Friday 27 March 2015

People's Socialist History of Wales : Land and Liberty Struggle : The Great Unrest History Commission

 Tŷ unnos
The Sword, Pitchfork and Pike.


Towards a Peoples Socialist History of Wales .


The Great Unrest History Commission.




Land and Liberty Struggle.


Prior to the Owain Glyndwr led war of Welsh Independence 1400 – 1416 – 1421 Welsh Land was owned by Native and Anglo – Norman Lords. The 1282 Conquest of Wales and subsequent Colonial Settlement established a new Colonial and Collaborationist Order much of Welsh Land was made over to the English Conquistadores and the new Borough Towns that were associated with English Castle rule.
In some areas as in Y Berfeddwlad (Denbighshire) and on Ynys Mon there was large scale ethnic removals of the Native Welsh as had occurred in earlier times in South Penfro by the Normans who had brought in and resettled Flemish Settlers.
However, a broader and larger Colonial settlement would not occur due to fact that the English were recovering land from the sea on their long East Coast and maybe English population had taken a dip.
Further has much of the newly conquered land of North West and along the West Coast was not exactly that profitable to English Lords the local petty Welsh Chiefs were allowed to retain as long as they paid their taxes and made themselves willing servants of English Rule and the new Colonial Collaborationist Order and thus for the coming 100 years plus Wales was to be, I guess much same as ‘Vichy France’ during WWII.


This does not mean that Wales was totally won over as by 1294 the so called Madog Revolt proved not only were there still some former Welsh Nobility and lesser Chiefs peeved with the ‘New Order’ but so too were many Free Tribes Men as well as their Bond population now being made to worker harder for less to help their native rulers pay their taxes.
In a native economy that was not used to ‘Money’ the collection of taxes often unpaid often meant the Tax Collectors turning up with a body of troops to collect what was deemed as being owed in kind.
This meant basically taking the food out of ones mouth as Cattle, Pigs and Chickens were taken but if this was not enough to provoke a Welsh Bad Temper then the imposition of English Laws and then Conscription to fight in England’s Royal Wars altogether was to create the tension and the circumstances that would give rise to the first Welsh National Revolt that may be seen as also the first popular War of National Liberation in Wales giving a fore taste of what was to come with The ‘Glyndwr War’ over a century later.
Tax collection in hard times as in 1315 – 16 with the Llywelyn Bren rebellion and 1344 – 45 troubles in Northern Wales would also lead to a rise in the banditary of they who became known as ‘Adar y Greim’ (the Birds of Crime), Outlaws who made the vast forests of Wales their abode during the 14th Century.

This English rule with it’s oppression and tyranny over these  years promoted a growing discontent which with a ‘folk memory’ of traditional legend and myth helped greatly to create a national identity of an ‘oppressed people’ waiting for a day of deliverence.
Their deliverer ‘Mab Darogan’ was to be Owain Glyndwr and a number of Native Welsh Lords and landed Gentry who on by 16 Medi 1400 had decided they too had a guts full of English Rule and declared for a War of Independence.

                                              Owain Glyndwr
However, to fight such a war an army was needed and in a land of about just 550.000 population where many of it’s old Noble and Gentry class had sold out and made themselves comfortable as Collaborators this could prove the undoing of the war that was about to be but for one factor and that was over the 100 years previous the coming into existance of a Colonial Underclass of impoverished native Freemen and Welsh Bond familes and Anglo – Norman Serfs as well as those who had risen to be made Tennants of the Anglo – Norman Lords of the Land.
This ‘Colonial Underclass’ which included those with description as being ‘Workers’ such as Ieuan ap Bleddyn of Ruthin who joined Glyndwr’s first great raid of 18 – 24 September were to become the Foot soldiers of the War for most part quite a large Peasant Army with out which the War would not have been sustained for as long as it was.

No doubt trained by Welsh Mercenaries returning from foreign wars on how to be an effective Infantry and by ‘Adar y Greim’ in the ways of Guerrilla Warfare.


