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James Connolly—ln Memoriam -
“The working olaM can only think and apeak in language aa hard and definite aa ita life. Wa have no room for lllusiona in our struggle, leaat of ail for lllusiona about free dom." James Connolly, July 31, 1915. • • • YITHATEVER it may mean else where and otherwise, “Easter Week” in Ireland is fixed and sacred to the memory of James Connolly and the “men of 1916.” So much bo that there grows a danger—one that Con nolly himself would hare been the first and fiercest to revolt against— the danger that he himself will be lost in the devotions paid to his corpse. TAMES CONNOLLY was more than " the commandant-general of the forces of the Irish Republic. For the firmness and thoroness of his nation alist faith his end speaks unanswer ably. His whole life testifies to the equal force and virility of his inter nationalism. He who would explain Connolly must be able to unriddle the paradox —“How came the first and greatest leader of working class international ism in Ireland to be the last and greatest leader of an Irish nationalist rebellion against the British crown and empire?” rpHAT the Irish common people -*■ should be passionately nationalist was Inevitable from their history. When the Norman invaders first passed over from England to begin the process of "extirpating Vice” and establishing the supremacy of holy mother church—with incidental "pick ings” for themselves and their over lords the kings of England—there clashed, not two armies of differing speech and descent, but two distinct and incompatible social systems. "TTVERY step in the establishment of British rule in Ireland meant to the conquered, not merely the tem porarily physical losses of defeat, conquest and dispossession. It meant the destruction of everything tradi tional and sacred in Irish social ex istence. The Irish clans could only survive as clans in the teeth of perpetual war and ravage. Inevitably to be “Irish” meant to be "poor, miserable, hunted and outcast.” The Irish survived as a peasantry tolerated because they were too poor to be worth disturbing —except so far as their very poverty combined with the inaccessibility of the hills and the bogs to which they were driven, had by driving them to live as plunderers gs the plunderers provoked reprisals, rpo be born of the poorer peasantry -*• in Ireland at any time between 1600 and 1916 was of necessity to be born into a tradition—they are Con nolly’s own words —of "stubborn phys ical resistance to the forces of Brit ain.” And this was intensified thru every generation from the peasants’ rising of 1798, thru the Tithe war, the Black famine, and the Fenian days to culminate in the bitterness and fury of the land war of the *Bo’s. To be so born was to have added to all the other incentives to rebellion incidental to a worker’s life, a tradi tion, not merely of revolt, but of the fact that even defeat could be borne, recovered from and avenged. James Connolly was born in County Monaghan, in 1870, of peasant ances try. T>UT it would be folly to attempt to " explain James Connolly—one of the least emotional of men—in terms of personal psychology and heredity wholly. Had he been a nationalist born and nothing more, he would never have returned to Ireland in 1896 with the express and avowed object of found ing an Irish socialist movement. CONNOLLY was above everything a proletarian. His Irish birth and breeding and Ms knowledge of Irißh men and things made it easier for him to organize Irishmen and deal with Irish politics than another. But that he should want to organise the Irish workers, and into an Irish so cialist republican party, came from his proletarian Instincts and his train ing in the working class movement. And both as a socialist theoretician and as a practical Irishman (and he reditary rebel) he saw from the first the need to organize the Irish work ers on Irish soil, since they alone could grapple with Irish problems as Irish historical development had forced them forward for solution. rpHE natural revulsion of an Engllsh man —not too far gone in sin—at reading the history of the British em pire is one of shame, disgust, and pity for the victims. * The shame is soon shed; since it is . that of others. The nausea passes. But the pity abides. And that is pos sibly the worst that could happen. Connolly could not have lived ten days in Britain without meeting “pity for Ireland.” You or I can walk into the street, now, and find quite a lot of “pity" for the Indians, the Egyp tians and so on. And when the in dustrial development of Britain was In such a stage that British factory lords and financiers had no use for either Ireland. India or Egypt, except as milch klne from which to draw sustenance for their home industries, pity was, possibly, as much as could then be placed upon the order of the day. • • • BUT that day has passed and Con nolly saw clearly that a new era had come —and seeing it, hated with ft;. American Workers Aid Irish Famine Sufferers. all his splendid power of hate the .Irish politicians who, at Westminster, had no other song to sing than of the woes of their "distressful country." He saw that the very need to get cheaper and ever cheaper raw mate rials for the expanding manufactures of Britain had done two things—not only in Ireland, but elsewhere. It had crushed the peasantry down to the level of a proletariat, and it had made possible the development, on their backs, and at their expense, of a native small-capitalist class who in time, with British surplus capital, would grow into a native capitalism even more rapacious (if possible) than the alien capitalism had been. • • • SEEING that, he saw, too, that while this native small-capitalist class would be (for sound fiscal and other reasons) even more violently nation alist than the common mass—nation alist from ingrained tradition —they would in equal measure be the first to flinch from a light which entailed arming the common mass against the “common enemy.” For, at long last, whatever his nationality or nationalism, the capital ist is—a capitalist. The native, Irish capitalist was willing enough to be freed from his English exploiter and rival. But when the price of that re lease