with matters other than Home Rule, land reform and taxes, and other matters adjustable within the four seas of Erin. To such people I recommend a study of the following cutting from an American capitalist paper.
Then let him remember that one of the chief industries in Ireland to-day is the rearing and exportation of cattle for the English market, and that tens of thousands of people are dependent upon that for a livelihood.
The American Beef Trust has taken an important step toward securing complete control of the London refrigerated meat trade. A powerful shipping combination backed by the Beef Trust has been organised here to provide fast steamships to bring refrigerated meat from Argentina, carrying only beef controlled by the trust, which hopes to freeze out all independent shippers from Argentina.
Regular weekly service between London and the Plate river will be maintained, for which nine fifteen-knot steamships are to be built.
Owing to the decrease in supplies from the United States, England is becoming daily more dependent on Argentina for her meat supply. The Plate river trade has been controlled hitherto by two independent firms, both English and South American.
In the past few years the trust has been endeavouring to get a foothold in Argentina and has absorbed two important firms here.
The recent enormous issue of new capital by the Chicago big Four is designed to be used to capture the Argentina trade. The trust has enormous holdings here already, owning a large number of stalls in Smithfield market, and some hundreds of shops in different parts of the country.
Now, just as a lesson in economics, figure out how far-reaching will be the effect of that deal when it is completed. It means that there is a capitalist concern in Chicago which has hundreds of stores or shops in Great Britain, alarge number of stalls in Smithfield market, London, great refrigerators and enormous cattle ranges in the Argentine Republic, and will have a complete service of steamships plying between Europe and America solely for its own use. It employs thousands of workers in England, in the United States and South America; it operates under the flags of three independent nations, a monarchy and two republics; and in all three countries it builds up its trade by underselling and ruining the small merchant.
Now turn to its effect upon Ireland. I have already spoken of the tens of thousands of people who in Ireland are dependent upon the cattle trade. This living is menaced by the competition of the Beef Trust, and nothing within the purview of Irish politicians can save them.
There is another angle from which this situation can be approached. For some time in Ireland there has been agitation against the huge grazing farms. It has been feltand rightlythat the land so given up to cattle would be better occupied by human beings. That it were better to see thriving men and women and children, and happy homes than to see sheep and cows.
But sheep and cows paid better than men and women, and
p.233hence despite the unpopularity of the grazier he stayed and waxed fat and prosperous, and the Irish men and women came to America, some to spread the Catholic faith, and more to fester and rot in the slums, to populate the brothels and the jails, or to die overworked and miserable among strangers. As long as cattle raising pays better than raising Christian men and women it will flourish in Ireland as elsewhere.
Now comes along the Beef Trust with its elaborately organised machinery of competition to bring the product of Argentine Republic to compete with the grazing farms of Meath and Kildare, and I make the prophecy that if this trust succeeds in its designs cattle raising in Ireland will be unprofitable. And if it becomes unprofitable to raise cattle for the London market then the Irish grazier and his landlord will become convinced of the error of their ways, and the farms will be let for tillage purposes to the people now clamouring in vain for their possession.
Is it not calculated to provide thought, even in a politician, that the chances of some Irish peasants getting farms in Ireland depend upon the success of the Beef Trust in conquering the markets of the Argentine Republic?
In like manner the question of whether Irish peasants are paying too much or too little for their farms under the new Land Acts does not depend upon the quality of their lands so much as it depends upon agricultural prices, and agricultural prices depend upon the development of transatlantic steam service bringing the product of the mammoth farms of the United States and South America to Europe. Every Lusitania which shortens the distance between Europe and America hastens the doom of the petty farmers of Ireland under the capitalist system. But to study those things savours of internationalism, and internationalism, according to the amadán politicians, is so un-Irish.
This is the title of a pamphlet by Patrick J. Cooney of Bridgeport, Conn., which we would like to see in the hands of all our readers, and especially those who are struggling towards the light out of the economic darkness of to-day. To Catholics who have been repelled from socialism by the blatant and rude atheism of some of its irresponsible advocatesand unfortunately the number of such Catholics is legionthis book will be as refreshing as an oasis in the desert to the tired and thirsty traveller.
The author is an active Catholic and at the same time a militant socialist, and in his presentation of our socialist doctrines he never wavers in his allegiance to either. Here and there indeed his loyalty to the Church seems to betray him into statements regarding her position which to our mind would hardly stand the test of modern criticism and historical research. But we confess that in that respect his attitude is a refreshing change from that of the crudely superficial thinkers (?) and scribblers who so commonly discredit the socialist ranks by their dogmatisms on that subject. If we had to choose between the perfervid Catholicity of our author and the blatant anti-Catholicism of the men who are so fond of repelling earnest Catholics by their assertion that the great conflict of the social revolution will be between the forces of the Catholic Church and those of socialism, then we should prefer the position of Comrade Cooney as containing the highest propagandist value, as well as being, if historical precedents count for anything, the most probable to last and stand the test of time.3 As a matter of fact the Catholic Church always accepts the established order, even if it has warred upon those who had striven to establish such order.
To use a homely adage the Church does not put all her eggs in one basket, and the man who imagines that in the supreme hour of the proletarian struggle for victory the Church will definitely line up with the forces of capitalism, and pledge her very existence as a Church upon the hazardous chance of the capitalists winning, simply does not understand the first thing about the policy of the Church in the social or political revolutions of the past. Just as in Ireland the Church denounced every Irish revolutionary movement in its day of activity, as in 1798, 1848 and 1867, and yet allowed its priests to deliver speeches in eulogy of the active spirits of those movements a generation afterwards, so in the future the Church, which has its hand close upon the pulse of human society, when it realises that the cause of capitalism is a lost cause it will find excuse enough to allow freedom of speech and expression to those lowly priests whose socialist declarations it will then use to cover and hide the absolute anti-socialism of the Roman Propaganda. When that day comes the Papal Encyclical against socialism will be conveniently forgotten by the Papal historians, and the socialist utterances, of the von Kettelers, the McGlynns, and McGradys will be heralded forth and the communistic utterances of the early fathers as proofs of Catholic sympathy with progressive ideas. Thus it has been in the past. Thus it will be, at least attempted, in the future. We are not concerned to champion or to deny the morality of such a cause in anticipation, we are simply attempting to read the lessons of the past into the future. And, we modestly submit, this forecast has infinitely more of probability in it than the dreams of those who tell us so glibly of a coming Armageddon between the forces of socialism and Catholicism. Such dreams are not the product of modern socialist philosophy, they are a survival from the obsolete philosophy of the days preceding the first French Revolution.4
To the free-thinkers and rebels of those daysand the
p.236professional free-thinkers of to-day have not advanced much beyond that mental stageGod and the Church were nothing more than the schemes of a designing priesthood intent on enslaving and robbing the credulous masses. Religion was a systematised business of deception and trickery invented and perpetuated by men thoroughly aware of its falsehood and baseness, and consciously laying plans to maintain and spread it for their own selfish ends. Kings and rulers of all kinds were the creation of this crafty priesthood which used them to its own purposes. That we are not in the slightest degree misstating the ideas of the times we are criticising, any student of the early freethought literature will readily concede. That many otherwise excellent comrades have brought such ideas over into the camp of socialism is also undeniable. But that they are also held by an even greater number of enemies of socialism is truer still. And it is in truth in the camp of the enemy such ideas belong, such doctrines are the legitimate children of the teachings of individualism, and their first progenitors both in England and France were also the first great exponents of the capitalist doctrines of free trade and free competition, free contract and free labour. Such conceptions of religion are entirely opposed to the modern doctrine that the intellectual conceptions of men are the product of their material conditions, and flow in the grooves channelled out by the economic environment.
In the light of this modern conception of the conditions of historical progress, religion appears as the outcome of the efforts of mankind to interpret the workings of the forces of nature, and to translate its phenomena into the terms of a language which could be understood. The undeveloped mind cannot grasp an abstract proposition. Therefore that which the cultured man of the twentieth century would explain and understand as a natural process, the mental vision of our forefathers
p.237could only see as the result of the good or ill will of some beneficent or evil spiritsome God or Devil.
Hence we had in Ireland in our Celtic legends a plentiful store of fairies, leprechauns and good and evil spirits, and every thing on land or sea, on wind or water that our fathers did not understand was readily attributed to the good or perverse genius of some member or members of this fairy host. In their turn the fairies were the descendants of the servants of the Unknown God whom the Celt of old worshipped in his Druidic Groves. Anyone at all acquainted with the beliefs of the Irish peasant before the advent of the National School to spoil him of his innocence is well aware that his Catholicity was almost inextricably mingled with a belief in fairy lore and legend that testified that he was still in a transition state of mentality between belief in the spirits of Druidism and the angels of Catholicity.
He would have hotly repudiated such an insinuation. But to the seeing eye the proofs were palpable and undeniable, and this mental development of the Irish Celt towards a clearer conception of the universe, this progress, for it was a progress, from the conception of a world helplessly torn by the warring of spirits to the conception of a world ruled by a Creator holding a spirit world in subjection for a beneficent purpose, this development was paralleled throughout the earth by all the advanced races in their upward march to the conquest of truth. The point to be noted is this:
The different stages of development of the human mind in its attitude towards the forces of Nature created different priesthoods to interpret them, and the mental conceptions of mankind as interpreted by those priesthoods became, when systematised, Religion. Religions are simply expressions of the human conceptions of the natural world; these religions have created the priesthoods. Only he who
p.238stands upon the individualist conceptions of history, can logically claim that priesthoods created religion. Modern historical science utterly rejects the idea as absurd.
Yet it is this utterly unhistorical idea, rejected by historical science as it is also rejected by the record of the countless thousands of priests of all religions who have cheerfully gone to martyrdom for their beliefsand martyrdom is incredible in a conscious imposterit is this belief that is often brought in and made to do duty as a result of socialist thought by those who ought to know better. It is a matter for congratulation that Irish socialists are free of such excrescences on socialist belief.5
Not the least of the services our comrade, Victor Berger,6
p.246has rendered to the socialist cause must be accounted the writing and publishing of that now famous article in which he draws the attention of his readers to the possibility that the ballot will yet be stricken from the hands of the socialist party, and raises the question of the action our party must take in such an emergency.
It must be confessed, however, that the question has not been faced at all squarely by the majority of the critics who have unburdened themselves upon the matter. We have had much astonishment expressed, a great deal of deprecation of the introduction of the question at the present time, and not a little sly fun poked at our comrade. But one would have thought that a question of such a character brought up for discussion by a comrade noted for his moderationa moderation by some thought to be akin to compromisewould have induced in socialists a desire to seriously consider the elements of fact and probability behind and inspiring the question. What are these facts?
Briefly stated, the facts as they are known to us all are that all over the United States the capitalist class is even now busily devising ways and means by which the working class can be disfranchised. In California it is being done by exacting an enormous sum for the right to place a ticket upon the ballot; in Minnesota the same end is sought by a new primary law; in the south by an educational (?) test to be imposed only upon those who possess no property; in some States by imposing a property qualification upon candidates; and all over by wholesale counting out of socialist ballots, and wholesale counting in of fraudulent votes. In addition to this we have
p.242had in Colorado and elsewhere many cases where the hired thugs of the capitalists forcibly occupied the polling booths, drove away the real voters and themselves voted in the name of every citizen on the list.
These are a few of the facts. Now what are the probabilities? One is that the capitalist class will not wait until we get a majority at the ballot box, but will precipitate a fight upon some fake issue whilst the mass of the workers are still undecided as to the claims of capitalism and socialism.
Another is that even if the capitalist class were law-abiding enough, or had miscalculated public opinion enough, to wait until the socialists had got a majority at the ballot box in some presidential election, they would then refuse to vacate their offices, or to recognise the election, and with the Senate and the military in their hands would calmly proceed to seat those candidates for President, etc., who had received the highest votes from the capitalistic electorate. As to the first of these probabilities, the issue upon which a socialist success at the ballot box can be averted from the capitalist class is already here, and I expect at any time to see it quietly but effectually materialise. It is this: we have often seen the capitalist class invoke the aid of the Supreme Court in order to save it some petty annoyance by declaring unconstitutional some so-called labour or other legislation. Now I can conceive of no reason why this same Supreme Court cannot be invoked to declare unconstitutional any or all electoral victories of the socialist party. Some may consider this far-fetched. I do not consider it nearly as far-fetched as the decision which applied the anti-trust laws solely to trade unions,7 or used the Inter-State Commerce Acts to prevent strikes upon railways.
I consider that if the capitalist
class appealed to the Supreme Court and interrogated it to declare
whether a political party which aimed at overthrowing the
constitution of the United States could legally operate to that end
within the constitution of the United
p.243States the answer in the negative which that Court would undoubtedly give would not only be entirely logical, but would also be extremely likely to satisfy every shallow thinker and fanatical ancestor-worshipper in the country.
And if such an eventuality arose, and the ballot was, in comrade Berger's words, stricken out of our hands, it would be too late then to propound the query which our comrade propounds now, and ask our friends and supporters: what are you going to do about it?
But even while admitting, nay, urging all this on behalf of the pertinency of our comrade's query, it does not follow that I therefore endorse or recommend his alternative. The rifle is, of course, a useful weapon under certain circumstances, but these circumstances are little likely to occur. This is an age of complicated machinery in war as in industry, and confronted with machine guns, and artillery which kill at seven miles distance, rifles are not likely to be of much material value in assisting in the solution of the labour question in a proletarian manner. It would do comrade Berger good to read a little of the conquests of his countryman, Count Zeppelin, over the domain of the air, and thus think of the futility of opposing even an armed working class to such a power as the airship. Americans have been so enamoured of the achievements of the Wright brothers8 that too little attention has been paid to the development of the balloon by Zeppelin. Yet in his hands it has evolved into the most perfect and formidable fighting machine ever dreamt of. The words dirigible balloon seem scarcely applicable to his creation. It is a balloon, and more. It is a floating ship, divided into a large number of separate compartments, so that the piercing of one even by a shell leaves the others intact and the machine still floating. Nothing less than fire can menace it with immediate destruction. It can carry seventeen tons and with that weight on board can be guided at will, perform all sorts of figures and evolutions,
p.244rise or descend, travel fast or remain stationary. It has already been equipped with a quick-firing Krupp gun and shells made for its own special use, and at the tests of the German army has proven itself capable of keeping up a rapid and sustained fire without interfering with its floating or manoeuvring powers. No army on earth, even of highly trained and disciplined men, could withstand an attack from ten of those monsters for as many minutes. It is more than probable that the development of these machines will eventuate in an armed truce from military conquest by the international capitalist class, the consecration of the flying machine to the cold task of holding in check the working class, and the making safe and profitable all sorts of attacks upon social and political rights. In facing such a weapon in the hands of our remorseless and unscrupulous masters the gun of comrade Victor Berger will be as ineffective as the paper ballot in the hands of a reformer.
Is the outlook, then, hopeless? No! We still have the opportunity to forge a weapon capable of winning the fight for us against political usurpation and all the military powers of earth, sea or air. That weapon is to be forged in the furnace of the struggle in the workshop, mine, factory or railroad, and its name is industrial unionism.
A working class organised on the lines on which the capitalist class has built its industrial plants to-day, regarding every such plant as the true unit of organisation and society as a whole as the sum total of those units, and ever patiently indoctrinated with the idea that the mission of unionism is to take hold of the industrial equipment of society, and erect itself into the real holding and administrative force of the world; such a revolutionary working class would have a power at its command greater than all the achievements of science can put in the hands of the master class. An injunction forbidding the workers of an industrial union to do a certain thing in the interest of labour would be followed by every member of the union doing that
p.245thing until jails became eagerly sought as places of honour, and the fact of having been in one would be as proudly vaunted as is now service on the field of Gettysburg; a Supreme Court decision declaring invalid a socialist victory in a certain district could be met by a general strike of all the workers in that district, supported by the organisation all over the country, and by a relentless boycott extending into the private life of all who supported the fraudulently elected officials. Such a union would revive and apply to the class war of the workers the methods and principles so successfully applied by the peasants of Germany in the Vehmgericht, and by those of the Land League in the land war in Ireland in the eighties.
And eventually, in case of a Supreme Court decision rendering illegal the political activities of the socialist party, or instructing the capitalist officials to refuse to vacate their offices after a national victory by that party, the industrially organised workers would give the usurping government a Roland for its Oliver by refusing to recognise its officers, to transport or feed its troops, to transmit its messages, to print its notices, or to chronicle its doings by working in any newspaper which upheld it. Finally, after having thus demonstrated the helplessness of capitalist officialdom in the face of united action by the producers (by attacking said officialdom with economic paralysis instead of rifle bullets) the industrially organised working class could proceed to take possession of the industries of the country after informing the military and other coercive forces of capitalism that they could procure the necessaries of life by surrendering themselves to the lawfully elected government and renouncing the usurpers at Washington. Otherwise they would have to try and feed and maintain themselves. In the face of such organisation the airships would be as helpless as pirates without a port of call, and military power a broken reed.
The discipline of the military forces before which comrade Berger's rifles would break like glass would dissolve, and the
p.246authority of officers would be non-effectual if the soldiery were required to turn into uniformed banditti scouring the country for provisions.
Ireland during the Land League, Paris during the strike of the postmen and telegraphers, the south of France during the strike of the wine growers, the strike of the peasants at Parma, Italy, all were miniature demonstrations of the effectiveness of this method of warfare, all were so many rehearsals in part for this great drama of social revolution, all were object lessons teaching the workers how to extract the virtue from the guns of the political masters.9
With this issue of The Harp we begin a new editionand a new epoch of our existence. For the past two years this journal has been printed and published in America as the official journal of the Irish Socialist Federation of the United States. Many circumstanceschief among them being the cheering news of the reorganisation of the forces of Socialism in Ireland on a basis wide enough for all the activities of all its adherentshave induced us to transfer the office of publication to Dublin.
Socialism in Ireland needs a representative in the press devoted to its cause, and unhampered by any other affiliation. That representative we propose to be. It shall be our aim to place our columns and our poor abilities at the service of all the brave and unselfish men and women who are battling for social righteousness against the forces of iniquity which control and poison human life to-day. We shall not demand that the man or woman whose hand or voice is raised in protest or rebellion against tyranny must be at one with us upon the means to be taken to build the new social order; let us but agree that the social order must be built anew to serve the ends of righteousness, and built upon a recognition of our common heirship and ownership, and, we believe, the incidents of the struggle against the common enemy will, in itself, force the necessary tactics upon the mind of all. Therefore we can wait, and we ask those socialists who differ from us in our conception of what the tactics of the army of revolution should be, to wait also. Let us have patience with one another; let us remember the truth that Irishmen are ever ready to forget, viz., that we must tolerate one another or else be compelled to tolerate the common enemy. This does not mean that we have altered or abandoned,
p.248or propose to alter or abandon, our belief in the correctness of the principles for which we stood in Ireland from 1896 onward. We still believe that those principles contain the salvation of Ireland, socially and nationally, we still believe that the struggle of Ireland for freedom is a part of the world-wide upward movement of the toilers of the earth, and we still believe that the emancipation of the working class carries within it the end of all tyrannynational, political and social.
But we have come to the opinion that in the struggle for freedom the theoretical clearness of a few socialists is not as important as the aroused class instincts and consciousness of the mass of the workers. Therefore we are willing to work and co-operate heartily with any one who will aid us in arousing the slumbering giant of labour to a knowledge of its rights and duties. Whilst we are as firm as ever in our belief that the only hope for Ireland, as for the rest of the world, lies in a revolutionary reconstruction of society, and that the working class is the only one historically fitted for that great achievement, we are prepared to co-operate with all who will help forward the industrial and political organisation of labour, even should the aim they set for such organisation be far less ambitious than our own. We invite the co-operation of all who will work with us toward that end. The Harp shall be a free platform from which every friend of freedom can voice his aspirations without fear, favour or affection; this paper will not muzzle its readers, and will not allow itself to be muzzled. We scorn the puny weapons in the intellectual armoury of the capitalist enemy, and we shall welcome the criticisms of our friends.
In conclusion then, let us state the work that, in our opinion, lies before the socialists of Ireland as the more immediately pressing, after the inculcation of the principles of socialism. That work is the proper organisation of the working class of Ireland as a coherent whole, under one direction and in one
p.249organisation. That the workers of Ireland be organised on the industrial field not as plumbers, painters, bricklayers, dock labourers, printers, agricultural labourers, carters, shoemakers, etc., but that all these various unions be encouraged to become sub-divisions of one great whole whose aim it should be to perfect an organisation in which the interests of all should be the interests of eachin which the right of membership should rest not in proficiency at a craft or trade, but in the fact of being a member of the working class. Such a welding together of all the forces of organised labour in Ireland would make it possible to effect a settlement of most, if not all, of the questions which to-day are the stock-in-trade of every quack reformer and politician, as indeed they have also been for fifty years and more. A militant organisation of the working class of Ireland, in town and country, would have as dominant and controlling an effect upon the fortunes of the Irish working class as the Land League had upon the fortunes of the Irish farmer.
It would enable labour to dictate terms to the employing class, to raise wages and to give greater possibilities of life and happiness to all, to shorten hours and to give the parent more time to spend in the bosom of his family, and give the working boy and girl more time to self-improvement and study. It would create a force which could at any time settle the question of supporting Irish manufacture by refusing to handle all goods whose use or sale in Ireland tended to deprive Irish men and women of a chance to earn their living in their own country, and it would tend to create in the Irish working class the spirit of self-reliance which comes from grappling with problems affecting a whole class, as distinguished from the sectional, selfish spirit which is bred by our present system of independent trade unions.
It would do more. The feeling of power, the consciousness of strength which would follow upon this unification of the
p.250forces of labour, would develop in our working class an ambition to do and dare greater things, to march forward to the achievement of their emancipation. The spectacle of the whole force of organised labour in Ireland acting as a unit in the enforcement of any demand made by any of the unions in the organisation would make in the least thoughtful a newer, brighter, more hopeful conception of human relations than is to be found in the ranks of any unions which accept the capitalist idea of individualism. Capitalism teaches the people the moral conceptions of cannibalismthe strong devouring the weak; its theory of the world of men and women is that of a glorified pig-trough where the biggest swine gets the most swill. The idea of human relations which would grow out of the working class of Ireland solidifying and concentrating their forces for their common benefitand their abandonment of the idea behind the English system of trade unions which has hitherto cramped and dwarfed their mind and powerswould make for human brother-hood and a conception of the universe worthy of a really civilised people.
It shall be our purpose in The Harp to work for such a reorganisation of the forces of organised labour in Irelandthe organisation of all who work for wages into one body of national dimensions and scope, under one executive head, elected by the vote of all the unions, and directing the power of such unions in united efforts in any needed direction.
At present we shall do no more than suggest the idea to the trade unionists of Ireland, reserving a fuller outline of the principles of organisation involved until a future date. It is to be hoped that those who are to-day loyally working for the benefit of organised labour, under the hampering conditions of old style trade unionism, will seriously consider the great advantages which this new style would give to their organisations, and bring the subject of a national organisation of labour in Ireland up for discussion in their unions. And let them remember
p.251that the system of organisation we suggest is that which has enabled the Industrial Workers of the World in America (the I.W.W.) to defeat the Steel Trust, the most powerful Trust in the worldto defeat it in the very hour of its victory over the old style trade unions; it has enabled the French Confederation of Labour to win last year eighty-three per cent of its strikes; and it gave victory to the agricultural labourers of Parma, Italy, despite all the military power of the Government, which aided the landlords and used the military as scabs in the harvest field.
One other question we propose to drop here as a seed in the minds of the toilers of Ireland, to germinate and fructify until the time comes to harvest it. It is this; We have often heard our fellow-workers in the ranks of organised labour in Ireland complain about City Councils, Poor Law Guardians, Rural and Urban Councils, Catholic and Protestant Churches, Railroads, Dock and Harbour Boards, and other public bodies, as well as private capitalists, importing into Ireland articles which could be produced as well in Ireland, and the production of which on Irish soil would keep at home many thousands who are now compelled to flee to the moral abyss of American or British cities. Now, suppose you had a national organisation of Irish workers controlling all the building and transport trades, as well as the others, and suppose the executive of this union were issuing an order to its members to refuse to handle, transport, or work beside anyone engaged in handling or transporting such imported articles, and suppose the toilers of Ireland responded to such a callas the farmers of Ireland had responded to similar calls in the Land League dayshow long do you suppose such importation would continue?
Some socialists will accuse us of being chauvinistic. We are not. But we believe that the toilers of each country should control the industries of their country and they cannot do so if these industries have their location for manufacturing purposes
p.252in another country. Therefore, after long and mature deliberation upon the matter in all its aspects we affirm it as our belief that the working class of Ireland should prevent, by united action, the conquest of the Irish market by any capitalist or merchant whose factories or workshops are not manned by members of their organisation.
In the second part of my book Socialism Made Easy, I have endeavoured to establish two principles in the minds of my readers as being vitally necessary to the upbuilding of a strong revolutionary socialist movement. Those two principles are: First, that the working class as a class cannot become permeated with a belief in the unity of their class interests unless they have first been trained to a realisation of the need of industrial unity; second, that the revolutionary actthe act of taking over the means of production and establishing a social order based upon the principles of the working class (labour) cannot be achieved by a disorganised, defeated and humiliated working class, but must be the work of that class after it has attained to a commanding position on the field of economic struggle. It has been a pleasure to me to note the progress of socialist thought towards acceptance of these principles, and to believe that the publication of that little work helped to a not inconsiderable degree in shaping that socialist thought and in accelerating its progress. In the following article I wish to present one side of the discussion which inevitably arises in our socialist party branches upon the mooting of this question. But as a preliminary to this presentation I would like to decry, and ask my comrades to decry and dissociate themselves from, the somewhat acrid and intolerant manner in which this discussion is often carried on. Believing that the socialist party is part and parcel of the labour movement of the United States, and that in the growth of that movement to true revolutionary clearness and consciousness it, the socialist party, is bound to attract to itself and become mentor and teacher of elements most unclear and lacking in class consciousness, we should recognize that it is as much our duty to be patient and
p.254tolerant with the erring brother or sister within our ranks as with the rank heathen outside the fold. No good purpose can be served by wildly declaiming against intellectuals, nor yet by intriguing against and misrepresenting impossibilists. The comrades who think that the socialist party is run by compromisers, should not jump out of the organisation and leave the revolutionists in a still more helpless minority; and the comrades who pride themselves upon being practical socialist politicians should not too readily accuse those who differ with them of being potential disrupters. Viewing the situation from the stand-point of an industrialist I am convinced that both the industrialist and those estimable comrades who pander to the old style trade unions to such a marked degree as to leave themselves open to the suspicion of coquetting with the idea of a labour party, both, I say, have the one belief, both have arrived at the one conclusion from such different angles that they appear as opposing instead of aiding, auxiliary forces. That belief which both share in common is that the triumph of socialism is impossible without the aid of labour organised upon the economic field. It is their common possession of this one great principle of action which impels me to say that there is a greater identity of purpose and faith between those two opposing (?) wings of the socialist party than either can have with any of the intervening schools of thought. Both realise that the socialist party must rest upon the economic struggle and the forces of labour engaged therein, and that the socialism which is not an outgrowth and expression of that economic struggle is not worth a moment's serious consideration.
There, then, we have found something upon which we agree, a ground common to both, the first desideratum of any serious discussion. The point upon which we disagree is: Can the present form of American trade unions provide the socialist movement with the economic force upon which to rest? Or can the American
p.255Federation of Labour develop towards industrialism sufficiently for our needs? It is the same problem stated in different ways. I propose to state here my reasons for taking the negative side in that discussion.
Let it be remembered that we are not, as some good comrades imagine, debating whether it is possible for a member of the American Federation of Labour to become an industrialist, or for all its members, but we are to debate whether the organization of the American Federation of Labour is such as to permit of a modification of its structural formation to keep pace with the progress of industrialist ideas amongst its members. Whether the conversion of the membership of the American Federation of Labour to industrialism would mean the disruption of the Federation and the throwing of it aside as the up-to-date capitalist throws aside a machine, be it ever so costly, when a more perfectly functioning machine has been devised.
At this point it is necessary for the complete understanding of our subject that we step aside for a moment to consider the genesis and organisation of the American Federation of Labour and the trade unions patterned after it, and this involves a glance at the history of the labour movement in America. Perhaps of all the subjects properly pertaining to Socialist activity this subject has been the most neglected, the least analysed. And yet it is the most vital. Studies of Marx and popularising (sic) of Marx, studies of science and popularising of science, studies of religion and application of same with socialist interpretations, all these we have without limit. But of attempts to apply the methods of Marx and of science to an analysis of the laws of growth and incidents of development of the organisations of labour upon the economic field the literature of the movement is almost, if not quite, absolutely barren. Our socialist writers seem in some strange and, to me, incomprehensible manner to have detached themselves from the everyday struggles of the toilers and to imagine they are
p.256doing their whole duty as interpreters of socialist thought when they bless the economic organisation with one corner of their mouth and insist upon the absolute hopelessness of it with the other. They imagine, of course, that this is the astutest diplomacy, but the net result of it has been that the organised working class has never looked upon the socialist party as a part of the labour movement, and the enrolled socialist party member has never found in American socialist literature anything that helped him in strengthening his economic organisation or leading it to victory.
Perhaps some day there
will arise in America a socialist writer who in his writing will live up
to the spirit of the Communist Manifesto that the socialists are not
apart from the labour movement, are not a sect, but are simply that part
of the working class which pushes on all others, which most clearly
understands the line of march. Awaiting the advent of that writer permit
me to remind our readers that the Knights of Labour preceded the
American Federation of Labour, that the structural formation of the
Knights was that of a mass organisation, that they aimed to organise all
toilers into one union and made no distinction of craft, nor of
industry, and that they cherished revolutionary aims. When the
American Federation of Labour was organised it was organised as a dual
organisation, and although at first it professed a desire to organise
none but those then unorganised, it soon developed opposition to the
Knights and proceeded to organise wherever it could find members, and
particularly to seek after the enrolment of those who were already in
the Knights of Labour. In this it was assisted by the good will of the
master class, who naturally preferred its profession of conservatism and
identity of interest between capital and labour to the revolutionary
aims and methods of the Knights. But even this assistance on the part of
the master class would not have assured its victory were it not for the
fact that its method of organisation, into separate
p.257crafts recognised a certain need of the industrial development of the time which the Knights of Labour had failed up to that moment to appraise at its proper significance.
The Knights of Labour as I have pointed out, organised all workers into one union, an excellent idea for teaching the toilers their ultimate class interests, but with the defect that it made no provision for the treating of special immediate craft interests by men and women with the requisite technical knowledge. The scheme was the scheme of an idealist, too large-hearted and noble-minded himself to appreciate the hold small interests can have upon men and women. It gave rise to jealousies. The printer grumbled at the jurisdiction of a body comprising tailors and shoemakers over his shop struggles, and the tailors and shoemakers fretted at the attempts of carpenters and brick-layers to understand the technicalities of their disputes with the bosses.
To save the Knights of Labour and to save the American working class a pilgrimage in the desert of reaction, it but required the advent of some practical student of industry to propose that, instead of massing all workers together irrespective of occupation, they should, keeping their organisation intact and remaining bound in obedience to one supreme head, for administrative purposes only, group all workers together according to their industries, and subdivide their industries again according to crafts. That the allied crafts should select the ruling body for the industry to which they belonged, and that the allied industries again should elect the ruling body for the whole organisation. This could have been done without the slightest jar to the framework of the organisation; it would have recognized all technical differences and specialisation of function in actual industry; it would have kept the organisation of labour in line with the actual progress of industrial development; and would still have kept intact the idea of the unity of the working class by its common bond of brotherhood, a universal
p.258membership card, and universal obligation to recognise that an injury to one was an injury to all.
Tentative steps in such a direction were already being taken when the American Federation of Labour came upon the scene. The promoters of this organisation seizing upon this one plank in the Knights of Labour organisation, specialised its work along that line, and, instead of hastening to save the unity of the working class on the lines above indicated, they made the growing realisation of the need of representation of craft differences the entering wedge for disrupting and destroying the earlier organisation of that class.
Each craft was organised as a distinct body having no obligation to strike or fight beside any other craft, and making its own contracts with the bosses heedless of what was happening between these bosses and their fellow-labourers of another craft in the same industry, building, shop or room. The craft was organised on a national basis, to be governed by the vote of its members throughout the nation, and with a membership card good only in that craft and of no use to a member who desired to leave one craft in order to follow another. The fiction of national unity was and is still paid homage to, as vice always pays homage to virtue, by annual congresses in which many resolutions are gravely debated, to be forgotten as soon as congress adjourns. But the unifying (?) qualities of this form of organisation are best revealed by the fact that the main function of the congress seems to be to provide the cynical master class with the, to them, pleasing spectacle of allied organisations fiercely fighting over questions of jurisdiction.
This policy of the American Federation of Labour coupled with the unfortunate bomb incident of Chicago,11 for which the Knights of Labour received much of the blame, completed the ruin of the latter organisation and destroyed the growing unity of the working class for the time being. The industrial
p.259union, as typified today in the Industrial Workers of the World, could have, as I have shown, developed out of the Knights of Labour as logically and perfectly as the adult develops from the child. No new organisation would have been necessary, and hence we may conclude that the Industrial Workers of the World is the legitimate heir of the native American labour movement, the inheritor of its principles, and the ripened fruit of its experiences. On the other hand the American Federation of Labour may truly be regarded as an usurper on the throne of labour, an usurper who occupies the throne by virtue of having strangled its predecessor, and now, like all usurpers, raises the cry of treason against the rightful heir when it seeks to win its own again. It is obvious that the sway of the American Federation of Labour in the American labour movement is but a brief interregnum between the passing of the old revolutionary organisation and the ascension into power of the new.
But, I fancy I hear some one say, granting that all that is true, may we not condemn the methods by which the American Federation of Labour destroyed, or helped to destroy, the Knights of Labour, and still believe that out of the American Federation of Labour we may now build up an industrial organisation such as we need, such as the Industrial Workers of the World aims to be?
