Connolly vs. the Melted Cheeseheads

Fergal Twomey, Corcaigh

Introduction: Why the Past Matters

The delusional melted cheeseheads * of the National Party, the IFP and more recently Síol na hÉireann are working feverishly to find in-roads to political relevance. Their political repertoire, which started off as a confused jumble of Neo-Nazi conspiracy theories and ersatz appeals to Americanised paddywhackery, has now received a tentative addition of shallow Strasserite anti-capitalism. By paying lip service appeal to social issues as a peremptory justification for a range of socially conservative and crypto-fascist politics, the melted cheeseheads are hoping that they can deceive or cajole the Irish working class into turning against itself. The Irish far-right, divorced from our political traditions and entangled with loyalism, are attempting to rebrand themselves as “patriots” arguing for a crass and ahistorical re-interpretation of Irish republicanism that rejects the egalitarian ideals it was founded on, perverting its deep hatred of exploitation as a cover for imitating destructive ideological principles in vogue in the centres of finance capital and imperial domination in the UK, on the European continent, and in the USA. 

This is a conscious effort to occupy a vacuum in society that has been left by the Irish state’s abandonment of its historical commitment to the commemoration of republicanism as an official narrative (or even the recognition of the existence of history at all given Fine Gael’s attempts to remove mandatory history classes). This move has been a result of the cultural disassimilation of the moneyed people of Ireland away from traditional patriotic narratives as an exercise of self-identity and social control, as their electorate and scions find themselves more at home with a cosmopolitan European identity, much as their unionist predecessors found themselves more comfortable in a “British” identity to distinguish themselves from the countrymen they bartered and sold.

The Irish far-right, however, is so clumsy and brazenly opportunistic in its gait that it has found little purchase amoungst the Irish people. A colonial-inspired nationalism, championed by unionist-connected figures such as Rowan Croft (Tan Torino), Hermann Kelly and Niall McConnell can never authentically represent a national identity that was forged in the struggle of the oppressed for freedom, that shares a naturally kindred spirit to the oppressed of the world and which doesn’t forget lightly. Fine Gael might gladly re-write the history books to laud the Black and Tans as unsung heroes and castigate the IRA as terrorists, and the National Party would dress up the IRA in the garments of the Ku Klux Klan in its recollections, neither of these two sides of the same coin will make much headway because there was an unfinished revolution in Ireland, and the shockwaves of such revolutions in the popular memory can rarely be swept away by the brazenly ignorant and self-serving. 

Cambridge Analytica stole user information and data and spun custom political ads aimed at mass manipulation. Its services have been utilised by the right in the Brexit and Trump campaigns, and prominent rightists like Dominic Cummings rose to prominence based on their writings on the intersection of machine learning and mass psychology in persuasion of swing voters.

In this article, I intend to set out a number of issues of historical contention and settle them in detail, debunking some of the mythology being furthered by both the far-right and the centre-right in Ireland to suppress working class unity. To do this I will need to provide a background of the right in Ireland today and the struggle that we’re facing in contesting our political future with them, a struggle mirrored world-wide in rapidly escalating social conflict. In Ireland, we are faced with the task of wedding education with propaganda, to overcome the rapid misinformational potential of social media with a confident and well-prepared response.

The far-right in Ireland has been studying the situation abroad and attempting to orchestrate a slicker media presence to get its foot in the door. One example of this trend applied successfully has been Gript.ie and TheLiberal.ie. These websites frame themselves as normal news agencies, but in reality the majority of their content is composed of republications of real news websites’ content, but with a far-right ideological framing applied prior to publication. The result is that these outlets, with relatively small editorial teams and sufficient funding from international backers, are able to utilise advertising budget and social media algorithms to proliferate their socially regressive views widely, with many people unwittingly becoming part of this process of disinformation. We have seen the situation arise in other countries where this strategy has been massively successful for the far-right. Gript.ie has even approached Cambridge Analytica to try to utilise their cutting edge spin techniques to attempt mass influence attempts on the Irish people. Fine Gael has attempted the same thing through Leo Varadkar’s bumpy attempts to set up a “department of spin”. The so called “Strategic Communications Unit”, based on the infamous Blairite institution immortalised in the television series The Thick of It, was angled by Varadkar to essentially function as a publicly funded party machine aimed at voter manipulation for the accomplishment of policy targets. Given this renewed focus on technological mass manipulation and its strategic navigation of the Irish political landscape to retain minority power, one has to wonder at what point Fine Gael will become too disappointed with the Irish people, and in the Brechtian sense, dissolve it and elect another. 

