A Socialist (sic) Symposium
Forward, 8th July 1911.
May I apologise to Comrade Connolly for having, in my last week’s note, charged him with personal abuse. I withdraw my charge – as it appears from last week’s issue that it is a temperamental weakness of friend Connolly’s, for which Nature alone is to be blamed.
In addition, my memory has played me false on history. I had always understood that ‘Biddy Moriarty,’ Dan O’Connell’s famous termagant, had only given birth to twins, viz., Arthur Trew (of Belfast) and Paster Boal (of Glasgow) – whereas it now appears that it was triplets, and that the third child was James Connolly, sometime of Edinburgh, sometime of Dublin, then of New York, again of Dublin, now of Belfast, and several other places, all of which had the unblushing temerity to refuse the Gospel of the new Messiah, and to demand some earnest as to the qualifications of the man who, refusing to WORK either in Scotland, Ireland, or America, in any existing organisation, demands as the price of his allegiance to Socialistic propaganda that the organisation must be his, and either GENERAL Secretary or NATIONAL Organiser must be his title.
Aut Caesar, aut Nullis! But, alas, Caesar’s army is a drummer boy, with a very big drum, and a fifer, with a very discordant tone.
‘The Socialist Party of Ireland!’ When friend Connolly previously resided in Ireland HIS organisation was ‘The Irish Socialist Republican Party.’ Why has the ‘Republican’ been dropped? Has friend Connolly also joined the worshippers of Monarchy, or has the change in title been dictated by the fact that he hopes to scoop some of the Royalists into his organisation? Whatever be the reason, the change is indicative of the basis upon which the new creed is founded.
I understand that the Socialist Party of Ireland object to the capitalistic system on the ground that the capitalist reaps where he has not sown. How does friend Connolly square his preaching with his practice? For 18 years the I.L.P. have preached the Gospel of Socialism in various parts of Ulster with gratifying success. They have faced the batons of the police; the deacon poles of the Orangemen; the assaults of the hooligan; the execration of the rabble; and have surmounted all difficulties: and now, when the seed sown is yielding forth its fruit, along comes our drawing-room warrior, with an order to clear the way for he and his to reap where they never had the courage nor capacity to sow. Pretty bumptious, when you think of it: and exactly on a parallel with Landlordism and Capitalism!
Again friend Connolly, whose chief weapon in an apparently attenuated armoury, is vituperation, has a weakness for quotation.
Andrew Carnegie, you have a few sins to answer for, and one amongst them is the fact that your ‘free’ libraries entice people to borrow books and amply quote therefrom, even though they neither understand the theory nor are possessed of the capacity to apply in practice the instruction and admonition thereof. Evidently originality is too big a strain to be endured, hence quotations look well and read better than original matter, besides doing nobody any harm.
Belfast’s municipal activities seem to be gall and wormwood to our Comrade. They excite his ire. They induce him to throw aside the last vestige of comradeship, and to descend to the level of the corner-boy in his rage against all and sundry, who have dared to spend their time in doing the collar work which ALONE makes for success, instead of leading an invisible ammy nowhere, but content if the general be visible to the people of the plain.
If and when friend Connolly came to Dublin from Edinburgh he had been content to be a soldier of the line, and not aspire to range himself with the Olympian deities; had got down to the problem of poverty and WORKED to solve it, Dublin today would tell a different tale, and its municipal activities would have extended into fields where private speculation reigns triumphant, but no glory would have been associated with the drudgery, hence avoidance of such menial tasks was the supreme virtue of our ‘National Organiser.’
And, now, just a word on the main question which has so successfully been evaded by our Comrade. He denounces the I.L.P. in Ireland, and appeals to the I.L.P. of Scotland to give him engagements (and, by the way, it is curious that, vide Press notices, the main work of the National Organiser of the Socialist Party of Ireland is in Scotland – a conundrum to me). Surely, if because of national characteristics, Ireland has a right to an Irish Socialist Party, by the same parity of reasoning Scotland also should have its Scottish Socialist Party; and, to pursue the matter, a Highland and a Lowland Party, a Welsh Party, a Berwick-on-Tweed Party; and as York was once the seat of power, a Northern English Party and a Southern English Party? In fact, if Comrade Connolly understood the ramifications of ‘Nationality’ he would be chary about tilting a lance on the question, but as “fools step in where angels fear to tread,” so we may excuse the temerity which, avoiding the issue of combat, rushes to the abuse of the individual to distract attention from his obvious difficulties.
The I.L.P. have enabled the Irish in Belfast to unite, James Connolly (Catholic) can – thanks to the spade work of the I.L.P. – come to Belfast and speak to audiences mainly Protestant, and be patiently heard, and it is curious that our Comrade never came to Belfast until he was confident that the I.L.P. had won a tolerant hearing for all classes; and if this can be accomplished in Belfast, what is to prevent the other parts of Ireland from using the same organisation to accomplish all those reforms which – whether we YELL for Socialism or WORK for it – are clamant for adoption.
Remember the capitalistic system will not (like the Walls of Jericho) fall down at the shouting of the people, but will only succumb to the pick and shovel, the assault and counter mine of an active army of assailants.
I am an Internationalist because the same grievances which afflict the German and the Englishman afflict me. I speak the same tongue as the Englishman: I study the same literature: I am oppressed by the same financial power: and, to me, only a combined and united attack, with out geographical consideration, can assure to Ireland an equal measure of social advancement as that which the larger and more advanced democracy of Great Britain are pressing for.
I am content to be a rank and filer! I am content to preach Socialism without reward! I am content to use in the Trade Union and the I.L.P. all the opportunities therein afforded, to consolidate the power of the workers. Don’t please allow ambition to impede the march of our army; but, if you are a Socialist, help the fighters to secure an early victory, and in doing this you will give some proof, very much needed, of a belief in the doctrine you preach.
(Unless this correspondence can be raised to the discussion of principles, it had better cease. – EDITOR)
Last updated on 12.8.2003