This we can only answer by clearly focussing in our mind the American Federation of Labour system of organisation in actual practice. A carpenter is at work in a city. He has a dispute with the bosses, or all his fellow carpenters have. They will hold meetings to discuss the question of a strike, and finding the problem too big for them they will pass it on to the headquarters, and the headquarters pass it on to the general membership. The general membership, from San Francisco to Rhode Island, and from Podunk to Kalamazoo will have a vote and say upon the question of the terms upon which the Chicago carpenters work, and if said carpenters are called out
p.260they will expect all these widely scattered carpenters to support them by financial and moral help. But while they are soliciting and receiving the support of their fellow-carpenters they are precluded from calling out in sympathy with them the painters who follow them in their work, the plumbers whose pipes they cover up, the steamfitters who work at their elbows, or the plasterer who precedes them. Yet the co-operation of these workers with them in their strikes is a thousandfold more important than the voting of strike funds which would keep them out on strikeuntil the building season is over and the winter sets in. In many cities to-day there is a Building Trades' Council which is looked upon by many as a beginning of industrialism within the American Federation of Labour. It is not only the beginning but it is as far as industrialism can go within that body, and its sole function is to secure united action in remedying petty grievances and enforcing the observance of contracts, but it does not take part in the really important work of determining hours or wages. It cannot for the simple reason that each of the thirty-three unions in the building industry are international organisations with international officers, and necessitating international referendums before any strikes, looking to the fixing of hours or wages, are permissible. Hence, although all the building trades branches in a given district may be satisfied that the time is ripe for obtaining better conditions, they cannot act before they obtain the consent of the membership throughout the entire country, and before that is obtained the moment for action is passed. The bond that is supposed to unite the carpenter in New York with the carpenter in Kokomo, Indiana, is converted into a wall of isolation which prevents him uniting, except in the most perfunctory fashion, with the men of other crafts who work beside him. The industrial union and the craft union are mutually exclusive terms. Suppose all the building trades branches of Chicago resolved to unite industrially to form an industrial union. Every branch which
p.261became an integral part of said union, pledged to obey its call to action, would by so doing forfeit its charter in the craft union and in the American Federation of Labour, and outside Chicago its members would be considered as scabs. The Brewers' Union has been fighting for years to obtain the right to organise all brewery employees. It is hindered from doing so, not only by the rules of the American Federation of Labour, but by the form of organisation of that body. Breweries, for instance, employ plumbers. Now if a plumber, so employed, would join the Brewers' Union and obey its call to strike he would be expelled from his craft union, and if ever he lost his job in the breweryhe would be considered as a scab if he went to work where union plumbers were employed. A craft union cannot recognise the right of another association to call its members out on a strike. A machinist works to-day in a machine shop; a few months from now he may be employed in a clothing factory attending to the repairs of sewing machines. If the clothing industry resolves itself into an industrial union and he joins them, as he needs must if he believes in industrialism, he loses his membership in the International Association of Machinists. And if ever he loses his factory job and seeks to return to the machine shop he must either do so as a nonunion man or pay a heavy fine if he is permitted to re-enter the International Association of Machinists. A stationary engineer works to-day at the construction of a new building, three months from now he is in a shipyard, six months from now he is at the mouth of a coal mine. Three different industries, requiring three different industrial unions.
The craft card is good to-day in all of them, but if any of them chose to form industrial unions, and called upon him to join, he could only do so on penalty of losing his craft card and his right to strike benefits from his old organisation. And if he did join, his card of membership in the one he joined would be of no value when he drifted to any of the others. How can
p.262the American Federation of Labour avoid this dilemma? Industrialism requires that all the workers in a given industry be subject to the call of the governing body, or of the vote of the workers in that industry. But if these workers are organised in the American Federation of Labour they must be subject only to the call of their national or international craft body; and if at any time they obey the call of the industry in preference to the craft they are ordered peremptorily back to scab upon their brothers.
If in addition to this organic difficulty, and it is the most insuperable, we take into consideration the system of making contracts or trade agreements on a craft basis pursued by old style unions we will see that our unfortunate brothers in the American Federation of Labour are tied hand and foot, handcuffed and hobbled, to prevent their advance into industrialism. During the recent shirt-waist makers' strike in New York when the question was mooted of a similar strike in Philadelphia our comrade Rose Pastor Stokes, according to our socialist press, was continually urging upon the shirt-waist makers of Philadelphia the wisdom of striking before Christmas, and during the busy season. No more sensible advice could have been given. It was of the very essence of industrialist philosophy. Industrialism is more than a method of organisationit is a science of fighting. It says to the worker: fight only at the time you select, never when the boss wants a fight. Fight at the height of the busy season, and in the slack season when the workers are in thousands upon the sidewalk, absolutely refuse to be drawn into battle. Even if the boss insults and vilifies your union and refuses to recognise it, take it lying down in the slack season but mark it up in your little note book. And when work is again rushing and master capitalist is pressed for orders squeeze him, and squeeze him till the most sensitive portion of his anatomy, his pocket-book, yells with pain. That is the industrialist idea of the present phase of the class
p.263war as organised labour should conduct it. But, whatever may have been the case with the shirt-waist makers, that policy so ably enunciated by comrade Rose Pastor Stokes is utterly opposed to the whole philosophy and practice of the American Federation of Labour. Contracts almost always expire when there is little demand for labour. For instance the United Mine Workers' contract with the bosses expires in the early summer when they have before them a long hot season with a minimum demand for coal. Hence the expiration of the contract generally finds the coal operators spoiling for a fight, and the union secretly dreading it. Most building trade contracts with the bosses expire in the wincer. For example, the Brotherhood of Carpenters in New York; their contract expires in January. A nice time for a fight, in the middle of a northern winter, when all work in their vicinity is suspended owing to the rigours of the climate!
The foregoing will, I hope, give the reader some food for consideration upon the problem under review. That problem is intimately allied with the future of the socialist party in America. Our party must become the political expression of the fight in the workshop, and draw its inspiration therefrom. Everything which tends to strengthen and discipline the hosts of labour tends irresistibly to swell the ranks of the revolutionary movement, and everything which tends to divide and disorganise the hosts of labour tends also to strengthen the forces of capitalism. The most dispersive and isolating force at work in the labour movement to-day is craft unionism, the most cohesive and unifying force, industrial unionism. In view of that fact all objections which my comrades make to industrial unionism on the grounds of the supposedly, or truly anti-political, bias of many members of the Industrial Workers of the World is quite beside the mark. That question at the present stage of the game is purely doctrinaire. The use or non-use of political action will not be settled by the doctrinaires who may make it their hobby to day,
p.264but will be settled by the workers who use the Industrial Workers of the World in their workshop struggles. And if at any time the conditions of a struggle in shop, factory, railroad or mine necessitate the employment of political action those workers so organised will use it, all theories and theorists to the contrary notwithstanding. In their march to freedom the workers will use every weapon they find necessary.
As the economic struggle is the preparatory school and training ground for socialists it is our duty to help guide along right lines the effort of the workers to choose the correct kind of organisation to fight their battles in that conflict. According as they choose aright or wrongly, so will the development of class consciousness in their minds be hastened or retarded by their everyday experience in class struggles.
We have not any knowledge of any country in which the working class more readily rallies to an appeal to its class feeling than in Ireland. Whilst the knowledge of theoretical socialism is but meagrely distributed amongst the workers, that feeling or knowledge which the socialists call class-consciousness is deep-seated, wide-spread and potent in its influence. A striking manifestation of this fact was evinced in the action of the trade unions during the first elections under the Local Government Act of 1898. Previous to the passing of this Act the Irish workers had no vote in municipal elections, with the necessary result that local municipal government was completely in the hands of the Irish capitalist class, who kept our Irish cities pest-holes of disease and slovenliness, and made our Irish slums a horror and a byword among the cities of Europe. But in that year the aforementioned Act placed the municipal suffrage upon the same basis as the parliamentary. Immediately there sprang into existence all throughout Ireland organisations of workers aiming at wresting the municipal government from the hands of the capitalist class, and placing it in the hands of the working class. Those organisations were formed under the authority of the various Trade Councils and Land and Labour Associations, and were termed Labour Electoral Associations. They selected the constituencies, wards, to be fought solely according to the working class character of these wards, and without regard to the supposed political views of the other candidates. Loyalist and Home Ruler were equal to them; their standard was the standard of labour and under that standard the workers rallied.
To those of us who were privileged to be in the fight in Ireland in those days the manner in which the Irish working
p.266class responded to the appeal made to them in 1899 was a promise and a guarantee for the future which no subsequent happenings can ever efface from the memory. All over the island the candidates of the working class swept to victoryin Dublin, in Cork, in Limerick, down to the smallest agricultural districts, practically every bona-fide labour man showed up well in the balloting, sweeping the old political parties into confusion. Mr. John Redmond, M.P., begged the Irish workers to show their moderation by electing landlords to the various bodies in Ireland in order to show those gentry that they had nothing to fear from Home Rule. The Irish workers laughed to scorn the whining counsel of this half-emancipated slave and stood by the men of their own class, thus ending for ever the jobbing and grafting of the landed gentry at the expense of the rural population. The upheaval of the Irish workers was magnificent.
But with victory came demoralisation. We have said that the Irish worker was thoroughly true to his own class, but lacking in socialist knowledge. This alone offers an explanation of the subsequent set-back to the labour cause in Ireland. The men elected all over Ireland had been elected on an independent platform, and all during the election most of them had steadily refused to merge their cause in any other, and had kept their independence intact and unsullied. The splendid vote they received was the emphatic endorsement by the Irish workers of this political independence of labour. But as soon as they were elected they forgot, or seemed not to realise, this fact, and instead of forming a distinct and independent party of their own in the various councils, they allied themselves to one or other of the factions of the capitalist parties, and became labour tails of the capitalist political kites.
As soon as the shrewd old party politicians saw this they realised immediately that they could regain their lost supremacy. The honest Irish working manhonest himself and inclined
p.267to believe in the honesty of otherswas no match for the political tricksters of the capitalist parties. When he found himself flattered and courted, invited to dinners and private gatherings of the Home Rule councillors, plied with drink by his associates and asked to favour them by seconding the resolutions affirming their position on certain debatable matters to come up in the council next day, etc., he did not realise that his genial hosts were destroying his independence, and digging the ground from under him.
Yet so it was. The labour party was a party only in name; it came to signify only certain men who could be trusted to draw working class support to the side of certain capitalist factions. Unfortunately, the only candidate run by the Irish Socialist Republican Party in that year, Mr. E. W. Stewart, the only candidate in the interest of labour who really understood the political trickery of the capitalists, and the manner in which that trickery would manifest itself, and who by his knowledge and pugnacity might have saved the situation, was defeated by a very small majority.
In the years immediately following that first result of the Irish workers on the field of local government the hopeless incapacity to uphold the principle of independent political action in which they had been elected, had its natural result in the overwhelming defeat of every candidate who professed to stand on a labour platform. The Irish capitalists had learned of the real weakness of the labour movement which had at first so terrified their guilty consciences, and the Irish workers had become disgusted at the poor results shown by the men they had elected. Though they were perhaps not able to frame it in so many words the Irish workers realised that a working man member of a capitalist party is not necessarily any better than a capitalist member of the same party, perhaps not so good; but that a working man who wishes to safeguard the interests of his class must withdraw from all capitalist political affiliation.
p.268And in deciding how he should vote in any great question should consult, not with the capitalist members of the Corporation, but with the committee of the organisations which secured his election.
Now we propose to the toilers of Ireland that it is time to make an effort to retrieve the situation, and once more to raise the banner of a militant Irish labour movement upon the political field. The victories once achieved can be more than duplicated, the mistakes once made will serve as beacons of warning for the guidance of our future activities. What were the factors at work in 1899? They were: First, a Labour Electoral Association representing an aroused working class in hot rebellion against its social and political outlawry, but ignorant of the real causes of its subjection; second, a small Socialist Republican Party, not much more than two years old, but militant, enthusiastic and with a thorough knowledge of the causes of social and national slavery. These two factors operated independentlythe socialists at all times supporting the labour men, the labour men not always supporting the socialists.
In the nature of things this could not well have been otherwise at that time. But what are the elements in the labour movement in Ireland to-day? They are a strong socialist movement, representing some of the best intellects in Ireland, an independent socialist feeling and education on socialist thought in every city of industrial activity in Ireland, and a general feeling of comradeship and sympathy between the trade unions and the socialists.
The times are ripe for a forward move! We suggest, then, the formation of a political party in Ireland which shall be composed of all bodies organised upon the basis of the principle of labour; that in order to form such a party the Trade and Labour Council of Dublin shall be invited by the socialists to take the lead in calling a conference of labour and socialist organisations of the capital city; that it be set forth in such
p.269call that the purpose is to form a party which shall act and be distinct from all others, and entirely guided by the interests of labour. And in order to secure and maintain the integrity of such party we also suggest that no one should be eligible for office in this party, or eligible to be considered as one of its candidates for any ward or constituency, unless he or she is a member of an affiliated labour union. When this has been perfected in Dublin then calls should be sent to other Irish cities and towns for the purpose of forming similar bodies; and when a sufficient number have been formed, then a national conference should be called in order to formulate a common programme and concerted action. The Irish trade unions, the land and labour associations and the socialist party of Ireland could easily find a common ground of action which would leave each free to pursue its ordinary propaganda, to maintain its own separate existence and to serve itself whilst serving others.
Our own hope is to see all Irish economic organisations welded into one great body directing the whole force of labour in Ireland upon any given point at once. But the initiation of our political union need not wait upon the realisation of our economic or industrial union. It can begin now. Who will achieve the honour of first moving in that direction? Who will bring this dream of so many minds, this hope of so many souls, to the concrete point of a resolution to test the feelings of the bodies interested? We have suggested Dublin first, but it is only a suggestion. It is open to any man anywhere who realises that the field of our hopes and destinies in Ireland is lying crying for the hand of the sower to nerve himself to the task.
England, said the flamboyant orator of Irish capitalism, has sown dragon's teeth and they have sprung up armed men. Shall we not say that as capitalism has sown poverty, disease and oppression among our Irish race so it will see spring up a crop of working class revolutionists armed with a holy hatred of all its institutions.
If we were asked what would be the attitude of such a party towards Sinn Fein, Home Rule, Parliamentary Parties, etc., we would reply that the attitude of such organisations towards the party would determine its attitude towards them. Such a party, resting upon the working classwhich is the only class capable of embracing the whole human racemust necessarily make of itself and its class a touchstone by which all other bodies must be tested. It must grow to the dignity of affirming that labour is not on trial; it is civilisation that is on trialand all the elements of civilisation in Ireland, as elsewhere, must stand or fall as they are true or not to the cause of labour.
For nearly a century the question of Home Government has barred with triple steel every door of progress. It has paralysed the energies of the country, and diverted the currents of national activity into the unfruitful channels of incessant political struggle. But, indeed, it could not fail to be otherwise. For a hundred years the vast body of the Irish people had neither sympathy with, nor confidence in, the executive and administrative government of Ireland. That Government has no natural root in the soil of Ireland. Bureaucratic government cannot soar on ampler wings. Forty-two Boards, without co-relation or connection, and almost without responsibility, control the destinies of Ireland.
The above extract from the manifesto of Ulster Liberal Protestants, issued on 5th December, 1910, will serve as a text for my article this week. I would especially direct the attention of the thoughtful reader to the opening phrase in the quotation. For nearly a century the question of Home Government has barred with triple steel every door of progress. How true this is, every one acquainted with the inner life of Irelandits civic and social life as distinguished from its political partisanshipcan testify. Ireland is a land of contradictions. Just as it is true that the perfervid orators of the United Irish League, who screech most vehemently for national freedom are in domestic affairs in Ireland the allies and champions of social reaction, and the enemies of intellectual freedom, so also it is true that true blue loyalist leaders, who on every platform assert their unquenchable enthusiasm for the cause of Protestant liberty, are the slimiest enemies of the
p.272social advancement of the Protestant working class. It may be news to some of your readers, but it is an undoubted fact that the Catholic labourers in the Catholic districts of Ulster reap the advantage of the Acts empowering Boards of Guardians to erect labourers' cottages to a degree far in excess of any advantage given to the Protestant agricultural labourers in the Protestant districts. The enemies of Home Rule and Popery are, it appears, also enemies of low rents and sanitary cottages for their labourers. Where his mind is not obsessed with the fear of compromising the national demand, the Irish Catholic labourer seems to be enough of a democrat to insist upon his social rights as against his Catholic employer or representative; but his Protestant fellow-worker in the north seemingly allows a blatant parade of loyalty to our Protestant institutions to compensate for all manner of treachery to the cause of labour.
I have pointed out before that the harmless Act to empower a public provision for the feeding of necessitous school children was kept out of Ireland with the connivanceif not directly at the desireof the Home Rule Party. Let me add that the Ulster beaters of the Orange drum were equally guilty in that respect. Public meetings to demand the application of this Act to Ireland have already been held in Dublin and Cork. The Dublin Trades' Council has acted, a general committee composed of representatives from the Socialist Party of Ireland, the Daughters of Erin, and the Trades Council have held a public meeting in the Mansion House in furtherance of this object, and induced the Lord Mayor of the city to preside in person; and the Dublin Corporation have unanimously passed a resolution calling for this Act for Ireland. But Belfast and 'Derry have not moved, the Orange orators are too busy dancing imaginary war dances on the banks of the Boyne to trouble about the starving children of Belfast, or of the city by the Foyle.
The Corporation of Catholic Cork granted me the use of
p.273their City Hall for a public meeting for this purpose, as have also the Urban District Council at Queenstown. But the cries of the starving children of Ulster cannot pierce the loyal ears attuned to the after-dinner oratorical efforts of Mr. McMordie, or the poisonous, religious, rancorous ravings of Sir Edward Carson.
But perhaps it will be argued that the prosperity of Belfast is so great that such an Act would be quite unnecessary, and did not Mr. McMordie rise in his place in the House of Commons and work in a free advertisement for workers in the linen trade of that city, by telling of the great demand for workers there, and of its great and abundant prosperity. I extract from the Belfast Newsletter, a rabidly loyalist paper, of September 8, 1910, the following short report of a speech delivered in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, by Miss Mary Galway, Secretary of the Mill-workers, on the conditions of sweated outworkers in the linen industry in Belfast. It shows how the Godly Protestant employers of Belfast sweat and rob the Godly Protestant workers, and how zeal for the Empire is made a cloak to trick out a mad desire to amass wealth by grinding the faces of the poor:
Miss Galway then displayed samples of the work done in the home, and gave figures regarding the rate of pay. She said for clipping cotton pocket handkerchiefs with 120 clips on each a sum of 1d. per dozen was paid, and it took an expert worker five hours to clip twelve dozen. For thread-drawing pure linen handkerchiefs supplied by one of the best and oldest firms in the city, 1d. per dozen was paid, and six dozen could be drawn in one hard day's work. A widow with seven children could earn at most 4 shillings per week at hand-spoke work, the rate of payment being 1 shilling and 3 pence per dozen handkerchiefs. For clipping the threads on an elaborately embroidered bed-spread, 88 ins. by 100 ins., [frac34]d. was paid, and it took fully an hour to do that work. Another woman was engaged three long days embroidering a linen teacloth, 45 ins. by 43 ins., for which
p.274she was paid 8d. Thread-drawing of pillow-cases was paid at the rate of 4d. per dozen, and four could be done in an hour. On a cotton handkerchief there were 112 dots, and the worker was paid 6d. per dozen handkerchiefs, while at shirtmaking an expert worker could earn about 1 shilling and 3 pence in fourteen hours. She could quote other instances showing the long hours and wretched pay of these workers, and yet they were asked was there any sweating?
Since then, in answer to his unctuous self-congratulations in Parliament, Miss Galway has challenged Mr. M'Mordie, M.P., to take a walk with her to houses within fifteen minutes of the Belfast City Hall, and she would show him still more outrageous cases of sweating; but no acceptance is yet forthcoming.
But when election time rolls around, the smug representative of orangeism will beat the big drum of saving the union before the working class voters, and with that discord in their ears they will be deaf to the cry of the helpless victims of capitalist oppression.
Oh, words of burning truth! For nearly a century the question of Home Government has barred with triple steeel every door of progress!
The question of Home Government, the professional advocacy of it, and the professional opposition to it, is the greatest asset in the hands of reaction in Ireland, the never-failing decoy to lure the workers into the bogs of religious hatreds and social stagnation.
The Protestant workers of Belfast are essentially democratic in their instincts, but not a single Belfast loyalist M.P. voted for the Old Age Pensions' Act. The loyalist M.P.s knew that the beating of the orange drum would drown every protest within their constituencies.
The development of democracy in Ireland has been smothered by the Union. Remove that barrier, throw the Irish people back upon their own resources, make them realise that the
p.275causes of poverty, of lack of progress, of arrested civic and national development, are then to be sought for within and not without, are in their power to remove or perpetuate, and ere long that spirit of democratic progress will invade and permeate all our social and civic institutions.
Believing that that day is approaching, the Socialist Party of Ireland seeks to prepare for it by laying now the foundations of that socialist movement, whose duty it will be to guide and direct the efforts of labour in Ireland, to find and fashion a proper channel of expression and instrument of emancipation.
That labour movement of the future, as well as the socialist movement of to-day must, indeed, draw inspiration from the successes of our comrades abroad, but must also shape its course to suit the conditions within our own shores.
The Socialist Party of Ireland recognises and most enthusiastically endorses the principle of internationalism, but it realises that that principle must be sought through the medium of universal brotherhood rather than by self-extinction of distinct nations within the political maw of over-grown Empires.
When once all the socialists in Ireland recognise this principle, and unite with us, they will have cause to wonder at the readiness with which the workers of Ireland will respond to the socialist appeal.
If all the socialists in Ireland who waste their time in cursing the unprogressiveness of the Irish workers, had only sufficient moral courage to declare themselves, they would be astonished at the multitude of their numbers, and would then realise that they were strong enough to ensure respect and toleration.
Until they do, we will be compelled to see Irish tory employers hiding their sweatshops behind orange flags, and Irish home rule landlords using the green sunburst of Erin to cloak their rack-renting in the festering slums of our Irish towns.
RESOLVED: That this meeting of workingmen and women of Belfast welcomes the project of the establishment of an Irish Parliament as opening the way for much needed social reform and the reunion of the Irish democracy hitherto divided upon antiquated sectarian lines, but considers that in the interests of democracy in this country more facilities should be offered for securing a full and proper representation of the people of Ireland; and we, therefore, demand that provision be made in the Bill for payment of members and election expenses, proportional representation, and the enfranchisement of women; and also that the proposed Senate be dropped from the Bill, as we consider that experience has proven double chambers of legislature to be useless and dangerous.
That a copy of this resolution be sent to the leaders of the various parties in Parliament, and also to the Parliamentary representatives of Belfast.
Note by Thomas Johnson:
This resolution was drafted by James Connolly for submission to a mass meeting in St. Mary's Hall, Belfast, after the introduction of the Home Rule Bill in 1912.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
In view of the fact that the National Health Insurance Act comes into working operation on January 13, and that one of the governing bodies to administer that Act will be an Insurance Commission partly elected by the City Council, it is felt, because of the well-known hostility to labour of our present representatives, that some steps should be taken to have a labour representative on the Council in order to try and prevent enemies of the working class being sent from that Council to the Insurance Commission. For this reason a General Meeting of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, very largely composed of residents in this Ward, unanimously decided to ask me to contest Dock Ward in the labour interest. The Belfast Trades and Labour Council also unanimously passed a resolution approving of this contest and recommending the labour candidate to the electors. As the Irish Trades Congress at its recent meeting in Clonmel also declared in favour of organised labour in Ireland taking steps to secure independent labour representation, I feel compelled to accept this duty, and therefore I ask your hearty support in our resolve to capture this seat, and thus let the voice of labour be heard in the City Council, in spite of the stupid, intolerant, and labour-hating gang who rule there.
I desire to be returned in order to advocate, among other
p.278things, that the Act for the feeding of children at school at present in force in Great Britain, be applied to Ireland. We have a right to demand equal treatment for Irish and British workers, and as the British workers have secured that their children must be fed before being educated (because it is impossible to educate hungry children), we also claim that when the poverty, or neglect, of the parents is such that the children are suffering, that the Local Authorities should be empowered to make provision for the supply of at least one good meal per day to each child. To those who object that this would pauperise the children, I answer that the children of the working class have as much right to be maintained thus as have the children of royalty. If it does not pauperise the one it cannot pauperise the other.
The Corporation of Dublin and many other Public Boards in Ireland have declared for this measure; it is time Belfast City Council was interesting itself more about such matters and less about the perpetuation of the religious discords that make Belfast a byword among civilised nations.
My general attitude, if elected, will be to insist upon the importance of the interests of labour being studied; that wherever possible all Corporation work be done by direct employment of labour; that the trade union clause be enforced in all Corporation contracts; that a minimum wage of at least 6d. per hour be established for all Corporation employees; that membership in a trade union be made compulsory for all wage-earners in Corporation employment; and that the Tramways Committee and its manager be compelled to supply covered cars for workers, morning and evening.
As every citizen in Belfast is interested in the proper administration of the Harbour, I favour the abolition of the present undemocratic and unrepresentative Board and the establishment in its place of a Harbour Board elected on the same franchise and at the same time as the Aldermen of the
p.279city. If elected, I will move that the City Council promote a bill on these lines.
I stand as a labour candidate, totally independent of any political party. But as the personal views of a candidate cannot be ignoredand as mine are likely to be misrepresentedI judge it well to state mine here that I may at least be heard in my own defence.
Believing that the present system of society is based upon the robbery of the working class, and that capitalist property cannot exist without the plundering of labour, I desire to see capitalism abolished, and a democratic system of common or public ownership erected in its stead. This democratic system, which is called socialism, will, I believe, come as a result of the continuous increase of power of the working class. Only by this means can we secure the abolition of destitution, and all the misery, crime, and immorality which flow from that unnecessary evil. All the reform legislation of the present day is moving in that direction even now, but working class action on above lines will secure that direct, voluntary, conscious, and orderly co-operation by all for the good of all, will more quickly replace the blundering and often reluctant legislation of capitalist governments.
As a lifelong advocate of national independence for Ireland, I am in favour of Home Rule, and believe that Ireland should be ruled, governed, and owned by the people of Ireland.
I believe that men and women having to face the battle of life together, could face it better were all enjoying the same political rights.
Fellow workers: I leave my case in your hands. As a trade union official, I stand for the class to which I belong. If you are content to be represented by men belonging to some section of the master class, then do not vote for me, but if you want your cause represented from Dock Ward by one of your own class, who will battle for your rights, who is
p.280the determined enemy of the domination of class over class, of nation over nation, of sex over sex, who will at all times stand for the cause of the lowly-paid and oppressed, then vote for
Your condition, and the condition of the sweated women of all classes of labour in Belfast, has recently become the subject of discussion on all the political platforms of England, and of long articles in all the most widely read newspapers and magazines of both countries. Almost unanimously they agree in condemning the conditions under which you work, your miserable wages, the abominable system of fining which prevails, and the slaughtering speed at which you are driven. It is pointed out that the conditions of your toil are unnecessarily hard, that your low wages do not enable you to procure sufficiently nourishing food for yourselves or your children, and that as a result of your hard work, combined with low wages, you are the easy victims of disease, and that your children never get a decent chance in life, but are handicapped in the race of life before they are born.
All this is to-day admitted by every right-thinking man and woman in these Islands. Many Belfast Mills are slaughterhouses for the women and penitentiaries for the children. But while all the world is deploring your conditions, they also unite in deploring your slavish and servile nature in submitting to them; they unite in wondering of what material these Belfast women are made, who refuse to unite together and fight to better their conditions.
Irish men have proven themselves to be heroes in fighting to abolish the tyranny of landlordism. Irish women fought heroically in the same cause. Are the Irish working women of Belfast not of the same race? Can they not unite to fight the slavery of capitalism as courageously as their sisters on the
p.282farms of Ireland united to fight the slavery of Irish landlordism? Public opinion in these islands is anxious to help you, but public opinion cannot help you unless you are ready to help yourselves.
Especially do we appeal to the spinners, piecers, layers, and doffers. The slavery of the Spinning-room is the worst and least excusable of all. Spinning is a skilled trade, requiring a long apprenticeship, alert brains, and nimble fingers. Yet for all this skill, for all those weary years of learning, for all this toil in a super-heated atmosphere, with clothes drenched with water, and hands torn and lacerated as a consequence of the speeding up of the machinery, a qualified spinner in Belfast receives a wage less than some of our pious millowners would spend weekly upon a dog. And yet the Spinning-room is the key to the whole industry. A general stoppage in the Spinning-rooms of Belfast would stop all the linen industry, factories and warerooms alike, Reelers and spinners united control the situation. Disorganised as they are to-day, they are the helpless slaves of soulless employers. United as they might be, as they ought to be, as we are determined they shall be, they could lift themselves into the enjoyment of prosperity and well-paid healthful labour. As a first step to that end, we wish to propose a programme of industrial reform to be realised in the near future, and we invite all our toiling sisters to enrol in our Societythe Irish Textile Workers' Unionwhose Belfast headquarters is at 50, York Street, in order that we may unitedly, and at a given moment, fight for its success.
We demand that the entire Linen Industry be put under the Sweated Industries Act, which gives power to a Trades Board, on which employees and employers are represented, to fix the minimum wages for the whole.
Under that Act the wages of women in the Clothing Operatives Trade has been already fixed at a minimum wage of 3d. per hour. Until the extension to the Linen Industry of that Act, we demand and pledge ourselves as a Union to
p.283fight for a minimum wage of 3d. per hour for all qualified spinners, proportionate increases for all lower grades in the Spinning-room, and increases in the piece rates for the Reeling-room and all departments in piece work; abolition of fines for lost time; all stoppages to be at the same rates as the daily pay per hour.
We also demand from Government the appointment of a competent Woman Inspector for the Belfast District exclusively, in order that the inspection of our mills, factories, and warerooms may be a constant reality, instead of the occasional farce it is to-day.
United action can secure every point on this modest programme within less than a year. It depends upon you, the working women of Belfast. If you have courage enough, faith enough in yourselves and in each other, you can win. Most of this programme can be won by direct industrial action, by a General Strike for it if need be; the rest will be conceded by Government as soon as you show yourselves in earnest in your demands for it.
To make easy the work of organising, we are prepared to establish an office or Women's Club-room in each district, if the request for the same is made by a sufficient number of members. Take advantage of this offer, give in your name to us at this office, or to any of your collectors, and we will welcome you as sisters, and enrol you as comrades in the coming battle for juster conditions.
Should this manifesto come into the hand of any not themselves sufferers, but willing to help in the coming battle, if they communicate with us we shall be prepared to enrol them as auxiliaries, and welcome their help.
Sisters and Fellow-workers, talk this matter over, do not be frightened by the timid counsels and fears of weaklings. Be brave. Have confidence in yourselves. Talk about success, and you will achieve success. . ..
(This Manifesto, drafted by Connolly, was issued from 50 York Street, Belfast in 1913 over the names of Winifred Carney, Secretary, Ellen Gordon, Delegate, and James Connolly, Organiser. Connolly's activities among the dockers and mill workers of the North had been intense and fruitful since June 1911 when he was appointed as Secretary Belfast Branch, and Ulster District Organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. The Irish Textile Workers' Union was attached to the Textile Section of the Irish Women Workers' Union with Headquarters at Liberty Hall, Dublin.)
Many of our readers are hardly aware of the fact that although Mr. William O'Brien, M.P.,12
p.288it is now excommunicated by the United Irish League, and its bitterest foe, vet he is the founder, inspirer, and whilst it was an active force in agrarian struggles, was the chief financier and leader of that League. But such is the case.
For a long time the cities of Ireland, and Dublin in particular, remained callous and cold to the appeals of the League. They regarded it as a peasants' or as an agricultural movement, pure and simple, and would have nothing to do with it. But the politicians wanted the cities, and so a concerted attack was made upon Dublin.
Dublin, understand, was and is important politically in Ireland because even the peasantry, who in most countries are jealous of the capital, in Ireland do not trust a movement which cannot claim the intellectual adhesion of the capital.
Hence, the hosts of the United Irish League, backed up by all the financial resources of Mr. O'Brien, and the concerted powers of the Home Rule press, set out to make Dublin a tributary of the League, whether it would or not.
A band was hired, also a gang of corner boys or loafers to cheer the speaker, and if need be, break the head of any opponent. Then great meetings were announced in all the various districts. All United Irish League gatherings are great meetings when they are not magnificent demonstrations.
The same gang of corner boys made up the meeting on each occasion. At Inchicore they were addressed by the orators as the unconquered democracy of Inchicore, at Wood Quay they were the sterling working class of Wood Quay Ward, at Drumcondra, they were the patriot men of Drumcondra,
p.286at Arran Quay they stood for the true and tried men of Arran Quay, and in the Harbour Division they responded enthusiastically as the orators praised their record as citizen voters in that Gibraltar of Irish Nationalismthe Harbour Division of Dublin.
And each day the newspapers described the same gang differently, and waxed eloquent in their leading columns upon the magnificent rally of the working class of Dublin to the ranks of the United Irish League.
And the readers down the country and the Irish in Great Britain swelled with exaltation as they read of the great reception the Dublin workers gave to the orators of the League. Indeed it was primarily for the benefit of the readers down the country and in Great Britain that the meetings were arranged.
But as the Dublin workers saw the corner boys marched back and forwards across their city to pose as the residents in the various wards and districts, and as they read in the papers the list of the committees in charge, and saw there the names principally of pawnbrokers, slum landlords, publicans, and sweaters, what wonder that they treated the whole affair with contempt.
Anybody who wants to defend faith and fatherland very badly can get a job up north just now. Carson's army is out on the warpath demanding the blood of the Papists, and Wee Joe Devlin has been lecturing in Belfast upon Isaac Butt, whilst the organisation of which he is head is organising scabbery in Dublin, faith and fatherland is being attacked from all sides, and the Hibernian attack, under cover of defending the Pope, will be more harmful than the orangemen who save the Pope under cover of attacking the faith.