The ‘Glyndwr War’ was thus as much possibly to some great extent a ‘Peasants War’, take for example Lord Grey he had 184 serfs  at start of the War but only 8 were left post 1416.
Now multiply that across the land regards the enslaved Under Class fleeing ther Lords land to join the war, in a Peasants Army. I cannot see how else Glyndwr could have possibly risen such as the great army to take on a mighty English Military Machine, books there are aplenty about the Glyndwr ‘War of Independence’, suffice I say that we may also regard it as a War of National Liberation much a popular peasants uprising and the shape of much to come from a people who had learnt to fight back even if only armed with a Pitchfork or Pike.
At eventual conclusion of this war, for the ‘Colonial Underclass’ there was no returning for most to normality as many would still have a rebels price on their head as Robat ap Doe brought as a ‘Rebel’ to Welshpool Castle in 1421 and there hung as many must have been unless once again taking to the woods to become Outlaw Rebels of ‘Y Gwerin Owain ’ who would as ‘Banditti Cambria’ continue a Welsh Rebel Resistance up to Tudor Times untill following the last Welsh Nobles Revolt of 1529 and prior to the 1536 Act of Union, the Tudors sent into Wales the ‘Hanging Judge’ Rowland Lee to pacify the land as the Tudors were to cull Welsh Ponies so to the last remaining ‘Outlaw Rebels’ were to be culled as well.


However, many of Glyndwr’s ‘Peasant Army’ and their families would escape ‘English Injustice’ and avoid further oppression and tyranny by escaping to the margins of the uplands and lesser desirable Common Land.
In these margins of uplands and hidden valleys they would set up their Tai Unnos and become a relatively ‘Free People’ as example of those who became known as the Red Bandits of Dinas Mawddwy.
For much of the 16th Century many of these People’ were left to get on with it, their land unwanted as the Gentry had better choice pickings in ripping of the rewards of the Reformation and Robbing blind the riches of the Medieval Religious Orders whom should be regarded as no more than a form of early European Enterprise of Corporate Capitalism
Over time the occupation of the margins become more opportune for those who would become Fisher folk along the marginal coast along Pen Lleyn.

Workers in lead mines of Ceredigion and in small slate Quarries as ‘Vagabond Quarrymen’ in Gwynedd or Lime stone Quarrymen in the South to supply Lime for a growing Iron Industry.
In these cases often as not ‘Tai Unnos’ Townships were established, often allowed and even encouraged as in Gwynedd were the poor were allowed to set up Tai Unnos and become small holders as thought better than the expense of rate payers having to fund a local Work House.


Thus for a little while, little trouble with each to it’s own the afore described peasantry just about managing whilst the Welsh Gentry got rich on the growing British Empire with a fortune to be made from Tobacco and Sugar along with it slaves.

                                              ‘Rebecca Riots’
But this would all lead post Tudor Times to the urbanisation of Britain and the early development of Industry as Wollen Mills and with it a population boom that required to be fed in a much greater and more efficient manner and to this end arises the Enclosure laws that would greatly increase throughout Britain a landless class of people forced to become ‘wage slaves’ or try and stick it out as best as possible as still a ‘Free Peasantry’ but as often as not only if they took to becoming the ‘People of the Pitchfork’ and resisted the enclosure of their land.

Such resistance is in Wales, generally a little known story in public knowledge or imagination unless it is that of the ‘Rebecca Riots’ which as an appeal to the rural religious Small Farmer V Anglicised Gentry.

The inheritance of our present day ‘Crachach Newydd’ but as far as far as the Resistance of the ‘Underclass’ little is known and something needs to be done about that but what, any ideas that will help towards producing and making better known a Peoples Socialist History of Land and Liberty Struggle.
Gethin ap Gruffydd
Books to read:


Before Rebecca. D.V.Jones.

Hope and Heart Break Russell Davies.

 Tŷ unnos :


Thursday 12 March 2015

Iceland shows the Independent way ahead by rejecting the European Union - Will Icelandic good sense be emulated by other European countries

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr admired the good sense of the Icelanders when they let their own people decide on whether or not to take on the debt created by the fraudulent activities of Icelandic banks.
Being outside the European Union unlike Greece and Italy and Spain they could pursue economic policies that were to the benefit of their people rather than of the bankers and oligarchs  and recovered from the 2008 crash faster and better than most other countries..
Therefore taking  the decision to drop its bid to join the European Union makes a lot of good sense - which what we have come to expect from Iceland and its People rather the nonsense of the European Union highlighted so well in the current stand off with Greece where the European Union are trying to force the Greeks to continue with privatisations or face a banking liquidity crisis.
It is time to emulate The Icelanders and reject the current European Union of Finance Capitalists and Oligarchs and build a Union Of European fighting People against this parasitic elite.
Wales  must catch up with the reality of the current European Union and its Institutions like the European Central Bank and not mistake  this bitter enemy for a friend.
Iceland has dropped its bid to join the European Union, the Foreign Ministry in Reykjavik says. The announcement follows pledges made by the country’s euro-skeptic government since winning the 2013 election.

