Rain and 1916

Philip Ferguson plf13 at SPAMit.canterbury.ac.nz
Mon Nov 20 23:26:47 MST 2000

David Welch writes:

>The Irish revolutionaries of 1916 may indeed have been petty-bourgeois but
>they were fighting (in part) for the liberation of Irish peasants from
>subsistence agriculture.

David, I actually agree with you on the anti-GM stuff.  However, the
revolutionaries of 1916 - both the workers' militia (the Irish Citizen
Army) and the revolutionary nationalists (Irish Volunteers) - were not
petty-bourgeois.  1916 was an overwhelmingly working class revolt.  Most of
the Easter Proclamation signatories - ie apart from Connolly - were
petty-bourgeois in a sociological sense, but they were revolutionaries
whose class sympathies were clearly with the working class.  All of them,
for instance, had suported the working class during the great industrial
struggle against the Dublin nationalist bourgeoisie in 1913.

Give me (the 'middle class' revolutionary nationalist) Padraic Pearse over
the gas-and-water socialists any day.

In fact, all the republican rebellions in Ireland have been lower-order
rebellions, right since Wolfe Tone, the founder of republicanism, declared
as early as the 1790s that only the people of no property would/could carry
through the struggle.

And yes, as a modernising movement, republicanism always sought to liberate
the peasantry from subsistence agriculture.  Connolly himself was an
advocate, by the way, of land nationalisation, seeing no future in even
small-scale peasant farming, although I think he was somewhat mistaken
there - given that Irish peasants had suffered and died for possession of a
bit of land, it would have made no sense to try to nationalise land after a
successful revolution.  Better to go for a mixture of some state farms and
some sub-division of remaining large estates to land-hungry peasants.

Lord Melchett, on the other hand, sounds like one of those aristocratic
'reactionary socialists' demounced by Marx and Engels in a section of the
'Communist Manifesto'.


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