The head of the Ancient Order of Hibernians praising Isaac
p.287Butt, a Protestant Home Ruler, is very amusing considering that if Isaac Butt was alive every Hibernian in Ireland would be bound to oppose him even for the humblest position in Ireland. The Catholics of Ireland are the most tolerant people in Irelandalways have beenbut the aim of the Hibs, is to convert this tolerant people into a nation of furious bigots and sectarian patriarchs. They stink in the nostrils of every honest man and woman.
The Municipal Elections in Dublin never fail to provide mirth for the multitude. The fun has already begun in Merchants' Quay Ward, where Andrew Breslan, a working carpenter and nominee of the Dublin Labour Party, is being opposed by Mr. John Scully, High Sheriff of Dublin City. Scully is running in the interests of the United Irish League and high rents, slum tenements, rotten stair-cases, stinking yards, high death rates, low wages, Corporation jobbery and margarine wrapped up in butter paper.
Also several other things. Mr. Scully is a provision merchant: as such he is bound to furnish provisions upon the demand of his customers, and as High Sheriff he is bound to provide hangmen upon the demand of the British Government; or be a hangman himself if the supply of professional hangmen failed.
If Robert Emmet was to be hanged to-morrow, and the professional hangman went on strike, Mr. Scully is bound by his oath of office to do the job and hang the patriot.
Therefore to hear Mr. Scully and his spouters talk of fighting in the sacred cause of patriotism is one of these delightful pieces of humour that only the Sham Squire or James Carey could properly appreciate and enjoy.
If you vote against the Labour Candidates this coming election, you will vote to declare yourselves in favour of more doses of: disease-infested tenements; slaughter of the children of the poor; high rents; low wages; increasing death rate;
p.288wretchedly-lit working class streets; baton charges on inoffensive crowds; police perjury; police indecencies of language against girl strikers; police brutalities upon babies and old men and women; hatred of the working class by magistrates upon the bench; journalistic slanders upon the working class; journalistic filth upon strikes and strikers; political intrigues against trades-unionism; Home Rule and Unionist alliances in support of sweating; and more doses of every kind of treason against justice, and hatred of those who stand for the working class.
In the field we are now fighting upon, the industrial field, labour was left to battle alone against every element represented in the above list; in the fight upon the municipal battle field the alliance of all those unclean elements is as real as upon the industrial, though not so open. The virtue of the industrial fight is that it brings all our enemies into the open; in the political fight the enemies are the same but they can easier hide their treachery.
It is for the workers to stand together and send the whole pack howling to the depths together.
Perhaps before this issue of The Irish Worker is in the hands of its readers the issues now at stake in Dublin will be brought to a final determination. All the capitalist newspapers of Friday last, join in urging, or giving favourable publicity to the views of others urging the employers of Dublin to join in a general lock-out of the members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. It is as well. Possibly some such act is necessary in order to make that portion of the working class which still halts undecided to understand clearly what it is that lies behind the tyrannical and brow-beating attitude of the proprietors of the Dublin tramway system.
The fault of the Irish Transport and General Worker's Union! What is it? Let us tell it in plain language. Its fault is this, that it found the labourers of Ireland on their knees, and has striven to raise them to the erect position of manhood; it found them with all the vices of slavery in their souls, and it strove to eradicate these vices and replace them with some of the virtues of free men; it found them with no other weapons of defence than the arts of the liar, the lickspittle, and the toady, and it combined them and taught them to abhor those arts and rely proudly on the defensive power of combination; it, in short, found a class in whom seven centuries of social outlawry had added fresh degradations upon the burden it bore as the members of a nation suffering from the cumulative effects of seven centuries of national bondage, and out of this class, the degraded slaves of slaves more degraded stillfor what degradation is more abysmal than that of those who prostitute their manhood on the altar of profit-mongering?out of this class of slaves the labourers of Dublin, the Irish Transport and General Worker's Union has created an army of intelligent self-reliant men,
p.290abhorring the old arts of the toady, the lickspittle, and the crawler and trusting alone to the disciplined use of their power to labour or to withdraw their labour to assert and maintain their right as men. To put it in other words, but words as pregnant with truth and meaning: the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union found that before its advent the working class of Dublin had been taught by all the educational agencies of the country, by all the social influences of their masters, that this world was created for the special benefit of the various sections of the master class, that kings and lords and capitalists were of value; that even flunkeys, toadies, lickspittle and poodle dogs had an honoured place in the scheme of the universe, but that there was neither honour, credit, nor consideration to the man or woman who toils to maintain them all. Against all this the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union has taught that they who toil are the only ones that do matter, that all others are but beggars upon the bounty of those who work with hand or brain, and that this superiority of social value can at any time be realised, be translated into actual fact, by the combination of the labouring class. Preaching, organising, and fighting upon this basis, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union has done what? If the value of a city is to be found in the development of self-respect and high conception of social responsibilities among a people, then the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union found Dublin the poorest city in these countries by reason of its lack of these qualities. And by imbuing the workers with them, it has made Dublin the richest city in Europe to-day, rich by all that counts for greatness in the history of nations. It is then upon this working class so enslaved, this working class so led and so enriched with moral purposes and high aims that the employers propose to make general war. Shall we shrink from it; cower before their onset? A thousand times no! Shall we crawl back into our slums, abase our hearts, bow our knees, and crawl once more
p.291to lick the hand that would smite us? Shall we, who have been carving out for our children a brighter future, a cleaner city, a freer life, consent to betray them instead into the grasp of the blood-suckers from whom we have dreamt of escaping? No, no, and yet again no! Let them declare their lock-out; it will only hasten the day when the working class will lock-out the capitalist class for good and all. If for taking the side of the Tram men we are threatened with suffering, why we have suffered before. But let them understand well that once they start that ball rolling no capitalist power on earth can prevent it continuing to roll, that every day will add to the impetus it will give to the working class purpose, to the thousands it will bring to the working class ranks and every added suffering inflicted upon the workers will be a fresh obstacle in the way of moderation when the day of final settlement arrives.
Yes, indeed, if it is going to be a wedding, let it be a wedding; and if it is going to be a wake, let it be a wake: we are ready for either.
The following statement on behalf of the workers' side was submitted to the Court of Inquiry at Dublin Castle on October 4th, 1913:
With all due respect to this Court, it is neither first nor last in our thoughts to-day, nor at any other stage of the inquiry. The ultimate tribunal to which we appeal is not this Court, much as we desire to assist its operations, but rather the verdict of the class to which we belong. We do not claim to be philanthropists labouring to preserve social amenities for the sake of some nebulous, changing thing known as the public. We do not pretend to be animated by a fierce zeal for public order, though we hope we shall never wantonly disturb it, nor do we profess to be inspired by a single-minded desire to aid capitalists to conduct their business at all costs. No, we are banded together for the purpose of elevating our class, of organising that class for the conquest of its rights. If the public, the forces of law and order and the capitalist class are willing to co-operate with us towards that end, well and good. If, on the other hand, the social and political forces represented by these three terms unite to defeat and subdue us and to thwart our just aspirations as we believe they have done in this case, we shall still press onward believing that eventually victory, and the verdict of history will be on our side. This mental attitude of ours explains our position in this dispute. The learned counsel for the employers says that for the past five years there have been more strikes than there have been
p.293since Dublin was a capital. Practically every responsible man in Dublin to-day admits that the social conditions of Dublin are a disgrace to civilisation.
Have these two sets of facts no relation? We believe that they stand to one another in the relations of cause and effect, the long period of stagnation in the labour ranks of Dublin was responsible for the growth in your midst of labour and housing conditions scarcely to be equalled outside Bombay or Constantinople. Now that the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and its officials have set out to arouse the people; now that fierce, and it may be sometimes reckless, fighting has inspired the suffering masses with a belief in their own ability to achieve some kind of emancipation; now, in short, that the luxury, comfort, and even the security of the propertied classes are menaced, we see the quickening of a faint sense of social conscience in Dublin. But until aroused by the shock of industrial war, the propertied classes of Dublin have well deserved their unenviable notoriety, for, like the typical Irish landlords of the past, enforcing their rights with a rod of iron and renouncing their duties with a front of brass.
They tell us that they recognise trade unions. For answer we say that when they did so, it was wherever the necessity of a long apprenticeship made it difficult to replace a worker if he went on strike, but whenever no such apprenticeship existed to protect the worker the Dublin employers made fierce and relentless war upon trade unions amongst the unskilled labourers. Messrs. Tedcastle and M'Cormack is an instance among shipping firms. The Tramway Company has seen at least two attempts to organise its men. It fought and crushed the attempts, and the workhouse, the insane asylum, and the emigrant ship received the ruined lives of those who made the efforts. They complain that the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union cannot be trusted to keep its agreements. The majority of shipping firms in Dublin to-day
p.294are at present working, refusing to join in this mad enterprise engineered by Mr. Murphy, and with perfect confidence in the faith of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. They complain of the sympathetic strike, but the members of the United Builders Labourers' Trade Union, a union recruited from the same class of labourers as the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, have been subjected to a sympathetic lock-out because of their refusal to pledge themselves not to help the latter body if they so desired it at any time in the future. A more unreasonable pledge was never asked for. It is as if, instead of waiting until the contingency arose, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union were to call a refusal to pledge themselves not to help the latter body if they so desired it at any time in the future. A more unreasonable pledge was never asked for. It is as if, instead of waiting until the contingency arose, the Transport Union were to call a strike in a shop because the employer would not sign an agreement not to lend his own money to another employer if he needed it. To such an extent has the madness of the employers led them. We on our side say that we are proud of the spirit of solidarity exhibited in Dublin; we are proud of the manner in which organised labour in these islands has rallied to help us in defeating the attempt of the employers to dictate to the workers to what Union they should or should not belong.
The conference with the Dublin Employers' Executive which had been arranged for through the instrumentality of the Joint Board Delegates acting on the instructions of the National Conference held in London on December 9, reopened in the Shelbourne Hotel on December 18.
Previous to its reopening the delegates of the
p.295Executives, and of the unions affected locally met in conference in the Trades Hall, Capel Street, and after two sittings decided unanimously to present the following as embodying the minimum statement of the position of the workers.
That the Employers of the City and County of Dublin agree to withdraw the circulars, posters and forms of agreement (known as the Employers Agreement) presented to their employees, embodying conditions governing their employment in the several firms as from July 19th, 1913.
That the unions affected agree as a condition of the withdrawal of such conditions and forms of agreement governing employment in the firms affected, to abstain from any form of sympathetic strike pending a Board of wages and conditions of Employment being set up by March 17th, 1914.
And the conference also agrees that in restoring relations no member shall be refused employment on the grounds of his or her association with the dispute, and that no stranger shall be employed until all the workers have been re-engaged.
All cases of old workers not re-employed on February 1st, 1914, shall be considered at a conference to be held not later than February 15th, 1914.
Upon the conference meeting on Thursday morning the workers were informed that the employers considered that the conference was a resumption of the previous one which broke up on Sunday morning December 7, and therefore stipulated that the immediate business in hand was the discussion of the question upon which the previous conference had broken off, viz., the question of reinstatement. The Labour delegates did not entirely agree that this interpretation of the position was
p.296the correct one, but rather than peril the negotiations consented to make an effort to proceed upon the lines indicated.
Several efforts were made to obtain from the employers an indication of what they meant by the phrases, that they will make a bona fide effort to find employment for as many as possible and as soon as they can, and that they will take on as many of their former employees as they can make room for. The Employers' Committee was asked to state the firms that could not give reinstatement, or the proportion in which reinstatement could be given immediately, but no information could be elicited. Reference was made to the statement of Mr. Murphy in the press that all but five per cent. of the men could go back to work immediately, and the Labour representatives asked was there any indication of the extent to which immediate reinstatement could be made now. The answer returned stated that it was not, and further that Mr. Murphy's statement only referred to five per cent. of the men whose places were not filled up. This meant that Mr. Murphy was determined that even five per cent. of the men whose places were not yet filled would be victimised, and is a fair indication of the vindictive spirit of the employers.
Finding it impossible to come to any agreement or to receive any information the Labour representatives resolved to lay the whole matter before the Joint National Conferences. The latter body after fully considering the question in all its bearings resolved finally to instruct the delegation to bring back to the employers for further consideration the document presented on Thursday morning. This was done on Saturday, and the document handed in by Mr. Larkin at the request of the Delegation. Upon it being handed in the Chairman of the Employers asked Mr. Henderson if Mr. Larkin was speaking on behalf of both Labour bodies, and was assured by that gentleman that Mr. Larkin spoke with the full and unanimous endorsement of the whole National Conference and all its
p.297constituent parts. Then the Labour representatives withdrew to allow the employers to consider the position. Upon reassembling the following document was presented by the employers, after which negotiations were broken off.
The Committee observe that the proposals put forward through Mr. Larkin this morning are the same as those presented on Thursday morning, and bring us back to the position in which we then stood.
The clauses submitted again to-day by the Representatives of the workers require the full reinstatement by the Employers of all the workers. This would involve the victimisation of many who have been employed since the dispute began. The Employers cannot agree to dismiss men who have proved suitable, but subject to this condition are willing and anxious to re-employ their old hands as far and as soon as possible.
The members of the Committee have laboured to try and effect a settlement so much needed and desired, and regret that their labours in conjunction with those of the Joint Board representatives and the Trades Council Delegates have not succeeded in arriving at an agreement.JOHN GOOD, 20-12-1913.
On behalf of the representatives of the workers we wish to draw attention to the fact that the employers insisted all through the negotiations that the question of reinstatement should be left absolutely in the hands of the employers, that we should trust entirely to their goodness and generosity. Remember the fact that the employers had locked out their workers, and had brought on this dispute in order to force upon us an agreement
p.298now universally repudiated and condemned by all classes from Sir George Askwith's Court of Inquiry down till to-day, as contrary to individual liberty and one which no self-respecting workman or body of workmen could possibly accept. Remember this, and remember also that the workers now out are out because they protested against this insult to their self-respect, and resolved to protect their individual liberty, and consider that we are asked to surrender these men and women to the tender mercies of those who so wantonly made war upon them. In view of this fact and the further fact that our proposals now refused by the employers have been described by such a broad-minded lover of peace as his Grace, Archbishop Walsh as fair and reasonableeminently reasonable, and that these proposals gave the employers every opportunity and sufficient time to adjust their business. What other course was open to us than to respectfully but firmly decline to surrender our brothers. We also wish to draw the attention of the public to the fact that many of the trade unions involved have had for some considerable time past agreements with the employers stipulating for the exclusive employment of trade union labour, and that all such agreements would be completely destroyed by the acceptance of the employers' proposals. Thus they are now trying to introduce the principle of nonunion labour in places where such labour has not recently existed. In the building trades, for instance, the rules call for three months' notice before such agreements can be altered, yet the employers are now striving to undermine this trade union position without any notice at all. And these are the men who prate of breaches of agreement!
The workers' proposals gave the employers full time, and only stipulated that within a certain period another conference should be held to consider the question of the workers still unemployed. No fairer proposal could be given. The employers' proposal on the other hand demanded that the question of
p.299re-employment should be left entirely to the generosity, the ill-will, the forbearance, the malice, the fair-mindedness, the vindictiveness, the passions and the prejudices of the employers who four months ago set out to starve us into submission, and to drive us back to slavery.
Under these circumstances the fight must go on.
Chairman, Workers' Representation.
To the readers of Forward possibly some sort of apology is due for the non-appearance of my notes for the past few weeks, but I am sure that they quite well understand that I was, so to speak, otherwise engaged. On the day I generally write my little screed, I was engaged on the 31st of August in learning how to walk around in a ring with about forty other unfortunates kept six paces apart, and yet slip in a word or two to the poor devil in front of or behind me without being noticed by the watchful prison warders.
The first question I asked was generally say, what are you in for, Then the rest of the conversation ran thus:
throwing stones at the police. Well, I hope you did throw them
and hit. No, by G
[gap: authorial courtesy/extent: one word]
, that's the worst of it. I was pulled coming out of my own house.
Pulled is the Dublin word for arrested. It was somewhat mortifying to me to know that I was the only person apparently in prison who had really committed the crime for which I was arrested. It gave me a sort of feeling that I was lowering the moral tone of the prison by coming amongst such a crowd of blameless citizens.
But the concluding part of our colloquy was a little more encouraging. It usually finished in this way:
Are you in the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union?
Of course I am.
Good. Well if they filled all the prisons in Ireland they can't beat us, my boy.
No, thank God, they can't; we'll fight all the better when we get out.
And there you have the true spirit. Baton charges; prison
p.301cells, untimely death and acute starvationall were faced without a murmur, and in face of them all, the brave Dublin workers never lost faith in their ultimate triumph, never doubted but that their organisation would emerge victorious from the struggle. This is the great fact that many of our critics amongst the British labour leaders seem to lose sight of. The Dublin fight is more than a trade union fight; it is a great class struggle, and recognised as such by all sides. We in Ireland feel that to doubt our victory would be to lose faith in the destiny of our class.
I heard of one case where a labourer was asked to sign the agreement forswearing the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, and he told his employer, a small capitalist builder, that he refused to sign. The employer, knowing the man's circumstances, reminded him that he had a wife and six children who would be starving within a week. The reply of this humble labourer rose to the heights of sublimity. It is true, sir, he said, they will starve; but I would rather see them go out one by one in their coffins than that I should disgrace them by signing that. And with head erect he walked out to share hunger and privation with his loved ones. Hunger and privationand honour.
Defeat, bah! How can such a people be defeated? His case is typical of thousands more. Take the case of the United Builders Labourers' Trade Union, for instance. This was a rival union to the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. Many sharp passages had occurred between them, and the employers counted confidently upon their co-operation in the struggle; Mr. William Martin Murphy especially praising them and exulting in their supposed acquiescence in his plans. Remember also that they were a dividing society, dividing their funds at the end of each year, and therefore without any strike funds. When the members of their union were asked to sign the agreement, promising never to join or help the
p.302Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, not one man consentedbut all over Dublin their 2,500 members marched out to help the I. T. & G. W. U. boys. Long ere these lines are written, they have experienced all the horrors of starvation, but with grim resolve they have tightened their belts and presented an unyielding front to the enemy.
It is a pleasure to me to recall that I was a member of their Union before I went to America, and that they twice ran me as their candidate for Dublin City Council before the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union was dreamed of.
What is true of that union is also true of most of the tradesmen. All are showing wonderful loyalty to their class. Coachbuilders, sawyers, engineers, bricklayers, each trade that is served by general labourers, walks out along with the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union boys; refuses to even promise to work with any one who signs the employers' agreement, and, cheering, lines up along with their class.
Or think of the heroic women and girls. Did they care to evade the issue, they might have remained at work, for the first part of the agreement asks them to merely repudiate the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, and as women they are members of the Irish Women Workers' Union, not of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. But the second part pledges them to refuse to help the Irish Transport and General Workers' Unionand in every shop, factory and sweating hell-hole in Dublin, as the agreement is presented, they march out with pinched faces, threadbare clothes, and miserable footgear, but with high hopes, undaunted spirit, and glorious resolve shining out of their eyes. Happy the men who will secure such wives; thrice blessed the nation which has such girls as the future mothers of the race! Ah, comrades, it is good to have lived in Dublin in these days!
And then our friends write deprecatingly to the British press of the dislocation of trade involved in sympathetic strikes,
p.303of the perpetual conflicts in which they would involve great trade unions. To those arguments, if we can call them such, our answer is sufficient. It it this: If the capitalist class knew that any outrages upon a worker, any attack upon labour, would result in a prompt dislocation of trade, perhaps national in its extent; that the unions were prepared to spend their last copper if necessary rather than permit a brother or sister to be injured, then the knowledge would not only ensure a long cessation from industrial skirmishing such as the unions are harassed by to-day, it would not only ensure peace to the unions, but what is of vastly more importance, it would ensure to the individual worker a peace from slave-driving and harassing at his work such as the largest unions are apparently unable to guarantee under present methods.
Mark, when I say prepared to spend their last copper if necessary, I am not employing merely a rhetorical flourish, I am using the words literally. As we believe that in the socialist society of the future the entire resources of the nation must stand behind every individual, guaranteeing him against want, so to-day our unions must be prepared to fight with all their resources to safeguard the rights of every individual member.
The adoption of such a principle, followed by a few years of fighting on such lines to convince the world of our earnestness, would not only transform the industrial arena, but would revolutionise politics. Each side would necessarily seek to grasp the power of the state to reinforce its position, and politics would thus become what they ought to be, a reflex of the industrial battle, and lose the power to masquerade as a neutral power detached from economic passions or motives.
At present I regret to say labour politicians seem to be losing all reality as effective aids to our struggles on the industrial battlefield, are becoming more and more absorbed in questions of administration, or taxation, and only occasionally, as in the
p.304miners' national strike, really rise to a realisation of their true role of parliamentary outposts of the industrial army.
The parliamentary tail in Britain still persists in wagging the British industrial dog. Once the dog really begins to assert his true position, we will be troubled no more by carping critics of labour politics, nor yet with labour politicians' confessions of their own impotence in such great crises as that of the railway strike or the Johannesburg massacres.
Nor yet would we see that awful spectacle we have seen lately of labour politicians writing to the capitalist press to denounce the methods of a union which, with 20,000 men and women locked out in one city, is facing an attempt of 400 employers to starve its members back into slavery.
And thou, Brutus, that you should play the enemy's game at such a crisis! Every drop of ink you spilled in such an act stopped a loaf of bread on its way to some starving family.
Our good friend the Daily Citizen13 describes the scenes attendant upon the intended departure of some Dublin children to Great Britain, under the auspices of a committee organised there for the purpose of taking care of children of the locked out workers, as the most extraordinary scene in this most extraordinary industrial conflict in this country.
We do not wonder at our British friends being surprised, nor at them being horrified, nor at them being scandalised and shocked at the treatment to which they have been subjected, and the vile aspersions cast upon their motives. For ourselves we anticipated it all, and have never been enthusiastic towards the scheme.
We realised that their children are about all the workers of Dublin have left to comfort them, that amidst the squalor and wretchedness of their surroundings the love of their little ones shines like a star of redemption, and that to part with their dear ones would be like wrenching their hearts asunder. We realised, further, what it is very difficult to make even the most friendly of the British realise, that Great Britain is still an alien country to Ireland, and that even the splendid comradeship and substantial aid of to-day can hardly expect to obliterate immediately the evil results upon our intercourse of long generations of oppression during the period when class rule stood in Ireland for Great Britain, and symbolised all Britain's relations with Ireland. And we also knew that some of the darkest memories of Ireland were associated with British attempts to stab the heart of Ireland through systematic abduction of the bodies and corruption of the minds of Irish children.
Therefore we felt instinctively that the well-meant move of Mrs. Montefiore and her colleagues would arouse in Ireland hostilities and suspicions they could not conceive of, and would not believe were we to attempt the task of making the matter clear. Hence, while placing no obstacle in the way of its fulfilment, and feeling deeply a sense of gratitude towards the noble British men and women of our class who have so unreservedly thrown open their homes for the purpose of sheltering our stricken little ones, we have nevertheless felt that the scheme was bound to be taken advantage of to our detriment by all the hostile elements who surround us, but usually fear to reveal their hostility. We know that people willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, swarm everywhere on the flanks of the labour movement in Ireland, and we also know that the men and women in charge of that labour movement know how to keep these people disarmed and ineffective; but that the men and women in the British labour movement have none of that knowledge of our enemies nor of our methods for neutralising their hostility.
But when we have said this we have said all that our own position demands. Having said it, we must protest in the name of the whole labour movement of this country against the foul and libellous accusations brought against the noble-minded ladies who have been in charge of the scheme. One scoundrel in clerical garb is said to have stated on Wednesday that the children were being brought to England by trickery, fraud and corruption for proselytising purposes. Nothing more venomous and unfounded was ever spewed out of a lying mouth in Ireland since the seoinin clergy at the bidding of an English politician hounded Parnell to his grave. Mrs. Montefiore had given his Grace Archbishop Walsh her assurance that wherever the children went, the local Roman Catholic clergy would be given their names and addresses, and requested to take charge of them, and see that they attended to their duties
p.307as Catholic children. His Grace felt that, despite that assurance, and without doubting it in the least, there would still be dangers. But not for one moment did he impugn the motives of the ladies in question. His instincts as a gentleman, and his own high sense of honour forbade. But what these instincts and that honour forbade his Grace to do was unblushingly done on Wednesday by a cleric destitute of both. We leave the gentleman in question to be dealt with by his Grace, who will assuredly see that in his diocese the garb of a priest is not made as a shield for the acts and language of a scoundrel.
The utterances of his Grace the Archbishop on the question at issue deserve and no doubt will receive, the earnest consideration of every thoughtful man and woman in Ireland. Nobody wants to send the children awaythe Irish Transport and General Workers' Union least of all desires such a sacrifice. But neither do we wish the children to starve. We love the children of Ireland, we are sacrificing our own ease and comfort in order that the future of these children may be sweeter and happier than the lot of their fathers and mothers. We know that progress cannot be made without sacrifice, and we do not shrink from the sacrifice involved in fighting for freedom now in order that future generations may build upon the results of our toil. But the master class of Dublin calmly and coldbloodedly calculate upon using the sufferings of the children to weaken the resistance of the parents. They wish to place us upon the horns of a dilemma. Either the parents should resist, and then the children will starve, or the parents will surrender, and the children will grow up in slavery, and live to despise the parents who bequeathed to them such an evil heritage.
Your Grace, we are resolved to fight Death itselfthe death some of us have already suffered, the death your humble servant has in the same cause looked in the face without flinchingit would be preferable to surrendering the Dublin workers
p.308again to the hell of slavery out of which they are emerging. Your Grace, we will fight!14
But if your Grace is as solicitous about the poor bodies of those children as we know you to be about their souls, or even if you are but one tenth part as solicitous, may we suggest to you or your laymen that your duty is plain. See to it that the force of public opinion, that the power of the press, that all the engines at your command are brought to bear upon the inhuman monsters who control the means of employment in Dublin to make them realise their duties to the rest of the community. We have done our part, we have told the Lord Mayor, we have told Sir George Askwith, we have told the Dublin Industrial Peace Committee, that we are ready to negotiate. All of these admit that our position is reasonable, all of them have been spat upon with scorn by the employers, and all of them shrink in cowardice from taking the next logical step and concentrating public feeling and public financial support in favour of the workers, the only party to the dispute that all along has declared its readiness to bow to public opinion.
These people, we repeat, have shrunk in cowardice from their manifest duty. Will you undertake it? It is your duty equally with theirs. To you we repeat our offer: we are willing to accept the mediation of any party whose functions will be strictly limited to bringing the two parties together in a conference to thrash out their differences. We are prepared to meet the representatives of all the employers, or meet any individual employer, as we have done satisfactorily in many cases already. This is our offer to you. And we repeat to you what we have said to the others:
If the employers reject your offer of mediation and still declare their contempt for any public opinion they cannot rig in advance, then it is your manifest duty to organise public support for the workers to defeat their soulless employers.
We have read your Grace's character in vain if you shrink
p.309from that task, or fail in that duty. The plight of the children, and your concern for them should be your warrant for acting, if any warrant other than your high position was needed. Meanwhile, come weal or woe, in good repute or evil, we are prepared to fight, because we feel that this fight is a fight for the future, a brighter future for
- The children who swarm and die,
In loathsome dens where despair is king;
Like blackened buds of a frosty spring
That wither, sunless, remote they lie,
From the hour that quickens each soul and sense,
Whilst vice and hunger and pestilence
Breast-poisoned nursesthe babes drain dry.
It is a crime to deport Dublin children in order to feed, clothe and house them better than they were before. All the newspapers are against it.
It is not a crime to import English scabs to take the bread out of the mouths of Dublin men, women and children, and to reduce them to slavery.15
The newspapers are overjoyed about it. Fellow-workers! All the collection of hypocrites and sweaters who paraded our docks and railway stations a few days ago, and prostituted the name of religion to suit the base ends of those who for generations have grown fat by grinding the faces of the poor, are silent as the grave in face of the importation of British scabs. They poured insult, lies and calumny upon the British labour men and women who offered our children the shelter and comfort of their homes in the day of our trial; but they allow British blacklegs to enter Dublin without a word of protest! Will you allow this? If not, you must rally!
Rally and fight as you never fought before. Begin, Monday,November 10th. All individual picketing is abolished, and all persons on strike or lock-out must attend a mass picket outside the doors or gates of their former employment at the usual hours of labour, commencing at the first hours of opening in the morning.
No food tickets will be issued at Liberty Hall in future except to casual labourers, who must sign their names each day between the hours of 9.30 a.m. and 12 noon. Permanent men will receive food tickets from their respective committee men, delegates or shop stewards, to whom they must report in the morning, and who have the power to refuse if they consider that the member applying has neglected to attend the mass
p.311picket. Any member found hanging around Liberty Hall without special reason will forfeit strike allowance.
Fellow-workersthe employers are determined to starve you into submission, and if you resist, to club you, jail you, and kill you. We defy them! If they think they can carry on their industries without you, we will, in the words of the Ulster Orangeman, Take steps to prevent it.
It is your duty to find the ways and means. Be men now, or be for ever slaves.
What is the truth about the Dublin dispute? What was the origin of the Dublin dispute? These are at present the most discussed questions in the labour world of these islands, and I have been invited by the editor of the Daily Herald to try and shed a little light upon them for the benefit of its readers. I will try and be brief and to the point, whilst striving to be also clear.
In the year 1911 the National Seamen's and Firemen's Union, as a last desperate expedient to avoid extinction, resolved upon calling a general strike in all the home ports. At that time the said Union, as the lawyers would say, was, more or less, of an ishmael among trade unions. It was not registered, in most places it was not even affiliated to the local Trades Union Councils, and its national officials had always been hostile to the advanced labour movement. They believed, seemingly, in playing a lone hand. Perhaps the general discredit into which it had been brought by the curiously inconsistent action of its leaders in closely identifying themselves with one of the orthodox political parties, and at the same time calling for the aid in industrial conflicts of the labour men whom they fought and slandered in political labour contests, had something to do with the general weakness and impending bankruptcy of the National Seamen's and Firemen's Union, at the time it issued its call in 1911.
At all events the call was in danger of falling upon vain ears, and was, in fact, but little heeded until the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union began to take a hand in the game. As ships came into the Port of Dublin, after the issue of the call, each ship was held up by the dockers under the orders of James Larkin until its crew joined the union, and signed on
p.313under union conditions and rates of pay. Naturally, this did not please the shipowners and merchants of Dublin. But the delegates of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union up and down the docks preached most energetically the doctrine of the sympathetic strike, and the doctrine was readily assimilated by the dockers and carters. It brought the union into a long and bitter struggle along the quays, a struggle which cost it thousands of pounds, imperilled its very existence, and earned for it the bitterest hatred of every employer and sweater in the city, every one of whom swore they would wait their chance to get even with Larkin and his crew.
The sympathetic strike having worked so well for the seamen and firemen, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union began to apply it ruthlessly in every labour dispute. A record of the victories it has won for other trade unions would surprise a good many of its critics. A few cases will indicate what, in the hands of Larkin and the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, it has won for some of the skilled trades.
When the coachmakers went on strike the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union took over all the labourers, paid them strike pay, and kept them out until the coachmakers won. The latter body are now repaying us by doing scab work while we are out.
The mill-sawyers existed for twenty years in Dublin without recognition. The sympathetic strike by our union won them recognition and an increase of pay.
The stationary engine drivers, the cabinetmakers, the sheet metal workers, the carpenters, and, following them all the building trades got an increase through our control of the carting industry. As did also the girls and men employed in Jacob's biscuit factory. In addition to this work for others we won for our own members the following increases within the last two years: cross channel dockers got, since the strike in the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, an increase of
p.314wages of 3s. per week. In the case of the British and Irish Company the increase, levelling it up with the other firms meant a rise of 6s. per week. For men working for the Merchants' Warehousing Company 3s. per week, general carriers 2s. to 3s., coal fillers halfpenny per ton, grain bushellers 1d. per ton, men and boys in the bottle-blowing works from 2s. to 10s. per week of an increase, mineral water operatives 4s. to 6s. per week, and a long list of warehouses in which girls were exploited were compelled to give some slight modification of the inhuman conditions under which their employees were labouring.
As Mr. Havelock Wilson, General Secretary, National Seamen's and Firemen's Union, has mentioned the strike on the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company as an instance of our erratic methods, it may be worth while to note that as a result of that strike some of his sailors got an increase of 5s. 6d. per week.
In addition to the cases enumerated I might also mention that the labourers on the Dublin and South-Eastern Railway got increases of 6s. per week, and those in the Kingstown Gas Works got increases varying from 3s. to 10s. per week per man.
All of these increases were the result of the sympathetic strike policy, first popularised by its success in winning the battle for the Seamen and Firemenwho are now asked to repudiate it.
These things well understood explain the next act in the unfolding of the drama. Desiring to make secure what had been gained, Mr. Larkin formulated a scheme for a Conciliation Board. This was adopted by the Trades Council, at least in essence, and eventually came before the Employers' Executive, or whatever the governing committee of that body is named. After a hot discussion it was put to the vote. Eighteen employers voted to accept a Conciliation Board, three voted against. Of that three, William Martin Murphy was one. On finding himself in the minority he rose and vowed that in spite of them he would smash the Conciliation Board. Within three
p.315days he kept his word by discharging two hundred of his tramway traffic employees for being members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, and thus forced on the strike of the tramway men. Immediately he appealed to all the Dublin employers who had been forced into a semblance of decency by Larkin and his colleagues, called to their memory the increases of wages they were compelled to pay, and lured them on to a desperate effort to combine and destroy the one labour force they feared.
The employers, mad with hatred of the power that had wrested from them the improved conditions, a few of which I have named, rallied round Murphy, and from being one in a minority of three he became the leader and organising spirit of a band of four hundred.
I have always told our friends in Great Britain that our fight in Ireland was neither inspired nor swayed by theories nor theorists. It grew and was hammered out of the hard necessities of our situation. Here, in this brief synopsis, you can trace its growth for yourselves. First a fierce desire to save our brothers of the sea, a desire leading to us risking our own existence in their cause. Developing from that an extension of the principle of sympathetic action until we took the fierce beast of capital by the throat all over Dublin, and loosened its hold on the vitals of thousands of our class. Then a rally of the forces of capital to recover their hold, and eventually a titanic struggle, in which the forces of labour in Britain openly, and the forces of capital secretly, became participants.
