Showing posts with label dublin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dublin. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dublin Uprising

After one week of fighting, the 1916 Dublin Uprising was bloodily suppressed. Lacking any real basis of support, the insurgents did not have the slightest chance of victory. Connolly was wrong when he thought that it would ignite the class movement in Europe. The idea that any group of workers can be incited into action by heroic example and martydom is a false one. Only when the conditions for struggle actually exist, only when the majority of people are prepared to do battle and make enormous sacrifices, can a revolution movement take place. Many of those who advocate the false tactics of the barricades and street-fighting today draw, in part, their inspiration from the Easter rising. If they removed their blindfolds they would discover that the actual experience of the rising proved the futility of such action. The conditions for revolution action expressly did not exist in 1916. They did not exist in Ireland and they did not exist in Europe. In Ireland, the IRB and the Citizen Army were only a handful in number. As a self-avowed Marxist, Connolly forgot that it will take the working class to change society, not a handful of individuals to do it for them

Connolly used his charismatic authority as a party leader, and a trade union organiser, to drag his men behind him. He ignored criticism from the other leaders of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union because his sights were set on action, no matter how futile. A large section of the of the workers’ movement was destroyed and into the vacuum stepped in bourgeois opportunists ready to lavish praise Connolly, in order to divert the working class struggle. It was made all the more easier because Connolly had not fought for a workers’ demands on the question of hours of work, of wages, of factory conditions, and of the ownership of the land and industry but a purely nationalist proclamation.

Those who advocate alliances between the workers’ organisations and pro-capitalist political parties on the basis of Connolly’s participation in the 1916 rising should heed the consequences. Connolly himself ignored his own advice. On January 22, 1916 he made a statement which many in the Left in Scotland who hang on to the coat-tails of the pro-independent nationalists should understand to-day: “The labour movement is like no other movement. Its strength lies in being like no other movement. It is never so strong as when it stands alone.” At the turn of the century the French socialist leader, Millerand, accepted a position in the French cabinet. Connolly denounced this betrayal, on the basis that a workers’ party should “accept no government position which it cannot conquer through its own strength at the ballot box”. He denounced Millerand’s stand by saying that “what good Millerand may have done is claimed for the credit of the bourgeois republican government: what evil the cabinet has done reflects back on the reputation of the socialist parties. Heads they win, tails we lose.”

Post-war Ireland saw the Limerick Soviet in the south and, in the north, the Belfast 40-Hour Strike where “Bolsheviks and Sinn Feiners” were leading astray many“good loyalist protestants” to the dismay of the Orange Lodge, where the composition of the strike committee was a majority of Protestant, but the chairman was a Catholic. Sectarianism was being challenged. Working class militancy had entered the Shankill Road and Sandy Row. The National Union of Railwaymen in a resolution at a conference in Belfast stated:“without complete unity amongst the working classes, (we should not allow either religious or political differences to prevent their emancipation) which can be achieved through a great international brotherhood the world over, no satisfactory progress could be made.”

Instead of a Connolly to seize the opportunity for working class unity and solidarity, we had De Valera declaring “Labour must wait”, the interests of the nation must come first (read “the interests of the capitalists”). It was to be national unity, not class unity. By pressing their interests the workers were said to be “endangering” the unity of the republican forces! On the land where the tenants were seizing the estates only to find themselves held back by Sinn Fein and the IRA, who even went to the lengths of carrying out evictions in order to break the back of the land-seizure movement.

The labour movement and working-class unity were the real victims of the 1916 Dublin Rising by subordinating their class interests to the nationalist interests of the capitalist.

See also SOYMB blog

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