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, the Icelandic foreign minister, said in a statement that he had informed Latvia, the current EU president, and the European Commission that his center-right government had decided to withdraw its application, which was submitted six years ago.

The EU and Iceland have discussed the country’s position on the status of its bid to join the European Union,” the statement reads. “The government does not intend to resume preparing for EU membership.” #

Prime Minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson talked of formally withdrawing the bid in January.
Participating in EU talks isn’t really valid anymore,” PM Gunnlaugsson told Reykjavík Grapevine at the time. “Both due to changes in the European Union and because it’s not in line with the policies of the ruling government to accept everything that the last government was willing to accept. Because of that, we’re back at square one.

Iceland applied for EU membership in July 2009, at a time when the global economic crisis was unravelling. By February 2010, the European Commission produced a favourable answer and accession negotiations began in July the same year.

The negotiations came to a stalemate in April 2013, when the election in Iceland was won by the centrist Progress Party, and the conservative Independence Party. When Progress Party’s Gunnlaugsson became prime minister, he froze negotiations with the EU in May 2013.

One of the major issues stalling an agreement was fish catch quotas insisted on by Brussels, something the Icelandic Fishing industry would never have agreed to.

The small island nation, with a population of 325,000, is and will still be a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the Schengen area and is an EU partner promoting cooperation in northern Europe – meaning it gets many of the advantages of being a full member without many of the negative aspects of centralized EU laws and planning.

If in the future Iceland decides to join the EU, this will be decided only by a referendum, the government said. Iceland will continue to comply with the terms of the EEA and to cooperate with the EU as it has done previously.

Source: RT

Release Galician Patriot JN Heitor Now says the Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr

An independence activist Galician, JN Heitor, was arrested March 11 at Porto Airport in Portugal in the company of a man of Venezuelan nationality. They prepared both to board a plane to Venezuela.
JN Heitor was sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Spanish justice for his alleged participation in the illegal actions of the group "Resistencia Galega", it should be noted that this conviction is based on the unique secrets of a repentant who collaborated with the anti-terrorism court in Madrid to negotiate a pardon.
The sentence of 11 years is justified by its alleged participation in an attack against the antennas of radio and television in Galicia in 2012, which had only property damage.
It was in December, the date of his conviction, on the run.
At the time of writing the Venezuelan citizen has been released without charge and JN Heitor indicted by the Portuguese justice falsification of identity documents.
It should be handed over to the Spanish authorities in the framework of a European arrest warrant.
The organization that organizes antirépressif CEIVAR solidarity with the Galician independence activists imprisoned (6 are held to date) called for solidarity rallies with JN Heitor in several towns in Galicia.
Furthermore election platform NOS-UP of the radical nationalist left has affirmed its political solidarity with the arrested dubbed Koala.
As the youth organization BRIGA and platform for families and friends of political prisoners Galician What Voltem para a Casa .
Bretagne Info from CEIVAR (12 March 2015)

Crown Estates : The Land Question in Scotland

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr welcomes the fact that Land Reform has now become a hot issue in Scotland.

Over 200 people turned up in Kirriemuir to hear leading land rights  expert Andy Wightman give a talk on the Land Question.

The question of the Crown Estates is a major subject of interest to the people of Wales and Scotland but as the report below shows be prepared for subterfuge and backtracking by the British State.

UK MINISTERS were accused last night of abandoning key guidelines from the Smith Commission over devolving Crown Estate lands.

The criticism came after it emerged during a session of Holyrood’s devolution committee yesterday that after the assets are devolved the Crown Estate would be able to make new investments with profits from them heading to the Treasury.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, who is a member of the committee and represented the SNP on the Smith Commission, said the move ran contrary to her understanding of what was discussed at the Smith Commission.

“This represents nothing less than an abandonment of the Smith Commission agreement by the UK Government,” she said.

“Despite what was agreed by all the parties in the Smith Commission, the Westminster government has unilaterally decided that the UK Crown Estate should be able to continue to buy up land and assets in Scotland – with all the revenue flowing to the Treasury in London.