That is where we stand to-day. The struggle forming our theories and shaping the policy, not only for us, but for our class. To those who criticise us we can only reply: we fight as conditions dictate; we meet new conditions with new policies. Those who choose may keep old policies to meet new conditions. We cannot and will not try.
While are writing this the one question agitating all Dublin is whether this Christmas will see a relighting of the Fiery Cross or the ringing of Christmas bells of peace and rejoicing. Possibly no more grim commentary upon the so-called civilisation of to-day could be instanced than that fact. Here we have a great city held up by a war between two classes, and in that war the contending classes are represented, on the one hand, by those who control the wealth, the capital, the armed forces and all the means of coercion; whilst, on the other hand, all that is represented is toiling men and women, with no assets except their brains and hands, and no powers except the power and capacity to suffer for a principle they esteem more valuable than life itself.
But to the side of this latter class has been drawn gradually as if by a magnet all the intellect, the soul and the spirit of the nation, all those who have learned to esteem the higher things of life, to value the spirit more than the matter.
Publicists of all kinds, philanthropists, literary men, lovers of their kind, poets, brilliant writers, artists, have all been conquered by the valiant heroism of the Dublin workers, have all been drawn within the ranks of the friends of the fighters of labourall have succumbed to the magic charm of the unobtrusive men and women whose constancy amidst sufferings has made this fight possible. Whoever signs the document of settlement (if any is ever signed), whosoever is acclaimed as the great one of the treaty of peace (if there ever is a treaty of peace) the real heroes and conquerors are to be found in the slums, and in the prisons where men, women and girls have
p.317agonised and are agonising in order that their class may not lose one step it has gained in its upward toil to freedom.
These thoughts come crowding upon us as we write. We think also that, despite all the adhesion of all the brilliant ones and all those in the highest odour of sanctity to the cause of the workers, the settlement is still in the hands of those who control economic power. Poets, artists, authors, humanitarians and archbishops may plead and beg for the ringing of the bells of Christmas for ever. The final word still rests with those who control the money bags; and thus we learn, hard facts teaching us, that in this gross travesty of civilisation under which we live to-day neither soul nor brains is the equal of gold.
- The clinking of the silver dimes life's melody has marred,
And nature's immemorial chimes are jangled, harsh and jarred.
And so Dublin lies in the grip of the power of the purse; and on this fateful Friday the issue still hangs trembling. A few hours may determine whether the verdict will go forth for the joyous ringing of the Bells of Peace or for the militant call to all lovers of their kind to grasp and pass from hand to hand again the dread but inspiring Fiery Cross.
It is not necessary, I presume, to remind our readers of the beginnings of the Dublin struggle. Let us, just for convenience sake, take up the fight at the moment it became a subject of national action on the part of the British Labour movement.
A public meeting had been proclaimed in Dublin in a brazen illegal manner. For declaring that this proclamation was illegal, and advising their leaders to disregard it and stand to their rights, a number of leaders of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union had been arrested and imprisoned. A wholesale batoning of the people had followed, and Dublin was the scene of the most unparalleled police brutality.
An appeal was made to the British Trades Union Congress, then happily sitting, and that body in the name of the British working class nobly rose to the occasion, and pledged the credit of the whole British labour movement to see their Dublin comrades through the fight. As a result, the right of free speech was re-asserted in Dublin, a supply of food was arranged for through the despatch of specially chartered steamers, and a huge amount of money was raised to enable the men and women of Dublin to keep the fight going. Never was seen such enthusiasm in a labour fight. Trade unionists, socialists of all kinds, anarchists, industrialists, syndicalists, all the varying and hitherto discordant elements of the labour movement found a common platform, were joined together in pursuit of a common object. Now, permit me to underscore that point, and emphasise its great importance. For long years we have been preaching to the labour movement the necessity of concerted industrial action, telling it that the time was rotten ripe for industrial unity, and declaring that as the interests of
p.319each were the concern of all, our organisations should be rearranged with a view to the conserving of their common interests.
We found that to a large extent these ideas were taking root in the minds of the workers, but that to a still larger extent the tacit acceptance of our ideas failed to evoke concerted action built upon these lines. The forces of our enemies were united and wielded with all the precision and relentlessness with which the general staff of an army would wield the battalions and brigades which formed the component parts of that army, but the battalions and brigades of the army of labour when engaged in battle had no efficient general staff to guide and direct the whole army to the salvation of its individual units; and, worse still, had none of that esprit de corps which on the military battle-field would make the desertion of any section to its fate an unthinkable course to the officers of the divisions not engaged. We had seen at London, at Leith and elsewhere that whereas the whole force of the Shipping Federation has been actively engaged in fighting the dockers of these ports, the dockers and seamen of the other ports had maintained the peace, and left their Leith or London brothers to bear alone the full force of the Federation attack, instead of meeting that attack by a movement against the flanks and rear of the Federation in these other ports. We know that although much of this blundering was due to the sectional jealousy of various union leaders, much was also due to the fact that the conception of common action on a national scale by the whole working class had not yet entered the minds of the rank and file as a whole. Something had been wantingsomething that would make the minds of the workers more responsive, more ready to accept the broader idea, and act upon its acceptance. That something Dublin supplied.
The dramatic suddenness with which the Dublin fight was thrust upon public attention, the tragic occurrences of the first
p.320few daysworking class martyrdom, the happy coincidence of a Trade Union Congress, the intervention of British trade unionists to assert the right of public meeting for Irish workersfilling the gap in the ranks caused by the jailing of Irish Trade Union leaders, the brilliant inspiration of a food ship, and last but not least the splendid heroism of the Dublin men and women showing out against the background of the squalor and misery of their houses.
There are times in history when we realise that it is easier to convert a multitude than it ordinarily is to convert an individual; when indeed ideas seem to seize upon the masses as contra-distinguished by ordinary times when individuals slowly seize ideas. The propagandist toils on for decades in seeming failure and ignominy, when suddenly some great event takes place in accord with the principles he has been advocating, and immediately he finds that the seed he has been sowing is springing up in plants that are covering the earth. To the idea of working class unity, to the seed of industrial solidarity, Dublin was the great event that enabled it to seize the minds of the masses, the germinating force that gave power to the seed to fructify and cover these islands.
I say in all solemnity and seriousness that in its attitude towards Dublin the working class movement of Great Britain reached its highest point of moral grandeurattained for a moment to a realisation of that sublime unity towards which the best in us must continually aspire. Could that feeling but have been crystallised into organic expression, could we but have had real statesmen amongst us who, recognising the wonderful leap forward of our class, would have hastened to burn behind us the boats that might make easy a retreat to the old ground of isolation and division, could we have found labour leaders capable enough to declare that now that the working class had found its collective soul it should hasten to express itself as befitted that soul and not be fettered by the rules, regulations
p.321and codes of organisations conceived in the olden outworn spirit of sectional jealousies; could these things have but been vouchsafed to us, what a new world could now be opening delightfully upon the vision of labour? Consider what Dublin meant to you all! It meant that the whole force of organised labour should stand behind each unit of organisation in each and all of its battles, that no company, battalion or brigade should henceforth be allowed to face the enemy alone, and that the capitalist would be taught that when he fought a union anywhere he must be prepared to fight all unions everywhere.
For the first days and weeks of the struggle, the working classes of Great Britain attained to the height of moral grandeur expressed in that idea, all labour stood behind Dublin, and Dublin rejoiced. Dublin suffered and agonised, but rejoiced that even in its suffering it was the medium for the apostolate of a rejuvenating idea. How often have I heard the responsive cheers to the question whether they would be prepared to stand by others as these others had stood by them!
And now? Dublin is isolated. We asked our friends of the transport trade unions to isolate the capitalist class of Dublin, and we asked the other unions to back them up. But no, they said we would rather help you by giving you funds. We argued that a strike is an attempt to stop the capitalist from carrying on his business, that the success or failure of the strike depends entirely upon the success or non-success of the capitalist to do without the strikers. If the capitalist is able to carry on his business without the strikers, then the strike is lost, even if the strikers receive more in strike pay than they formerly did in wages. We said that if scabs are working a ship and union men discharge in another port the boat so loaded, then those union men are strike breakers, since they help the capitalist in question to carry on his business. That if union seamen man a boat discharged by scabs, these union seamen or firemen are by the same reason strike-breakers, as also are the railwaymen
p.322or carters who assist in transporting the goods handled by the scabs for the capitalist who is fighting his men or women. In other words, we appealed to the collective soul of the workers against the collective hatred of the capitalist.
We asked for no more than the logical development of that idea of working class unity, that the working class of Britain should help us to prevent the Dublin capitalists carrying on their business without us. We asked for the isolation of the capitalists of Dublin, and for answer the leaders of the British labour movement proceeded calmly to isolate the working class of Dublin. As an answer to those who supported our request for the isolation of Dublin we were told that a much better plan would be to increase the subsidies to enable us to increase strike pay. As soon as this argument had served its purpose, the subsidies fell off, and the Dublin Fund grew smaller and smaller as if by a pre-arranged plan. We had rejected the last terms offered by the employers on the strength of this talk of increased supplies, and as soon as that last attempt at settlement thus fell through, the supplies gradually froze up instead of being increased as we had been promised.16
In addition to this the National Union of Railwaymen, whilst in attendance at the Special Conference in London on 9th December, had actually in their pockets the arrangements for the re-starting of work on the London and North-Western boat at the North Wall of Dublin, and in the train returning to Dublin the day after the Conference, we read of the line being re-opened. No vote was taken of the men on strike; they were simply ordered back to work by their officials and told that if they did not return, their strike pay would be stopped. The Seamen's and Firemen's Union men in Dublin were next ordered to man the boats of the Head Line of steamers, then being discharged by free labourers supplied by the Shipping Federation. In both Dublin and Belfast the members refused, and they were then informed that union men would be brought
p.323from Great Britain to take their places. Union men to be brought from Britain to take the place of members of the same union who refused to desert their brothers of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. We were attempting to hold up Guinness' porter. A consignment was sent to Sligo for shipment there. The local Irish Transport and General Workers' Union official wired me for instructions. I wired to hold it up; his men obeyed, and it was removed from Sligo, railed to Derry, and there put on board by members of Mr. James Sexton's National Union of Dockers on ships manned by members of Mr. Havelock Wilson's National Union of Seamen and discharged in Liverpool by members of Mr. James Sexton's Union. Whilst the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company was still insisting upon carrying the goods of our worst enemy, Jacob's (who is still enforcing the agreement denounced by Sir Geo. Askwith) the members of the Seamen and Firemen's Union were ordered to sign on in their boats, although our men were still on strike. We were informed by Mr. Joe Houghton of the Scottish Dockers that his union would not hold up any boat for us unless joint action was taken by the National Transport Workers' Federation. As on a previous occasion, his members at Ayr had worked coal boats belonging to a Belfast firm that was making war upon the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, we do not blame Joe very much. He had been disobeyed at Ayrperhaps he was coerced in Glasgow.
But why go on? Sufficient to say that the working class unity of the first days of the Dublin fight was sacrificed in the interests of sectional officialism. The officials failed to grasp the opportunity offered to them to make a permanent reality of the union of working class forces brought into being by the spectacle of rebellion, martyrdom and misery exhibited by the workers of Dublin. All England and Scotland rose to it; working class officialdom and working class rank and file alike responded to the call of inspiration; it would have raised us
p.324all upward and onward towards our common emancipation. But sectionalism, intrigues and old-time jealousies damned us in the hour of victory, and officialdom was the first to fall to the tempter.
And so we Irish workers must go down into Hell, bow our backs to the lash of the slave driver, let our hearts be seared by the iron of his hatred, and instead of the sacramental wafer of brotherhood and common sacrifice, eat the dust of defeat and betrayal.
Dublin is isolated.17
Some time ago I reprinted in Forward an extract from an article I had contributed to the Irish Review defending and expounding the idea of the sympathetic strike.18 That was at the beginning of the Dublin struggle. Now, the members of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union who have returned to work in Dublin have done so after signing an agreement to handle all classes of goods, that is to say, to renounce for the time the idea and practice of the sympathetic strike.
This, by the way, is the only agreement yet signed by members of that union. In those firms which still insist upon the former Employers' Agreement banning the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union the strike or lock-out is still in active operation.
But the question arises: what reason is to be derived from our experience of the sympathetic strike in Dublin? What lesson can be learned from a cool and reasoned study of our struggle?
Let me repeat the essence of the article alluded to as an explanation of the nature of the sympathetic strike. It pointed out that we in Dublin had realised that the capitalist cannot be successfully fought upon the industrial field unless we recognise that all classes of workers should recognise their common interests, that such recognition implied that an employer engaged in a struggle with his workpeople should be made taboo or tainted, that no other workers should co-operate in helping to keep his business growing, that no goods coming from his works should be handled by organised workers, and no goods going to his works should be conveyed by organised workers. That he should, in effect, be put outside the pale of civilisation, and communication with him should be regarded as being as deadly a crime as correspondence with an enemy in war time. I tried to illustrate this by citing examples of social warfare conducted on similar lines in the past by various societies and classes.
It may then be asked: how far has the Dublin experience
p.326justified or failed to justify those who, like myself, contended for the practicability of this policy? We have been forced in Dublin to abandon the policy temporarily because other unions whose co-operation was necessary had not adopted a similar policy. It was not practicable to enforce the policy of tainted goods in Dublin whilst the goods so held up could be transported from other ports and handled across channel by other unions. The executives of other unions failing to sanction the co-operation of their members, the enforcement of this policy became an impossibility. Hence I submit that the main difficulty in the way of the success of this policy is in the multiplicity of unions and executives. Every union not immediately engaged in the conflict is a union whose material interestslooked at from a narrowly selfish point of vieware opposed to being drawn into the struggle. Therefore, every executive naturally aligns itself in opposition to the policy of a sympathetic strike, except when it is its own union that is immediately concerned. When it is one of the principals in the fight then each union becomes as enthusiastically in favour of the sympathetic strike as it formerly was against it. We have seen this exemplified recently in London in the cases of the Coalmen's strike and the London Builders' lock-out. In fact every union that nowadays becomes involved in a strike appeals to sympathetic action immediately, even after condemning its theory when at peace. It is no use pointing out the inconsistency of such action; it is merely a case of following the immediate material interests of their union, instead of the broader material and moral welfare of their class. But when we recognise this ugly fact, what lesson ought we to derive from it?
We ought, I think, to learn that the first duty of the militant worker to-day is to work for industrial unionism in some form. To work for the abolition or merging of all these unions that now divide our energies instead of concentrating themand for the abolition of all those executives whose measure of
p.327success is the balance sheet of their union, instead of the power of their class. The doctrine of tainted goods is vitally necessary for the salvation of labour upon the industrial field, but its enforcement is not possible as long as labour is split up by unions whose executives look upon fellow workers in conflict with dread as possible sources of depletion of their treasuries. Be it remembered that it is scarcely humanly possible that these executives should act otherwise if the consciousness of class solidarity has not entered into the minds and hearts of their membership; but if and when it has so entered, then a bigoted conservatism based upon old traditional methods of action becomes a crime against the progress of the species.
This is to my mind the lesson of Dublin. Industrial unionism, the amalgamation of all forces of labour into one union, capable of concentrating all forces upon any one issue or in any one fight, can alone fight industrially as the present development and organisation of capital requires that labour should fight. This will not be accomplished in a day, nor in a year, but should be definitely aimed at, no matter how long may be the period of its accomplishment.
The organisation of all workers in any one industry into a union covering that entire industry, and the linking up of all such unions under one head is a different thing from the mere amalgamation of certain unions. But whilst not necessarily antagonistic, it is certainly more in the line of industrial development, and more effective in the day of conflict.
The name also helps to retrieve the workers' movement from the unnatural alliance with mere anti-politicalism so unfortunately and unnecessarily introduced as a fresh dividing issue at this juncture when all our minds ought to be set upon unity.
A year ago at the meeting of the Maynooth Union a paper was read on Syndicalism which attracted widespread attention at the time because of the sympathetic attitude towards organised Labour taken up by the reverend author of the paper in question, and because the same sympathetic note was struck by most of the speakers who took part in the discussion following the reading of the paper. We were amongst the number of writers to the press who commented upon this phenomenon, and in our press, the Irish Worker, we emphasised the fact that in the main the speakers who gave this turn to the discussion seemed to represent the younger clergythe younger clergy who had been students while the modern labour movement was influencing the literature and thought of the world.19 Now to-day we are confronted with another phenomena upon a somewhat similar field. The united Irish Hierarchy have issued to the faithful in Ireland a joint Pastoral upon the labour question in the light of the Dublin dispute.
As representing the union most actively involved in that dispute, we take it that it will be thought no impertinence or undue self-importance on our part if we avail ourselves now of the opportunity to comment upon the Pastoral from the standpoint of labour, and to place before our readers the construction we place upon the events with which that Pastoral deals. We are workers. And we speak for the class to which we belong.
As workers then, we feel that we have no apology to offer for our share in the recent dispute. The Pastoral admits that it is the right, nay, that it is the duty of the workers to combine for their own advancement; it admits that there will always be the possibility of disagreement, leading to conflict even
p.329when the best intentions exist upon both sides; it contends that against such possibilities of strife the best remedy in Ireland is a strong Irish Trades Union, and impresses upon all the desirability of a Conciliation Board to obviate the dangers of industrial war. Well, then, we submit that on all these pointsand they are the cardinal points of the Pastoralour action in the past has been entirely upon the lines suggested. We found the workers disorganised, and we proceeded to organise them. We taught them to use their organisation for their own moral and material advancement, and as a result have endued them with a higher sense of the dignity of manhood and womanhood, and weaned them from their former habits of dissipation and recklessness. Against the possibility, the certainty of disagreements between employers and employed when the latter sought for relief from intolerable burdens of toil and low wagery we established an Irish trade union, absolutely independent of British control or influence, and appealing solely to the spirit of self-reliance we sought to inculcate in the Irish working class.
And finally, in order to prepare a way of escape out of the strife that might follow upon hot-headedness on the part of employers or upon our own part, we proposed in the Dublin Trades Council and in our own press the establishment of Conciliation Boards for the prevention, or if that failed, for the settlement of labour disputes. In other words, our activity has been entirely upon the lines indicated in the Pastoral as being the proper lines to follow in our position. If, then, our activity did not bring peace but a sword the fault lies with those who prefer to take the sword rather than suffer the loss of any portion of the profits and domination they lusted for, and had so long enjoyed at the cost of the suffering and damnation of so many thousands of our class. From beginning to end of the disputeif it can be said to have endedwe have offered to meet and to discuss with our opponents; from beginning
p.330to end our opponents have refused to meet and discuss directly with us, even in the two abortive Conferences, insisting upon keeping the two directly interested bodies from getting into friendly discussion. We would most respectfully challenge the Hierarchy to name any one point of importance that we refused to concede, which they, had they been in our place, would have conceded, to our opponents. They cannot name one and be true to the position they take up in their Lenten Pastoral.
It is of little practical value in this rough work-a-day world of ours to enunciate principles, however sublime, and to refuse to take into account the very imperfect human material with which those principles have to deal. We had and have to deal with a set of employers the most heartless and the most ignorantly selfish in Christendomemployers too lazy to adapt themselves to modern methods of business and seeking by fiendish undercutting of wages to meet the legitimate competition of employers elsewhere who do use modern methods and adopt modern business ideas. In any large centre elsewhere the manager who persisted in using the antiquated methods and the slipshod lack of system that characterises the Dublin employers as a whole would be fired out of his job quicker than he could draw his first week's salary. But up to the present the constantly available supply of cheap labour has prevented the development of up-to-date methods of business in Dublin, and when the Irish Transport and General Workers' Trade Union began to push up the rate of wages and to destroy the supply of cheap labour, instead of the Dublin employers moving with the times and changing their wasteful methods accordingly their only thought was to destroy the union, and to remain in the unprogressive, slovenly, unenterprising state which now and in the past has excited the laughter of every observant visitor.
In any other city an attempt to raise the wages of tramway-men from the low standard at which they were in Dublin would not have caused a lock-out. The wages would have
p.331been raised, and the managing director would have sought by cheaper fares and other attractions, to attract greater receipts to compensate for greater outlays. It is now well-established that cheaper fares by tram or rail or steamer mean greater numbers travelling and hence greater receipts.
But in Dublin such a thing was impossible. An increase of wages was not met by a development of enterprise, no, but the suggestion of an increase was met with an outburst of eighteenth century barbarity and a perfect carnival of ferocity towards labour. This attitude of Mr. William Martin Murphy is typical of the whole class in Dublin to which he belongs. Like the Bourbons they learn nothing and they forget nothing. The whole world is advancing around them, labour is everywhere stirring out of the depths of subjection and advancing upward to the heights of citizenship and towards the responsibilities of freedom. But all this shaking up of old systems of thought, all this stirring into life of the dormant germs of social consciousness amongst our long oppressed people leaves them absolutely untouched. As the tiger reared upon flesh can never lose his craving for that food, so the Dublin employer reared as employer upon the flesh and blood of cheap labour can never wholly relinquish, and in most cases cannot even partially relinquish, his lust after cheapness in the labour he exploits. The highest industrial authorities in the world declare that cheap labour never pays in the end; the Dublin employers declare that unless they can have a plentiful supply of cheap and helpless labour, civilisation's hopes in Ireland are for ever doomed. The ineffective pigmies of capitalist Dublin oppose their ridiculous theories to the world-wide experience of the giants of international capitalism.
In face of this the beautiful theories of the Lenten Pastorals seem rather weak and ineffective. The whole record of the Dublin master class has been marked by a contemptuous and cynical disregard for every principle of social conduct set forth by his Holiness Pope Pius X, or his Holiness Pope Leo XIII. Not an independent professional man, not an unselfish literary man or woman of genius, not a clergyman of any denomination, not an important public servant who investigated the merits of the dispute all during our long agony, failed to acknowledge finally the justice of our cause or to be won to admiration by the patient suffering and steadfast adherence to an ideal exhibited by the Dublin workers. Be it remembered that even his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin publicly expressed his agreement with the proposals for a settlement which we put forward. On the first occasion the employers met his prayer for peace by importing British scabs; on the second, when he blessed our peace proposals on the eve of Christmas, they contemptuously refused even to look at them. Again we ask, we challenge, the Hierarchy to name the point of importance which we refused to concede which they, were they in our place, would have conceded to our opponents.
Let it be at once understood that the strictures upon socialism and syndicalism embodied in the Pastorals leave us unmoved. As complete systems of thought these two principles do not exist, whatever some extremists may say or imagine. As lines of action they do exist, and their influence is wholly beneficial. It is only when taken as offering a completely worked-out system of thought capable of dictating human conduct in all possible phases, and hence governing human morals accordingly, that either of them came under the strictures of theologians with any degree of justification. But in their present stage in the labour movement, viz., as indicating lines of activity in the industrial and political worldthe only stage in which they are ever likely to be popular or useful in Irelandthe most consistent socialist or syndicalist may be as Catholic as the Pope if he is so minded.
And it may help the learned authors of the Lenten Pastoral to a becoming frame of mind that the recent exposure of the
p.333soul-corrupting and murderous tenements in which this capitalistic system condemned so many thousands of their and our co-religionists to rot and suffer and die was not due to any crusading against slums or the things that make for and maintain slums on the part of either Hierarchy or of the parochial clergy, but was solely due to the fierce revolt of the victims, and the reckless campaigning of their leaders. If and when a purified Dublin arises, with clean streets, healthy homes and happy citizens, it will surely be remembered that whatever its foundations may be in lime, mortar or brick, its real foundations were the hunger, suffering and martyrdom even unto death of the working class men, women and girls of Dublin; that their hunger, suffering and martyrdom by challenging the conscience of the civilised world laid the foundation of that sweeter, happier city of which we and Ireland shall yet be proud.20
Reading of the May Day celebrations of the past week brought back to my mind in a very vivid fashion a realisation of the changes that have taken place in socialist propaganda since the inauguration of Labour Day in these countries.
In the earlier period the question of an eight hour working day was to a large extent a test question on all the May Day Committees, as indeed it also was in the Trade Union Congresses of that time. Those who were old-time trade unionists and adherents of the liberal or tory parties stood out for May Day resolutions, demanding simply an eight hour working day, whilst those who were of the newer school and were inclined to socialistic ideas quite as vehemently demanded that the wording of the resolution should call for a legislative or legal eight hour day. One could indeed tell roughly what proportion the antagonistic school of socialists or non-socialists bore upon any such committee by a study of the wording of the resolution, and tracing the emphasis or lack of emphasis given to the call for legislative action.
The same fight was being fought out in all the Trade Unions, Trade Councils, and Trade Congresses. The question of legislative action to restrict or otherwise regulate the hours of labour divided the sheep from the goats all over the country. Many men, now active propagandists of the socialist cause, were first launched upon that path by finding themselves as supporters of legislative restriction denounced as socialists by the old school of individualist trade unionists, and being thus thrown into the arms of socialists developed a sympathetic attitude towards their general teaching.
The more recent recruits to the socialist ranks can scarcely
p.336realise what the position of the movement was at that time when he reads or hears that the passing of a resolution at the British Trade Congress calling for a legal eight hours working day was hailed by the socialist propagandists of that period as a great socialist victory. Yet so it was. In the ordinary outdoor and indoor socialist propaganda, the same mental attitude was dominant. If it were now possible to examine the socialist speeches of that period we would find that an inordinately large proportion of time was given up in them to a belittling of industrial action and to what was practically an exaggeration of the ease and facility with which the working class could achieve its rights at the ballot-box.
This belittling of industrial action and denial of its possibilities formed the main theme of the speeches of so many socialist orators that it is more than possible that thousands of good earnest trade unionists were estranged from a friendly examination of the socialist cause by what they felt to be something like insidious attacks upon working-class organisation. The socialist movement at the time was in a nebulous, chaotic state, not only with regard to its organised expression, but also with regard to its growing tactics, and the tendency was for all its speakers to exploit that which for the time being secured the largest audience. Perhaps that is the tendency still. But what I am endeavouring to convey is that consideration of the means towards the end, the tactics to be followed in realising the consummation aimed at formed but a small part of socialist study. Beyond a general affirmation of a belief in common ownership, and in political action as the means of realising that common ownership, few speakers dared to venture. In consequence, the demand for political action became the creed of the socialist, and in the endeavour to make the propaganda serve the general purpose of advancing the demand for political action, that demand constantly tended to overshadow the general principle of the socialist movement
p.337itself. This stage of socialist propaganda in Great Britain may be said to have reached its highest point in the General Election of 1906, which resulted in the return of a large number of labour members to Parliament, and the partial reversal of the Taff Vale Decision.21
With that victory the propaganda seemed to undergo a radical change. Whether it was because the workers had built too high hopes upon the advent of such a limited number of labour men into the House of Commons, or because the men elected were destitute of the courage and initiative necessary for their position, or from both causes combined, or from neither, I do not presume to say; but certain it is that there was for a long period a falling off of enthusiasm for the political side of socialism. Perhaps it would be better to say that there began to dawn a belief that socialism had really another side, and that a man's belief in the efficacy of legislation was not a real test of the sincerity of his socialist convictions. Then there came the industrial upheaval of 1911, with its series of brilliant victories won by labour upon the industrial battlefield, and the growth of an opinion among socialists totally adverse to political action. For a considerable period this anti-political idea made headway, and we saw its influence making itself felt all over the socialist world. It is the very antithesis of the opinion I have described as being considered formerly as a true standard by which a socialist might be judged, yet no one would to-day argue that because a man held such ideas he could not therefore be rightly classed as a socialist. In the older days we would have at once branded such a man as an anarchist, to-day we are not so sure of his classification. That in itself is a wonderful change in the attitude of the socialist towards political action.
Because of the slight reverses sustained at a uniform high level of excitement and victory, there is now in many quarters a recrudescence of the older attitude towards industrial battlings.
p.338Leaders in plenty, even some engaged in industrial work, are to be found decrying strikes and deprecating all restlessness and rebellion which does not express itself at the ballot box. In some quarters we can even trace what looks suspiciously like a desire to gloat over industrial defeats and to welcome them as evidences of the futility of industrial action, and the super-excellence of politics.
Now having observed this movement around the clock, and observed it from the standpoint of one caught amongst the wheels, I am inclined to ask all and sundry amongst our comrades if there is any necessity for this presumption of antagonism between the industrialist and the political advocate of socialism. I cannot see any. I believe that such supposed necessity only exists in the minds of the mere theorists or doctrinaires. The practical fighter in the work-a-day world makes no such distinction. He fights, and he votes; he votes and he fights. He may not always, he does not always, vote right; nor yet does he always fight when and as he should. But I do not see that his failure to vote right is to be construed into a reason for advising him not to vote at all; nor yet why a failure to strike properly should be used as a gibe at the strike weapon, and a reason for advising him to place his whole reliance upon votes.
I am glad of the experience of the past few years. I am glad that the extremely doctrinaire political attitude towards strikes received a check, and that that check came straight out of the practical experience of the workers in ship, shore, shop and railway. I am glad that the equally doctrinaire attitude of the anti-political people has failed to sweep the working class off its feet. And I trust that out of this experience will be born wisdom, and that such wisdom will enable us to develop a working class action which will combine the political and industrial activities of the workers on militant and aggressive lines.
The development of the power of the modern state should teach us that the mere right to vote will not protect the workers unless they have a strong economic organisation behind them; that the nationalisation or municipalisation of industries but changes the form of the workers' servitude whilst leaving its essence unimpaired; and that in the long run the class in control of the economic forces of the nation will be able to dominate and direct its political powers.
On the other hand, that very development also teaches us that until the workers have perfected their economic power sufficiently to control the economic forces, the class actually in control will most relentlessly and scientifically use their political powers to hamper, penalise and if possible destroy the activities of the workers' organisation, and thus prevent the creation of a force sufficient for their suppression.
My reading of history tells me that in all great social changes the revolutionary class always fails of success until it is able to do the work of the class it seeks to destroy, and to do it more efficiently. And when it has so perfected itself that it is able to perform this work, neither gods nor men can stop its onward march to victory. In other words, a new social order cannot supplant the old until it has its own organisation ready to take its place. Within the social order of capitalism I can see no possibility of building up a new economic organisation fit for the work of superseding the old on socialist lines, except that new order be built upon the lines of the industries that capitalism itself has perfected. Therefore I am heart and soul an industrial unionist. But because I know that the capitalist class is alert and unscrupulous in its use of power, I do not propose to leave it the uncontested use of the powers of the state. And because I realise that human nature is a wonderful thing, that the soul of man gives expression to strange and complex phenomena, and that no man knows what powers or possibilities for good or evil lie in humanity, I try to preserve my receptivity towards
p.340all new ideas, my tolerance towards all manifestations of social activity.
What is to be the position of labour in the first Irish Parliament? To judge by the written opinion of many of our friends we would be inclined to believe that the representation of labour in that Parliament would be a certainty, and that it would not be a mere nominal representation, but rather on a large, and as one writer has said, a dominating scale. If this were so, then we might truly felicitate the labour movement in Ireland upon its marvellous progress, and felicitate the Irish working class upon the keenness of their insight and the alertness of their intelligence.
Writing as one who has a close inside knowledge of the Irish labour movement, and also as one who does believe in the keen political insight of the Irish workers as a whole, I yet feel constrained to warn the readers of Forward that the real outlook in Ireland is not by any means so rosy and full of immediate promise as our sanguine friends are prone to believe. It is somewhat of an uncertainty whether labour will be represented in the first Irish Parliament at all.
There are many reasons why this is an uncertainty. One of the greatest is the financial reason. Most people are of the opinion that the Irish Parliament will at least not be a retrograde institution, or elected upon a franchise or after a method held elsewhere in these islands to be antiquated. That any forward step taken elsewhere will at least be presumed for the benefit of the Irish democracy. It is therefore somewhat of a shock to many to learn that under the new Home Rule Constitution, no provision is made for payment of members of Parliament but it is left to be dealt with by the new Irish legislature. Thus in the first Irish Parliament the members will be unpaid, and as the chief concern of that Parliament will be that of finding
p.342the ways and means to keep itself financially afloat, and to soothe the susceptibilities of its critics, there is more than a strong probability that the members will remain unpaid in future legislatures also. Had the present Government or the present labour party in the House of Commons done what the Irish workers had a right to expect that they should do, the chances of labour representation in the Irish Parliament would have been immensely increased by making provision for the maintenance of Irish labour members, and thus making smoother the path of the Irish labour party. But no such provision was made.
The present Home Rule party had and have no desire to see labour in the Irish Parliament represented by an independent party of workers. Representing as they do the capitalist class, the publicans, and the gombeen men or money-lenders of rural Ireland as well as the lowest class of slum landlords in the cities, they dread as they dread retribution, the advent of men or women with ideas of regeneration and social emancipation for Ireland. They do not want anything that might help the victims of their friends and relatives to put a legislative curb to their slave-driving and sweating. Of course that is not the reason they alleged. Oh, no! They alleged that they considered that the Irish Parliament should have control over its own finance, and they objected to the English Parliament limiting its powers in advance. And of course the British labour party swallowed this yarn, oblivious of the fact that the English Parliament was limiting the powers of the Irish Parliament in a score of ridiculous and even fatally harmful ways with the full consent of their Home Rule colleagues, and that it was only when it came to increasing the power of the Irish democracy that the Home Rule party objected to the interference of the English Parliament.
An indication by the British labour party that they meant to insist upon payment of members being incorporated in the
p.343Home Rule constitution, as a principle that public services should be paid for by the public, would have made the situations infinitely easier for Irish labour, but no such indication was forthcoming.
In every Home Rule speech the precedent of the British colonies is cited as an argument in favour of the measure, but the democratic spirit in which the colonial constitutions are framed was deliberately shut out by the framers of the Home Rule Bill. Whereas the colonial constitutions aim at giving power to the democracy, the Home Rule constitution aims at restricting the power of the democracy. And now there are to be still further attempts at restriction and divisions, in order to please the Bourbons of Ulster, who learn nothing and forget nothing.
