The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #15331   Message #136611
Posted By: AMos
15-Nov-99 - 09:44 PM
Thread Name: ADD/Origins: The Foggy Dew (Fr. O'Neill)
Subject: RE: A bit o' background: The Foggy Dew
Connolly was the prime fire behind the Easter uprising, and one of the issues which inflamed the Irish was the induction of Irish men into British armed forces to fight in far places. One of those places was Gallipoli, Turkey, where the British lost many lives attacking a reinforced enemy location at Suva. Some remarks on Connolly from follow:

Writing on the need for an Irish insurrection to expel British imperialism Connolly wrote in relation to the World War: "Starting thus, Ireland may yet set the torch to a European conflagration that will not burn out until the last throne and the last capitalist bond and debenture will be shrivelled on the funeral pyre of the last War lord."

As an answer to the demand for conscription which had been imposed in Britain and which was supported by the Irish capitalists for Ireland too, where the employers were exerting pressure to force Irish workers to volunteer, Connolly wrote: "We want and must have economic conscription in Ireland for Ireland. Not the conscription of men by hunger to compel them to fight for the power that denies them the right to govern their own country, but the conscription by an Irish nation of all the resources of the nation - its land, its railways, its canals, its workshops, its docks, its mines, its mountains, its rivers and streams, its factories and machinery, its horses, its cattle, and its men and women, all co-operating together under one common direction that gather under one common direction that Ireland may live and bear upon her fruitful bosom the greatest number of the freest people she has ever known."

He looked at the employers who were opposing conscription too from a critical class point of view: "if here and there we find an occasional employer who fought us in 1913 (the Great Dublin lock-out in which the employers tried to break union organisation, but were defeated in this object by the solidarity of the Irish workers and their British comrades too) agreeing with our national policy in 1915 it is not because he has become converted, or is ashamed of the unjust use of his powers, but simply that he does not see in economic conscription the profit he fancied he saw in denying to his followers the right to organise in their own way in 1913."

Answering objections to the firm working class point of view which he expounded he declared: "Do we find fault with the employer for following his own interests? We do not. But neither are we under any illusion as to his motives. In the same manner we take our stand with our own class, nakedly upon our class interests, but believing that these interests are the highest interests of the race."

It is in this light that the uprising of 1916 must be viewed. As a consequence of the struggles of the past Connolly who was the General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union had organised the Citizens Army for the purpose of defence against capitalist and police attack and for preparing for struggle against British imperialism. The Citizens Army was almost purely working class in composition: dockers, transport workers, building workers, printers and other sections of the Dublin workers being its rank and file.

It was with this force and in alliance with the more middle class Irish volunteers that Connolly prepared for the uprising. He had no illusions about its immediate success. According to William O'Brien, on the day of the insurrection Connolly said to him: "We are going out to be slaughtered." He said "Is there no chance of success?" and Connolly replied "None whatsoever."

Connolly understood that the tradition and the example created would be immortal and would lay the basis for future freedom and a future Irish Socialist Republic. In that lay his greatness. What a difference from the craven traitors of the German Socialist and Communist and Trade Union leaders who despite having three million armed workers supporting them, and with the sympathy and support of the overwhelming majority of the German working class (ready to fight and die, capitulated to Hitler without firing a shot.

Having said this, it is necessary to see not only the greatness of Connolly, sprung from the Irish workers, one of the greatest sons of the English speaking working class, and the effect of the uprising in preparing for the expulsion, at least in the Southern part of Ireland of the direct domination of British imperialism, but also the faults of both.

There was no attempt to call a general strike and thus paralyse the British Army. There was no real organisation or preparation of the armed struggle. No propaganda was conducted among the British troops to gain their sympathy and support. The leaders of the middle class Irish Volunteers were split. One of the leaders Eoin MacNeill countermanding orders for "mobilisation" and for "manoeuvres" and in the confusion only part of the Volunteers, joined with the Irish Citizens Army in the insurrection. Thus at the last minute the insurrection was betrayed by the vacillation of the middle class leaders, as they have betrayed many times in Irish history and in the history of other countries.