“In effect, the UK Government’s plans would mean there are two Crown Estates operating in Scotland at the same time – it’s completely unsustainable.

“The UK Government simply can’t get away with this ludicrous plan, which goes entirely against the spirit of the Smith Commission proposals.

“They must listen to the experts and ensure that full responsibility for the Crown Estate and its assets are in Scotland’s hands.”

The revelation followed an earlier attack on the process of transferring powers over the Crown Estate to Holyrood by leading land rights’ expert Andy Wightman.

Giving evidence to MSPs he said the proposals set out in the UK Command Paper made the transfer process too complicated.

“I welcome the Smith Commission recommendations but I do not think as currently drafted the Command Paper does in fact implement the intent of the Smith Commission,” he said.

“It has the potential of frustrating the fairly simple task, in my view, of devolving the administration of the management of these rights in what should be a straightforward matter.

“In the way it’s been drafted this scheme could end up in the quagmire.” He added that the process should be a straightforward matter requiring sections of the Scotland Act to be repealed.

But the UK Government had proposed a complicated scheme to proceed with the reforms which he believed were “wholly unnecessary”.

The original recommendation of the Smith Commission was for responsibility for the administration and management of the Crown Estate up to 200 miles from the shore to be devolved to Scotland – but the UK Government’s Command Paper instead proposes a “scheme” for devolution of powers over the Crown Estate.

“As matters stand in the Command Paper, this is a recipe for confusion, conflict and chaos,” he added.

The Smith Commission recommended that Scotland got control of all Crown Estate land and assets. It would mean that all money coming in through rents from rural estates, mineral and salmon fishing rights, about half of the coastal foreshore, almost all of the seabed, as well as ports and offshore renewable energy, would come under the control of the Scottish Parliament.

During the committee hearing the boss of an offshore wind energy company said that it was in the interests of businesses aiming to develop green energy to have a simplified system of land ownership and control in place as it would make their work easier.

“We are one of the largest wind energy developers in the world. We choose to come to the UK to develop offshore wind because of the scale of the market,” said Dan Finch EDPR managing director.
“We chose to set up our base in Scotland because of the support of the Scottish Government, in particular, for wind energy.

“One of the problems we have is that while we broadly agree with the proposals, there are also powers that are retained with the UK Government, which would not facilitate the development of wind energy in Scotland.

“We need access to the market as a whole.”

A spokeswoman for the Scotland Office said: “The draft clauses published on 22 January transfer responsibility for the Crown Estate to the Scottish Government.

“There are several reasons for this: because assets and liabilities will be transferred they need to be properly identified; the rights of Crown Estate staff need to be protected; as do interests of defence and national security.

“Discussions are under way between the Governments to determine these matters.”


What is a Free Nation ? by James Connolly


First published in Workers' Republic, 12 February 1916
Transcribed by the James Connolly Society - IRSM/IRSP
Formatted and indexed by Workers' Web ASCII Pamphlet project

We are moved to ask this question because of the extraordinary confusion of thought upon the subject which prevails in this country, due principally to the pernicious and misleading newspaper garbage upon which the Irish public has been fed for the past twenty-five years.

Our Irish daily newspapers have done all that human agencies could do to confuse the public mind upon the question of what the essentials of a free nation are, what a free nation must be, and what a nation cannot submit to lose without losing its title to be free. It is because of this extraordinary newspaper-created ignorance that we find so many people enlisting in the British army under the belief that Ireland has at long last attained to the status of a free nation, and that therefore the relations between Ireland and England have at last been placed upon the satisfactory basis of freedom. Ireland and England, they have been told, are now sister nations, joined in the bond of Empire, but each enjoying equal liberties - the equal liberties of nations equally free. How many recruits this idea sent into the British army in the first flush of the war it would be difficult to estimate, but they were assuredly numbered by the thousand.

The Irish Parliamentary Party, which at every stage of the Home Rule game has been outwitted and bulldozed by Carson and the Unionists, which had surrendered every point and yielded every advantage to the skilful campaign of the aristocratic Orange military clique in times of peace, behaved in equally as cowardly and treacherous a manner in the crisis of war.