Added to this hampering restriction upon the Irish democracy's choice of elected members, there is the fact that there is yet no fund available with which Irish labour constituencies can be contested. Resolutions are all very well, and class feeling is an excellent thing, but in the electoral world neither of these can manifest themselves without the sinews of war. Now if there is one thing the Irish labour movement is at present wanting in, it is finance for electoral contests. The Dublin labour party fight all municipal and other local contests, as does every other district of nationalist Ireland where the new influence is making itself felt, but to do even that is a severe strain upon their resources.
That they could with their present limited resources grapple with the infinitely greater cost of Parliamentary elections is almost unthinkable. In the north the trade unions are for the most part content to play the orange game, and are as bodies merely passive allies of the capitalist-landlord faction in warring upon the progressive movement.
Thus the imminence of the Home Rule elections brings into greater prominence the need for some kind of action being taken in Ireland and elsewhere
p.344to equip the labour movement with the necessary funds to assault some of the seats in the Home Rule Parliament. . ..
Without the invigorating presence of an alert and independent labour party in its midst the Irish House of Commons will be for years a most reactionary and anti-democratic assembly, setting a bad example to Tories and reactionists everywhere. It will be obsessed with the idea of placating the reactionary elements in Ulster, and thus of justifying itself against their aspersions. What this means you can best understand when you realise that Ulster is the most capitalist part of Ireland, that the game will be to represent every bit of labour legislation which menaces capitalist profits as an attack upon the industries of Ulster, and that the fear of this cry will cause the new Irish Government, and every non-labour element in Parliament, to oppose all social legislation. Only a strong and determined labour group, with a true revolutionary outlook, will be able to withstand this cry, force forward progressive legislation and combat reactionary measures.
The dice are heavily loaded against us in Ireland. They are loaded by the evil traditions of the past, by the cowardice of many working class elements in the north especially, by the awful poverty of the country, by the ignorant obstinacy of the capitalist class, by sectarian animosities, by unscrupulous politicians, by a lying press.
We can only hope to carry our flag to victory by securing the aid of all those workers everywhere who desire to see an effective force carrying the green flag of an Irish regiment whilst unconditionally under the red flag of the proletarian army.
Extract from manifesto issued by the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party on the forthcoming elections for the first Home Rule Parliament, and appealing for funds to support the Labour Party candidates, published in the Irish Worker of August 8th, 1914, and signed by the members of the National Executive: Thomas Johnson, James Larkin, David R. Campbell, William O'Brien, M. J. Egan, Richard O'Carroll, James Connolly, Thomas MacPartlin, Thomas Cassidy, W. E. Hill, M. T. O'Lehane and P. T. Daly.
Whilst the Bill is not altogether satisfactory to us, we must be prepared to take advantage of it and secure representation for our class in the new Parliament.
In any Parliament to be elected in Ireland Labour must be represented as a separate and independent entity, having no connection with any other Party.
DISTURBED DUBLIN is the title of a book just published in the interests of the Dublin employers, and with the name of Arnold Wright upon its title page as author. The purpose of this book is to present to the reading public as colourable a presentation as possible of the events from the employers' point of view of the great dispute of 1913-14. We are not saying so because this book is antagonistic to the cause of labour, but we say so because from the very first paragraph of the preface to the last sentence of the volume itself this bias against labour is so pronounced that the idea that it found its inspiration in the councils of the employers springs at once to the mind of the thoughtful reader. For instance, let us quote from the second sentence of the preface, where the author describes the result of the employers' conspiracy as:
The ignominious defeat of the attempt to establish a peculiarly pernicious form of Syndicalism on Irish soil.
This, one must admit, is a good start for an impartial history, and the same spirit is in evidence all through the book. In this attempt to present a literary justification for the employers the author does not scruple to distort facts, and even to state deliberate untruths.
One such case will serve as a sample. In the early part of 1913 the Belfast Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union secured an agreement with several shipping firms in that city bringing the wages of their labourers up to the level of the men employed by the same firms on the docks at Dublin. One of the firms so affected was the Clyde Shipping Company. After a short time the union officials found that
p.347the foreman in charge of the London boat of that firm in Belfast was apparently systematically giving preference to non-union men. Several ineffective attempts having been made to check this, the Belfast officials at last called their men off, and refused to allow them to work with non-union men. This step was only taken in obedience to extreme pressure from the men themselves. The boat upon which this strike took place was the Sanda, and had only a part cargo for Belfast, the remainder being consigned to Dublin. When the boat left Belfast the union officials in that city wired to headquarters in Dublin to hold up the boat. This was at first done, but after a few hours delay the boat was worked by the Dublin members, their officials having brought pressure to bear on the Belfast secretary to allow the cargo to be discharged in order to keep the contract they had made in Dublin with the Clyde company. Thus, as it afterwards transpired, the Dublin officials practically sacrificed their own members in Belfast, and worked a boat against which their own members were on strike, in order to keep their agreement with the Clyde Shipping Company, and in hopes that the matter would be settled by friendly discussion. It was settled by friendly discussion, but the spectacle of the Dublin members out of loyalty to an agreement working a boat struck by their fellow members in Belfast was so unexpected and bewildering that some two hundred members were lost to the union in the latter city as a consequence.
Now here is how this impartial author tells the story. Page 108:
Some men who were working on a vessel called the Sandow, belonging to the Clyde Shipping Company, without a moment's notice ceased work. On inquiry by Mr. Young it was found that the grievance was that the men were not receiving such large wages as the company's employees in Belfast. This, it was represented, was the more important
p.348matter, as there existed in the northern port a union which was inimical to Mr. Larkin, and which he regarded with a mutual feeling of aversion.
Now observe all the misstatements in those three sentences.
First: The wrong name of the vessel; showing a most slipshod inaccuracy of investigation.
Second: The statement that the Dublin men were receiving lower wages than the Belfast men, whereas the fact was that the Belfast men had only recently joined the union in an endeavour to raise their wages to the level of Dublin.
Third: The allegation that the union in the northern port which had established the wages alleged to be higher than those of Dublin was a union inimical to Mr. Larkin. In reality it was, and is, a branch of the union of which Mr. Larkin was and is General Secretary.
Thus in the small compass of nine printed lines we find one mistake and two deliberate lies. Observe that it is entirely unthinkable that this so-called investigator could of his own initiative have invented those lies. They must have been supplied to him by the employers, and, like the good investigator that he was, he never bothered himself to check their account by any such simple expedient as a trip to Liberty Hall, or a question put personally to any of the dockers involved in that dispute. The inference is that he did not do it, because he did not dare to do it. He was brought over here by the employers to do the employers' work, and it must be said of him that he faithfully, if clumsily, tried to earn his money.
As we have said, the story of that incident is a sample of the treatment meted out to the labourer by the author in every chapter in the book. One feels like congratulating the real literary men of Dublin that the employers could not trust one of them to be sufficiently blind to facts as to present a case that would suit the employers. A stranger, without any knowledge
p.349of Dublin people, without any insight into the terrible struggle life involves to a Dublin worker, without any appreciation of the finer elements of character which the Dublin toiler has preserved in spite of the hell of poverty and misery in which he or she was born and reared, without any grasp of the blended squalor and heroism, pride and abasement that environment has woven into the Dublin character, and absolutely blind and deaf to all knowledge of the countless cross-currents, interests and traditions that played their part in moulding and shaping that historic struggleit is only such a fatuously ignorant stranger that the employers of Dublin could count upon to describe that struggle as they wanted it described.
The achievement of the employers is written of as if the book was dealing with the struggle of a puny David against a mighty Goliath, the employers being David and Jim Larkin the giant Goliath. No epic story of heroism that was ever written could surpass in admiring sentences the description of the employers' battle against the working men and women as this hack writer tells it.
Told by a labour writer, or even told by one of those literary men who, although not of the manual labour ranks stood so grandly by the workers during that titanic struggle, the story would indeed read like an epic, but it would be an epic of which the heroes and heroines were the humble men and women who went out in the street to suffer and starve rather than surrender their right to combine as they chose for the uplifting of their class. Some day that story will be written from that standpoint, meanwhile let us briefly cast up the elements out of which that story will be composed.
It must tell how four hundred Dublin employers covenanted together, and pledged each other by solemn vows, and by still more binding financial pledges, that there would be no more resumption of work in Dublin until the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union was wiped off the map. How they
p.350agreed upon a document to be forced upon all workers that they would neither join nor help that union. How they had all the press of every shade of politics and religion upon their side. How they obtained beforehand the promise of swift and relentless use of Government forces, of batons, bullets, and jails to destroy the resistance of the workers. How that promise was faithfully kept by the Government. How they were able to override the law, and to fill the prisons with old and young, men and women, boys and girls, who attempted to exercise the picketing rights guaranteed to them by British law. How they instituted a reign of terror in which the lives of every worker was at the mercy of every callous brute in the uniform of a policeman or the vocation of a scab. How starvation was sent into the homes of thousands of the poor, until their lives were shortened by the sufferings enforced. How one bright young girl was shot, two honest workers batoned to death, and one other destroyed in his bright manhood by the hirelings of the Government. How the domestic privacy of the poor was violated, their poor household treasures ruthlessly smashed and the most sacred feelings of womanhood outraged by hordes of drunken policemen. And how through all this long-drawn-out agony every agency of every organised political, journalistic, social or religious kind in Ireland, not directly controlled by labour, joined in one great unanimous chorus in vilification of the sufferers, and in praise of their oppressors.
When that story is written by a man or woman with an honest heart, and with a sympathetic insight into the travail of the poor, it will be a record of which Ireland may well be proud. It will tell of how the old women and young girls, long crushed and enslaved, dared to risk all, even life itself, in the struggle to make life more tolerable, more free of the grinding tyranny of the soulless Dublin employers. It will tell of how, like an inspiration, there came to those Irish women and girls the thought that no free nation could be reared which
p.351tolerated the enslavement of its daughters to the worst forms of wage-slavery, and how in the glow of that inspiration they arose from their seats in the workshop or factory, and went out to suffer and struggle along with their men. It will tell of how the general labourers, the men upon whose crushed lives is built the fair fabric of civilisation, from whose squalid tenements the sweet-smelling flowers of capitalist culture derive their aroma, by whose horny hands and mangled bodies are bought the ease and safety of a class that hates and despises them, by whose ignorance their masters purchase their knowledgeit will tell how these labourers dared to straighten their bent backs, and looking in the faces of their rulers and employers dared to express the will to be free. And it will tell how that spectacle of the slave of the underworld looking his masters in the face without terror, and fearlessly proclaiming the kinship and unity of all with each and each with all, how that spectacle caught the imagination of all unselfish souls so that the artisan took his place also in the place of conflict and danger, and the men and women of genius, the artistic and the literati, hastened to honour and serve those humble workers whom all had hitherto despised and scorned.
And that story will tell how, despite the wealth and the power of the masters, despite jails and batons, despite starvation and death, victory was within sight for the Dublin workers, and only eluded their grasp because of the failure of a part of their allies to remain keyed up to the battle pitch. Because others outside their ranks were not able to realise the grandeur of the opportunity, the sublimity of the issues at stake.
The battle was a drawn battle. The employers, despite their Napoleonic plan of campaign, and their more than Napoleonic ruthlessness and unscrupulous use of foul means were unable to carry on their business without men and women who remained loyal to their union. The workers were unable to force the employers to a formal recognition of the union, and to
p.352give preference to organised labour. From the effects of this drawn battle both sides are still bearing heavy scars. How deep those scars are none will ever reveal.
But the working class has lost none of its aggressiveness, none of its confidence, none of its hope in the ultimate triumph. No traitor amongst the ranks of that class has permanently gained, even materially, by his or her treachery. The flag of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union still flies proudly in the van of the Irish working class, and that working class still marches proudly and defiantly at the head of the gathering hosts who stand for a regenerated nation, resting upon a people industrially free.
Ah, yes, that story of the Dublin dispute of 1913-14 is meet subject for an epic poem with which some Irish genius of the future can win an immortality as great as did the humble fighters who in it fought the battle of labour.
Do you wish proof of the value of organisation to the workers, or proof of how impossible it is to destroy organisation if its members are loyal! I can give you that proof from the records of our own union.
Let me give you a little bit of historyhistory of very recent date. You remember the great lock-out in Dublin in 1913-14; you remember how the Dublin employers smarting under the defeats inflicted upon their individual efforts to keep their workers in slavery, at last resolved to combine in one gigantic effort to restore the irresponsible reign of the slave drivers such as existed in Dublin before the advent of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. You will remember how four hundred employers banded themselves together to destroy us, and pledged their sacred word of honour that they would wipe that union off the map; that when the fight was over no man or woman affiliated to us, or friendly to us, would ever be employed in Dublin. You also remember how they did more than pledge their honourthe honour of some of them would not fetch much as a pledgebut they also deposited each a sum of money in proportion to the number of employees each normally employed, and that money deposited in the Bank in the name of their association was to be forfeited, if the depositor came to terms with the union before his fellows.
Thus strung together in bonds of gold and self-interest, you might think they were well equipped for beating a lot of poor workingmen and women with no weapons but their hands, and no resources but their willingness to suffer for the right. But they were taking no chances. They laid their plans with the wisdom of the serpent, and the unscrupulousness of the father of all evil.
Before the lock-out was declared they went to the British Government in Ireland, to its heads in Dublin Castle, and they said to that Government, now, look here, we are going to make war upon the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, but we believe that we cannot succeed as we should wish, while peaceful picketing is allowed. We know it is allowed in England, in Scotland, and in Wales, but we don't want it allowed in Ireland. And the Government said: all right, gentlemen, the law allowing peaceful picketing is only a scrap of paper; we will tear it up while the fight is on. The employers said again: good, but these Labour men and women will hold together while they are able to hold public meetings, and hear their speakers encouraging them. Could His Majesty's Government not manage to suppress public meetings, whilst the fight is on? And the Government answered: Suppress public meetings? Why, of course: the law which permits public meetings in Ireland is just another scrap of paper, and has been torn up many a time, and oft; we will tear it up again, so as to help you in the good work of crushing the Labour movement.
And you know, the British Government kept its promise to the employers. All through that long and bitter struggle, the elementary rights won by Trade Unionists by a century of sacrifices were denied to us in Dublin, although freely exercised at the same time in England.
The locked-out worker who attempted to speak to a scab in order to persuade him or her not to betray the class they belonged to, was mercilessly set upon by uniformed bullies, and hauled off to prison, until the prison was full to overflowing with helpless members of our class. Women and young girls by the score; good, virtuous, beautiful Irish girls and women were clubbed and insulted, and thrown into prison by policemen and magistrates, not one of whom were fit to clean the shoes of the least of these, our sisters.
Our right of public meeting was ruthlessly suppressed in the streets of our city, the whole press of the country was shamelessly engaged in poisoning the minds of the people against us, every scoundrel who chose was armed to shoot and murder the workers who stood by their Union.
Two men, James Nolan and John Byrne, were clubbed to death in the street; one, Byrne of Kingstown, suffered unnameable torture in the police cell, and died immediately upon release, one young girl, Alice Brady, while walking quietly homewards with her strike allowance of food, was shot by a scab with a revolver placed in his hands by an employer, and within twenty-four hours after the murder, that scab was walking the streets of Dublin a free man. Our murdered sister lies cold to-day in her grave in Glasnevinas true a martyr for freedom as any who ever died in Ireland. But she did not die in vain, and none who die for freedom ever die in vain.
Well, did the unholy conspiracy against Labour achieve its object? Was the union crushed? Did our flag come down?
Let me tell you our position to-day, and tell it by an illustration.
We recently put in a demand for an increase of wages in Dublin, for all classes of labour in our union. That demand was eventually met by the employers, and at a Conference between the representatives of the Union and the Employers were prepared to settle matters through the Union, and that whatever terms were then agreed upon would determine the rates for the quays and elsewhere, wherever our men were employed. Here are a few of the advances thus agreed upon, as well as the advances arranged with other firms not represented at the Conference, but dealing directly with the Union Officials.
These comprise the larger firms, many smaller firms also made advances as a result of action of the Union, and in every case the advance made was in proportion to the manner in which the men had stuck to their Union.
The firms whose employees had fallen away gave poor increases or none at all; the firms whose members had remained loyal to the Union, paid greater increases, and so the men reaped the fruits of their loyalty, whilst those who were faint of heart were punished by the employers for lack of faith in their Union and their class. So it shall ever be.
(From a speech in Cork delivered by Connolly as Acting General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union.)
At a special meeting, held on Monday, June 7, 1915, the Dublin Trades and Labour Council unanimously decided to contest the above Division against John Dillon Nugent. It could not be otherwise. The selection of Nugent was a studied insult to the Dublin working class, and that class would not be worth its salt did it not answer this insult by striking back. Once and for all it must be understood that he who strikes at labour in Ireland will get blow for blow in return. It may be necessary to wait patiently for years, but when the opportunity comes the blow should be swift and decisive and relentless.
When labour strikes against Nugent in this contest it will have its arm nerved by remembrance of the poisonous lies and slanders poured upon it during the great lock-out. It will remember the thousands of homes into which Nugent brought hunger and misery by the active assistance and encouragement given to the employers. It will think of all the poor victimised girls and women whose places were taken by the scabs procured by Nugent's agents. It will reflect that when it was sought to reduce the working class of Dublin to the vilest slavery, to break up their unity and disorganise their forces, it was John Dillon Nugent that stood forth as their bitterest foe and the most valued supporter of those who sought to enslave them.
All who stand for the best and holiest interests of Ireland at this crisis in her history, whatever be their attitude towards the British Parliament, should now join with labour in its rally against this man whose malign influence wherever it has spread has tended to sow the seeds of discord and hatred amongst Irishmen, and to prevent national unity for truly national purposes. He has set Irishman against Irishman, brothers against brothers, has broken up family ties and the ties of community,
p.358and been the ready agent of every evil thing that sought to darken the national soul and sully the character of the race. He is the incarnation and flowering of the results upon Irish character of seven centuries of slavery.
Away with him! Send him back to his intrigues, to his slandering, to the associates of his secret plots to poison Irish life and hound down Irish patriots, away with him and vote for Thomas Farren, the candidate of labour, the President of the Dublin Trades and Labour Council, a man known by all for his stainless record of work in your service, and loved by all that know him.
Under the conditions at present ruling in Ireland many of us would have preferred to let pass unnoticed the election of a member to represent College Green in the British Parliament. We would have preferred that course: First, because we deprecate any action turning the eyes of Irishmen towards England in the present International crisis. Ireland as a Nation has her own destiny to achieve, and there is no law of nature which makes it necessary that that destiny must forever be worked out in terms of British Acts of Parliament; Second, we would have preferred to let it pass unnoticed and unheeded because we believe that this Parliament cannot last very long.
But the selection of John Dillon Nugent as the candidate of the United Irish League, makes that silence impossible. This selection is a studied insult to every progressive movement in the country. John Dillon Nugent is the active figure behind all that is foulest and most loathsome in Irish Life.
He it is who has stood out as the malevolent enemy of trade unionism on every occasion, small and great, where he could exercise his influence. He has attempted to organise in Ireland, as in the case of the Railwaymen, sectarian trade unions to divide and disrupt the people of the South as Carson and his gang have done in the North. He has worked to aid the enemies of organised labour, and to defeat every effort of the Irish Workers to win for themselves a decent standard of life, and recognition of their rights as a class.
He has poisoned the political life of the Nation, and struck in the dark at every influence and every man making for a self-respecting people or a progressive community.
He has been instrumental in making the Home Rule Party cringe and surrender before every assault of the enemies of Ireland, and has stood behind every attack upon those whom the British Government could neither bribe nor terrorise. From Cork to Enniscorthy, from Dublin to Kerry his sinister figure lurked in the background, setting and directing wherever Irish patriots were struck at.
He has worked to make it impossible to serve an Irish Public Board or Corporation in even the humblest capacity, if the public servant was not ready to be at his beck and call, socially and politically.
An enemy of Labour, a fomenter of sectarian strife, a betrayer of all National causes, a source of weakness and paralysis in all National Movements. This is the man you are asked to elect as your representative. Will you do it? We ask you to rise and resent the insult. Let it not be said in this great crisis, when all that is best and noblest in your natures should be rallying in response to the call of your country, that you consented to dishonour all Irishmen have ever held dear, by electing as your representative anywhere, the only man who most successfully embodies and typifies in his person all that is most despicable, hateful and corrupting in Irish public lifeJohn Dillon Nugent.
(Signed on behalf of the Dublin Trades Council and Labour League):THOMAS FARREN, President.JOHN LAWLOR, Vice-President.WILLIAM O'BRIEN, Acting Secretary.JOHN FARREN, Treasurer.
The College Green Election is over, and John Dillon Nugent sits as representative of that Division in the British Parliament. What more can be said on the matter? The electors of that constituency made it pretty clear to all who think, that they deeply resented the attempt of the United Irish League and its wirepullers to foist upon the Division so deeply detested a man as Mr. Nugent. But they also demonstrated that against a well oiled and smoothly working machine a mere sullen, sulky protest is not sufficient. There were more abstentions in the College Green election on Friday, June 11th, than the number of the combined poll of Nugent and Farren. These abstentionists had not the public spirit needed to send them to the polling booth to register their votes, hence they are represented to-day by a man whose public life has been spent in furthering everything that they detest.
It is an object lesson in the value of organisation, and also of the great danger of such an organisation to public liberties when it is in the hands of thoroughly unscrupulous men.
The Labour candidate did not win because the electors were not sufficiently imbued with labour principles to rally to his aid, and until the electors are so imbued the seat does not properly belong to labour. On the other hand, although Nugent had at his command all the secret forces of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (Board of Erin), all the secret and public forces of the United Irish League and all the money needed to buy a horde of corrupt and corrupting scoundrels to debauch the ballot box, his real vote was so ridiculously small that he has not yet established any moral claim upon the constituency. The College Green Division is still open to any candidate of any party to fight for it at the first opportunity.
And it may be taken as certain that at the first occasion labour will again marshal its forces for the fray. As the popular saying has it the seat is only lent to Mr. Nugent. On this occasion our opponent was in the field a week ahead of us in his own person, whilst his organisations were busy getting their forces in order long before the death of Mr. J. P. Nannetti. Between the actual nomination of Mr. Thomas Farren and the day of the election there were only three clear days; between the legal nomination of Mr. Farren and the election there were only two days and a half. Handicapped in this way, and hard pressed for money all the time, the Labour Party did wonders. It has set its claim upon the constituency; it has now to so educate the voters that when next the battle is on, every worker in the division will be polled. When that is done we have no fear but that the victory will be ours.
What is the real relation between Dublin strikes and Dublin trade? How have they, how do they mutually affect each other?
There have been many industries destroyed in Dublin whose loss it is the habit of certain writers and speakers to attribute to strikes and labour agitators. How far is that attitude of mind justified' These are some of the questions that need careful considerationand answer.
One answer to them can be found by a glance at the rate of wages paid in Ireland as compared to what is paid in Great Britain for the same class of work. It will be found that Irish workers are invariably paid far below the British rate, except when the pressure of trade unionism has forced the wages upward to an equality. This discrimination against equality of treatment for Irish workers is universal in Ireland whether the employer is a private individual, or a public authority, such as a Corporation or an Urban District Council, and ranges all the way from the wages of a tramp navvy to the salary of a national school teacher.
Now observe well what that fact implies. It means that Irish employers deliberately refuse to pay Irish workers as well as British employers pay British workers, and that they do this even when no competition exists. That is fact, number one.
Fact number two is just as important. It consists in the fact that whenever a period of unrest occurs, when the workers in these islands feel and respond to the strivings for a better existence the Irish employers stand forth in the fight as shining examples of obstinacy and pig-headedness. Whilst the British employers, or their agents in Ireland recognise that in the work-a-day world of business there can be no such thing as complete victory,
p.364and therefore steer clear of any declaration that would be difficult to recede from, the Irish employer nails his colours to the mast so awkwardly that he can not take them down when he wants to. Hence we continually see the spectacle of the British companies settling with their employees and turning to work with a zest, whilst the Irish employer is still ruffling his feathers in wounded dignity, and keeping up the fight to his own destruction.
In such cases the British capitalists urge the Irish employer on to the fight, cheer him madly to his face, wink at each other behind his back, and grab his trade whilst he is fighting.
Then when the fight is over the Irish employer looks around for his trade, finds it being done by his British rivals, and starts bewailing the wicked agitator. Look around the history of many important Irish industries that have disappeared in the course of the past hundred years, and searching below the superficial crust of shallow-minded writers you will everywhere find the same tale.
Lots of important industries have disappeared from Ireland because Irish employers were encouraged to refuse to treat their workers in a humane and reasonable fashion, and so lost their trade to British competitors who gloried in their fight, and exulted in their downfall.
In every big industrial dispute in Ireland the firms controlled by British capital are always the first to accept a reasonable settlement, the Irish firms are always the last. The British firm wants to get back to profit-making, the Irish firm thinks mainly of humiliating and crushing the workers who dared to defy them.
The explanation is first that the British firms are rather pleased to see their Irish competitors run their heads against a stone wall, and their business to bankruptcy; and second, that British capital is grown up and has assumed the responsibility of the adult, but Irish capital is still immature, and has all the
p.365defects of the hobble-de-troy, not big enough to be a man, and too big to be a boy.
Great indeed is the responsibility of the journalist or publicist of any description who urges on the Irish employer to fight against a set of conditions to which his British competitors have long ago adapted their business.
The Irish workers are gradually accustoming themselves to a self-imposed discipline in the interest of all; they are learning that it is treason to the trade union for any gang or group or individual to strike if the striking endangers the interest of the whole.
What or who will teach the Irish employer that his power is a trust to be administered for the good of all, not a whip to be used like a child to gratify his foolish whims?23
We regret that we are not able to give in our paper a complete report of the splendid speech delivered under the auspices of the Dublin Trades Council on Tuesday, January 15 by Father Laurence, O.F.M.Cap. It was by far the most significant speech yet delivered in the Trades Hall, and the meeting at which it was delivered was the most typically illustrative of the spirit of the times. Here we had a great meeting of workingmen and women overwhelmingly Catholic in their religious faith, gathering together to discuss problems of social life and national aspirations with a priest whom they held in affectionate esteem, but insisting upon discussing these problems in the spirit of comradeship and equality. Perhaps nowhere else in Europe could such a meeting on such terms be held, and in such harmony between the parties concerned.
At one part of his address the reverend lecturer justly attributed the present position of the Church in France to the fact that Catholics in that country had wasted their time in dreaming of the impossible restoration of a monarchy instead of grappling with the practical work of social regeneration under the new conditions established by the republic. It is safe to say that such meetings as that of Tuesday are safer guarantees for Ireland against the growth here of anti-clericalism of the French type than would be all the pamphlets of the Catholic Truth Society, without such friendly discussions between the clergy and the laity. They are a sign that the lesson of France has not been lost, that the Church recognises that if she does not move with the people the people will move without her.
It is generally recognised in Dublin that the editor of this paper represents the most militant, and what is called the most
p.367extreme, type of the labour movement. We are glad, therefore, to be able to say in all sincerity that we could see no fundamental difference between the views expressed by Father Laurence and those views we ourselves hold and never hesitate to express. The differences were apparently only differences of definition. The reverend lecturer called things by certain names, we would use totally different names, but in essence the things were identical. We both endorsed the principle embodying the things whose names we could not agree upon. For that reason we on our part, being more anxious for satisfactory results than for correct definitions, would not press to contention any of the seeming points of difference.
To be brief, here is our position as we defined it in the name of the Irish labour movement: We accept the family as the true type of human society. We say that as in that family the resources of the entire household are at the service of each; as in the family the strong does not prey upon and oppress the weak; as in the family the least gifted mentally and the weakest physically share equally the common store of all with the most gifted and the physically strongest; as in the family the true economy consists in utilising and conserving the heritage of all for the good of all, so in like manner the nation should act and be administered. Every man, woman, and child of the nation must be considered as an heir of all the property of the nation, and the entire resources of the nation should stand behind all individuals guaranteeing them against want, and multiplying their individual powers with all the powers of the organised nation.
To attain that end we seek to organise every person who works for wages, that the workers themselves may determine the conditions of labour. We hold that the sympathetic strike is the affirmation of the Christian principle that we are all members one of another, whilst those who oppose the sympathetic strike and uphold sectionalism in trade union
p.368struggles are repeating the question of Cain who, when questioned about the brother he had murdered, asked am I my brother's keeper? We say, yes, we are all the keepers of our brothers and sisters, and responsible for them.
From the organisation of labour as such we propose to proceed to organise upon the co-operative principle that we may control the commodities we ourselves use and consume. Upon such a basis we can build a true demand for Irish made goods from which all elements of sweating have been removed.
Recognising that the proper utilisation of the nation's energies requires control of political power, we propose to conquer that political power through a working class political party; and recognising that the full development of national powers requires complete national freedom we are frankly and unreservedly prepared for whatever struggle may be necessary to conquer for Ireland her place among the nations of the earth.
That is the programme of the militant Irish labour movement. We are rejoiced to find amongst the clergy so many whose hearts also throb responsive to those ideals.
p.370Nature furnishes its wealth to all men in common. God beneficently has created all things that their endowment be common to all living beings, and that the earth became the common property of all. . .. Only unjust usurpation has created the right of private property.
St. Ambrose.Let the Pope and cardinals, and all the powers of the Catholic world united make the least encroachment on that constitution, we will protect it with our lives. Summon a General Councillet that council interfere in the mode of our electing but an assistant to a turnkey of a prisonwe deny its right; we reject its usurpation. Let that council lay a tax of one cent. only upon our churcheswe will not pay it. Yet, we are most obedient Papistswe believe that the Pope is Christ's vicar on earth, supreme visible head of the Church throughout the world, and lawful successor of St. Peter, prince of the apostles. We believe all this power is in Pope Leo XII and we believe that a General Council is infallible in doctrinal decisions. Yet we deny to Pope and Council united any power to interfere with one title of our political rights, as firmly as we deny the power of interfering with one title of our spiritual rights to the President and Congress. We will obey each in its proper place, we will resist any encroachment by one upon the right of the other.
Rt. Rev. John England, Catholic Bishop of Charleston, U.S.A., 1824.
Nothing is more conducive to the spread of a movement than the discussions arising out of the efforts of a capable opponent to refute its principles. Out of such discussions arise clearness of thought, and the consequent realisation on the part of both sides to the controversy of the necessity of considering the movement under discussion in the light of its essential principles rather than of its accidental accompanimentsthe basic ideas of the movement itself rather than the ideas of the men or women who may for the moment be its principal exponents or representatives. Men perish, but principles live. Hence the recent effort of ecclesiastics to put the Socialist movement under the ban of the Catholic Church, despite the wild and reckless nature of the statements by which the end was sought to be attained, has had a good effect in compelling Catholics to examine more earnestly their position as laymen, and the status of the clergy as such, as well as their relative duties towards each other within the Church and toward the world in general. One point of Catholic doctrine brought out as a result of such examination is the almost forgotten and sedulously suppressed one, that the Catholic Church is theoretically a community in which the clergy are but the officers serving the laity in a common worship and service of God, and that should the clergy at any time profess or teach doctrines not in conformity with the true teachings of Catholicity it is not only the right, but it is the absolute duty of the laity to refuse such doctrines and to disobey such teaching. Indeed, it is this saving clause in Catholic doctrine which has again and again operated to protect the Church
p.372from the result of the mistaken attempts of the clergy to control the secular activities of the laity. It seems to be unavoidable, but it is entirely regrettable, that clergymen consecrated to the worship of God, and supposed to be patterned after a Redeemer who was the embodiment of service and humility, should in their relation to the laity insist upon service and humility being rendered to them instead of by them. Their Master served all mankind in patience and suffering; they insist upon all mankind serving them, and in all questions of the social and political relations of men they require the common laity to bow the neck in a meekness, humility, and submission which the clergy scornfully reject. They have often insisted that the Church is greater than the secular authority, and acted therefore in flat defiance of the secular powers, but they have forgotten or ignored the fact that the laity are a part of the Church, and that therefore the right of rebellion against injustice so freely claimed by the Papacy and the hierarchy is also the inalienable right of the laity. And history proves that in almost every case in which the political or social aspirations of the laity came into opposition to the will of the clergy the laity represented the best interest of the Church as a whole and of mankind in general. Whenever the clergy succeeded in conquering political power in any country the result has been disastrous to the interests of religion and inimical to the progress of humanity. From whence we arrive at the conclusion that he serves religion best who insists upon the clergy of the Catholic Church taking their proper position as servants to the laity, and abandoning their attempt to dominate the public, as they have long dominated the private life of their fellow-Catholics.
The 1910 Lenten Discourses
of Father Kane, S.J., in Gardiner
[Footnote: Socialism, By Robert Kane, S.J., Catholic Truth Society. [The notes in this section are in all cases Connolly's own.]]
p.373Street Church, Dublin, serve to illustrate these, our contentions. The Socialists of Ireland are grateful to those who induced such a learned and eloquent orator in their capital city to attempt combating Socialism. Had it been an antagonist less worthy their satisfaction would not have been so great. But they now feel confident that when an opponent so capable, so wide in his reading, so skilled in his presentation, so admirable in his method of attack, and so eloquent in his language, has said his final word upon the question, they may rest satisfied that the best case against their cause has been presented which can ever be forthcoming under similar auspices. In presenting their arguments against the position of the reverend lectureras against his reverend co-workers who all over the world are engaged in the same unworthy task of combating this movement for the uplifting of humanitywe desire, in the spirit of our preceding remarks, to place before our readers a brief statement of some of the many instances in which the Catholic laity have been compelled to take political action contrary to the express commands of the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy, and in which subsequent events or the more enlightened conscience of subsequent ages have fully justified the action of the laity and condemned the action of the clergy:
Most of our readers are aware that the first Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, in 1169, an invasion characterised by every kind of treachery, outrage, and indiscriminate massacre of the Irish, took place under the authority of a bull issued by his Holiness, Pope Adrian IV. Doubt has been cast upon the authenticity of the bull, but it is certain that neither Adrian nor any of his successors in the Papal chair ever repudiated it.