In addition to its funding sources, its desire to keep up with cutting edge trends in mass communication, the Irish right is totally unscrupulous and debauched, as evidenced by the flood of fake material it manufactured to advance a racist agenda in the aftermath of a vicious stabbing in Carrigaline. Not only was shoddily faked material circulated widely on Facebook, but a trend of right-wing users obsessively reply-bombing critics on Twitter to “even out the proportion” and create the false impression of representing a larger part of public opinion was apparent. Celebrity shoutouts too, are being sought after, as National Party accounts on Twitter have been repeatedly tagging Conor McGregor in their content, attempting to get much sought after retweets from high impact accounts, drawing “influencers” into their orbit. By using sockpuppets and co-ordination to raid platforms and hijack local issues, the right in Ireland is developing two approaches – the high capital investment approach of Fine Gael and media outlets with “dark money” like Gript and TheLiberal, and the high post volume hounding applied by grassroots far-right organisations which is taken out of the playbook of brand SEO and guerilla marketing methods.

As long as those on the far-right, after the fashion of Gemma O’Doherty, lack self-awareness, they won’t be able to overcome their innate repulsiveness, however, increased media savviness and methodological sophistication leave open the possibility that a rebranded far-right will be able to sneak radical racebaiting or anti-worker ideas into the national conversation, and a constant campaign of attrition and repetition is attempting to do so already. The one exception to this trend is the Burkean, which despite hailing from what is, according to the very dubiously calculated QS rankings, the pinnacle of Irish educational attainment, manages to exceed expectations only in the consistency of its tedious middle class mundanity. Any individual who believes the USI are radical Left terrorists is not to be taken seriously. They have all the hilariously sanctimonious air of an American anti-lockdown protestors tweeting photos of a novelty debit card they found on the ground while shrieking about “anteeeeeeeeeefa”. Their Americanisms cut fairly succinctly to the heart of their affected ultra-patriotic identity.

Building a Left Response Internally

The Left in Ireland is poorly situated to respond to or combat this emerging situation. Left discourse is either academic, and circulated through a handful of obscure Trotskyite journals and blogs in long-form presentation, or else focuses on peer pressure rather than persuasion. There is a culture on campuses in Ireland not to overly rock the boat, not to research or contest political theory, but to focus instead on the authority of identity and on replicating intellectual fashions in vogue in the anglophone world. Far be it for me to bemoan the calibre of left-wing activists today, but many of the campus activists today who bandy terms like “tankie” or “radlib” about left and right would be hard-pressed to sit down and write out a good old-fashioned polemic. Long-form debate has largely been surrendered to the domain of academic abstraction rather than passionate dissension, and it’s rare that theoretical differences will be argued out in detail between people – instead the identity and justification of sects is distilled out into social and cultural factors – this crowd are LARP’ers, or that crowd is SWERF, often without any real engagement with the fundamental issues or basis in fact. Political persuasion and identification is ladled out on the basis of screenshot threads on Twitter and hot takes.

A comparison of the social media outputs of several different Irish parties compiled several months ago. As can be expected, state funded income (accounts available online from sipo.ie) contributes to social media presence, and there is a low investment by almost all parties in audio-visual outreach and poor utilisation of YouTube – a medium where the far-right have the headstart. Check out Paul Morrin’s channel for an idea of what we could be doing.

The result is a dearth of ability to debate the justification for divergent political positions. Without this, opportunities will be missed and people will be blindsided, and we as a community of activists will lose sight of our long-term purpose and goals and be amenable to being influenced. The basic pattern of young people joining in-groups, seeing people dishing out thought-terminating cliches on Twitter, and then joining in before they have a firm grasp of the source of the divisions they’re going along with it is rife. The dialectical format of contradiction and resolution needs to be at the heart of politics, with education through internal debate producing cadres with a well-grounded idea of the history and point of their organisation and its positions, with political disagreements taking obvious precedence over personality and cliques. I will cite a specific example to prove that I’m not just engaging in self-edifying sectarian claptrap – a document was recently released by a high-ranking SWN/PBP member who defected from his organisation. In this document, he outlines how “this week’s topic” was used to create a frantic atmosphere, that the party’s history wasn’t being documented, and education sessions weren’t being conducted, instead encouraging party activists to cut their teeth solely in the school of activity. This approach, justified using a selective misreading of Lenin, avoided the issue of resolving, or even being aware of, differences of thought and position emerging between them. In order for the left to respond properly to the right, we need to approach our work not only ephemerally, moving forward from campaign to campaign trying to keep the circus on the road, but also institution-building. It’s crucial, when defending what we stand for against increasing attempts to cut it off from its social base, that we are archiving an accurate and compartmentalised memory of how we arrived at our positions beyond convenience, expedience and social exigencies. This is the new political approach that the CYM is struggling to apply through its education programmes, so a rigorous grounding in the methodologies of Marxism and social analysis will allow members to take the initiative, rather than requiring a very hierarchical structure where members need extensive marching orders. The common programme of the youth organisation will be formed through active education and intense internal debate, and then activists can act as nuclei for projects in their communities, unions and workplaces.

