If the Bolsheviks Came to Ireland

Posted: November 6, 2012 in politics
Tags: , , ,
Bolshevik forces marching on Red Square Nolte ...

The Irish Revolution is usually cast as part of a nationalist narrative of rebellion and movement toward “independence”. A look at the evidence places the upheavals in Ireland in this period in the context of the worldwide revolt unleashed by the Russian Revolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Extracts from an article from by Thomas Johnson, leader of the Irish Labour Party, February 23rd 1918. Published on the front page of the Irish Opinion and Voice of Labour, a weekly paper with a distribution above 10,000, reaching from Limerick to Glasgow and from Claremorris to Bristol.

[…]

While Ireland has had but one Connolly, Russia has produced hundreds.

[Johnson goes on to praise the Soviets, the Russian workers’, sailors’ and peasants’ councils, which held power in 1917. He claims that the Irish parallel to the Soviets are the local trades councils, the agricultural co-operative societies and the local Volunteer groups.]

An Irish counterpart to the Russian Revolution would mean that these three sections, co-operating, would take control of the industrial, agricultural and social activities of the nation. Power would no longer be in the hands of the wealthy nor authority be wielded by the nominees of an Imperial Majesty. Industry would be directed towards supplying the wants of the Irish people and agriculture to providing food for those engaged in industry. Food and houses, clothes and education, these would be provided for all the people by the labour and service of all the people before any luxuries or superfluities were allowed to any. The private profit of the private proprietor would not then determine what class of goods should be produced, whether cattle should be raised or corn grown, the needs of the people would decide.

[…]

The land of the country would be made free of access to those who were willing to cultivate it to the best communal advantage. The Dublin housing problem would be immediately tackled,and might be made less pressing by a distribution of the congested population from the tenements over the partially occupied mansions of the suburbs. These are a few of the things that would happen if the Bolsheviks came to Ireland. It is right that our friends who join with us in acclaiming the Bolshevik revolution should understand its implications. It means that as society is based upon labour, Labour shall rule. And that means a complete overturning from the present state wherein, though society is based upon labour, capital and property rule.

We are told that the triumph of the workers’ revolution will mean chaos. Chaos is already here, brought into being by Capitalism. What can be worse than another year of war? Russia suffered twenty million casualties, five millions being killed. How much chaos will equal that? Dublin suffers chaos daily, as witness the lives of one-third of her people.

The workers of Russia cry to the workers of Germany and England, Austria and France, Belgium and Ireland, to come to their aid, to save the revolution. They appeal to their comrades in all belligerent countries to stop the holocaust, to look at home for the enemy, to save the Workers’ Republics of Russia by establishing workers’ republics throughout Europe.

Germany and Austria are showing signs of response, Scotland and England and fitful and feverish, France is still in bondage, Belgium stricken too low to rise, and Ireland? – She tried her strength and was forced backward but now recuperates. Be assured that when their brethren of Europe, their working class comrades of Britain call for assistance in the great struggle for the overthrow of Kaiserism, Imperialism and Capitalism, the common people of Ireland will not be backward.

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