Every Irish man and woman, most enlightened Englishmen, and practically every foreign nation to-day wish that the Irish had succeeded in preserving their independence against the English king, Henry II, but at a Synod of the Catholic Church, held in Dublin in 1177, according to Rev. P. J. Carew,
p.374Professor of Divinity in Maynooth, in his Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, the Legate of Pope Alexander III set forth Henry's right to the sovereignty of Ireland in virtue of the Pope's authority, and inculcated the necessity of obeying him under pain of excommunication. The English were not yet eight years in Ireland, the greater part of the country was still closed to them, but already the Irish were being excommunicated for refusing to become slaves.
In Ireland, as in all Catholic countries, a church was a sanctuary in which even the greatest criminal could take refuge and be free from arrest, as the civil authority could not follow upon the consecrated ground. At the Synod of 1177, the Pope, in order to help the English monarch against the Irish, abolished the right of sanctuary in Ireland, and empowered the English to strip the Irish churches, and to hunt the Irish refugees who sought shelter there. The greatest criminals of Europe were safe once they reached the walls of the church, but not an Irish patriot.
In the year 1319, Edward Bruce, brother of Robert the Bruce of Scotland, was invited into Ireland by the Irish chiefs and people to help them in their patriotic war for independence. He accepted the invitation, was joined by vast numbers of the people in arms, and together the Irish and Scotch forces swept the English out of Ulster and Connacht. The English king appealed for help to Pope John XXII, and that Pontiff responded by at once excommunicating all the Irish who were in arms against the English.
The battle of the Boyne, fought 1st July, 1690, is generally regarded in Ireland as a disaster for the Irish causea disaster which made possible the infliction of two centuries of unspeakable degradation upon the Irish people. Yet that battle was the result of an alliance formed by Pope Innocent XI with William, Prince of Orange, against Louis, King of France. King James of England joined with King Louis to obtain help
p.375to save his own throne, and the Pope joined in the league with William to curb the power of France. When the news of the defeat of the Irish at the Boyne reached Rome the Vatican was illuminated by order of the new Pope, Alexander VIII, and special masses offered up in thanksgiving. See Von Ranke's History of the Popes and Murray's Irish Revolutionary History.
Judge Maguire of San Francisco, California, writing of this period before the Reformation, says truly:
Under all their Catholic majesties, from Henry II to Henry VIII (nearly four hundred years) the Irish people, with the exception of five families, were outlaws. They were murdered at will, like dogs, by their English Catholic neighbours in Ireland, and there was no law to punish the murderers. Yet during all of this unparalleled reign of terror, history fails to show a single instance in which the power of the Catholic Church was ever exerted or suggested by the Pope for the protection of her faithful Irish children.
The Irish people as a whole are proud of the fact that, according to the reported testimony of General Lee of the American army, more than half of the continental soldiers during the War of the Revolution were from Ireland, yet during that War of Independence, Bishop Troy, the Catholic Bishop of Ossory, ordered the Catholics of his diocese to
observe a day's fast and to humble himself in prayer that they might avert the divine wrath provoked by their American fellow-subjects, who, seduced by the specious notions of liberty and other illusive expectations of sovereignty, disclaim any dependence upon Great Britain and endeavour by force of arms to distress their mother country.
Quite recently, in 1909, Professor Monaghan, speaking before the Federation of Catholic Societies in America, declared with the approval of the bishop and clergy that the Catholic hierarchy of the United States would, if need be, sell the sacred vessels off the altar in defence
p.376of the American Republic. Thus the enlightened opinion of the Catholics of our day condemns the Pastoral of the Catholic bishop of the Revolutionary period, and endorses the action of the Catholics who disregarded it.
In 1798 an insurrection in favour of an Irish Republic took place in Ireland, assuming most formidable proportions in County Wexford. The insurrection had been planned by the Society of United Irishmen, many of whose leaders were Protestants and Freethinkers. The Catholic hierarchy and most of the priesthood denounced the society and inculcated loyalty to the Government. The more intelligent of the Catholic masses disregarded these clerical denunciations. In the memoirs of his life, Miles Byrne, a staunch Catholic patriot and revolutionist, who took part in the insurrection, says: The priests did everything in their power to stop the progress of the Association of United Irishmen, particularly poor Father John Redmond, who refused to hear the confession of any of the United Irish, and turned them away from his knees. Speaking of Father John Murphy, he says he was a worthy, simple, pious man, and one of those Roman Catholic priests who used the greatest exertions and exhortations to oblige the people to give up their pikes and firearms of every description. The wisdom of the people and the foolishness of the clergy were amply demonstrated by the fact that the soldiers burned Father Murphy's house over his head, and compelled him to take the field as an insurgent. A heroic fight and a glorious martyrdom atoned for his mistake, but the soldier-like qualities he showed in the field were rendered nugatory by the fact that as a priest he had been instrumental in disarming many hundreds of the men whom he afterwards commanded. As an insurgent officer he discovered that his greatest hope day in the men who had disregarded his commands as a priest, and retained the arms with which to fight for freedom.
Dr. Troy, when Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, was, according
p.377to an incident related in the Viceroy's Post-Bag by Mr. Michael MacDonagh, interrogated by the British authorities as to the duty of a priest who discovered in the confessional a plot against the Government, and answered that, If in confession any plot against the existing Government was disclosed to the priest, he (the priest) would be bound to give information to the Government that such plot was in agitation, taking care that nothing could in any way lead to a suspicion of the person from whom, or the means in which, the information had been obtained. Chief Secretary Wickham, who reports this conversation with the archbishop, goes on to say, I then asked him whether such confession so made to the priest, particularly in the case of a crime against the State, was considered as a full atonement so as to entitle the penitent to absolution without a disclosure of such crime being first made to the police or to the Government of the country. To this the Doctor answered very distinctly that he did not consider the confession to the priest alone, under such circumstances, a sufficient atonement, and that either the priest ought to insist on such confession to the State or to the police being made, or to enjoin the making of such disclosure subsequent to absolution in like manner as penance is enjoined under similar circumstances.
There is little doubt in our mind but that Dr. Troy misrepresented Catholic doctrine, but it is noteworthy that a parish priest at Mallow, Co. Cork, ordered a member of the United Irishmen, who had sought him in the confessional, to give information to the authorities of a plot of the Royal Meath Militia to seize the artillery at that point and turn it over to the revolutionists. This priest, Father Thomas Barry, afterwards drew a pension of £100 per year from the Government for his information; his action was, and is, abhorred by the vast mass of the Irish Catholics, but was in strict accord with his duty as laid down by Archbishop Troy.
All impartial historians recognise that the Legislative Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland was passed
- By perjury and fraud
By slaves who sold
For place or gold
Their country and their God.
Yet we are informed by Mr. Plowden, a Catholic historian that, a very great preponderance in favour of the Union existed in the Catholic Body, particularly in their nobility, gentry, and clergy. On 1st March, 1800, no less than thirty-two Orange lodges protested against the Act of Union, but the Catholic hierarchy endorsed it.
Every year the members of the Irish race scattered throughout the earth celebrate the memory of Robert Emmet, and cherish him in their hearts as the highest ideal of patriot and martyr; but on the occasion of his martyrdom the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh presented an address to the Lord Lieutenant, representative of the British Government in Ireland, denouncing Emmet in the strongest possible terms. That this action was in conformity with the position of the whole Catholic Hierarchy was evidenced in 1808, when all the Catholic bishops of Ireland met in Synod on 14th September, and passed the following resolution, as reported in Mitchel's History of Ireland: That the Roman Catholic prelates pledge themselves to adhere to the rules by which they have been hitherto uniformly guided, viz., to recommend to his Holiness (for appointment as Irish Roman Catholic bishops) only such persons as are of unimpeachable loyalty.
After Daniel O'Connell and the Catholics of Ireland had wrested Catholic Emancipation from the British Government they initiated a demand for a repeal of the Union. Their service to Catholic Emancipation was a proof positive of their Catholic orthodoxy, but at the urgent request of the British
p.379Government, Pope Gregory XVI issued a rescript commanding the priests to abstain from attending the repeal meetings. O'Connell said this was an illegal interference with the liberties of the clergy, declared he would take his religion from Rome, but not his politics, and the Catholic opinion of our day emphatically endorses his attitude and condemns the action of the Pope.
In 1847 the Catholics among the Young Irelanders prepared a memorial to be presented to the annual assembly of the Bishops, defending themselves from the charge of infidelity. The Archbishop of Tuam declared he would retire if they were admitted. They were not admitted. To-day the memory of the Young Irelanders is held close to the heart of every intelligent Irish man or woman.
During the great Irish famine of 1845-6-7-8-9, the Irish people died in hundreds of thousands of hunger, whilst there was food enough in the country to feed three times the population. When the starving peasantry was called upon to refuse to pay rent to idle landlords, and to rise in revolt against the system which was murdering them, the clergy commanded them to pay their rents, instructed them that they would lose their immortal souls should they refuse to do so, and threw all the weight of their position against the revolutionary movement for the freedom of Ireland. Mr. A. M. Sullivan, an extremely ardent Catholic, writing in New Ireland, says of this attitude of the clergy during that crisis that, Their antagonism was fatal to the movementmore surely and infallibly fatal to it than all the powers of the British Crown.
The Irish revolutionary movement known popularly as the Fenian Brotherhood was denounced by all the Catholic Hierarchy and most of the clergy, Bishop Moriarty of County Kerry saying that Hell was not hot enough nor eternity long enough to punish such miscreants. The Fenians were represented as being enemies of religion and of morality, yet the
p.380three representatives of their cause who died upon the scaffold died with a prayer upon their lips, and Irish men and women the world over to-day make the anniversary of their martyrdom the occasion for a glorification and endorsement of the principles for which they dieda glorification and endorsement in which many of our clergymen participate.
In January, 1871, the Catholic Bishop of Derry denounced the Home Rule movement of Isaac Butt. To-day priests and people agree that the movement led by Isaac Butt was the mildest, most inoffensive movement ever known in Ireland.
The Irish Land League, which averted in 1879 a repetition of the famine horrors of 1847, which broke the back of Irish landlordism, and abolished the worst evils of British rule, was denounced by Archbishop M'Cabe in September, 1879, October, 1880 and October, 1881.
In 1882 the Ladies' Land League, an association of Irish ladies organised for the patriotic and benevolent purpose of raising funds for the relief of distress, of inquiring into cases of eviction, and affording relief to evicted tenants, was denounced by Archbishop M'Cabe as immodest and wicked. After this attack upon the character of patriotic Irish womanhood, Archbishop M'Cabe was created a Cardinal.
On 11th May, 1883, in the midst of the fight of the Irish peasantry to save themselves from landlord tyranny, his Holiness the Pope issued a Rescript condemning disaffection to the English Government, and also condemning the testimonial to Charles Stewart Parnell. The Irish people answered by more than doubling the subscription to the testimonial. The leader of that fight of the Irish against their ancient tyrants was Michael Davitt, to whose efforts much of the comparative security of peasant life in Ireland is due. Davitt was denied an audience by the Pope, but at his death priests and people alike united to do tribute to his character and genius.
In 1883 Dr. M'Glynn, a Catholic priest in America, was
p.381invited to deliver a lecture for the purpose of raising funds to save from starvation the starving people of the West of Ireland. The Vatican sent a telegram to Cardinal M'Closkey ordering him to suspend this priest M'Glynn for preaching in favour of the Irish revolution. The telegram was signed by Cardinal Simeoni. Afterwards Father M'Glynn was subjected to the sentence of complete excommunication for preaching revolutionary doctrines upon the land question, but after some years the Vatican acknowledged its error, and revoked the sentence without requiring the victim to change his principles.
In all the examples covered by this brief and very incomplete retrospective glance into history the instances of the reformer and revolutionists have been right, the political theories of the Vatican and the clergy unquestionably wrong. The verdict of history as unquestionably endorses the former as it condemns the latter. And intelligent Catholics everywhere accept that verdict. In so far as true religion has triumphed in the hearts of men, it has triumphed in spite of, not because of, the political activities of the priesthood. That political activity in the past, like the clerical opposition to Socialism at present, was and is an attempt to serve God and Mammonan attempt to combine the service of Him who in His humbleness rode upon an ass, with the service of those who rode roughshod over the hearts and souls and hopes of suffering humanity.
The capitalist class rose upon the ruins of feudal Catholicism; in the countries where it gained power its first act was to decree the confiscation of the estates of the Church. Yet to-day that robber class, conceived in sin and begotten in iniquity, asks the Church to defend it, and from the Vatican downwards the clergy respond to the call. Just as the British Government in Ireland on 21st January, 1623, published a royal proclamation banishing all priests from Ireland, and in 1795 established a College at Maynooth for the education of priests, and found the latter course safer for British rule than the former, so the
p.382capitalist class has also learned its lesson and in the hour of danger enlists as its lieutenants and champions the priesthood it persecuted and despised in the hour of its strength. Can we not imagine some cynical supporter of the capitalist class addressing it to-day as the great Catholic orator, Richard Lalor Shiel, addressed the British Government on the occasion of the Maynooth Grant of 1845, and saying in his words:
You are taking a step in the right direction. You must not take the Catholic clergy into your pay, but you can take the Catholic clergy under your care. . .. Are not lectures at Maynooth cheaper than State prosecutions? Are not professors less costly than Crown Solicitors? Is not a large standing army and a great constabulary force more expensive than the moral police with which by the priesthood of Ireland you can be thriftily and efficaciously supplied?
. Encyclical on Labour by Pope Leo XIII, 1891.
It is not to be wondered at that the spirit of restless revolt which has gained such predominating influence over the nations of the world should have passed beyond the arena of politics to assert itself in the domain of practical economy. The causes likely to create a conflict are unmistakable. They are the marvellous discoveries of science, the colossal development of industry, the changed relations between workmen and masters, the enormous wealth of the few and the abject misery of the many, the more defiant self-reliance and the more scientific organisation of the workers, and finally a widespread depravity in moral principle and practice. The momentous seriousness of the coming crisis fills every thoughtful mind with anxiety and dread. Wise men discuss it; practical men propose schemes; platforms, Parliaments, clubs, kings, all think and talk of it. Nor is there any subject which so completely engrosses the attention of the world
In our analysis of the discourses against Socialism which formed the burden of the Lenten Lectures of Father Kane, S.J., we propose to cite at all times the text we are criticising, and we regret it is not practicable within our space to quote in full the entire series of lectures, and can only trust that our readers before making up their minds upon the question will procure a verbatim report of these discourses in order that they may satisfy themselves upon the correctness of our quotations. As far as it is possible, without destroying the unity of our argument, we shall follow the plan of the lecture itself, and attempt to answer each objection as it was formulated. But when an objection is merely stated, and no attempt made to follow it by a reasoned argument sustaining the objection we shall not waste our readers' time or our own by wandering off in an attempt to answer. One point stated by our reverend opponent, and then immediately forgotten or systematically ignored, requires to be restated here as the veritable anchor from which the argument should not be allowed to drift. Had our opponent clung to that anchor it would not have been possible for him to introduce so much extraneous matter, so much senseless speculation and foolish slander as he did introduce in the course of his long-drawn-out criticism. That point, as stated by Father Kane, is:
Once for all we must understand a Socialist to be that man, and only that man, who holds the essential principle of Socialism, i.e. that all wealth-producing power, and all that pertains to it, belongs to the ownership and control of the State.
Thus, at the outset of his lectures, in his first discourse, the reverend gentleman makes it clear that Socialists are bound as Socialists only to the acceptance of one great principlethe ownership and control of the wealth-producing power by the State, and that, therefore, totally antagonistic interpretations of the Bible or of prophecy and revelation, theories of marriage, and of history, may be held by Socialists without in the slightest degree interfering with their activities as such, or with their
p.384proper classification as supporters of Socialist doctrine. If this great central truth had been made as clear as its importance justifies, and as firmly adhered to by our opponent as the Socialists themselves adhere to it, then it would not be necessary for the present writer to remind our critics of those uncomfortable facts in Irish history to which we have referred in our introduction, nor to those other facts in universal history we shall be forced to cite ere our present survey is finished.
Says our critic:
We now come to examine its principles. One fundamental principle of Socialism is that labour alone is the cause of value, and that labour alone can give any title to ownership. This was first formulated by Saint Simon, and is generally adopted by Socialists. This principle is false. It is founded on an incomplete explanation of the origin of value. We will put it to the test later on. At present we need only remark that a thing may be of real use and therefore of real value to a man who has a right to use it, even independently of any labour spent upon it. Fruit in a forest would have real value for a hungry man, even though no human labour had been given to its growing. Another principle, one invented by Karl Marx, is what he calls the materialistic conception of history. It is an application of the wild philosophic dreams of the German, Hegel; it means, in plain English, that the economic or, broadly speaking, the trade conditions existing in the world determine the way in which the production of wealth must work out. Now, this working out of production determines what men's social, ethical, and religious opinions shall be. But the economic conditions are always in a state of evolution, and thus, after a time, they come into collision with the previous social, ethical and religious state of things. But these latter do not die without a struggle, and consequently re-act, and limit to some extent the influence of the material evolution which is going on. I have given this principle as fully as I can in a short
p.385space. It assumes that everything in the world depends absolutely and exclusively upon the mere action of mere material causes. It is a principle the only proof of which is in the begging of the question, in supposing that there is no God, no soul, no free will, nothing but mud and the forces of mud.
We are indebted to our critic for his statement of the importance of this doctrine of the materialistic conception of history, although we are amused at his characterisation of the doctrine itself. In the beginning of his description, ever mindful of the necessity of prejudicing his hearers, he describes it as an application of the wild philosophic dreams of Hegel; in the middle it is stated that the doctrine rejects dreams as a foundation of religious belief and bases our ideas of religion upon the impression derived from material surroundings, and in a final sentence, so far from it being dreams, it is nothing but mud and the forces of mud.
Let us examine briefly the true context of this doctrine. While remembering that there are many good Socialists who do not hold it, and that a belief in it is not an essential to Socialism, it is still accepted as the most reasonable explanation of history by the leading Socialists of this world. It teaches that the ideas of men are derived from their material surroundings, and that the forces which made and make for historical changes and human progress had and have their roots in the development of the tools men have used in their struggle for existence, using the words tools in its broadest possible sense to include all the social forces of wealth-production. It teaches that since the break-up of common ownership and the clan community all human history has turned around the struggle of contending classes in societyone class striving to retain possession, first of the persons of the other class and hold them as chattel-slaves, and then of the tools of the other class and hold them as wage-slaves; that all the politics of the world resolved themselves in the last analysis into a struggle for the
p.386possession of that portion of the fruits of labour which labour creates, but does not enjoy, i.e. rent, interest, profit. Here let us say that no Socialist claims for Marx the discovery or original formulation of the doctrine of the materialistic conception of historyindeed, the brilliant Irish scholastic, Duns Scotus, taught it in the Middle Ages; but that more precise formulation of the guiding forces of history which relate to the influence of economic factors, and which we call economic determinism, has indeed Marx as its clearest expositor, although the Irish economist, William Thompson of County Cork, in 1826, had pointed it out before Marx was out of swaddling clothes.
On the first point, viz., the influence of our material surroundings upon our mental processes and conceptions, a few words should be sufficient to establish its substantial truth in the minds of all those who do not fear the light.
Down on the western coast of Ireland the fishermen use, or did until quite recently, as their sole means of sea-going, a little boat made simply of a framework covered with animal hides or tarpaulin, and known as a coracle. At one time in the history of the world such boats represented the sole means of ocean travel. Now, is it not as plain as that two and two make four that the outlook upon life, the conceptions of Man's relation to nature, the theories of international relations, of life which characterise the age of the Lusitania, the flying machine, and the wireless message, could not possibly have been held by even the wisest men of the age of the coracle. The brains of men were as able then and as subtle in their conceptions as they are to-day, in fact the philosophers of ancient Asia have never been surpassed and seldom equalled in brain power in the modern world; but the most subtle, acute and powerful mind of the ancient world could not even understand the terms of the social, political, or moral problems which confront us to-day, and are intelligently understood by the average day
p.387labourer. We are confronted with a salient instance of this in Holy Scripture. We read the inspired revelation of prophets, judges, and saints giving the world instructions for its future guidance; we read of commands to go forth and convey the gospel to the heathen; but nowhere do we read that those inspired men knew or spoke of a continent beyond the Atlantic in which immortal souls were sitting in darkness, if souls can be said to sit. The wise men of the ancient world, the inspired men of the Holy Land, the brilliant philosophers and scholastics of mediaeval Europe, were all limited by their material surroundings, could only think in terms of the world with which they were acquainted, and their ideas of what was moral or immoral were fashioned for them by the social system in which they lived. Slavery is held to-day to be immoral, and no chattel slaveowner would be given absolution; but when Constantine the Great accepted the Christian religion the Pope of the period received him with acclamation, and no one suggested to him the need of surrendering his slaves, of which he held thousands. Queen Elizabeth of England, Good Queen Bess, engaged in slave trading and made a good profit in the venture; but no Catholic historian or pamphleteer of the period ever attacked her for that offence, although attacks for other causes were made in plenty. How is it that the point of view as to the morality of slavery has changed? It cannot be that religion is changed, for we are told that religion is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. If it is not because it has been discovered that it is cheaper to hire men and discharge them when the job is done, than it was to buy men and be compelled to feed them all the time, working or idle, sick or well, for what reason has the change in our conceptions come? Stated brutally, the fact is that slavery is immoral because it is dearer than wage labour. And so with all our other intellectual processes. They change with the change in our environment, particularly our economic or social environment.
A negro slave in the Southern States of America was told by his owner to go up and fasten the shingles on the top of the roof of his master's dwelling. Boss, said he to the slaveowner, if I go up there and fall down and get killed you will lose that 500 dollars you paid for me; but if you send up that Irish labourer and he falls down and breaks his neck you won't even have to bury him, and can get another labourer to-morrow for two dollars a day. The Irish labourer was sent up. Moral: Slavery is immoral because slaves cost too much.
As man has progressed in his conquest of the secrets of Nature, he has been compelled to accept as eminently natural that from which his forefathers shrank as a manifestation of the power of the supernatural; as the progress of commerce has taken wealth, and the power that goes with wealth, out of the exclusive ownership of kings and put it in the possession of capitalists and merchants, political power has acquired a new basis, and diplomatic relations, from being the expression of the lust for family aggrandisement, have become the servants of the need for new markets and greater profitskings wait in the ante-chambers of usurers like Rothschild and Baring to get their consent for war or peace; Popes have for hundreds of years excommunicated those who put their money out at usury and have denied them Christian burial, but now a Pierpont Morgan, as financier of the Vatican, lends out at interest the treasures of the Popes. And man, caught in the grasp of the changing economic conditions, changes his intellectual conceptions to meet his changed environment. The world moves even although men stand still, and not the least of the changes have been those of the ghostly fathers of the Church towards the world and its problems. Like the girl to the kisses of her sweetheart, the Church has ever to the blandishments of the world
- Swearing she would ne'er consent, consented.
Our critic proceeds:
The third principle of Socialism is the theory of Karl Marx, by which he tries to prove that all capital is robbery. He calls it the theory of Surplus Value. Value is the worth of a thing. Now, the worth of a thing may be in that it satisfies some need, as a piece of bread or a blanket; or the worth of a thing may be in that you can barter it for something else, as if you have more bread than you want, but have not a blanket, you may give some of your bread to a man who has no bread but can spare a blanket. The first kind of value is use value, or own worth. The second kind of value is exchange value, or market worth. Instead of mere direct barter, money is used in civilized nations as an equivalent and standard for exchange value. Now, Karl Marx asserts that exchange value, i.e. the worth of a thing as it may be bought or sold, arises only from the labour spent on it. He goes on to say that a workman only gets his wages according to the market value of his labourthat is to say, he is only paid for his time and toilwhereas the value of his labour, i.e. the worth which results from his labour, may be far in excess of the wages which he gets. Marx calls this value or worth which results from labour over and above the wages of labour, which is equivalent to the labourer's support, Marx calls this overworth surplus value. He states that while it goes to the pocket of the employer, it is really the property of the workman, because it is the result of his labour. This surplus value is really capital, and is used by the employer to create more surplus valuethat is to say, more capital. Let me put this in another way: while the value of a thing for a man's own use may depend on the thing itself, the value of a thing in the market arises only from the labour spent on it. But the labour spent on it may also have its market value in winning its wage, or it may also have its use value in producing greater value than its wage. But this use value arises from labour as well as the exchange value, and, therefore,
p.390belongs to the workman and not to the employer. All this ingenious and intricate system rests absolutely upon the one assumption that exchange value depends only on the labour spent. Now, this assumption is quite false and quite groundless. The worth of a thing in the market will depend first of all upon the nature of the thing's own worth for use. Secondly, upon the demand and other outside circumstances. And thirdly, upon the labour spent. A bottle of good wine will have more exchange value than a bottle of bad wine, even though it may not have cost more labour. A pair of boots carved out of wood with long and careful toil will fetch less in the market than a simple pair of brogues. The principle that labour alone is the source of value and the only title to ownership was adopted by the American Socialist platform in 1904, with the recommendation that the workmen of the world should gradually seize on all capital.
Now, as to the Socialist system. In the official declaration of the English Socialists we readThe object of Socialism is the establishment of a system of society, based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by, and in the interest of, the whole community.
There is little to refute here that will not have readily occurred to the mind of the intelligent reader. In fact, the haste with which Father Kane left this branch of the subject evinced his knowledge of its dangerous nature. The exposition of the true nature of capital, viz., that it is stored-up, unpaid labour, forms the very basis of the Socialist criticism of modern society, and its method of wealth production; it is the fundamental idea of modern Marxist Socialism, and yet in a discourse covering four columns of small type in the Irish Catholic (what a misnomer!) the full criticism of this really fundamental position takes up only twelve lines. And such a criticism!
A bottle of good wine will have more exchange value
p.391than a bottle of bad wine, even though it may not have cost more labour. Does the reverend father not know that if good wine can be produced as cheaply as bad wine, and in as great quantity, then good wine will come down to the same price as the inferior article? And if good wine could be produced as cheaply as porter it would be sold at the same price as porter is nowheavenly thought! It is the labour embodied in the respective articles, including the labour of keeping in storage, paying rental for vaults, etc., that determines their exchange value. Wine kept in vaults for years commands higher prices than new wine, but could chemists give new wine the same flavour as is possessed by stored-up wine, then the new would bring down the price of the old to a price governed by the amount of labour embodied in the new.
A pair of boots carved out of wood with long and careful labour will fetch less in the market than a simple pair of brogues. How illuminating! But what governs the price of the brogues? Why, the amount of labour socially necessary to produce them. The amount of labour necessary to produce an article under average social conditions governs its exchange value. Boots carved out of wood with long and careful labour are not produced under average social conditions; in discussing the economic question we discuss governing conditions, not exceptions. Hence the exchange value of boots such as those instanced by Father Kane is as problematical as the moral value of his hair-splitting. If you do not believe labour cost governs the exchange value of a commodity, ask a Dublin master builder to tell you what factors he takes into account when he is asked to give an estimate for building an altar. If he is a Catholic he will cast up his estimate with the same items as if he were a Protestantthat is to say, he will count the cost of labour, including the cost of labour embodied in the raw material, and he will base his estimate upon that cost. Ask any manufacturer, whether employing two men or two
p.392thousand, how he determines the price at which he can sell an article, and he will tell you that the cost of labour embodied in it settles that question for the market and for him. Yet it is this simple truth that Father Kane and such enemies of Socialism deny. Altars, beads, cassocks, shoes, buildings, ploughs, booksall articles upon the market except a politician's consciencehave their exchange value, determined in like mannerby their labour cost.
The learned gentleman winds up his lecture with a sneer at Socialist proposals, and an unwilling admission of the terrible logic of our position in future politics. He says:
The means and method of the Socialist have now to be considered. Here we have to consider their destructive and constructive methodswhat and how they are to knock down, what and how they are to build up. Here, however, we meet with an endless difference of Socialist opinions. As to the knocking down process, some Socialists are very enterprising, and appear to quite fall in with the anarchist programme of the dagger, the firebrand and the bomb. Others prefer to work through parliament by legal voting and by legal measures. Most of them appear from their speeches and writings to be very little troubled with scruples as to the right or wrong of means to be employed. Some fashionable and aesthetic dabblers in Socialism, amongst whom are men of culture, education and wealthas, for instance, are some prominent members of the Fabian Societywould work very quietly and very gently; they would even contemplate offering some compensation to the owners whose property they stole, but more probably when the real crash came they would gracefully retire with their culture, their education and their money. A man who makes £25,000 a year by amusing the public is not the sort of man who is likely, when the time comes, to willingly give up all that he owns for the honour of sweeping a street crossing as a Socialist. That is only the superficial
p.393nonsense which some people pass off as Socialism. Come to the practical point. The way in which Karl Marx explains how all capital is to be confiscated is as follows. On the one hand, that fierce competition which is the war of the financial world will result in the survival of a very few and very grasping capitalists. On the other hand, the army of labour will be more enlightened, better organised, and more scientifically led. It is easy to see what the enormous multitude of the proletariatwith force, votes and law on their sidecan do with the few fat but helpless millionaires whose money is wanted. In any case the Socialist intends by one means or another to take private property from all those who have any. As to the constructive methods of the Socialist, we have dreams, visions, castles in the air, fairy tales in which there is much that is amusing, some things that are very sentimental, and some things that are very foul, but in all of them one element is lackingcommon sense.
It is surely not necessary to point out that according to the Socialist doctrine the capitalist class are themselves doing much of the constructive work; they, pushed by their economic necessities, concentrate industries, eliminate useless labour and abolish useless plants, and prepare industry for its handling by officials elected by the workers therein. On the other hand, the army of labour, more enlightened, better organised and more scientifically led, banded into industrial unions patterned after the industry in which they are employed, will have prepared the workers to take possession of the productive and distributive forces on the day the incapable capitalist class are forced to surrender to a proletariat with force, votes, and law on their side.
The Rights of Man is a doctrine popularised by the bourgeois (capitalist) philosophers of the eighteenth century, and has no
p.394place in Socialist literature. Although Father Kane is kind enough to credit Socialism with the doctrine, it is in reality the child of that capitalist class he is defending, and was first used by them as a weapon in their fight for power against the kings and hierarchy of France. Now that capitalism has attained to power and made common cause with its old enemies, royalty and hierarchy, it would fain disavow much of the teaching of its earlier days, and hence listens complacently whilst Father Kane attacks the Rights of Man, and sneers at the mob, as he elegantly terms the common people for whom his Master died upon the Cross. We do not propose to follow the reverend gentlemen in all his excursions away from the subject, but shall content ourselves with citing and refuting those passages which have a real and permanent bearing upon the question at issue.
Man's right to live is also the right to take the means wherewith to live. Hence he can make use of such material means as are necessary in order that he should live. But he cannot make use of certain necessary means if others may use them also. Hence his right to use these means is at the same time a right to exclude others from their use. If a man has a right to eat a definite piece of bread, he has a right that no one else shall eat it. We will set this truth in another light. The right of private ownership may be considered either in the abstract, or as it is realised in concrete form. That right in the abstract means that by the very law of nature there is inherent in man a right to take hold of and apply for his own support those material means of livelihood which are not already in the right possession of another man. What those particular means are is not decided in the concrete by Nature's law. Nature gives the right to acquire, and by acquiring to own. But some partial fact is required in order to apply that abstract law to a concrete thing. The fact is naturally the occupying
p.395or taking hold of, or entering into possession of, a thing, by which practical action the abstract law of Nature becomes realised in a concrete practical fact. With this, or upon this, follows another right of man, the right to own his labour and the right to what his labour does. Furthermore, this right to exclusive personal ownership is not restricted to the means of one's daily bread from day to day; it is a right to be secure against want, when the needed means may not be at hand. The man who has tilled a field through the winter and spring has a right to hold as his own the harvest which he has earned. Hence the right of ownership is by Nature's law not merely passing, but permanent; it does not come and go at haphazard; it is stable. Hear the teaching of Pope Leo XIII in his pontifical explanation of this point ( Encyclical on Labour):
The Socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, endeavour to destroy private property, and maintain that personal property should become the common property of all. They are emphatically unjust, because they would rob the lawful possessor. . .. If one man hires out to another his strength or his industry, he does this in order to receive in return the means of livelihood, with the intention of acquiring a real right, not merely to his wage, but also to the free disposal of it. Should he invest this wage in land it is only his wage in another form. . ..
It is precisely in this power of disposal that ownership consists, whether it be question of land or other property. Socialists. . .strike at the liberty of every wage-earner, for they deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages. Every man has, by the law of Nature, the right to possess property of his own. . ..
It must be within his right to own things, not merely for the use of the moment, not merely things that perish in their use, but such things whose usefulness is permanent and stable. . .. Man is prior to the state, and he holds his natural rights prior to any right of the State. . ..
When man spends the keenness of his mind and the strength of his body in winning the fruits of Nature, he thereby makes his own that spot of Nature's field which he tills, that spot on which he sets the seal of his own personality. It cannot but be just that that spot should be his own, free from outside intrusion.
If one of the boys at the National Schools could not reason more logically than that he would remain in the dunce's seat all his schooldays. Imagine a priest who defends landlordism as Father Kane and the Pope does saying, The man who has tilled a field through the winter and spring has a right to hold as his own the harvest which he has earned, and imagining that he is putting forward an argument against Socialism. Socialists do not propose to interfere with any man's right to hold what he has earned; but they do emphatically insist that such a man, peasant or worker, shall not be compelled to give up the greater part, or any, of what he has earned, to an idle class whose members toil not, neither do they spin, but who have attained their hold upon the nation's property by ruthless force, spoliation and fraud.
Man's right to live is also the right to take the means wherewith to live.
His right to use these means is at the same time a right to exclude others from their use.
That is to say,
that a man has the right to take the means wherewith to live, and he has
also the right to prevent other men taking the means wherewith to live.
The one right cancels the other. When the supply of a thing is limited,
and that thing is necessary, absolutely necessary, to existence, as is
land, water, and the means of producing wealth, does it not follow that
to allow those things to be made private property enable the owners of
them to deny Man the right to live, except he agrees to surrender
the greater portion of the fruits of his toil to the owners?