Building a Left Response Externally

The other main problem is the Left’s capacity to respond to external attacks beside internal confusion is the lack of mass appeal media. Gript and TheLiberal have done wonders for the entrenchment of a vicious and revanchist anti-homeless, anti-worker, anti-migrant, anti-woman tendency into social dialogue. It’s gone entirely unchallenged too, because there is no left-wing media outlet or medium with the firepower to match it. Looking at the landscape of left-wing media in Ireland, you have a handful of webzines with irregular publication – LookLeft (Workers’ Party), Socialist Voice (CPI), Forward (CYM), which I edit, An Spreách, Irish Broad Left. You have a few academic journals, like Saothar, and party-theoretical journals, like Irish Marxist Review for the SWN. In addition to these online outlets, you have a number of fly-by-night low-run print broadsheets that are handed out by various groups, sometimes around specific campaigns or front organisations.

Newspaper Morning Star (United Kingdom). Newspapers in United ...
The Morning Star is a flagship daily connected to the Communist Party of Britain that has been highly successful in injecting class analysis into current events. There is no equivalent media service in Ireland.

There is a lack of audio-visual content on the Left, with the exception of a long-standing tradition of good utilisation by Sinn Fein, and the recent addition of Rebel Telly, an SWN/PBP front the manager of which was the defector I briefly mentioned above. The Trotskyist parties, as you can readily find out from their SIPO accounts available online, are in receipt of hundreds of thousands of euro in state funding yearly. Most of this money goes into electoral campaigns and staff costs in a sort of self-propagating ouroboros. Brass tacks are that this splintered system isn’t working. I’ve argued before here that we need a single daily paper on the Left, similar to the Morning Star. Despite rapid growth in membership, the CYM lacks the funding for an ambitious project like this. That’s not to say we can’t diversify and professionalise our social media output, an ongoing and improving process, but something more ambitious is necessary. Something that can utilise the best techniques of modern propaganda to counter the false narratives of the far-right and champion the cause of our class. A trade union-backed effort with independent left-wing journalists and academics could accomplish this, but in reality, it’s a case that whichever group has the necessary talent, time and funding first will do it, as whereas the far-right band together frequently, the ideological divisions between our organisations seem to form at times insurmountable chasms. The left needs to become more extroverted and admit that it’s in an ideological war for the redefinition of our society at a time when everything is up for grabs. 

The Fight for James Connolly’s Legacy

It’s in this context and interest that I’m dealing with a topic very fundamental and important to me – the ideological legacy of James Connolly. Connolly is the conscience and the core of the Irish struggle for socialism. I’m aware of kneejerk criticism against writing long, in-depth articles that treat with historical primary sources out of academia, but popularising and reviving the relevance of these ideas is something that a vision for Irish socialism can’t be sustained without.  

The National Party recently released a poster which proudly sported the slogan “Finance Capitalism Destroys Nations” alongside an image of Ireland imprismed by a sordid rainbow oubliette. The Burkean Journal, an outlet for right-wing writers, recently released an article criticizing the CYM for being Soros bankrolled mercenaries of big capital. While it may seem at first that this provides no more than a fascinating window into the Dionysian chaos of the right-wing psyche, a particularly annoying manifestation of this confusion has been a concerted attempt by melted cheeseheads to formulate alternate history fanfic which claims James Connolly as a right-wing, anti-immigration, anti-abortion, bible-bashing marlboro-smoking gun-toting cowboy (well, maybe that last part). The purpose of this article is to debunk some of these claims.

A textbook “Graphic Design is my Passion” moment.

