(9 September 1899)
Workers' Republic, 9 September 1899.
Recently republished in Red Banner, No.2 (PO Box 6587, Dublin 6).
Transcription: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Well, well, who’d have thought it?
Cork, whose Labour men showed such a splendid example to Dublin ; Cork, whose Labour men fought their way into the Council, while the Dublin Labour men only begged their way in; Cork, whose Labour men forced on the Evening Sittings  while the Dublin men had not the manliness to press the question; Cork, whose Labour men, immediately they were in, increased the wages and bettered the condition of the Corporation labourers; Cork now takes a flop back into the bog of reaction, and its treacherous middle class councillors deal Labour a terrific slap in the face.
In the course of one sitting the rule establishing Evening Sittings, and the rule enforcing the insertion of a Fair Wages clause in all city contracts were rescinded by a majority of the City Council.
One councillor gravely informing the meeting that if the Fair Wages clause was insisted on it would close all the factories in the country inside twelve months.
This is as much as to say that the factories of Ireland are dependent upon the systematic underpaying of their employees, and that if they were to pay what is known as a ‘Fair Wage’ they would speedily be ruined.
Remember, a Fair Wage, as here understood, means nothing more than the wage established as a standard by trade-union effort in the district.
It is not an ideal wage, nor even necessarily a high wage.
It may even be a starvation wage.
It is only ‘fair’ in so far as it is the standard agreed upon between the trade union and the majority of the employing class.
Therefore, when the Cork City Council thus rescinded the resolution enforcing a fair wage, they were virtually declaring the standard wage of the district to be too high, and therefore inviting every employer in the city to refuse to continue paying that wage to their employees.
And plead the example of the City Council as their justification.
The whole disgraceful performance is a confirmation of the truth I have so often pointed out, that the employing class are the most immediate enemies of the Irish workers, and that until we have mustered up courage, and acquired knowledge, enough to drive this home-made breed of tyrants from public life we need not delude ourselves with the hope that the gates of national emancipation will ever open to us.
The English oppressor, indeed! Why, here are Irishmen rulers elected by Rebel Cork ’ openly declaring that the prosperity of Ireland depends upon the robbery of her working class, and that to insist upon a Fair Wage being paid would ruin the country.
Thus showing that when men of their class speak of ‘loving their country’ they do not mean that they love the people, but only the soil – the inanimate earth, not the living, suffering men and women.
But I have every hope that the working men of Cork will, at next election, remember the men who thus trampled upon the political and social rights of the labourer.
And remembering them, give them a much-needed rest from municipal exertions.
The Labour Councillors of Cork were careful to disassociate themselves from the ISRP  during, and immediately after the elections.
They wished to respect the ‘rights of property’, and, I think, honestly believed that the propertied classes could be brought to listen to reason and the appeals of common humanity.
They should know better now. They should be able to realise now that the members of the propertied class are so blinded by the lust for gold, have their souls so steeped in the desire for power, that they cannot be reasoned with, or argued out of their resolve to maintain unfettered their rights to plunder, any more than the tiger in his jungle can be reasoned or argued out of satiating his appetite upon his helpless victim.
The Labour men of Cork should now, in the light of this latest object lesson in the cannibalistic instincts of the employing class, reconsider their attitude towards the Socialist Republican Party.
Listen, Oh, Men of Cork!
The employing class has said, through its representatives on the City Council, that it will have no compromise with you, but will fight you to the bitter end.
The only answer you can make, and still preserve your self-respect, is to accept that challenge, and tell them in addition that since they will not have a compromise with you, neither will you ever more dream of suggesting a compromise with them, but
That henceforth you will rally the working class to fight for the full fruits of their labour, all they produce by their toil, which can only be made theirs through the subjugation and dispossession of the propertied class.
When you are urging their extinction as a class they can not fight you more bitterly than they are doing now.
Therefore, let the Socialist Republic be your watchword; the tools to those who use them, the product to the producers.
The Socialist Republic! What does that mean?
It means that the industries of Cork shall be owned by the people of Cork, that the organized trades of Cork find in their own ranks men to undertake all the managerial work and superintendence of those industries, that you, the workers, could elect suitable men to such positions, and having elected them would serve under them as zealously as you now serve the slave-driving foremen of a private employer; that therefore the capitalist is unnecessary, and the profits he now absorbs could be retained for the use of the workers – to whom they properly belong.
And that, freed from the necessity of maintaining this idle and superfluous class, the length of the working day could be easily cut in half, while the remuneration for your toil might be multiplied fourfold.
That no one should want, that none should be overworked, that none should live in insolent idleness, that man should no longer prey upon his fellow man, that JUSTICE will be realised.
That productive property – all property held for profit should be made the public property of the community, State or City, and co-operatively operated by the labour of the adult population, under whatever rules they themselves might like to frame for their own guidance.
That is Socialism, in brief. Not so awful, is it?
But the mere advocacy of it would frighten more reforms out of the master class than all the speeches you could make about the rights of Labour.
1. Cork elected nine Labour candidates in 1899.
2. Evening sittings of the Corporation, so that workers elected could attend without endangering their employment.
3. The Irish Socialist Republican Party, founded by Connolly in 1896.
Top of the page
Last updated on 10.11.2003