Capitalism and Landlordism are based upon
p.397the denial to Man of his right to live except as a dependent upon Capitalists and Landlords; they exist by perpetually confiscating the property which the worker has in the fruits of his toil, and establish property for the capitalist by denying it to the labourer. Why talk about the right to live under capitalism? If a man had all the patriotism of a Robert Emmet or a George Washington, if he had all the genius of a Goldsmith or a Mangan, if he had all the religion of a St. Simeon Stylites or a St. Francis d'Assisi, if he belongs to the working class he has no effective right to live in this world unless a capitalist can see his way to make a profit out of him. Translated into actual practice these natural rights of which the reverend gentleman discoursed so eloquently mean for 23,000 families in Dublin the right to live in one room per familyliving, sleeping, eating and drinking and dying in the narrow compass of the four walls of one room.
When man spends the keenness of his mind and the strength of his body in winning the fruits of Nature he thereby makes his own that spot of Nature's field which he tills, so says his Holiness, as quoted by Father Kane. It follows then that the Irish peasantry, like the peasantry of Europe in general, are and were the real owners of the soil, and that the feudal aristocracy, the landlord class, whose proudest boast it was, and is, that they have never soiled their hands by labour, are and were thieves exacting by force tribute from the lawful owners of the soil. Yet those thieves have ever been supported by the hierarchy in their possession of property against the peasants who had made it their own by spending the keenness of their mind and the strength of their body in tilling it.
The working class of the world, by their keenness of mind and their strength of body, have made everything in the world their ownits land, its factories, its ships, its railroads, its houses, everything on earth and sea has been consecrated
p.398by the labour of the working class, and therefore belongs to that class; and as factories, ships, railroads and buildings cannot be divided up in pieces, they must be owned in common. If land belongs to those who have tilled it, by what means, other than common ownership, shall we re-establish the right of that seventy-five per cent. of the Irish people who, according to Mulhall, were evicted between 1837 and 1887, or of those agricultural labourers who toil upon the land but own no one foot of it, or of all those labourers in towns and cities whose forefathers have been hunted like wild beasts from the land they had made their own, by the keenness of mind and strength of body applied to labour, and who are now compelled to herd in towns, dependent upon the greed of capitalists for the chance to exist?
Father Kane, in this portion of his address, came to curse Socialism, but his arguments serve to bless it.
Let me bring from another worldthe old Pagan worldthe greatest philosopher of pure reason, as witness to the truth of the same principle. Aristotle wrote: Socialism wears a goodly face and affects an air of philanthropy. The moment it speaks it is eagerly listened to. It speaks of a marvellous love that shall grow out from it between man and man. This impression is emphasised when the speaker rails against the shortcomings of existing institutions, giving as the reason for all our shortcomings the fact that we are not Socialists. These evils of human life are not, however, owing to the absence of Socialism, but to the always inevitable presence of human frailty.
This is a puzzle. The word Socialism, and the Socialist principles, were unheard of until the beginning of the nineteenth century; and Aristotle flourished in the year 384 B.C. Hence to quote Aristotle as writing about Socialism is like saying that Owen Roe O'Neill sent a telegram to the Catholic Confederation at Kilkenny in 1647, or that George Washington
p.399crossed the Delaware in a flying machine. It is an absurd anachronism. For hundreds of years the works of Aristotle were used to combat Christianity, principally by the Arabians in the Middle Ages, and now the same works are used by a Christian priest to combat Socialism. Truly misfortune makes strange bedfellows.
Father Kane says:
We will go back to the old Greek philosopher, Aristotle, the philosopher compared to whom our Kant, Hegel, Comte, Hobbes and Locke are merely dreaming boys or blundering students. Aristotle founded his philosophy on fact, and worked it out through common sense. Our modern philosophers, with marvellous talent, evolve their principles out of their own inner consciousness, and ground their conclusions on their own mental mood.
In a criticism of Draper's Conflict between Religion and Science, published by the Catholic Truth Society as the report of a lecture delivered in Cork and Limerick by the Rev. Dr. O'Riordan, the author says, Owing to the use which the Arabians had made of the name of Aristotle, his name had become a word of offence to Christians, so much so that even Roger Bacon said that his works should be burnt; and further on, St. Thomas (Aquinas) took up the philosophy of Aristotle and, purifying it of its Pagan errors, he established Christian truth out of the reasoning of the Greek philosopher. So that, according to Father Kane, Aristotle founded his philosophy on fact, and worked it out through common sense, and according to Dr. O'Riordan this philosophy of fact and common sense was subversive of Christianity until it was purified of its Pagan errors. Well, we Socialists, while second to none in our admiration for the encyclopaedic knowledge of Aristotle, will carry the purifying process begun by St. Thomas Aquinas a step further. We will purify Aristotle's philosophy of the teaching he derived from the slave-world in which he lived,
p.400and make it Socialistic. Let us remind Father Kane that Aristotle's mind was so completely dominated by his economic environment that he was unable to conceive of a world in which there would be no chattel slaves, and so declared that slaves must always exist. A prophecy now falsified for hundreds of years.
We do not propose to follow the reverend gentleman in his wonderful attempt to discredit the Marxist position on value; that has been dealt with sufficiently already in the passage upon value in exchange, in the criticism of the first discourse, and the attempt to elaborate his position by our opponent in his second discourse is about as enlightening as an attempt to square the circle generally is. It is summed up in his declaration that Labour alone cannot create use value, therefore Labour alone cannot constitute exchange value. Which is equivalent to saying that appetite and desire are the real arbiters in civilised life and under normal conditions of the basis on which articles exchange among human beings. The appetite and desire of human beings for water and for bicycles will illustrate to the simplest mind the absurdity of our opponents' position. Water under normal conditions in a modern community will not fetch a half-penny the bucketful, but bicycles retail easily at £7 and £8 apiece. Yet our desire and appetite for water is based upon a human necessity so imperative that we would die without its satisfaction, but countless millions go through life without even straddling a bicycle. What makes so cheap the article without which we would die? The small amount of labour necessary to convey it from the mountains to our doors, of course. And what makes so costly the article that is not a necessity at all? The comparatively great amount of labour embodied in its production, of course. Then, what fixes the exchange value of an article in the normal, modern market? Its cost in labour, certainly.
It is contrary to Divine Law even to covet our neighbour's field. The Church of Christ has always approved, both in
p.401principle and in practice, of private and personal property. It is utterly and irreconcilably against the teaching of the Catholic Church to deny man's right to hold personal property, even independently of the sanction of the State, or to brand such ownership as theft. Pope Leo XIII wrote:
Christian democracy, by the very fact that it is Christian, must be based upon the principles of Divine Faith in its endeavours for the betterment of the masses. Hence to Christian democracy justice is sacred. It must maintain that the right of acquiring and possessing property cannot be gainsaid, and it must safeguard the various distinctions and degrees which are indispensable in every well-ordered commonwealth. It is clear, therefore, that there is nothing common between Social and Christian democracy. They differ from each other as much as the sect of Socialism differs from the Church of Christ.
Dear, oh dear! What heretics we must be! And yet we are in good company. Saints and Pontiffs of the Catholic Church have gone before us on this road, and the wildest sayings of modern Socialist agitators are soft and conservative beside some of the doctrines which ere now have been put forth as sound Catholic teachings. Read:
The use of all things that are found in this world ought to be common to all men. Only the most manifest iniquity makes one say to the other, This belongs to me, that to you. Hence the origin of contention among men.St. Clement.
What thing do you call yours? What thing are you able to say is yours? From whom have you received it? You speak and act like one who upon an occasion going early to the theatre, and possessing himself without obstacle of the seats destined for the remainder of the public, pretends to oppose their entrance in due time, and to prohibit them seating themselves, arrogating to his own sole use property that is really destined to common use. And it is precisely in this manner act the rich.St. Basil the Great.
Therefore if one wishes to make himself the master of every wealth, to possess it and to exclude his brothers even to the third or fourth part (generation), such a wretch is no more a brother but an inhuman tyrant, a cruel barbarian, or rather a ferocious beast of which the mouth is always open to devour for his personal use the food of the other companions.St. Gregory. Nic.
Nature furnishes its wealth to all men in common. God beneficently has created all things that their enjoyment be common to all living beings, and that the earth become the common possession of all. It is Nature itself that has given birth to the right of the community, whilst it is only unjust usurpation that has created the right of private poverty.St. Ambrose.
The earth of which they are born is common to all, and therefore the fruit that the earth brings forth belongs without distinction to all.St. Gregory the Great.
The rich man is a thief.St. Chrysostom.
Our reverend critic proceeds:
To enchain men with fetters of equality would be to degrade the wise, the good, the energetic, the noble amongst them, to the depths of the men who are nearest to the brute. Freedom must have fair play. Man must be free to make and mould his own life according to his own talent, his own opportunity, his own energy, his own ambition, his own merit, and his own will, according to the circumstances in which Providence has placed him. But you say is it not a pity that, owing to the mere accident of birth, a brainless and worthless creature should wear a ducal crown, while a man of mind and character is sweeping the crossing of a street? Yes, to merely human view it is a pity, just as it is a pity that one girl should be born beautiful while another girl is born ugly; just as it is a pity that one man should be born weak-minded and weak-kneed while another man is born with a treasure-trove of talent and with a golden mine of sterling character; just as
p.403it is a pity that one more man, by the accident of birth, is born to be himself. There is accident all round, if you wish to call it accident. No man deserves what he gets with him when he is born into the world, and no man has deserved anything different. What you may, perhaps, call accident I call Providence. We do not choose our own lot; it is given to us. It is our duty to make the best we can of it.
The first part of this is clap-trap: the second is rank blasphemy. The clap-trap consists in the pretence that the Socialist idea of equality involves the idea that men should be reduced to one moral or intellectual level. Trade unionists are generally and rightfully in favour of a minimum wagea wage below which no worker shall be depressed. Unscrupulous employers and ignorant journalists and politicians dealing with this demand strive to make the thoughtless believe that a minimum wage will prevent higher wages being paid for extra skill. In other words, they speak as if it were a maximum wage that was demanded. So with the Socialist idea of equality. Like the trade unionist our demand is for a level below which no man shall be driven, a common basis of equality of opportunity to all. That whatever promotion, distinction, reward or honour be given to or attained by a man shall not confer upon him the right to exploit, to degrade, to dominate, to rob or humiliate his fellows. And our hope and belief is that in the future, sane men and women will find as much delight in, strive as eagerly for, the honour of serving their fellows as they do now for the privilege of plundering them. Men and women are at all times zealous for honour, for the esteem of their fellows; and when the hope of plunder is removed out of the field of human possibility those specially gifted ones who now exhaust their genius in an effort to rule, will as vehemently exert themselves to win the honour accorded to those who serve.
The second part is, we repeat, rankly blasphemous. The reverend gentleman, unable to answer the obvious question
p.404he supposes, attempts to draw an analogy between what he would call the hand of God in shaping the faces, forms, minds and characters of His creatures, and the historical and social conditions which have created dukes and crossing-sweepers, brainless aristocrats and intelligent slum-dwellers, morally poisonous kings and Christian-minded hod-carriers, vile ladies idling in mansions and clean-souled women slaving over the washtub. The attempt is an insult to our intelligence. We, as individuals, are not personally responsible for our faces, forms or minds; these are the result of forces over which we had and have no control. But the gross injustices of our social system we are responsible for, in the degree in which we help or acquiesce in their perpetuation. In the degree in which we support them to-day we become participators in the crimes upon which they were built. And what were those crimes? Need we remind our readers of the origin of private property in Ireland? It had its root in the adulterous treason of an Irish chief; it was founded upon the betrayal of liberty, and enforced by the wholesale slaughter and enslavement of the Irish people. Must we remind our readers that if they seek for the origin of aristocratic property in Ireland they must seek for it not in the will of a beneficent Deity, as this bold blasphemer alleges, nor in titles won by honest labour on the soil, but in the records of English marauders in the stories of poisonings and treacheries told in the state papers of the English ruling class, in the light of the burning homes of Munster in the wake of the armies of Inchiquin,
in the despatches of the English nobleman who boasted to Elizabeth
[Footnote: Inchiquin was an Irish apostate in the service of the English. Taken as a hostage into England when a child he was reared up in hatred of the religion and people of his fathers. As an English general in the Irish rebellion of 1641 he became infamous for his cruelties and purposeless massacres; the march of his armies could always be traced by the fire and smoke from burning homes and villages.]
p.405that his army had left in Ulster nothing save carcases and ashes, in the piteous tale of the imprisoned jurors of Connaught
who refused to perjure themselves and yield up Irish tribe lands to greedy aristocratic thieves from England, or in the log of the emigrant ships, whose course across the Atlantic was marked by the floating corpses of hunted Irishmen, Irish women and Irish children.
[Footnote: The English Government under Charles I appointed a Commission to inquire into defective titles in Connaught. As all lands in Ireland under the ancient Celtic system were common property it followed that all Irish titles were defective under the feudal law of England. Much land fell into the hands of the English adventurers under this Commission, and when the Irish juries refused to be bribed or terrorised into returning verdicts to suit the Commissioners they were promptly imprisoned and their property confiscated.]
Or shall it be necessary to recall to our readers the grim fact that the origin of great estates in England is found in the court records, which tell us that in the reign of Good Queen Bess, 72,000 workers were hanged in the name of law and order, hanged as vagrants after they had been driven off the lands they had tilled; that during the peasant wars of Germany the nobility slaughtered so many poor peasants that one of the aristocracy eventually called a halt, saying, If we kill them all we shall have no one to live upon; that in Scotland 15,000 people were evicted off one estate in the nineteenth centurythe Sutherland clearances; that in fact in every European country the title deeds to aristocratic property have been written in the blood of the poor, and that the tree of capitalism has been watered with the tears of the toilers in every age and clime and country.
Next, wonder of wonders, our clerical friend becomes solicitous for a free press and free speech. He declares:
In Socialism there could be no healthy public opinion, no public opinion at all except that manufactured by officialdom
p.406or that artificially cultivated by the demagogues of the mob. There could be no free expression of free opinion. The press would be only the press of the officials. Printing machines, publishing firms, libraries, public halls, would be the exclusive property of the state. We do not indeed advocate utter licence for the press, but we do advocate its legitimate liberty. There would be no liberty of the press under Socialism; no liberty even of speech, for the monster machine of officialdom would grind out all oppositionfor the monster machine would be labelled, The Will of the People, and The Will of the People would be nothing more than the whim of the tyrant mob, the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all, because blindly led by blind leaders. Brave men fear no foe, and free men will brook no fetter. You will have thought, in your boyhood, with hot tears, of the deeds of heroes who fought and fell in defence of the freedom of their fatherland. That enthusiasm of your boyhood will have become toned down with maturer years in its outward expression, but mature years will have made it more strong and staunch for ever, more ready to break forth with all the energy of your life and with all the sacrifice of your death in defiance of slavery. You may have rough times to face; you may have rough paths to tread, you may have hard taskmasters to urge you toil, and hard paymasters to stint your wage; you may have hard circumstances to limit your life within a narrow field; but after all your life is your own, and your home is your own, and your wage is your own, and you are free. Freedom is your birthright. Even our dilapidated modern nations allow to a man his birthrightfreedom. You would fight for your birthright, freedom, against any man, against any nation, against the world; and if you could not live for your freedom, you would die for it. You would not sell your birthright, freedom, to Satan; and I do not think that you are likely to surrender your birthright, freedom, to the Socialist. Stand back! We are free men.
p.407Stand back, Socialist! God has given us the rights of man, to our own life, to our own property, to our own freedom. We will take our chance in the struggle of life. We may have a hard time or a good time, we may be born lucky or unlucky, but we are free men. Stand back, Socialist! God has given us our birthright, freedom, and, by the grace of God, we will hold to it in life and in death.
After you have done laughing at this hysterical outburst we will proceed to calmly discuss its central propositions. To take the latter part first, it is very amusing to hear a man, to whom a comfortable living is assured, assure us that we ought to tell the Socialist that we will take our chance in the struggle of life.
He speaks of our birthright, freedom, which is allowed us even by dilapidated modern nations, and that we ought not to surrender it to the Socialists. In Ireland 87 per cent. of the working class earn less than 20s. per week; in London a million of people, according to the non-Socialist investigator, Charles Booth, live below the poverty linenever getting enough to eat; in all civilisation, according to Huxley, the lot of the majority of the working class is less desirable than the lot of the mere savage; and this awful condition of the only class in society that is really indispensable is the result of the capitalist system, which mocks the workers with a theoretical freedom and an actual dependence. The freedom of the worker is freedom to sell himself into slavery to the class which controls his supply of food; he is free as the wayside traveller is free of clothes after highwaymen have robbed and stripped him. Says well the poet Shelley:
- What is Freedom? Ye can tell
That which slavery is too well,
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
- 'Tis to work, and have such pay,
As just keeps life, from day to day,
In your limbs as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell.
How can a person, or a class, be free when its means of life are in the grasp of another? How can the working class be free when the sole chance of existence of its individual members depends upon their ability to make a profit for others?
The argument about the freedom of the pressa strange argument from such a sourceis too absurd to need serious consideration. Truly, all means of printing will be the common property of all, and if any opposition party, any new philosophy, doctrine, science, or even hair-brained scheme has enough followers to pay society for the labour of printing its publications, society will have no more right nor desire to refuse the service than a government of the present day has to refuse the use of its libraries to the political enemies who desire to use those sources of knowledge to its undoing. It will be as possible to hire a printing machine from the community as it will be to hire a hall. Under Socialism the will of the people will be supreme, all officials will be elected from below and hold their position solely during good behaviour, and as the interests of private property, which according to St. Clement are the sole origin of contention among men, will no longer exist, there will be little use of law-making machinery, and no means whereby officialdom can corrupt the people.
This will be the rule of the people at last realised. But says Father Kane, at last showing the cloven foot, the will of the people would be nothing more than the whim of the tyrant mob, the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all, because blindly led by blind leaders. Spoken like a good Tory and staunch friend of despotism! What is the political and social record of the mob in history as against the record of the other classes? There
p.409was a time, stretching for more than a thousand years, when the mob was without power or influence, when the entire power of the governments of the world was concentrated in the hands of the kings, the nobles and the hierarchy. That was the blackest period in human history. It was the period during which human life was not regarded as being of as much value as the lives of hares and deer; it was the period when freedom of speech was unknown, when trial by jury was suppressed, when men and women were tortured to make them confess crimes before they were found guilty, when persons obnoxious to the ruling powers were arrested and kept in prison (often for a lifetime) without trial; and it was the period during which a vindictive legal code inflicted the death penalty for more than one hundred and fifty offenceswhen a boy was hung for stealing an apple, a farmer for killing a hare on the roadside. It was during this undisturbed reign of the kings, the nobles, and the hierarchy that religious persecutions flourished, when Protestants killed Catholics, Catholics slaughtered Protestants, and both hunted Jews, when man made in God's image murdered his fellow-man for daring to worship God in a way different from that of the majority; it was then that governments answered their critics by the torture, when racks and thumbscrews pulled apart the limbs of men and women, when political and religious opponents of the state had their naked feet and legs placed in tin boots of boiling oil, their heads crushed between the jaws of a vice, their bodies stretched across a wheel while their bones were broken by blows of an iron bar, water forced down their throats until their stomachs distended and burst, and when little children toiled in mine and factory for twelve, fourteen and sixteen hours per day. But at last, with the development of manufacturing, came the gathering together of the mob, and consequent knowledge of its numbers and power, and with the gathering together also came the possibility of acquiring education. Then the
p.410mob started upon its upward march to powera power only to be realised in the Socialist Republic. In the course of that upward march the mob has transformed and humanised the world. It has abolished religious persecution and imposed toleration upon the bigots of all creeds; it has established the value of human life, softened the horrors of war as a preliminary to abolishing it, compelled trial by jury, abolished the death penalty for all offences save one, and in some countries abolished it for all; and to-day it is fighting to keep the children from the factory and mine, and put them to school. The mob, the most blind and ruthless tyrant of all, with one sweep of its grimy, toil-worn hand, swept the stocks, the thumbscrew, the wheel, the boots of burning oil, the torturer's vice and the stake into the oblivion of history, and they who to-day would seek to view those arguments of kings, nobles, and ecclesiastics must seek them in the lumber room of the museum.
In this civilising, humanising work the mob had at all times to meet and master the hatred and opposition of kings and nobles; and there is not in history a record of any movement for abolishing torture, preventing war, establishing popular suffrage, or shortening the hours of labour led by the hierarchy. Against all this achievement of the mob its enemies have but one instance of abuse of powerthe French reign of terrorand they suppress the fact that this classic instance of mob fury lasted but eight months, whereas the cold-blooded cruelty of the ruling classes which provoked it had endured for a thousand years.
All hail, then, to the mob, the incarnation of progress!
The old pagan idea that the state is everything and owns everything, so as to leave the individual man without any right except such as is conceded to him by the statethat
p.411old pagan idea has been adopted by the socialist. That idea is distinctly contrary to natural law as well as to the law of Christ. That idea is absolutely antagonistic to our ideas of home. It would change our home into a mere lodging-house, where are fed and sheltered the submissive vassals of the State. Socialism has taken up that pagan idea and pushed it even further than the pagan. For the pagan left the father, home's master, and left the wife and child at home. Socialism would ruin the home firstly, because it would rob the father of the home, of his God-given right to be master in the citadel of his home; secondly, because it would banish home's queen from what ought to be her kingdom; it would break the marriage bond which alone can safeguard the innocence and the stability of the home; it would make the wife of the home practically a tenant at will; thirdly, because it would kidnap the child.
The intelligent reader will note that the reverend critic is entirely incapable of grasping the conception of a state in which the people should rule instead of being creatures of an irresponsible power, as the people were under the pagan powers of Rome, to whom he is referring. He says, It (Socialism) would change our home into a mere lodging-house where are fed and sheltered the submissive vassals of the state. Thus it is that he cannot clear his mind of the monarchical conception of the state; a state which should be a social instrument in the hands of its men and women, where state powers would be wielded as a means by the workers instead of being wielded as a repressive force against the workers is so strange an idea to him that he simply cannot understand what it signifies. The reader who understands this, and perceives the enormous gap in this clerical reasoning, will understand also that all the terrific bogies which our critics conjure up as a necessary result of the Socialist state areonly bogies.
This attempt to develop this theory of the state plunges him into a mass of contradictions. Read:
The first and most fundamental principle of ethics is that whereas amongst lesser creatures physical force or animal instinct impels each thing to act as is befitting its nature, to act in the actual circumstances, so as to achieve the right order of its kind and the right end of its existence, man, not flung forward by unreasoning power, but led by reason's light, contemplates the order of relations that are around him, and weighing their relative necessity or importance, acts so that his action shall be in keeping with his own nature and in harmony with the right conditions in which his life is cast. Now, right and duty are the moral aspects of these fact-relations, and have their moral force according to the deeper order and more fundamental necessity of these fact-relations which are the cause of their existence and the measure of their power. The reason for man's personal rights is in his actual existence. Hence, such rights are paramount above all. The reason of the family is in the insufficiency of man alone to secure the right development of human nature. The reason of civil society is in the insufficiency of the family alone to attain that fuller perfection of human nature which is the heritage of its birth, but which it can only reach through the help of many homesteads united into one common weal. Hence, civil society is only intended by nature to be the helper of the family, not its master; to be its safeguard, not its destroyer; to be in a right true sense its servant, but in no sense its owner. Hence, those Socialistic theories which would hand over the family and the individual to the supreme command of the state are false to reason and rebel against right. Rather it is the interest of the state itself to recognise that its welfare and its security rest upon the right, independence, and deep-rooted stability of the families of which it is the flower and the fruit.
A state that is tossed about in its social and political existence by the fluctuating tide of transient individual opinions, ambitions, actions, cannot have that healthy, hardy, deathless spirit which
p.413vivifies into the same life not merely the chance companions of a day, but the successive generations of a nation.
Surely here is a Daniel come to judgment! We had to read this passage over several times to satisfy ourselves that it was not a quotation from a Socialist writer, instead of what it purports to bea part of the discourse of the reverend gentleman himself. For it is the reasoning upon which is built that materialist interpretation of history the lecturer has so eloquently denounced. If the reader will turn to the first lecture he will see that the doctrine of Marx, as explained by Father Kane, teaches that the economic conditions in which man moves, governs or determines his conceptions of right and wrong, his social, ethical and religious opinions. Father Kane there denounced this doctrine in his most violent language. Now, in the part just quoted, he himself affirms the same doctrine. He says:
The first and most fundamental principle of ethics is that. . .man not flung forward by unreasoning power, but led by reason's light, contemplates the order of relations that are around him, and weighing their relative necessity or importance, acts so that his action shall be in keeping with his own right nature, and in harmony with the conditions in which his life is cast. Now, right and duty are the moral aspects of these fact-relations, and have their moral forces according to the deeper order and more fundamental necessity of those fact-relations which are the cause of their existence and the measure of their power.
If this is not an affirmation of the Socialist doctrine that our conceptions of right and wrong, and the political and governmental systems built upon them, have the cause of their existence and the measure of their power in the fact-relation of man and his fellow-man and not in any divine or philosophical system of mere thought, then language fails to convey any meaning. The remainder of the quotation quite as effectually cuts the ground from under the lecturer's
p.414own feet. Observe the last sentence: A state that is tossed about in its social and political existence by the fluctuating tide of transient individual opinions, ambitions, actions, cannot have that healthy, hardy, deathless spirit which vivifies into the same life not merely the chance companions of a day, but the successive generations of a nation. Is not this a lifelike picture of the capitalist state and its endeavour to build a system of society which seeks a healthy national existence and social conscience in transient individual opinions, ambitions, and actions, instead of in an ordered co-operation of all for the common good of all? The whole passage we have quoted is essentially Socialist, and opposed to that capitalism its author defends. If the doctrine of economic determinism is heresy, then Father Kane was preaching heresy from the pulpit.
As if conscious of his slip our critic immediately makes haste to divert attention by a lurid description of the Socialist doctrine of divorce. Socialists as such have no doctrine of divorce, but a little inconsistency like that does nor deter our opponents.
There is no Socialist government in the world to-day, but almost every civilised nation has divorce laws, and the least Socialist nations and classes have the most divorces; America and its capitalist class, for example. Our clerical friends proceed upon the maxim of their sister profession, the lawyersWhen you have a bad case abuse your opponent's attorney, and hence the constant attempt to slander Socialists upon this point. Now, what is the real truth on this matter? It is easily stated. Socialists are bound to agree upon one fundamental, and upon that only. That fundamental is, in the language of Father Kane, that all wealth-producing power, and all that pertains to it, belongs to the ownership and control of the State. Hence, upon all other subjects there is, and will be, the widest possible diversity of opinion. Divorce is one of those non-essential, non-fundamental points upon which
p.415Socialists may and do disagree. But observe this. The law-making authority for Socialists is their national and international congresses; the law-making authority of capitalism is its Parliaments, chambers, congresses, reichstags, etc. Nowhere has a national or international congress of Socialists imposed divorce upon Socialists as something they must accept, but in almost every capitalist state the capitalist law-makers, the spokesmen and defenders of capitalism, have established divorce as a national institution. Who, then, are the chief supporters of divorce? The capitalists. And who can come fresh from the divorce courts, reeking with uncleanness and immorality, to consummate another marriage, and yet know that he can confidently rely upon Catholic prelates and priests to command the workers to order themselves reverently before their superiors, with him as a type? The capitalist.
The divorce evil of to-day arises not out of Socialist teaching, but out of that capitalist system, whose morals and philosophy are based upon the idea of individualism, and the cash nexus as the sole bond in society. Such teaching destroys the sanctity of the marriage bond, and makes of love and the marriage bed things to be bought and sold. Can it be wondered at that such teaching as that which exalts the individual pursuit of riches as the absolutely necessary cement of society should produce a loosening of all social bonds, including that of marriage, and threaten to suffocate society with the stench of its own rottenness? Yet it is such capitalist ethics and practice our priests and prelates are defending, and it is of such Father Kane arises as the champion and expounder.
Certain Socialists, horrified at this rising stream of immorality, have sought to find a remedy in the proposal that marriage be regarded as a private matter over which the state shall have no authority. They do so as individuals, and many equally good Socialists believe that such an idea is flatly opposed to the Socialist philosophy; but in itself the proposal carries
p.416none of that loathsomeness the critic imputes to it. It is an insult to the entire human race to say that husbands and wives are only kept together by law, and that women would become mistresses of one man after another if the law did not prevent them. Yet this is what Father Kane said:
Divorce in the Socialist sense means that woman would be willing to stoop to be the mistress of one man after another.
A more unscrupulous slander upon womanhood was never uttered or penned. Remember that this was said in Ireland, and do you not wonder that some Irishwomensome persons of the same sex as the slanderer's motherdid not get up and hurl the lie back in his teeth, and tell him that it was not law which kept them virtuous, that if all marriage laws were abolished to-morrow, it would not make women willing to stoop to be the mistress of one man after another? Aye, verily, the uncleanness lies not in this alleged Socialist proposal, but in the minds of those who so interpret it. The inability of Father Kane to appreciate the innate morality of womanhood, and the superiority of the morals of the women of the real people to that of the class he is defending, recalls to mind the fact that the Council of the Church held at Mâcon in the sixth century gravely debated the question as to whether woman had or had not a soul, and that the affirmation that she had was only carried by a small majority. Many of the early Fathers of the Church were, indeed, so bitter in their denunciation of women and of marriage that their opinions read like the expressions of madmen when examined in the cold light of the twentieth century. Origen said: Marriage is unholy and uncleana means of sensual lust. St. Jerome declared: Marriage is at the least a vice; all that we can do is to excuse and justify it; and Tertullian, in his hatred of women, thundered forth boldly that which Father Kane dared only insinuate: Woman, he preaches, thou oughtest always to walk in mourning and rags, thine eyes filled with
p.417tears of repentance to make men forget that thou hast been the destruction of the race. Woman! thou art the Gates of Hell. Thus throughout the centuries persists the idea of the churchmen that women can only be kept virtuous by law.
In his further quotation Father Kane is equally disingenuous. Thus:
Listen now to one of the great German Socialist authorities, Bebel, who, in his famous book, Die Frau, wrote:
Every child that comes into the world, whether male or female, is a welcome addition to society; for society beholds in every child the continuation of itself and its own further development. It, therefore, perceives from the very outset that its duty, according to its power, is to provide for the new-born child. . .. It is evident that the mother herself must nurse the child as long as possible and necessary. . .. When the child waxes stronger, the other children await it for common amusement under public direction.
Behold their plan: All boys and girls, as soon as they are weaned, are to be taken from their parents and brought up, boys and girls together, first in State nurseries, and then, boys and girls together, in state boarding schools, but brought up without any religion whatever. Thus the child would grow up a stranger to its father and mother, without the hallowed influence of a happy home.
The reader will observe there is nothing whatever in the words quoted from Bebel which justifies the statement that the child is to be taken from the parents, or brought up a stranger to its father and mother, or without the influence of a home. There is simply the statement that it is the duty of the state to provide for the care, education, and physical and mental development of the child. All the rest is merely read into the statement by the perverted malevolence of our critic. And yet this same critic had declared, as already quoted in this chapter, the reason of civil society is in the insufficiency of the family alone to attain that fuller perfection of human
p.418nature which is the heritage of its birth. But when he comes across the Socialist proposal to supplement and help out that insufficiency he forthwith makes it the occasion for the foulest slanders.
Most scientific Socialists appear to follow Karl Marx in his theory that economic forces alone determine the evolution of all else in the world. In other words, to put the matter in a broad, blunt way, they assert that financial or business or trade conditions determine and decide the inevitable course and development of all other mattersintellectual, moral, social, and religious. Marx says:
The sum total of the conditions of wealth production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real basis on which is raised an ethical and political superstructure to which correspond certain forms of social consciousness. . .. It is not the mind of man which determines his life in society, but it is this material economic life that determines his mind.
The world has beheld one fact which gives the lie to all that flimsy theory. Christ brought into the world so deep and wide and lasting a change that there has been no other ever like it. That change was hostile to economic causes; it came from outside the business world. But it determined a new world of thought and conduct, and through these moral causes it changed the social and economic lives of men. It brought into the civilised world the duty and honour of labour, the breaking of the fetters of the slave, the lifting up of woman to be man's helpmate and equal, not his mere plaything or his property, the recognition of the rights of the poor to the ownership of the super-abundance of the wealthy.
Such a statement as that Christ brought into the world a change hostile to economic causes could only be made by a lecturer who presumed either upon lack of historical knowledge on the part of his audience, or upon the fact that as he spoke
p.419from a pulpit none of his immediate listeners would dare to point out his errors upon the spot. All but the merest dabblers in Scriptural history know that the economic oppression of the Jewish people was so great immediately before the coming of Christ that the whole nation had been praying and hoping for the promised Redeemer, and it was just at the psychological moment of their bondage as a nation and their slavery as a race that Christ appeared. And it is equally well known that the priests and comfortable classesthe canting, fed classesrefused to acknowledge His message and intrigued to bring about His crucifixion, whereas it was the common people who heard Him gladly in Judea, as it was the slaves and labourers who formed the bulk of His believers throughout the Gentile world until the fury of the persecutions had passed. Roman and Jewish historians alike speak contemptuously of early Christianity as a religion of slaves and labourers. These early Christians had been socially enslaved. Christ and His disciples spoke to them of redemption, of freedom. They interpreted, rightly or wrongly, the words to mean an earthly redemption, a freedom here and now as a prelude possibly to the freedom hereafter; and hence they joined with enthusiasm the sect hated by their oppressors. We have had a similar experience in Ireland. The passionate adherence of the Irish to Catholicity in Reformation times was no doubt largely due to the fact that the English Government had embraced Protestantism.
For the last portion of the part quoted it should not be necessary to point out to anyone other than Father Kane that of all those things which he asserts Christianity has brought into the world most are not here yet. The duty and honour of labour. The greatest honours of church and state are reserved for those classes whose members do not labour, and highest honours of all for those who claim that their ancestors have not laboured for a hundred generations. The lifting up of
p.420woman to be man's helpmate and equal, not his plaything or his property. She has not yet attained to that elevation in fact, and the Socialists are the only ones who claim it for her in their programmes, whereas his Holiness the Pope has recently denounced her for seeking the right to vote. The rights of the poor to the superabundance of the wealthy is so far from being recognised that a starving man would be sent for seven years to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and a rich man sent to the House of Lords for stealing a nation's liberty.