There are few men in whom the blast of the bugles of war do not arouse the fighting instinct, do not excite to some chivalrous impulses if only for a moment. But the Irish Parliamentary Party must be reckoned amongst that few. In them the bugles of war only awakened the impulse to sell the bodies of their countrymen as cannon fodder in exchange for the gracious smiles of the rulers of England. In them the call of war sounded only as a call to emulate in prostitution. They heard the call of war - and set out to prove that the nationalists of Ireland were more slavish than the Orangemen of Ireland, would more readily kill and be killed at the bidding of an Empire that despised them both.

The Orangemen had at least the satisfaction that they were called upon to fight abroad in order to save an Empire they had been prepared to fight to retain unaltered at home; but the nationalists were called upon to fight abroad to save an Empire whose rulers in their most generous moments had refused to grant their country the essentials of freedom in nationhood.

Fighting abroad the Orangeman knows that he fights to preserve the power of the aristocratic rulers whom he followed at home; fighting abroad the nationalist soldier is fighting to maintain unimpaired the power of those who conspired to shoot him down at home when he asked for a small instalment of freedom.

The Orangeman says: "We will fight for the Empire abroad if its rulers will promise not to force us to submit to Home Rule." And the rulers say heartily: "It is unthinkable that we should coerce Ulster for any such purpose."

The Irish Parliamentary Party and its press said: "We will prove ourselves fit to be in the British Empire by fighting for it, in the hopes that after the war is over we will get Home Rule." And the rulers of the British Empire say: "Well, you know what we have promised Carson, but send out the Irish rabble to fight for us, and we will, ahem, consider your application after the war." Whereat, all the Parliamentary leaders and their press call the world to witness that they have won a wonderful victory!

James Fintan Lalor spoke and conceived of Ireland as a "discrowned queen, taking back her own with an armed hand". Our Parliamentarians treat Ireland, their country, as an old prostitute selling her soul for the promise of favours to come, and in the spirit of that conception of their country they are conducting their political campaign.

That they should be able to do so with even the partial success that for a while attended their apostasy was possible only because so few in Ireland really understood the answer to the question that stands at the head of this article.

What is a free nation? A free nation is one which possesses absolute control over all its own internal resources and powers, and which has no restriction upon its intercourse with all other nations similarly circumstanced except the restrictions placed upon it by nature. Is that the case of Ireland? If the Home Rule Bill were in operation would that be the case of Ireland? To both questions the answer is: no, most emphatically, NO!

A free nation must have complete control over its own harbours, to open them or close them at will, or shut out any commodity, or allow it to enter in, just as it seemed best to suit the well-being of its own people, and in obedience to their wishes, and entirely free of the interference of any other nation, and in complete disregard of the wishes of any other nation. Short of that power no nation possesses the first essentials of freedom.

Does Ireland possess such control? No. Will the Home Rule Bill give such control over Irish harbours in Ireland? It will not. Ireland must open its harbours when it suits the interests of another nation, England, and must shut its harbours when it suits the interests of another nation, England; and the Home Rule Bill pledges Ireland to accept this loss of national control for ever.

How would you like to live in a house if the keys of all the doors of that house were in the pockets of a rival of yours who had often robbed you in the past? Would you be satisfied if he told you that he and you were going to be friends for ever more, but insisted upon you signing an agreement to leave him control of all your doors, and custody of all your keys? This is the condition of Ireland today, and will be the condition of Ireland under Redmond and Devlin's precious Home Rule Bill.

That is worth dying for in Flanders, the Balkans, Egypt or India, is it not?

A free nation must have full power to nurse industries to health, either by government encouragement or by government prohibition of the sale of goods of foreign rivals. It may be foolish to do either, but a nation is not free unless it has that power, as all free nations in the world have today. Ireland has no such power, will have no such power under Home Rule. The nourishing of industries in Ireland hurts capitalists in England, therefore this power is expressly withheld from Ireland.

A free nation must have full power to alter, amend, or abolish or modify the laws under which the property of its citizens is held in obedience to the demand of its own citizens for any such alteration, amendment, abolition, or modification. Every free nation has that power; Ireland does not have it, and is not allowed it by the Home Rule Bill.

It is recognized today that it is upon the wise treatment of economic power and resources, and upon the wise ordering of social activities that the future of nations depends. That nation will be the richest and happiest which has the foresight to marshal the most carefully its natural resources to national ends. But Ireland is denied this power, and will be denied it under Home Rule. Ireland's rich natural resources, and the kindly genius of its children, are not to be allowed to combine for the satisfaction of Irish wants, save in so far as their combination can operate on lines approved of by the rulers of England.