Part of this critique will also be directed at elected representatives of Fine Gael, and the liberal campus politics cultivar of melted cheesehead, who have categorically asserted that Connolly would be spinning in his grave if he saw the civil disobedience that young people dare to get up to these days. Leo Varadkar has recently proudly declared his inability to see the difference between the far-left and the far-right. It shouldn’t be difficult to establish that the medium-right and the far-right are a lot closer than either of them realise. 

Connolly vs. Migration 

An interesting crossover in the shared providence of the Irish far-right and unionism can be seen through a common drive to distort Connolly into a racist, anti-migrant Irish blood-and-soil nativist. There seems to be a lot more in common on the right than they might like to believe, with unionists, Fine Gael and the National Party all agreeing Connolly was a bigoted loon, just disagreeing on whether that’s great or, to Ruth Dudley Edwards fanboys, further evidence of the poorly developed physiognomy of the ghastly IRA-Gael. The 2016 blog post James Connolly’s angry nativist language in the liberal unionist blog The New Irishman tries to paint Irish people as innately racist and uncivilized. It uses the popular tactic of cherrypicking out-of-context quotes from Connolly’s work, and using a contemporary misreading based on semantic sleight-of-hand to intimate a meaning which Connolly could not possibly have intended, and which Connolly explicitly repudiates in other portions of his published work. 

The main source for this myth that Connolly was racist, ethno-nationalist or anti-migrant is an article by Connolly titled Slackers I. Both those ostensibly on the Left who want to demonise Republicanism and far-right “Patriot” Irish xenophobes return to gorge on its perceived opposition to foreign workers. Slackers I is an indignant reply by Connolly to the precedence given to English draft-dodgers in Dublin in the allocation of jobs, encouraging many to move there and exploit the absence of Irish workers who are abroad forced to fight their wars. Slackers I is an anti-imperialist piece that specifically attacks the parasitical relationship and colonial sneer of both classes in British society towards the Irish people, and admonishes the British working class for not demonstrating solidarity with Irish workers. Connolly’s strongly-worded arguments, put to paper amid the threat of a British conscription drive in Ireland, were controversial and misinterpreted in his own day, and he published two follow-up articles (the snappily titled Slackers II and Slackers III) to repudiate those who hallucinated nativism or anti-migrant sentiment in his words. While Spencer, the author of this post, is trying to demonise Republicanism, this demonisation has been readily embraced by those who seek to corrupt Connolly’s legacy with the stench of white supremacy. But I will let Connolly speak for himself:

“We are aware some captious critics will say that it is a new position for the Editor of the Workers’ Republic to take to calling men cowardly runaways because they are trying to evade conscription. Whoever does so misses the whole point of our complaint. We are against conscription until we have something worth defending. The British workers, no more than the Irish, have not any stake in ‘their’ Empire worth risking their lives to defend. That we freely grant. But that being the case the duty of English workers is to stay at home and fight conscription, not to run away from that fight”

Connolly was admonishing the British workers, not for failing to fight for an imperialist power or for migrating to Ireland – he was admonishing them for failing to confront imperialism and instead taking advantage of the unequal relationship between Ireland and Britain for self-gain. This is not an ethno-nationalist argument, it is a call for workers’ not to reinforce capital’s exploitation of the free movement of labour, but to band together to fight on common terms for their interests. “Loyalists to a man, jingoes and ‘Rule Britannia’ shouters every last one of them, they form the bulk of the audience at all West British functions, and spore the colours of the British Army on their persons as they parade our streets. But they are here to take our jobs, to take the bread out of the mouths of Irishmen whilst using those same Irishmen to go and fight for the Empire”. Connolly is attacking Empire and the hypocrisy of its adherents – it is not against internationalism, but for revolutionary anti-imperialism. 

The entirety of Slackers III is devoted to Connolly’s denial of being an ethno-nationalist, and he devotes considerable time to spelling it out for an English reader:

 “Q: If you believe the Irish workers are poor because of capitalist oppression why mislead them to regard the Scotch and English workers who may compete for jobs as the authors of Irish misery?”

“A: Is not that a gem? Here is the position. The capitalist class of these countries have committed a great international crime. We stand solidly alongside of all those in Ireland who have opposed that crime from its inception to its latest development, and we have opposed and denounced all those who in Ireland have been accomplices of that crime whether those accomplices were of our own class, our nearest and dearest friends, or members of the exploiting classes.”

