Coercion in England
Workers’ Republic, 28 August 1915.
Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997.
The notes, which are © 1997 Pluto Press, have not been included.
HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
The news which came to hand as we went to press last week that the offices of the Labour Leader had been raided in London and Manchester is of a gravity that cannot be minimised. Press prosecutions, and even ruthless suppressions of the press we are familiar enough with in Ireland – so familiar that we appear to have lost even the capacity of resenting it, so familiar, indeed, are we with it that when the Irish Worker was suppressed there was not a Labour or Socialist journal in Great Britain protested against the act, or thought it important enough to devote a paragraph to deprecating it.
But press prosecutions, raids upon printing offices in Great Britain, especially raids upon printing offices controlled by a political party with hundreds of branches and widespread ramifications through the country, that is a fact of much more sinister significance than any suppression in Ireland. We have had before now governments which were openly tyrannical and oppressive in Ireland, but which were nevertheless on the general side of greater freedom in England; we have had governments which abolished the right of trial by jury in Ireland, and at the same time extended the suffrage in England. Just as it is said that there is seldom to be found a man wholly bad, a man who has not some good points; as no ruffian is wholly depraved, so there was seldom in modern times a British Government which did not cover its evil deeds in Ireland with a pretence at good deeds in England.
Therefore when we meet with the spectacle of a government which is brutally destructive of liberty – in Ireland, which muzzles one part of the press and corrupts the other – in Ireland, which abolishes the right of trial by jury – in Ireland, which denies the sanctity of the home and gives the right of search to every ignorant and insolent policeman – in Ireland, which destroys Free Speech, gives untrammelled licence to speakers of one political party and jails the spokesmen of another – in Ireland, when we meet with the spectacle of such a government actually daring to extend some of those ‘blessings of British rule’ to England, to its own dearly beloved ‘God’s Englishmen’ we are stricken with wonder and feel that the foundations of the world are being swept away.
Either this government is mad, or else the panic cowardice of fear has set its grasp upon it, and it is reeling stupidly to its doom.
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Last updated on 14.8.2003