[Marxism] James Connolly, Germany and World War 1 - was Connolly a 'proto-Lenin'?

Philip Ferguson philipferguson8 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 18:39:31 MST 2015

by *Liam O Ruairc*

This article will question the thesis that Connolly’s stance on the First
World War was similar to that of Lenin’s and argues that he favoured a
German victory on socialist grounds. Lenin saw the First World War as a
product of the general crisis of capitalism and imperialism and sought to
transform the imperialist war into civil war. Connolly’s stand on the first
world war as W.K. Anderson notes “frequently been compared with Lenin’s”
(W.K. Anderson (1994),*James Connolly and the Irish Left*, Dublin: Irish
Academic Press, 63).  It is often assumed that Connolly’s position on the
question of the First World War was, with only minor if any qualification,
similar to that of Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

C. Desmond Greaves, for instance, argues that “Connolly’s thought ran
parallel with Lenin’s… almost phrase by phrase” and only the Irish labour
movement together with the Bolsheviks and the Serbian socialists opposed
the war (C.Desmond Greaves (1961), *The Life and Times of James
Connolly, *London:
Lawrence & Wishart, 353).  Bernard Ransom’s study of Connolly’s marxism has
argued along similar lines that Connolly’s stance on the First World War
was substantially similar to that of Lenin’s (Bernard Ransom (1980),
Marxism*, London: Pluto Press, 79).  Such has been the accepted viewpoint
for many studies of Connolly. This has less to do with Connolly’s actual
stance on the First World War than using Connolly as a trojan horse to
introduce Leninism in Ireland.

Joseph O’Connor related in a letter to the *Irish Times *(5 August 1976
page 11) the circumstances behind the construction of the ‘Leninist’
Connolly myth:

“I was involved, though somewhat passively, in an earlier cycle of this
controversy. It was not conducted publicly but within a limited circle of
members of the British Communist Party and some members of the. . .

full at:

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