was to run the risk of placing himself at the mercy of his proletar ian fellow-countrymen he, "with one consent, began to make excuses.” GO over the history of Irish revolts —1798, 1803, 1848, 1867—every where there is to be detected, if one reads aright, the same symptom. Al ways the moral is that of the old piper in Tom Burke —"curses on the gentle men: they always betrayed us.” Go over the more modern history of India and Egypt—go over the his tory of Easter week, 1916. The lesson :s no different. WHEN the chance came in 1914 to arm a body of working class vol unteers Connolly was glad to seize it. He of all men had "no Illusions about freedom” —none about the power and relentlessness of the British empire. He seized the chance, first, because before him, too plain to be missed, was the chance to put the Dublin workers on something of an equality with the polioe guards of the strike smashing Murphys. Secondly, because he saw (as no man else in Ireland) that only the working masses could be trusted to put up a fight even for so limited a thing as a democratic Irish republic—that the strength of the volunteers was in the workers. And there was yet another motive soon to become actively operative. • • • WHEN the war came, it is not too much to say that to one of the “old guard” of Marxism, in the Eng lish speaking world (as Connolly was) it seemed as though the end of every hope had come. Only slowly did such as he recover from the horror that came with the realization that the world army of social democracy had melted overnight, leaving behind nothing but "leaders” serving their kings and kaisers, and the masses disorganized into mobs drifting every whither “as sheep having no shep herd." As the horror of shame and disgust was replaced by the horrors of war, so there grew, even with the sound of the guns and the tales of the slaughter, the sense that the masses were regathering—however blindly; that there was a chance that the right lead at the right time might be the GOLDEN RULE EMPLOYER GIVES BUSINESS TO HIS EMPLOYES (A PARABLE) D. Rocky Vanderfeller, internationally celebrated as the teapot king, and head of Vanderfeller, Inc., a five billion dollar corporation, threw a bomb shell into business circles yesterday when he announced that his vast organ ization would hereafter be run exclusively by his employes. Beginning July 1, Mr. Vanderfeller 4 will make over his entire business to the men who have been working for him, and they will receive practically all profits. Has Money Enough. "I hare money enough,” said Mr. Vanderfeller last night, at his home in Park avenue, "so I am going to give my loyal employee a chance. After all, it is they who hare made the busi ness, so why should they not have an opportunity to share in the profits? "For many years Vanderfeller, Inc. has been earning four million dollars a year. Under the management of my employes, who will work harder be cause they will be working for them selves, the profits should be at least ten million. What Might be Called A" Fair Deal." “To be conservative, however, and to give my old workers a chance, I am fixing on eight million as a fair figure, and every cent of profit over this amount will be divided among the em. ployes. "Hereafter the business will be theirs to do with as they wish. A board elected by the men will govern the business, and I will not interfere 3 By T. A. JACKSON spark to explode their stored-up wrath. • • • ■piROM the first day of the war, when -*• he had decorated his headquart ers with the legend—all across the front of the building—"We serve neither king nor kaiser; but Ireland!” Connolly had grown fiercer and more Impatient He pressed ever closer his relations with the more ardent among the re publican volunteers. He won his way by the sheer compulsion of his com mand of the technique of the busi ness, until he stood hign in the inner councils of those ready to risk all upon the chance that “England’s dif ficulty was Ireland's opportunity." • • • TT it known now that it was he, more -*• than any other, who had urged on the rising; that when at the eleventh hour Mac Neil cancelled the order for mobilization, which was the agreed signal for the volunteers of all Ireland, it was he who insisted, back ed by Pearse, in going forward what ever betide. It is told how he said as he marched out —without emotion or display, In his natural matter-of-fact tone, talk ing to an intimate—that he knew he was going to his death. Is there any explanation—to those who knew him —other than this: that his whole being was filled with the desire to strike such a blow as might even by a change rouse the revolu tionary explosion which would lay capitalism, its wars, subjections and exploitations, conquered beneath the feet of the workers of the world? • • • AND how far was he wrong? He had said that with 1,600 men he could take and hold Dublin for long enough for all Ireland to rise, With half that number he held it for a week. Only twelve months after he had fallen before the firing squad the Russian masses stirred, j ed, and the Russian workers’.reipUi- , tlon had begun. • • • TMPATIENT? perhaps. Duped. In spite of himself, by national con ceit? Neither of these. His heart was with the working mass, and he scorned to live safely while they were passing thru the torments of hell. He took his chance, knowing it was a chance. He fought for Ire land. But he lived, fought and died that the workers of the world might rule. ♦ in any way except to decide things. If the men agree with me on Import ant points, they will have their way about everything. Must, of Course, Show Loyalty. “To show their loyalty to America’s dead heroes,” said Vanderfeller, “the men win be asked to contribute ninety-eight per cent out of all profits over and above the eight million I figure on for myself, to a fund for the benefit of the poor widows and or phans of America’s unknown soldier, and In case the widow never makes application for the fund it will, of course, be turned over to my account” Under the new arrangements, Mr. Vanderfeller said, he would be able to reduce the number of his employes by ten per cent and produce many more teapots. Philadelphia, Notice! Weber Printing Co. 350 N. FIFTH STREET, Philadelphia, Pa.