Our “American Mission”
The Workers’ Republic, August 1902.
Reprinted in Red Banner, No.17 (PO Box 6587, Dublin 6).
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
We are pleased to be in a position to state that arrangements have been made between the Socialist Labour Party of America and the Socialist Republican Party of Ireland for Mr James Connolly, the editor of this paper, to proceed to the States on a lecturing tour on behalf of both organisations. Our comrade leaves Liverpool on the fourth of September, and will probably remain in America until the first week of December. Meetings are being organised already in many of the great industrial centres where Irishmen have made their home; the Cooper Union, the largest hall in New York, has been secured for his first meeting on the 15th September, and every effort will be made to enable our representative to place his message before the largest number possible of Irish-American workers.
The fact that our comrade has spent so much of his own life (20 years) amongst the Irish exiles of Great Britain fits him in a peculiar manner for the task of understanding and speaking to those other exiles in America, while the thorough knowledge of Irish history and politics he has so well demonstrated in all his speeches and writings qualifies him for the position he now occupies as an exponent of that phenomenon in Irish politics – the revolt of the working class – seeking its independent political expression through the Socialist Republican Party.
We would direct our reader’s attention to the great underlying significance of this visit to the States. All other Irish agitators have gone to America to beg funds for the support of agitations at home on the express or implied understanding that the desire of the agitation in Ireland was to erect in this country the political and economic institutions which prevail in America. Therefore every such agitator had praise of all things American on his tongue as part of his poor stock in trade. But this agitator knows that the misery of Ireland springs from an economic cause operating equally malignantly [in America] as it does in Ireland to the majority of the population; he knows that the comparative comfort of the more fortunate of the American workers is due primarily to the state of the economic development of their country relatively to Ireland, and he knows also that the very nature of that economic development, its very power and insatiableness, will prevent all possibility of creating in Ireland industrial conditions at all similar to those in America. In other words, he knows well that to-day the very success of American enterprise in agriculture and industry strikes a death blow to the hopes of industry and agriculture on a grand scale under capitalism in Ireland, as the Americans are now our greatest competitors. He also knows and it will be his duty to preach that the terms “American Success”, “American Domination”, “American Control” mean Success, Domination and Control by the American Capitalist Class, and that exercised not only against producers on this side of the Atlantic, but quite as relentlessly against the working class on the American side.
And whilst telling the workers of America of the new hope which has arisen in the breasts of the more intelligent of the working class of Ireland – the hope of a Socialist Republic in which our land will be purged of the contaminating presence of the foreign and native tyrants alike, a freedom for which the workers are learning to rely on themselves and on themselves alone – he will not fail to remind them that the progress of capitalism brings for the American worker a slavery as grinding and merciless as that we groan under to-day, even if many of the slaves be better fed and housed than are ours.
This campaign which our comrade Connolly is undertaking in America is, then, for the miscreants at home and abroad who have so long traded on our kindly sentiment to the undoing of the Irish workers, an ominous portent indeed. But to those who value truth, the facts which our comrade will lay before his audience upon the condition of that long neglected portion of the Irish nation, the working class, and the truths he will tell of the inwardness of the political position in Ireland, will make this visit a welcome relief from those of the attitudinising politicians who in the past have sold themselves to every American grinder-of-the-faces-of-the-poor who desired to parade an Irish leader on his platform as a catch for Irish votes.
A few words apropos of the party under whose auspices our representative will travel to the States will not be amiss. Shortly after the establishment of the Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896 we opened up communications with the Socialist Labour Party of America. An interchange of views took place between the two bodies, and we then discovered that our ideas upon policy and tactics generally were practically identical, a discovery that immediately led to a friendship lasting to the present time. Since then both parties have gone through severe struggles, the SLP have been subjected to a revolt within and to a malevolent misrepresentation from without unequalled in the socialist movement for bitterness, and the ISRP has undergone a period of financial strain which has left its mark deep on the character and spirits of many of its members , but neither party has faltered, and both are as a result stronger than ever before. Our confidence in our SLP friends is still unabated, and we can challenge the world to investigate our conduct, our policy, or our history. The SLP has the only Socialist daily newspaper in the English language, and we intend on the return of our editor from America to permanently re-establish the Workers’ Republic on a weekly basis.
Verily, Labour Conquers All.
1. A group had just left the SLP and joined with the party’s competitor the Social Democratic Party to form the Socialist Party of America. The ISRP had gone through serious financial troubles, leading to a degree of internal tension
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