The Communist Tradition on Ireland - Part One - Marx and Engels on Ireland

The rescue of the Fenian leaders

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 7, November/December 1980

The article below is the first of a series of three. Today with the hunger strike in the H-Blocks, the need to understand and act upon the revolutionary significance of the Irish war is more urgent than ever. The communist tradition on Ireland holds a wealth of theoretical, political and tactical lessons for us today. For communists the question of Irish self-determination stands at the heart of the British revolution. This is as true today as it was when Marx first stated it over hundred years ago. Now as then Irish liberation is the pre-condition the British revolution. Communists, as these articles will show, have always stood for the fullest freedom for the Irish people and have waged a determined struggle against those opportunists in the working class movement who have repeatedly betrayed that struggle. This series of articles is therefore of immense importance for communists and revolutionaries in Britain.

‘The policy of Marx and Engels on the Irish question serves as a splendid example of the attitude the proletariat of the oppressor nation should adopt towards national movements, an example which has lost none of its immense practical importance ...’ (Lenin)

Over 100 years ago Marx and Engels laid the foundation for a consistent communist standpoint on Ireland. Through their work on Ireland in the First International they were able to develop a proletarian policy towards national liberation movements not only for the British working class but for the international working class movement as a whole. That policy as we shall see, has lost none of its practical importance for the struggle to build a communist movement today.

The Early Position

Over a period of 20 years there was to be a fundamental shift in Marx and Engels position on the national question. Their deep study of the relation between Britain and Ireland was decisive in the change of standpoint.

At first Marx and Engels thought that Ireland would be liberated not by the national movement of the oppressed nation but by the working class movement of the oppressor nation. While British democracy, Engels argued in 1848, would advance much more rapidly as its ranks were filled by 'two million brave and ardent Irish', Irish liberation would come about as a result of the victory of the Chartist movement. The Chartists — the first broad mass revolutionary movement in England based on the working class — had called for the repeal of the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland in their second Petition to Parliament in 1842 (signed by 3' million people). And in numerous petitions they had protested against the draconian Irish Coercion Bill 1847 imposed by the English Parliament. In an address printed in the first issue of The Northern Star for 1848, Feargus O'Connor the Chartist leader called upon the Irish people to fight alongside the English working class and the Chartists to win the six points of The Peoples' Charter. Engels' comments on this address and on the record of the Chartist movement express the earlier standpoint.

‘There can be no doubt that henceforth the mass of the Irish people will unite ever more closely with the English Chartists and will act with them according to a common plan. As a result the victory of the English democrats, and hence the liberation of Ireland, will be hastened by many years ... '

The early position of Marx and Engels not only applied to the actual conditions then existing between Britain and Ireland but also represented their general view of the development of capitalism and its worldwide expansion.

For Marx and Engels the modern working class, itself the product of capitalist development, was the really revolutionary class. It had no interests in the existing property relations — capitalism. The hostility between nations and the exploitation of some nations by others was also the product of the existing property relations. For this reason only the victory of the working class over the bourgeoisie could lead to the liberation of oppressed nations.

The greater the development of capitalism, the more heightened is the class struggle and therefore the political consciousness of the working class. The class struggle in England, the most developed capitalist country, was therefore the key to the liberation of oppressed peoples. This was given substance by the revolutionary character of the Chartist movement. Marx and Engels made these points clear in speeches in November 1847 on Poland.

‘Of all countries, England is the one where the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is most highly developed. The victory of the English proletarians over the English bourgeoisie is, therefore, decisive, for the victory of all the oppressed over their oppressors. Hence Poland must be liberated not in Poland but in England. So you Chartists must not simply express pious wishes for the liberation of nations. Defeat your own internal enemies and you will then be able to pride yourselves on having defeated the entire old society.'

Further, and following on from the points made so far, the worldwide expansion of British industrial capital was seen to play a progressive role in developing the productive forces in the oppressed nations. While attacking the barbaric methods of English colonial rule, Marx and Engels, nevertheless, saw in the destruction of obsolete non-capitalist societies and methods of production a progressive development. Marx expressed this view in 1853 in relation to India.