Connolly spells it out in no uncertain terms – his enemies are not foreigners, but rather those of all nations who would benefit from rather than fight against imperialism. It is thus a huge historical tragedy that over 100 years later, the same charge which Connolly denied and inveighed against, is again turned against him by those who stand to benefit from ethno-nationalism – “progressive” loyalists seeking to denigrate Irish nationhood as a uniting, aspirational ideal, and the racists who would seek to drag us into the mire and moral degradation of measuring our Irishness by our skin tone. Connolly is the voice of the working class, of all nations and lands, in its fury against injustice. This is why he promoted Esperanto and organised workers in three different countries. 

Connolly vs. the Unborn

Image

A frequent gambit by the National Party and one of the favourites of the Aontú melted cheeseheads promoted by Gript.ie is the attempt to claim Connolly by denouncing the modern left as “baby killers” whom he would have lined up against the wall and shot had he still a breath of life stirring within him. All of this speculation is hinged entirely on metaphorical and literary use of language in his pamphlets – Connolly never articulated a position on abortion, or else they would be all over that in an instant to justify their own backwards and anti-woman ideology. Attached is a particularly far-fetched article which interlaces out-of-context Connolly quotes with wild supposition as to his thoughts on abortion. This is the level of reach that they require in order to attempt to claim Connolly. 

What we do know about Connolly is that he was a committed feminist, and thought that women should benefit first and foremost from their self-determination. The Communist Party of Ireland maintains a collection of selected writings of Connolly on Women’s Rights – Breaking The Chains. Once again, I will allow Connolly to speak in his own words: 

“None so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them, none so well equipped to decide what is a fetter. In its march towards freedom, the working class of Ireland must cheer on the efforts of those women who, feeling on their souls and bodies the fetters of the ages, have arisen to strike them off, and cheer all the louder if in its hatred of thraldom and passion for freedom the women’s army forges ahead of the militant army of Labour. But whosoever carries the outworks of the citadel of oppression, the working class alone can raze it to the ground.”

Here Connolly undermines the specific oppression of women on the basis of their bodily autonomy. The key issue of the abortion rights campaign. If some of these melted cheeseheads had bothered to properly research and validate their claims before putting them to print and screen, they would have found a wealth of literature documenting Connolly’s support for women to have complete autonomy and decision-power over their bodies and futures. Connolly would have been with us celebrating the victory for women’s rights and claim to equal humanity on the 25th of May, and he would have been canvassing and agitating tirelessly for women’s rights in the run-up to the vote. To entertain any alternative is to give over completely to fantasy and projection. The substance and the fact of Connolly’s lifework stands with the CYM, and the CYM with Connolly’s work, and no mental gymnastics or excessive focus on form over substance can deprecate that.

Connolly vs. Civil Disobedience

Next we turn to the attempts of the establishment to recuperate Connolly. There was nothing more comical and immediately memeable than Jerry Buttimer’s outrageous claim that Connolly (we’ve all heard the refrain) would be spinning in his grave at the thought of the working class daring to stand up to the government. This occurred after the CYM disrupted a Fine Gael meeting to highlight the endemic of street deaths related to the manufactured homelessness endemic in Ireland. There is no starker instance of the deluge of terrible commentary that attempts to claim Connolly in the name of the ideological inheritors of the apparatus he spent his life railing against and who, in the pages of the Irish Independent, bayed for his blood and gloated at his death. The Irish capitalist class, that Fine Gael are part and parcel the representatives of in their role as Ireland’s comprador governance, saw Connolly as their arch-enemy and played the critical role in convincing the British martial authority, then considering amnesty, to proceed in murdering him. 

The notion that Connolly would be the right hand of the bosses evokes immediate amusement and ridicule, but it betrays the deep-seated arrogance at the heart of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s worldview – encouraging the working class to “drape themselves in the green jersey” and abusing Ireland’s revolutionary legacy to further their own class interests. Fine Gael derailed the 1916 commemorations into a forgetful conversation that left the story of the Soviets, the radical conscience of Ireland’s fight for freedom, to languish in the dark. Fine Gael are the arch-opportunists – attempting to operationalise and valourise and commodify any feature of our national story in the goal of selling a bluewashed version of history that absolves them of their reprehensible role in some of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history – from their brutal suppression of workers in Leinster with the army alongside strikebreaking forces of big farmers in the civil war, to their contingent sent to (inefficiently) support Franco in the Spanish Civil War, to their sale of Ireland and subjugation of the Irish working class in the Industrial Relations Act, to their criminal underdevelopment of the Western regions and abandonment of the Irish language – they are the inheritors of nothing but shame, with no legacy of their own to claim ownership of. This is why they resort to feebly attempt to operationalise Connolly in defence of their atrocious ethical cowardice. Let us not forget that Connolly led an armed insurrection in Ireland, and that he saw the disestablishment of capitalism in Ireland as possible only through, as Costello said, the same means of its establishment – force of arms. There is no room for reformism or electoralism in Connolly’s programme, and certainly no room for capitalism. 