Universal ownership by the state of all means of wealth production is one cardinal doctrine of Socialism. The Erfurt platform lays down: Private property in the means of production has become incompatible with their proper utilisation and full development. The platform of the Socialists of the United States lays down: The aim of Socialism is the organisation of the working classes for the purpose of transforming the present system of private ownership of the means of production into collective ownership by the entire people. The International Socialist Convention at Paris, 1900, lays down as an essential condition of membership the admission of the essential principles of Socialism; amongst them, the socialisation of the means of production and distribution.
Now consider the colossal magnitude of such a scheme. The taking of a census entails a strange amount of time and trouble. Try to imagine what it would mean to ascertain the wants, needs, desires, helps or difficulties of every man, woman and child in a nation, not merely in one branch, but in every possible branch of human life; all possible food stuffs, all possible dress stuffs, all possible lodging accommodation, all possible means of transit, travel or communication. Then imagine what it would mean that all this should be catered for; that all the possible labour should be applied in the right time, place and manner; that all the possible materials and
p.421tools for work should be made ready beforehand; that all possible difficulties or accidents should be anticipated. Surely so vast, so unending, so complex, so intricate a task would require many men of most surpassing genius. Further, consider the enormous multitude of officials which all this would require. The percentage of officials amongst the people would be really alarming, and these flunkeys would grow fat on the labour of the common fellows. It is absurd to suggest that every man would get his turn at being a full-blown flunkey with a pet position, or a full private with hard and nasty work to do.
With a childishness born of a training in a profession not concerned with this world, the reverend gentleman does not realise that the task of ascertaining and catering for the wants, needs, desires, etc., of the nation is done every day by the common everyday men and women he sees around himdone in a blundering, imperfect manner it is true, but still it is done. And what is done imperfectly by the competing forces of capitalism to-day can be done more perfectly by the organised forces of industry under Socialism. Government under Socialism will be largely a matter of statistics. The chief administrative body of the nation will be a collection of representatives from the various industries and professions. From the industries they represent these administrators will learn of the demand for the articles they manufacture; the industries will learn from the storekeepers of the national stores and warehouses what articles arc demanded by the general public who purchase at these stores, and the cumulative total of the reports given by storekeepers and industries will tell the chief administrative body (Congress, if you will) how much to produce, and where to place it to meet the demand. Likewise the reports brought to the representatives from their industrial union as to the relative equipment and power of their factories in each district will enable them to place their orders in the places most suited to fill them, and to supervise and push forward
p.422the building and developing of new factories and machinery. All this is so obvious to a mind acquainted with the processes of modern industry that it gives the Socialist a feeling of talking to the baby class when he has to step aside in order to explain it. All the talk of Socialist flunkeys, bosses, corruption, favouritism, etc., is the product of minds who are imagining the mechanism of capitalist business at work in a Socialist commonwealth, which is as absurd as to suppose that an Atlantic liner of the present day could be handled on the methods of a fishing boat on the sea of Galilee in the days of St. Peter. When the workers elect their foremen and superintendents, and retain them only during effective supervision and handling of their allotted duties, when industries elect their representatives in the National Congress and the Congress obeys the demand emanating from the public for whom it exists, corruption and favouritism will be organically impossible. Being a merely human society there will be faults and imperfections of course, but it has also been whispered that faults and imperfections exist even in the Society of Jesus. And yet that institution does its work.
Father Kane says:
They suppose that they could avoid class distinctions, but unless the state should lapse into barbarism it must have its specialists, its great engineers, its great doctors, its great scientists, its great writers, its great statisticians, its great inventors, its great administrators, and, above all, its great officials. All these men should have their lives devoted to their profession with material comfort and studious ease, with high incentive to their talents' use, and with right reward for their labour done.
Observe the phrase, with high incentive to their talents' use, and its implied meaning, with great monetary reward. It is a strange fact that when Socialists preach the necessity and duty of the men and women of genius serving their fellows, instead of using their God-given genius to rob their fellow
p.423brothers and sisters of Christ, it is always a paid servant of Christ who gets up to denounce the idea, and to insist that progress will cease unless men gifted by God get the right to plunder their fellow-men. And yet Christ said, Give, hoping for nothing in return. Fortunately, history knows and teaches us better than the churchmen. It teaches us that the greatest engineers, doctors, scientists, writers, statisticians, and inventors reaped nothing but their labour for their pains, that for the most part they died in poverty, and that the highest incentive they ever possessed was the inward desire to give outward expression to the divine passion to create, planted in their bosoms by Him who knew better than Father Kane. Under Socialism all will enjoy a full, free, and abundant life, with every possibility and appliance provided them to serve well their fellows. And what more could the specialists desire?
At present the two great Socialist organisations in the United States are at war. Amongst other choice epithets bandied between them, one stigmatised the other as a party of scabs. Amongst German Socialists there are signs of a cleavage, which must inevitably split in twain any Socialist state. A fierce jealousy between the educated and the proletarians; between on the one hand, writers or speakers of good family, mostly the madcaps of atheistic universities, and, on the other hand, the mere workmen, who are suspicious of any leaders who do not belong to the labour class. This is easily understood, for Socialism must logically work out into a solid class, organisms to steady it, must oscillate wildly between a despotism, an oligarchy, and universal muddle; for a pure democracy has no other standard of right than the will of the masses, and the will of the masses is at the mercy of wire-pullers and demagogues. Thus a Socialist State would in theory be under the sovereignty of the mob in the street, but in reality it would be under the slavery of the conspirators in their den.
In previous portions of his tirade the reverend lecturer has
p.424been insisting vehemently that Socialism will inevitably mean a despotism in which political freedom will be impossible, and all must conform to the common mould. In this portion he finds fault with the Socialists because, while in perfect agreement as to their object, they quarrel over other matters. He says this must inevitably split in twain the Socialist state, but he carefully avoids explaining how the existence of two or more parties will destroy Socialism any more than it destroys capitalism. There are two, and more than two, purely capitalist parties in every nation in the civilised world. The fact that Socialists are as a rule men and women of strong individuality who fiercely contest for their rights, while it makes occasional unseemly squabbles in the Socialist ranks to-day, is the best guarantee that they are not likely to be working for a system which will crush their individuality or destroy their personal or political liberty. Also if splits in the party, harsh words among the members, and even hatreds could destroy the movement it would have died long ago, instead of growing stronger and more rapidly every day. And surely when we remember how fiercely hatreds have developed within the Christian foldhow the Dominicans have fought the Jesuits and the Jesuits have denounced the Dominicans, how the Lutherans have burned the Calvinists and the Calvinists have burned the Lutheranswe have no right to demand from an organisation of mere earthly origin more than was shown by organisations claiming Divine inspiration. Quarrels among Socialists, forsooth! Have we not had quarrels among Catholics? For sixty-eight years the Christian world saw two Popes directing and claiming its allegiance. The Pope at Avignon, supported by half of the bishops and clergy of the world, excommunicated the Pope at Rome and all his supporters; and his Holiness at Rome hurled back his curse in return. In 1046 Henry III of Germany entered Italy and found three Popes in Romeall claiming the allegiance of the Catholic world, and denouncing
p.425each other worse than Socialists are denounced to-day. In 1527 an army of 30,000 troops under the Catholic Constable of Bourbon attacked and captured Rome, killed the Pope's soldiers, imprisoned his Holiness Clement VII in the Castle of St. Angelo, and put the sacred city to the sack. They were all Catholic soldiers under Catholic officers, and they plundered and ravished the centre of Catholicity. But, it will be said, these were only quarrels; they were not disputes over doctrine. Father Kane is a Jesuit; the majority of priests who at present are in the forefront of the attack upon Socialism are also Jesuits. Let us remind our reverend critics of a few incidents in the history of their own orderinstances of the fierce disputes between the Jesuits and other Catholics on points of important Catholic doctrine:
In India Jesuit missionaries adopted the life and practices of the Brahmins in 1609 in order to make converts, and in their desire to conciliate that caste they even refused the Holy Sacrament to no-caste pariah converts. This outrage upon Catholic teaching and practice was reported to the Pope by a Capuchin Friar, Norbert, and by the Bishop of Rosalia, and condemned in the strongest terms by Pope Innocent X in 1645, by Clement IX in 1669, by Clement XII in 1739, and by Benedict XIV in 1745. Pope Benedict XIV in 1741 denounced the Jesuits as disobedient, contumacious, captious, and reprobate persons. Melchior Cano, Bishop of the Canary Islands, banished the Jesuits from his diocese for teaching false doctrines, and for the same reason St. Charles Borromeo expelled them from the diocese of Milan, as did also his successor, Cardinal Frederick Borromeo. We do not presume to say which side was right in these controversies, but we submit that if Popes and Jesuits could be wrong, then on a point of doctrine they can be wrong now on Socialisma point of economics and politics.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century a Jesuit missionary,
p.426Father Ricci, gained the favour of the Chinese Emperor, and he appointed Catholics to all high positions. The Catholic religion gained a strong foothold in China, established scientific observatories, and founded schools and universities. But the Dominican Fathers accused the Jesuits of allowing their converts to practise their old idolatry, and a fight started between the Jesuits and Dominicans over this question of what were called the Chinese Rites. Nine different Popes condemned these Chinese Rites, but the Jesuits refused to obey the Popes, and in 1710 imprisoned the Papal Legate of Clement XI in the prison of the Inquisition of Macao, where he died. Sixtus V, Urban VIII, and Clement VIII all died so soon after opposing the Jesuits that popular prejudice accused the Society of having had them assassinated. The Bishop of Pistoia, Scipio de Ricci, accused the Jesuits of having poisoned Pope Clement XIV, as did also Cardinal de Bernis, and the Spanish ambassador to the Court of Madrid declared that several Jesuits had told the Vicar General of Padua the approximate date on which the Pope would die. In China the Jesuits in 1700 got an edict from the Pagan Emperor defending them against the charges of heresy brought by the Pope, but eventually the fight between the Catholics became so scandalous that the heathens withdrew their toleration and suppressed the Christian religion in the empire. In 1661 the Jesuits alone had possessed one hundred and fifty-one churches and twenty-eight residences in China, had written one hundred and thirty-one works upon religion, one hundred and three on mathematics, and fifty-three on physical and moral science. All this was lost to Catholicity because of Jesuit perversion of Catholic doctrine, and consequent disgraceful feuds between Catholics. As the Jesuits perverted Catholic doctrine in India and China to gain the support of the great and powerful, is it wonderful if some think that they and other ecclesiastics are now again perverting Catholic doctrine for a like purpose?
The reader who has studied the facts set forth in our little excursion into Irish history in the introduction will appraise at its full value our reverend opponent's disquisition upon patriotism in the next passage:
There is a patriotism that is false. It is a mere morbid, hysterical idolatry of a fetish, with an unreasoning rancorous hatred of those people who are not of its own ilk. But there is a patriotism that is true. It is a thoughtful, manly worship for the nation of which one is the son; it is a chivalrous allegiance to her honour, a disinterested service of her fortune, a prayerful veneration for her name, a devotedness unto death to her life. The Socialist will say that that is sentiment. No wonder, then, that the Socialist is the enemy of his country. The French Socialists are the worst enemies of France. The German Socialists are the worst enemies of Germany. The English Socialists are the worst enemies of the power, the greatness, and the empire of England. But our sentiment is the heartbeat of men true to their country, their Socialism is the heartburn of traitors to their Fatherland. If it be sentiment that a child should love its mother, that a man should love his home, then it is sentiment that a citizen should love his country, that a patriot should love his nature. But if this be sentiment, then I say that is the power which makes a nation. Ah! there is something in your inmost nature that affirms the truth and re-echoes the enthusiasm of what the poet sang:
- Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land.
The Socialist doctrine teaches that all men are brothers, that the same red blood of a common humanity flows in the veins of all races, creeds, colours and nations, that the interests of labour are everywhere identical, and that wars are an abomination. Is not this also good Catholic doctrinethe
p.428doctrine of a Church which prides itself upon being universal or Catholic? How, then, can that doctrine which is high and holy in theory on the lips of a Catholic become a hissing and a blasphemy when practised by the Socialist? The Socialist does not cease to love his country when he tries to make that country the common property of its people; he rather shows a greater love of country than is shown by those who wish to perpetuate a system which makes the great majority of the people of a country exiles and outcasts, living by sufferance of capitalists and landlords in their native land. Under Socialism we can all voice the saying of the poet; at present our native land is in pawn to landlords and capitalists.
When the reverend lecturer hurls at the Socialists the taunt that they are the worst enemies of their own country, whatever that country be, he is only repeating against us the accusation made more truly in times past against the order of which he is such an ornament. The Jesuits have been expelled from every Catholic country in Europe, and the grounds on which they have been expelled were everywhere the same, viz., that they were the worst enemies of their country, and were constantly intriguing against the government and national welfare, that their teaching made bad subjects, and all their influence was against the welfare of the statejust what they allege against Socialists to-day. They were expelled from Venice during the first half of the seventeenth century, from Portugal in 1759, from the French dominions in 1764 and 1767, from Spain in 1767, from Naples, Parma and Modena about the same time. Maria Theresa of Austria and Emperor Joseph, her son, also expelled them. The kings of Spain, Portugal and France united in an ultimatum to the Pope threatening to withdraw their countries from fealty to Rome and to create a schism unless the Pope suppressed them, and finally in a Brief issued July 21st, 1773, his Holiness, Pope Clement XIV, suppressed the Jesuits in all the States of Christendom.
p.429As the Catholic author of the article on the Jesuits in the Encyclopaedia Americana truly says, They have been expelled over and over again from almost every Catholic country in Europe. In 1601 the secular priests of England issued a pamphlet entitled, Important Considerations, in which they laid the blame of the Penal Laws against Catholics upon the Jesuits. The author of this work, William Watson, afterwards died a martyr for the Catholic faith. The Papal Brief, Dominus ac Redemptor, speaks of their defiance of their own constitution, expressly revised by Pope Paul V, forbidding them to interfere in politics, of the great ruin to souls caused by their quarrels with local ordinaries and other religious orders, the conformity to heathen usages in the East, and the disturbances resulting in persecution of the Church which they have stirred up even in Catholic countries, so that several Popes have been obliged to punish them. It is instructive to recall that upon their suppression the Jesuits took refuge in Russia under Catherine, and in Prussia under Frederick, both sovereigns being freethinkers. Not until the French Revolution had frightened all liberal ideas out of the crowned heads of Europe, and the fall of Napoleon enabled the sceptred tyrants of England and the Continent to place their iron heels upon the necks of the people, did the Jesuits once more receive an invitation to resume their activity and their existence as an order. That invitation was coincident with the suppression of all popular liberties, and the enthronement of absolute power.
Is it not, then, a joke to see Socialists accused of being unpatriotic, and accused by a Jesuit?
In his fifth lecture our reverend critic simply refurbishes and places upon exhibition all the individual opinions of individual Socialists he can find antagonistic to religion, and
p.430tells us that their individual opinions are orthodox Socialist doctrines. After having for four weeks beaten the air in a wild endeavour to convince us that the Church is and always was against Socialism, that Socialists were and are beasts of immorality, uncleanness and treason, he affects to be horrified at the idea of those Socialists thinking and saying harsh things about the religion whose priests have been so busy slandering and vilifying them. We would say to him, and all others, that if the pioneers of the Socialist movement were indeed freethinkers, so much the more shame to the Church that, by neglecting its obvious duty, left freethinkers to do the work in which churchmen ought to have been their leaders
Sufficient to remind our readers that, even according to the oft-repeated assertion of Father Kane, Socialism means a state of society in which the will of the people should be supreme, that therefore Marx and Bebel and Liebknecht and Vandervelde and Blatchford were not and are not working for the establishment of a system in which they would be able to force their theories about religion upon the people, but for a system in which the people would be free to accept only that of which their conscience approved. In the light of that central truth how absurd seems the following passage:
Now, in Socialism there are principles which no real Catholic can hold. First, Socialists hold that private ownership is in itself wrong; that, no Catholic can admit. Secondly, Socialists maintain that the child is the property of the state as against the father's right; that, no Catholic can admit. Thirdly, Socialists recognise divorce as a breaking of the marriage bond; that, no Catholic can admit. Fourth, Socialists limit and confine religion to mere personal private worship; that, no Catholic can admit.
We have seen that saints and Popes denounced private ownership of the means of life. We challenge the reverend father to produce from any Socialist congress or party a
p.431declaration that Socialists desire to take the child from the father or mother, but we will produce many declarations that it is the right of the state to help fathers and mothers to support their children, and, finally, we flatly deny, and brand as an unqualified falsehood, the statement that the Socialist programme declares for the breaking of the marriage bond. Our reverend and holy critics make it appear that the Socialist idea of society must be responsible for the other ideas held by some of its sponsors. Why not apply this to the Catholic Church then? When King Edward VII of England ascended the throne he swore that the Mass was blasphemous and idolatrous; and when he died the Vatican went into mourning. Did the Vatican believe that the institution of monarchy was not to be blamed for the official declarations of its supporters? And if so, why blame Socialism for the private, non-official, declaration of a few of its supporters?
Recently there died in Europe a kingKing Leopold of Belgiumwhose private life was so disgracefully immoral that it was the scandal of Europe. A married man with a grown-up family, he kept a Parisian actress as his mistress, and led so scandalous a life that the females of his family refused to follow his body to the grave. Yet when he died the whole official Catholic world went into mourning for him. He was more of a representative of the institution of monarchy than any private individual can ever be of Socialism; but the Rev. Father Kane or his Holiness the Pope did not therefore deliver sermons against the wickedness of supporting kings. And what is true in these two striking examples is also true of kings, nobles, and capitalists all the world over. In the United States the divorce rate for 100,000 of the population rose from 23 in 1880 to 73 in 1900. Between 1887 and 1906 the total number of divorces was 945,625. This enormous increase of divorces was almost entirely among the classes least affected by Socialist teachingthe middle and upper capitalist class.
p.432That is to say, among the class our reverend opponent is defending. Why all this howl about supposed Socialist theories of divorce, and all this silence about the capitalist practice thereof?
Is there any logical connection between Socialism and atheism? This question has two aspects; first, does atheism logically lead to Socialism? and, secondly, does Socialism logically lead to atheism? As regards the first question it is very evident that a wealthy atheist is little likely to be a genuine Socialist. For him his wealth and pleasure will be the only objects of his worship, and he will not sacrifice them in order to secure the honour of being a Socialist labourer. But with the atheist who is penniless it is quite another matter. For him there is no moral law, because there is no law without a lawgiver, and there is no lawgiver but God; hence, there is no right that can restrain him from taking all the wealth on which he can lay his hands, and Socialism supplies him with the means of doing this. A beggar atheist is a Socialist, unless he be a fool. The answer to the second question is not so clear. Does Socialism logically lead to atheism? If we understand Socialism exclusively in its real and essential sense as a social system, which would give exclusively to the state all ownership of capital, of means of wealth production, and kindred powers, with also the exclusive right of distribution and administration of such goods, then we admit that Socialism is not logically the same thing as atheism. However wrong a man may be in ethical or economic matters, he may yet be right in recognising God. This, however, is vague and abstract. Is Socialism logically incompatible with Catholicity? To this we must fearlessly answer thus: a true Catholic cannot be a real Socialist. Understand what this does not mean and what it does mean. It does not mean that the Catholic who calls himself a Socialist is thereby a heretic. It does not even follow that a Catholic who is a real Socialist is thereby a heretic; but it does logically follow that a real
p.433Catholic cannot be a real Socialist. Do not push this statement unfairly towards one side or towards the other.
When he makes the damaging admission he does in the point we have put in italic type, our reverend friend knocks the feet from under his own case; and when he goes on to wriggle still further in an attempt to cloud the issue he reveals that his purpose is not to discuss Socialism so much as to traduce it. He admits that logically there is no connection between Socialism and atheism, and yet his whole discourse was a long-drawn-out attempt to prove such a connection. In what other walk of life would a man be tolerated who indulged in such senseless hair-splitting as the foregoing, or in such vilification as the following?
What will you then have in your Socialist paradise? A herd of human cattle, some of them intelligent, educated, cultured, a very suspected lot in the Socialistic state, most of them, practically all of them, a Godless, unprincipled, immoral crowd. In our Christian commonwealths there are many criminals, but they are the exception. They are an offence against our principles and rebels against our right. Under Socialism criminals would be the authorised spokesmen of your principles and the ruthless henchmen of your lawlessness. Again and again, without God there is no morality, and without morality there is only left the God of the Socialistirreligion, immorality, degradation of the man and suicide of the nation.
Note the words, Under Socialism criminals would be the authorised spokesmen of your principles. He has repeatedly asserted that under Socialism the will of the people would rule, and now he asserts that the people would choose criminals as their spokesmen. Yet such a thing as a Socialist criminal is practically unknown in the records of the police courts of the world. Can any sane man believe that if the means of wealth production and kindred powers were common property the people would be so debased by the enjoyment
p.434of the full fruits of their labour that they would elect criminals to be their spokesmen and rulers? Or that a man cannot worship God unless he concedes the right of a capitalist to three-fourths or more of the fruits of his labour? Or that a people cannot love their country if they own it as their common property? Or that a nation would commit suicide if it refused to allow a small class to monopolise all its natural resources and means of life? Or that the nation which refused to allow a class to use the governmental machinery for personal aggrandisement to stir up wars and slaughter thousands of men made in the image of God for the sake of more profits for a few, that the nation which should refuse to allow this would be powerless in the moral order, and hastening on to decay? Yet it is this monstrous farrago of nonsense Rev. Father Kane attempts to establish in his fifth lecture.
Socialists will not shrink from resorting to brute force. A Socialist ring will not scruple when there is a question of finally superseding the old order of society to snatch up anarchist weaponsthe dagger, the torch, the bomb. Listen to the candid utterances of the great founder of Socialism, Karl Marx, with his henchman, Engels, declared in their manifesto that their purpose can be obtained only by a violent subversion of the existing order. Let the ruling classes tremble at the Communist revolution.
Again, at the Congress of The Hague, Karl Marx, as the mouthpiece of Socialists, officially declared: In most countries of Europe violence must be the lever of our social reform. This violent upheaval must be universal. A proof of this was witnessed in the Commune of Paris, which only failed because in other capitalsBerlin and Madrida simultaneous revolutionary movement did not break out in connection with the
p.435mighty upheaval of the proletariat in Paris. Again, Bebel, one of the greatest leaders of Socialist thought, dared to say in the German Reichstag: The Commune in Paris was only a slight skirmish in the war which the proletariat is prepared to wage against all palaces. Again, Bebel said elsewhere this Socialistic change cannot be brought about by sprinkling rose-water. At the Socialist Convention at Ghent in 1877 one of their leaders said: When our day comes, rifle and cannon will face about to mow down the foes of the Socialist people. At a public meeting during the recent elections in England an M.P. supporter of the Liberal Government is reported to have said: I honour the man or woman who throws a bomb.
That some Socialists believe that force may be used to inaugurate the new social order only indicates their conviction that the criminal capitalist and ruling classes will not peacefully abide by the verdict of the ballot, but will strive by violence to perpetuate their robber rule in spite of the declared will of the majority of the people. In this conviction such Socialists are strengthened by the record of all the revolutions of the world's history. It is a well-established fact that from the earliest revolutionary outbreak known down to the Commune of Paris, or Red Sunday in Russia, the first blood has been shed, the first blow struck, by the possessing conservative classes. And we are not so childish as to imagine that the capitalist class of the future will shrink from the shedding of the blood of the workers in order to retain their ill-gotten gains. They shed more blood, destroy more working class lives every year, by the criminal carelessness with which they conduct industry and drive us to nerve-racking speed, than is lost in the average international war. In the United States there are killed on the railroads in one year more men than died in the Boer War on both sides. When the capitalists kill us so rapidly for the sake of a few pence extra profit it would be suicidal to expect
p.436that they would hesitate to slaughter us wholesale when their very existence as parasites was at stake. Therefore, the Socialists anticipate violence only because they know the evil nature of the beast they contend with. But with a working class thoroughly organised and already as workers in possession of the railroads, shops, factories and ships, we do not need to fear their violence. The hired assassin armies of the capitalist class will be impotent for evil when the railroad men refuse to transport them, the miners to furnish coal for their ships of war, the dock labourers to load or coal these ships, the clothing workers to make uniforms, the sailors to provision them, the telegraphists to serve them, or the farmers to feed them. In the vote, the strike, the boycott and the lockout exercised against the master class, the Socialists have weapons that will make this social revolution comparatively bloodless and peaceable, despite the tigerish instincts or desires of the capitalist enemy, and the doleful Cassandra-like prophecies of our critic.
And if the capitalists do abide the issue of the ballot and allow this battle to be fought out on lines of peaceful political and economic action, gladly we will do likewise. But if not
But the real point is this: it is not merely the Rothschilds or other millionaires who are to be robbed; it is nor merely the fashionable people who live in palaces and drive in motor cars who are to be robbed, but the shopkeepers are also to be robbed; it is not merely the great big shopkeepers who are to be robbed, but every small business house will be robbed. The professional classes, the barristers and the doctors will be robbed. The small farmer, the small cottager will be evicted. The cabman's horse and cab will be taken from him. The poor woman who sells apples in the street will have her basket seized upon. These are all ways of making money, and the Socialist says that nobody has any right to make money except the Socialist state. Do you think that men would stand this? Do you think that a tenant who has bought out his land will
p.437willingly give it up to the Socialist who promises to spoonfeed him? Do you think that any respectable shopkeeper would give up his shop for the honour of being the shop-boy of a Socialist flunkey? Do you think that any manly man would give up the few shillings that are his own in order to become an irresponsible easy-going loafer in an idealised workhouse? No.
This argument is brought in after telling a silly story about a Socialist who wanted Rothschild to divide up, and the story is told despite the fact that the reverend and pious lecturer has frequently explained that Socialism has nothing to do with dividing up. In fact Socialists want to stop dividing up with the irresponsible easy-going loafers, called aristocrats and capitalists, in the idealised workhouses, known as palaces and mansions. All those poor workers whom he mentionsthe small farmer, the cottager, the cabman, the apple-woman, the doctorall are compelled to divide up with the capitalist, speculator and landlord, and Socialism proposes to them that instead of wearing life out working night and day as in the case of the doctor, or shivering and suffering as in the case of the farmer, the cottager, the cabman, and the apple-woman, they shall help to establish a system of society where the functions they now perform shall be performed better through more perfect organisation, with equipment supplied by the community, and where they shall be honoured co-workers with all their fellow-workers, with an old age guaranteed against the want and privation they know awaits them under the present order. And they are hearkening to this Socialist promise of relief from their present social purgatory.
Father Kane next proceeds to quote Socialists to prove the beneficence of medieval Catholicism. He says:
The contrast is reproduced under a different aspect when we compare the Church of Christ with the Church of Luther, King Harry and Queen Bess. Whoever studies Socialism will
p.438find that there is much to learn from this contrast. We read in Professor Nitti, of Naples: An English Socialist, Hyndman, whose profound historical and economic learning cannot be questioned even by his adversaries, has understood and admirably expressed the many benefits society has derived from the Church of the Middle Ages. Hyndman wrote:
It is high time that the nonsense that has been foisted on to the public by men interested in suppressing the facts should be exposed. It is not true that the Church of our ancestors was the organised fraud which it suits fanatics to represent it. The monasteries and priests did far more for elementary education than is at all known. . .. As to university education, where would Oxford be to-day but for the munificence of bishops, monks, and nuns? Fourteen of her finest colleges were founded by churchmen or abbots for the benefit of the children of the people. The Reformation converted these colleges into luxurious preserves for the sons of the aristocracy.
He tells us how the Reformation converted the lands of the monasteries into the properties of rack-renting landlords. Abbots and priors were the best landlords in England. While the Church had power, permanent or general pauperism was unknown. One-third of all tithes, one-third of all ecclesiastical revenue was first set aside to be given to the poor. The monks were the road-makers, alms-givers, teachers, doctors, nurses of the country. They built, furnished and attended the hospitals, and gave the poor relief out of their own funds. While the monasteries stood, the poor or unemployed were always sure of food and shelter. Look at the other side of the contrast. When Harry VIII was king in Merrie England he wanted to get rid of his wife and he wanted to get money. Both motives moved him to break away from the Church of Christ, and to confiscate the monasteries. One sad and most pitiful result was that thousands and thousands were driven out on the roads to beg. They were all able men and willing to work, but the monasteries had
p.439disappeared, and with them work and shelter and food. These sturdy beggars, or stalwart vagabonds, as they were called, thronged the road. They had been able to earn their bread under the old Church of Christ, but under the new church of King Hal and his merry men, these sturdy beggars were a nuisance. In 1547 a law was passed that these sturdy beggars should be branded with hot irons and handed over as slaves to the person who denounced them, or if again caught they were to be hanged. Under good Queen Bess unlicensed beggars over fourteen were flogged and branded on the left ear unless someone would take them into service for two years. If they begged again, all over eighteen were executed unless someone was willing to take them into service for two years; caught a third time, death was the penalty, without reprieve. Hollingshead asserts that in the reign of the good King Henry VIII, 72,000 sturdy beggars were hanged for begging. That was the contrast between the Reformation and the love of Christ's Church for Christ's poor. It was the way in which the Reformation solved the difficulty of the unemployed. Queen Bess, the virgin queen, the good, sweet Queen Bess, found a woman's way of following her father's mood. She had her stalwart vagabonds strung up in batches, like flitches of bacon along the rafters, in order to teach the people the godly way in which they should walkthe way of her Reformation of the Church of Christ. The Church of Christ has always protected the poor.
This long extract should be enlightening and illuminating to our readers. It shows that the Socialists have been uniformly fair in their treatment of the attitude of the Catholic Church of the past towards the poor, that they have defended that Church from the attacks of unscrupulous Protestant historians, upon that point, so that our reverend friend has to admit that a correct knowledge of the contrast between the attitude of the Church and that of the Protestant reformers can be best
p.440attained by whoever studies Socialist literature. But, as we pointed out in a previous chapter, when Father Kane is recounting the numberless murders, outrages, and barbarities practised upon the poor by the aristocracy of the Reformation he is telling also where we are to find the title deeds of the landed estates of England and Ireland. And it is just those landed estates, gained by such means, that Father Kane and his like are fighting to perpetuate in the ownership of the English and Irish aristocracy to-day. How do the Catholic clergy dare to defend the possessors in the present possession of their stolen property, when they publicly proclaim from the altar their knowledge of the inhuman crimes against God and man by which that property passed out of the hands of Church and people? The Reformation was the capitalist idea appearing in the religious field; as capitalism teaches that the social salvation of man depends solely upon his own individual effort, so Protestantism, echoing it, taught that the spiritual salvation of man depends solely upon his own individual appeal to God; as capitalism abolished the idea of social interdependence which prevailed under feudalism, and made men isolated units in a warring economic world, so Protestantism abolished the interdependent links of priests, hierarchy, and pontiffs which in the Catholic system unites man with his Creator, and left man at the mercy of his own interpretations of warring texts and theories. In fine, as capitalism taught the doctrine of every man for himself, and by its growing power forced such doctrines upon the ruling class, it created its reflex in the religious world, and that reflex, proclaiming individual belief was the sole necessity of salvation, appears in history as the Protestant Reformation. Now, the Church curses the Protestant Reformationthe child; and blesses capitalismits parent.
Now listen to the peroration of our critic:
Nothing will do but Socialism.
Not so! not so! The Church of Christ teaches both men and masters that for their own sake they should be friends not foes, that their mutual interests are inseparably interwoven, and that they are bound together not merely by the duties or rights of justice, but by a sacred bond of kindliness, which is the same virtue that moves a man to fondly love his home and nobly love his fatherland. Still, still!that misery! that most sad poverty, that despairing wretchedness of utter want! Surely! surely were the kind Christ here, Whose heart was moved to tender pity for the hungering crowd; surely He would give them food. He is not here, but in His stead He has placed you, Christian men and women, that you may do His blessed work. Have pity! have pity on the poor. We cannot stand idly by with folded arms while so many starve, nor can we suffer, while we have wealth to spare, that such multitudes who are brothers and sisters of our human blood should eke out in lingering death a life that is not worth the living. There is no need, no excuse for Socialism. But there is sore need of social reform. The state is indeed bound to enforce such remedial measures as are needed, and of these, whatever be our politics or party, we must all approve. But in our own way and in our own measure we should recognise in actual practice that Christians should be like the great Christ Who had pity on the poor.
And so he concludeswith an appeal for pity for the poor. After all his long discourse, after again and again admitting the tyranny, the extortions, the frauds, the injustices perpetrated in our midst every day by those who control and own our means of existence, he has no remedy to offer but pity! After all his brave appeal to individuality, to national honour, to the heroic spirit in poor men and women, he shrinks from appealing to that individuality, to that national honour, to that heroic spirit in the poor and asking them so to manifest themselves as to rescue their lives from the control of the forces
p.442of mammon. Professing to denounce mammon, he yet shrinks from leading the forces of righteousness against it, and by so shrinking shows that all his professed solicitude for justice, all his vaunted hatred of tyranny, were mere sound and fury signifying nothing.
Is not this attitude symbolic of the attitude of the Church for hundreds of years? Ever counselling humility, but sitting in the seats of the mighty; ever patching up the diseased and broken wrecks of an unjust social system, but blessing the system which made the wrecks and spread the disease; ever running divine discontent and pity into the ground as the lightning rod runs and dissipates lightning, instead of gathering it and directing it for social righteousness as the electric battery generates and directs electricity for social use.
The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. And in the work of abolishing it the Catholic and the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jew, the Catholic and the Freethinker, the Catholic and the Buddhist, the Catholic and the Mahometan will co-operate together, knowing no rivalry but the rivalry of endeavour toward an end beneficial to all. For, as we have said elsewhere, Socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Mahometan, nor Jew; it is only HUMAN. We of the Socialist working class realise that as we suffer together we must work together that we may enjoy together. We reject the firebrand of capitalist warfare and offer you the olive leaf of brotherhood and justice to and for all.