Her postal service, her telegraphs, her wireless, her customs and excise, her coinage, her fighting forces, her relations with other nations, her merchant commerce, her property relations, her national activities, her legislative sovereignty - all the things that are essential to a nation's freedom are denied to Ireland now, and are denied to her under the provisions of the Home Rule Bill. And Irish soldiers in the English Army are fighting in Flanders to win for Belgium, we are told, all those things which the British Empire, now as in the past, denies to Ireland.

There is not a Belgian patriot who would not prefer to see his country devastated by war a hundred times rather than accept as a settlement for Belgium what Redmond and Devlin have accepted for Ireland. Have we Irish been fashioned in meaner clay than the Belgians?

There is not a pacifist in England who would wish to end the war without Belgium being restored to full possession of all those national rights and powers which Ireland does not possess, and which the Home Rule Bill denies to her. But these same pacifists never mention Ireland when discussing or suggesting terms of settlement. Why should they? Belgium is fighting for her independence, but Irishmen are fighting for the Empire that denies Ireland every right that Belgians think worth fighting for.

And yet Belgium as a nation is, so to speak, but a creation of yesterday - an artificial product of the schemes of statesmen. Whereas, the frontiers of Ireland, the ineffaceable marks of the separate existence of Ireland, are as old as Europe itself, the handiwork of the Almighty, not of politicians. And as the marks of Ireland's separate nationality were not made by politicians so they cannot be unmade by them.

As the separate individual is to the family, so the separate nation is to humanity. The perfect family is that which best draws out the inner powers of the individual, the most perfect world is that in which the separate existence of nations is held most sacred. There can be no perfect Europe in which Ireland is denied even the least of its national rights; there can be no worthy Ireland whose children brook tamely such denial. If such denial has been accepted by soulless slaves of politicians then it must be repudiated by Irish men and women whose souls are still their own.

The peaceful progress of the future requires the possession by Ireland of all the national rights now denied to her. Only in such possession can the workers of Ireland see stability and security for the fruits of their toil and organization. A destiny not of our fashioning has chosen this generation as the one called upon for the supreme act of self-sacrifice - to die if need be that our race might live in freedom.

Are we worthy of the choice? Only by our response to the call can that question be answered.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Learning the lessons of history : Socialism in Ireland (1908) by James Connolly

We at Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr publish the following article by James Connolly on the importance of the Land Acts in Ireland in its struggle for national and social liberation.
It follows on from the St David's Day Statement of the strategic importance of the Land Question in Wales for National and Social Liberation.
James Connolly continually combated the Irish Home Rulers, upholding against the idea of Home Rule, the idea of an Irish Workers Republic. For James Connolly the Home Rulers would only facilitate  governmentalism degenerating into despotic paternalism.

Liam Mellows offered the same critique as James Connolly when he saw the Home Rulers transmute into the Irish Free State and said it was  a buffer erected between British Capitalism  and the Irish Republic.
A Workers Republic can only be erected on the ruins of the Irish Free State Liam Mellows correctly surmised.
We should remember that in 2016 as we recall 1916.

Therefore when the Plaid Cymru  backed - Yes Campaign in Wales issued the call for Home Rule expressing the desire for Wales not to left behind - we wondered what had happened to the lessons of history.
As Marx said the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

It is a nightmare, it is the thinking of Plaid Cymru in the 21st Century repackaging the shoddy goods of the Home Rulers has something "new" terrified of calling for a Welsh Socialist Republic which would strike chord with the working class in Labour strongholds - terrified of calling for real Independence and striking a chord with its nationalist base and beyond.

Plaid Cymru defends the indefensible European Union has it demonstrates its brutal vindictiveness against the national and social rights of the Greek people - with the terrifying consequence of allowing the British Nationalist - United Kingdom Independence Party to ravage the Welsh heartlands rather then being kept the other side of Offa's Dyke.
Marx was right a nightmare weighing on the brains of the living.

From The Harp, March, 1908 and Forward, August 16, 1913, respectively.
Transcribed by The James Connolly Society in 1997.


We find that amongst a large section of the Irish in this country (the U.S.A.) and Irish Socialists here are included, it is tacitly assumed that Socialism cannot take root in Ireland, that the Home Rule press, the supposed conservative habits of thought of the people and, above all, the hostility of the clergy, make it impossible for Socialist thought to make headway amongst the Irish working class.
This assumption is, of course, not to be reasoned with – you cannot reason with a thing that ignores facts – but is only to be combatted with a quiet presentation of facts to prove that which is assumed as impossible of existence, is already existent, and not only existent, but lusty, aggressive and powerful.