Connolly vs.  Religion

Lastly, to complete the painting of Connolly as a tradition-worshipping, capitalistic ethno-nationalist, it is indispensable to claim that he was a rigid, devout Catholic – thus completing the textbook definition of the invented stage Irishman that modern “patriots” would like to sell themselves as. The reality was that Connolly shared a complex relationship with Catholicism, and especially the Catholic Church throughout his life. While as communists, our secularism is indispensable, and our core understanding of history is rooted in materialism and a rejection of a “spiritual world” in the determination of world history and the affairs of humanity, many of the faithful and those adherent to liberation theology have passed through the ranks of communist movements around the world. Connolly’s ambivalence about the role of the Catholic Church in Irish history could be best described as agnosticism. One thing that’s clear is that Connolly didn’t grant the Catholic Church any clemency in an accurate accounting of its selling out of the Irish people century after century, the entire Foreward of “Labour, Nationality and Religion” is devoted to a blow by blow record of the sins of the Church: 

“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”

Connolly also professed agnosticism or artifice in his Catholicism several times through his life:

“For myself, though I have usually posed as a Catholic I have  not gone to my duty for 15 years, and  have  not the slightest tincture of faith left. I only assumed the Catholic pose in order to quiz the raw  freethinkers whose ridiculous dogmatism did and  does annoy me as much as the dogmatism of the Orthodox. In fact, I respect the good Catholic more than the average freethinker.”

I’m sure many of us living in the wake of New Atheism and the likes of Sam Harris can empathise. Either way, whether you classify Connolly as a Catholic or not, he was capable of separating the personal from the political and clearly his Catholic faith did not lame him in his pursuit of an historically materialist conception of metaphysics, and his political argumentation contained vehement criticism of the temporal role of the Church and its role in oppressing the working class. To thus attempt to claim him as a dogmatic prelate, railing against abortion and degeneracy, is pointless. Connolly was committed to Republican secularism, in body and voice, if not soul. The vain attempts by Justin Barrett fanboys, or oddly, more recently, by Angela Nagle, to position Connolly as a veritable Knight of Columbanus are an intentional misunderstanding of a complex historical relationship, refitted for contemporary concerns and illusions far beyond its original scope. 

Connolly vs. the working class

Let us say no more.

Conclusion

Connolly was many things in his life – a cobbler, a trade unionist, a Marxist, a revolutionary, an agnostic, an internationalist, and an Irish patriot – one thing he was not, was a fascist, nor a Fine Gaeler. There is a new kind of war in Ireland – a culture war. It is both a spread of the broader culture wars that are eclipsing the Anglophone world, and a uniquely Irish continuation of a culture war that started in 1916. The old questions of nationhood that have plagued us in the post-colonial comedy of development are being weaponised by those who seek to mirror the rise of the far-right internationally – we cannot let them. We cannot surrender our heroes, who died to bequeath us the revolutionary legacy we fight for, to those who would trample the workers underneath their heels. We cannot forget why they fought, for they are the same reasons that we fight. We must stem the cultural tide of revisionism, and there is only one solution – read Connolly, quote Connolly, disseminate Connolly. The fabric of Connolly’s oeuvre must be memorised and applied by Connolly Youth Movement members, and we must re-apply it to the concerns and struggles of the working class today through direct agitation in union work and community organisation. We must revolutionise our methods of communication, to reach people clearly and effectively by rapidly addressing the issues of the day through the lens which Connolly has given us. Our message has to be lucid, relevant and unassailable. This can only be achieved through the confidence in our knowledge that education, both theoretical and in struggle, imparts, and the collective discipline we strive for. If we fail in this mission, Ireland will not just lose its past, but also its future, both for the born and yet to be born. 

Liked this article? Want to support more articles like this? Please condsider donating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.