Ireland is one of those subjects which have occupied me since my youth. In the year 1875 I began to examine Malthusianism, as the conventional socialist criticism of it did not satisfy me. As a result of my work on this, a book came into being, my first on the book-market, which was completed in 1878.
The appalling position of East India and Ireland was seen by the Malthusians as a major argument showing that misery is caused by over-population. So I was obliged to study thoroughly the history and economy of both countries and to incorporate a detailed discussion of them in my book Einfluss der Volkvermehrung (The Effects of Population Increase) However, when it finally became possible to publish the book, which was not till 1880 because of the Anti-Socialist Laws, the analyses of Ireland and East India had to be left out.
The East India manuscript is still in my desk. By the time it became possible to publish it, I had become a marxist, and from this standpoint it seemed inadequate to me. However, I was able to publish the work on Ireland as a pamphlet in 1880. It sold out within a few years, but I decided against a new edition for the same reasons I had allowed the East India exposition to rest.
Meanwhile the subject has occupied me since from time to time, and I began to prepare a new book on Ireland during the last few years with the new intensification of the struggle for an Irish Republic. But I have been prevented from completing the work as quickly as I would have wished by other more pressing work.
Since then the Irish question has reached its present state, which we hope will soon be past, and will not recur. Thus, rather than remain silent, it seems proper to me to publish at least a preliminary sketch of the planned book.
Whether or not I will have the strength to bring the book to the perfection in which I would like to present it to the public depends not on me (apart from the state of my health) but on the kind of problems being forced on socialists today in superabundant profusion by the historical process, in which our wishes are of no account. Although great demands are placed upon us by this situation, none of us would wish it replaced by abundant leisure, which would represent a standstill in the triumphal procession of the proletariat.
Berlin, January 1922
Last updated on 17.12.2003