The influence of the Home Rule Press is in reality nil amongst the intelligent working-class of Ireland: the conservative habits of thought supposed to be characteristically Irish are in reality the reflex of agricultural conditions in Ireland, as elsewhere, and do not prevail where the Irish worker lives and suffers in the industrial environment of a city and the hostility of the clergy has worn off its own edge by too frequent and indiscriminate use.
The Irish Socialist Republican Party – founded in May 1896, in Dublin, and now represented by the Socialist Party of Ireland – has had to suffer under the boycott of the entire Irish press, with the single honourable exception of the United Irishman, in the early days of that journal (now rechristened, Sinn Fein).

Of the weekly newspapers was this more particularly true, and it is from the weekly Irish newspapers that the Irish in America and the agricultural Irish, derived and derive their impressions of political life in Ireland.

Yet, despite this attempt to destroy the influence of this working-class party and to circumscribe the scope of its activities, it has to its record and to its honour, the credit of having initiated and carried to a successful conclusion – unaided – the most striking protest against British tyranny in Ireland in this generation, viz., the Anti-Jubilee Protest of Dublin in 1897, of having been the moving spirit in rendering nugatory the visit of the late Queen Victoria on a recruiting mission to Dublin during the Boer War (a fact recorded by the French newspapers of the time, which spoke of the Socialist Republicans as the only centre from which the British authorities expected trouble) of having originated and popularised an anti-enlisting crusade at a time when even some well-intentioned ‘physical-force men’ favoured the idea of Irish youths entering the British army, “in order to learn the use of the rifle” – one of the most disastrous ideas ever current in Ireland; of having emphasised the fact that there have ever been two currents in modern Irish history, viz., the revolutionary and the compromising or constitutional, and that their ideas can no more mix or their ideals be compounded, than may blend oil and water, and finally, of having conducted the first political campaigns of the Irish working-class on the basis of revolutionary Socialism.

Let those who tell us that the Irish will never respond to the call of Socialism remember that five years ago the candidate of the Irish Socialist Republican Party, in contests against the nominees of the Home Rule and Unionist Parties, polled a vote which represented a third of the total electorate; let them remember this, and then, thinking of the frantic joy of the Socialist Parties of America when they succeed in polling the necessary three or five per cent to get on the official ballot let them stop trying to discourage the Irish in America by their foolish declarations that Socialism will never take root amongst the Irish.

Socialism in Ireland is now a force, influencing alike the political, economic and literary thought of the island.


It is interesting to observe how Ireland has been and is being made the scene of many radical experiments in legislation which, in any other country, would be only looked for as the result of a great Socialist upheaval.
The Land Acts or rather the Purchase Clauses of the Land Acts upon which so many of our doctrinaires waste so much good ink in reckless denunciations are, despite their many drawbacks, an assertion of the right of the original community not only to establish new property relations to suit new ideas, but also to establish tribunals by means of which the working of these relations may be supervised and controlled.

Of course it is not the Land Nationalisation many of us would like to see, but it is nevertheless the germ out of which a socialisation of the land may ultimately develop.

In Ireland the propaganda of Land Nationalisation was doomed to sterility in the past by virtue of the fact that the most earnestly radical and truly revolutionary people in the country, and hence the people most sincerely democratic, looked upon the government as a foreign government and, therefore, upon the proposal to nationlise the land as a proposal to hand over the soil of their country to a foreign government and thus to increase the powers of that government over the economic as well as over the political life of the Irish.

In their phraseology, Land Nationalisation meant making the land the property of the government, and they would inquire:
“What government? The English Government! We have no other government here. Oh, no! It is too much power that government has already.”
Hence, not even Michael Davitt could popularise Land Nationalisation in Ireland in his day.

The political groundwork was wanting, the necessary basis of a government directly under the control of the people concerned.

