PLF13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Fri Jul 18 22:33:02 MDT 2003
"The historical basis for a national revolution has disappeared even in
backward Ireland. . .
"The experiment of an Irish national rebellion, in which Casement [a
nationalist leader, LP] represented, with undoubted personal courage,
the outworn hopes and methods of the past, is over and done with. But
the historical role of the Irish proletariat is only beginning."
Trotsky had scarcely written these words before the Irish republicans
were re-organising and, within a year, had established a mass movement
throughout Ireland far, far larger than the forces that took part in the
In November 1918, during the British general elections, the republicans
swept the irish seats, taking 73 of the 105 Irish seats at Westminster,
despite most of their candidates being in jail or on the run, their
canvassers being continuously harassed by the British forces and their
election manifesto being massively censored. Two months later, the war
for independence began, which shook the British ruling class to their core.
Trotsky's comments on the 1916 rebellion were not just mistaken, they
were totally ludicrous. Far from a national revolution being off the
agenda in Ireland, *the historical basis* for it was just being
established! In other words, while there had been attempts at national
revolutions in Ireland since the 1790s, it was only with the development
of the working class in the early 1900s that the historical basis was
reached that made victory possible - unfortunately, the result of the
war for independence was counter-revolution and defeat. But the
historical basis for victory had matured - and just matured at the very
time that Trotsky dismissed it as no longer possible!
Fortunately, Trotsky partly redeemed himself later by urging upon
British communists the necessity of supporting the Irish struggle with
mass action in Britain and with guns and money.
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