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Thhe 1916 rising in Ireland in which around 20% of the participants were members of a syndicalist militia became the founding myth of the modern Irish state. This articles looks at the core myth of 'blood sacrifice' and the class struggle that erupted during the War of Indepenedence which broke out three years after the insurrection.
In April 1916 in Dublin a combination of nationalist volunteers and a syndicalist union militia (Irish Citizens Army) seized control of key building in the centre of the city and declared a republic. After a week of fierce fighting in which a large part of the city centre was destroyed the British army crushed the rebels. In the weeks that followed they executed the leadership including IWW member James Connolly.
This article is an anarchist analysis of the 1916 insurrection and the war of independence in the context of the struggle for socialism in Ireland and internationally. It concentrates on the 'unknown' but intense class struggle that ran alongside the war of independence and the role republicanism played in the suppression of that struggle. It asks 'what is freedom' and shows how anarchism originated amongst earlier European left republicans as an answer to the limitations of republicanism.
James Connolly is probably the single most important figure in the history of the Irish left. He was an organiser in the IWW in the USA but in Ireland is best known for his role in building the syndicalist phase of Irish union movement and for involving the armed defence body of that union, the Irish Citizens' Army in the 1916 nationalist insurrection. This left a legacy claimed at one time or another not only by all the Irish left parties but also by the nationalists of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.
A system of society in which the workshops, factories, docks, railways, shipyards, &c., shall be owned by the nation, but administered by the Industrial Unions of the respective industries, organised as above, seems best calculated to secure the highest form of industrial efficiency, combined with the greatest amount of individual freedom from state despotism. Such a system would, we believe, realise for Ireland the most radiant hopes of all her heroes and martyrs.
1913 in Ireland saw a six month struggle by Dublin workers to defend their freedom to be members of a militant trade union, the Irish Transport Workers Union. In the course of that struggle they were attacked by the police, the catholic church and sections of the nationalist movement. But they also set up a workers militia to defend their pickets and protests.
Tue 13 Nov, 02:21
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