With the Nationalist masses the same difficulty was encountered in the propagation of Socialism, until the uncompromising attitude of the Dublin Socialists on the national question made it clear that Socialism meant on the political side of Ireland an absolute revolutionary change which would make the people of Ireland complete rulers of their own country, as the economic change would thus logically make them owners of the country they would politically rule.
In other words, the Socialists of Ireland had to recognise that the world for the workers can only be realised by the people of each country seizing upon their own country and wresting it by one means or another from the hands of the present rulers or proprietors and restoring it with all its powers and potentialities to the people who inhabit it and labour upon it.

With the advent of self-government in any shape in Ireland, the question of the ownership and administration of the soil can, and will, be approached in a new spirit.

One change I foresee, and hope for, exists already in embryo in the labourers’ cottages Acts. Under these Acts, the local authority has the power to acquire land and build cottages for the labourers. These latter become the tenants of the local authority.

Now, I foresee that there may be a change in the spirit of future Land Acts, and that the local County Councils may be authorised to acquire the lands now being purchased by the farmer, and that the purchase price being paid by the present tenants may be changed into a rent payable to the democratically elected County Councils.

If this were done and a reduction in the yearly payment, coupled with a guarantee of fixity of tenancy and right to a selling interest in the farm (goodwill) given to the farmers in return for their surrender of their future rights of ownership, it is quite conceivable that such a change might be effected without any more opposition than would be offered to any other legislative change.

But the result of this change would be that the local County Councils would become the owners of the soil under the national government, that all questions affecting the administration of the soil would be as keenly under the supervision of the democracy immediately interested as questions affecting the occupancy of labourers’ cottages are now, and that thus the gradual democratisation of the agriculture interests would become the vital question in rural politics, as the spread of the same political principle and method of administration would similarly affect industrial interests in urban and national politics.

The squabbles over the occupancy of a labourer’s cottage which, at present, make such piquant reading in our Irish newspapers have a sordid side, but this that I have glanced at shows that they have a practical, illuminating side also.

When the principal deliberations of an Urban or County Council perforce turn on the question of the administration of the farms and other lands of the County, as the deliberations of Boards of Guardians now turn upon the occupancy of labourers’ cottages, we will begin to have a vivid understanding of the Marxian phrase about “the government of men being replaced by the administration of things.”

The Land Acts dispossessed the landlords and thus ended the economic influence upon which their political power is based. Hence, outside of North-East Ulster, the landed aristocracy have ceased to be a power in politics. An agricultural labourer would have a greater chance to be elected than a landlord in the south-west or east of Ireland would have by his former tenants.

The genius of peasant proprietorship is essentially individualistic, and therefore exercises a disintegrating influence upon the political strength and influence of the peasant proprietor.

The Land Acts, therefore, have, despite their faults, destroyed the slavery of the Irish tenantry, taken from agricultural questions their exclusive power over Irish affairs, and opened a way for the fundamental reorganisation of the social life of the community.

Then, two years ago, another Royal Commission investigating the question of Irish railways, reported in favour of Nationalisation.

With the coming of self-government the almost unanimous expression of approval with which this was received in Ireland is likely to take concrete form in an legislative enactment.

And now another Commission reports, likewise, in favour of a State Medical Service. And this, also, is received with a chorus of approval.

Said I not that although the Irish have little regard for Socialist theories they have a strong bias in favour of action on lines that are in essence lines of Socialist activity?

Side by side with all this development of mere Government Socialism, those who know Ireland best know that there is also developing that strong and active spirit of industrial rebellion, that aggressive challenging of the rights and powers of the master class that is absolutely necessary to prevent such governmentalism degenerating into despotic paternalism.

I do not believe it to be possible to prevent a continual extension of the powers of government, even if it were desirable, but I look to the cultivation of the rebel spirit to secure that that extension of the functions of government shall connote a conquest of powers by the working-class instead of an invasion of our rights by the master class.

It is because of that defiant, rebel spirit in Ireland today, ever keeping step with, indeed outmarching, the trend of legislative experimenting with social problems that we Irish Socialists feel at last that we are leaving the stage of theorising and are seeing our principles becoming the faith that moves our class to action.

It is an inspiration to know the working-class of Ireland in their times of conflict. To see that class resolute, erect, defiant, day by day battling with its Nationalist masters, and in starvation and suffering winning its way to victory, which, at the same time as it closes in grappling with the Irish exploiter, it holds itself uncompromisingly aloof from and hostile to its British rulers and their Irish allies. To know that class is to love it.

And I pity those in whom the narrow prejudices of a colony are still, after 300 years of plantation, too strong to permit them to identify themselves with such a nation.