James Connolly


Some Irish Slaves and Slavishness


Workers’ Republic, 25 September 1915.
Recently republished in Red Banner, No.7 (PO Box 6587, Dublin 6).

Transcription: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

At last meeting of the Dublin Trades Council the secretary of a small affiliated body, the Brassfounders, wrote in intimating the withdrawal of his society from the Council. The reason alleged was that the Council had instructed their representatives on the Technical Education Committee of the Dublin Corporation to oppose the loan of some valuable and delicate machinery to the Government for Munitions Work. The Council and, as it transpired, the majority of the Technical Education Committee took the view that the machines would be rendered useless for the delicate work of the school by such employment, and that a Government that can spend about five millions a day on the war could easily afford £2,000 in buying these machines from the Corporation. If the Government really needed the machines, let them buy them as they buy horses, mules, or provisions at top prices from farmers or merchants.

Surely no more reasonable offer was ever made! In the Technical Schools of England there are hundreds of such machines, and in no one case have these been even asked for on the same terms as these machines were asked for in Dublin – indeed nowhere – has an English Technical School been asked to do or give anything without payment. In this as in all others greater sacrifices are asked from Irishmen than from Englishmen, and unfortunately it would appear from the letter spoken of at the beginning of this article that there are Irishmen slavish enough in spirit to deem it right that it should be so.

But the men who ordered this letter written, and the men in the Technical Education Committee who supported the proposal to give away the property of the citizens of Dublin should be made to understand in what company they belong.

What is that company? When a foreign invader plants himself in a country which he holds by military force his only hope of retaining his grasp is either that he wins the loyalty of the natives, or if he fails to do so that he corrupts enough of them to enable him to disorganise and dishearten the remainder.

The chief method of corruption is by an appeal to self-interest. To illustrate: At one time in the history of Ireland the presence of an English garrison in a city or territory was a hateful thing in the eyes of Irishmen, and ever and anon some Irish chief and clan would swoop down upon that garrison and exterminate it, and all who had dealings with it. But gradually with the growth of the capitalist system the English garrisons found Irishmen who for the sake of the gain in gold they would make by supplying the garrison with food and supplies were anxious to see garrisons amongst them and over them. Hence we have seen the spectacle of Irishmen posing as patriots actually petitioning the English Government to establish military garrisons in their districts. Willing that a foreign army should be in a position to coerce them, that their sons may be lured into its bloodstained service, and their daughters ruined by its lustful military – willing to help all this iniquity along if only they were allowed to make a profit by selling something to the army that stood between their country and its freedom.

By such means the invader tightens his hold upon the country. The profit of the merchant supplying the garrison is followed by the jobs and pensions of that portion of the natives which sells itself to assist in administering the laws of the invader, and that again by the smaller jobs and more pitiful pensions of those who sell themselves as bludgeon men in the police or hired assassins in the army which holds the natives down and prevents them ruling and owning their own country.

If you throw a stone into a pond it will make a small ripple upon the smooth surface, but gradually the ripple spreads, ring follows ring until the effect is felt upon the farthest shore. So with the spread of corruption in a subject nation. Corruption sends out its waves over the souls of the people, and evil begets evil until its loathsome effects are all pervading.

The Trade Union that secedes from the ranks of the Labour Movement because that movement scorns to aid the invader in his murderous conspiracy against a free nation, the trade union that exults in the prospect of being allowed to prostitute its skill in the furtherance of the work of making weapons of murder which may first be used on its own fellow citizens, the trade union that rushes in to proclaim that Irishmen should sacrifice more for the British Empire than Englishmen should – that trade union is a worthy descendant of those who in the past in the armies of the invader saw not the assassins of their country’s liberty, but only prospective customers from whom an Irish slave might derive a slave’s profit.

We do not believe that the members of the Brass Founders Society ever were consulted before their officials rushed in to proclaim their baseness to the wondering world.

In fact we know they were not consulted. What are they going to do about it?


Last updated on 14.8.2003