‘England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindostan, was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution.'

This was essentially the early position. The emancipation of the oppressed peoples would be brought about through the victory of working class in the oppressor nation. The role of the oppressed peoples themselves is seen as a secondary one.

The further development of capitalism and the working class movement in England forced on Marx and Engels a very significant change of view. And it was through an analysis of the relation between Britain and Ireland that Marx and Engels developed the new standpoint.

The Revolutionary Position on Ireland

On December 1869 in a letter to Engels about how he would raise the Irish issue in the General Council of the First International, Marx wrote:

‘The way I shall put forward the matter next Tuesday is this: that quite apart from all phrases about "international" and "humane" justice for Ireland — which are taken for granted in the International Council — it is in the direct and absolute interest of the English working class to get rid of their present connection with Ireland. For a long time I believed that it would be possible to ovethrow the Irish regime by English working-class ascendancy. I always expressed this point of view in the New York Tribune. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything until it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. That is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.'

Whereas two decades earlier the liberation of Ireland was to be achieved in the course of the victory of the English working class, now the relation was reversed. The liberation of Ireland was the pre-condition for the victory of the English working class. What brought about this remarkable shift of view?

The explanation lies in a number of important changes which took place over the period of 20 years since 1848. Essentially they are (1) the path of economic development of Ireland under English colonial rule and its effect on the national liberation movement in Ireland. (2) The class relationships in Britain following the defeat of the Chartist movement. For reasons we shall outline below, it so happened that over the 20 year period the national liberation movement in Ireland assumed revolutionary forms. While the working class movement in Britain not only lost its revolutionary drive with the defeat of the Chartist movement but also fell under the influence of the liberals for a long period of time.

Engels Tour of Ireland

In 1856 Engels went on a tour of Ireland. His experience of that tour undoubtedly started the process which eventually forced the change of view. In a letter to Marx he lays down the basis for the change of view. He points out first the systematic and all-pervading repression everywhere. '1 have never seen so many gendarmes in any country' with a 'constabulary, who are armed with carbines, bayonets and handcuffs.' Second he comments on the existence of a parasitical layer which mediates English colonial rule and lives off the crushing poverty of the peasantry.

‘Gendarmes, priests, lawyers, bureaucrats, country squires in pleasing profusion and a total absence of any industry at all, so that it would be difficult to understand what all these parasitic growths live on if the distress of the peasants did not supply the other half of the picture.'

Third, he points to the artificial character of the development of Ireland, which, geared to the interest of the English colonial power, actually creates poverty for the mass of the Irish people. ‘How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed, politically and industrially.' And finally he talks of the link between the oppression in Ireland and the 'so-called liberty of English citizens'.

The Land Question and the Fenian Movement

1846-49 saw the ravages of the famine in Ireland. The Irish 'famine' strikingly demonstrated how the colonising power creates poverty in the country it oppresses. The potato, which was the staple diet for the Irish peasantry was struck with blight. Ireland was short only of potatoes and otherwise full of food in the form of oats, wheat, butter, eggs, sheep and pigs, all of which continued to be exported to England on a considerable scale. The people starved and died in their hundreds of thousands. About a million people died from malnutrition and disease. Another million were forced to emigrate. Large districts of Ireland were depopulated and the abandoned land was turned into pasture by the English and Irish landlords. As a direct result of the 'famine' the population of Ireland was almost halved in 20 years, from over 8 million to less than 5 million. A popular saying of the time made the essential point 'God sent the blight, the English sent the famine'.

The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 led to a fall in the price of corn a major Irish crop —and this meant that many Irish peasants could not pay their rent. They were evicted off the land — a process which increased depopulation. Finally the passing of the Encumbered Estates Act (1849) swept away debt-ridden estates which had to be sold off to pay creditors. Land concentration and the replacing of tillage by pasturage were the dominant features of this period. And in the absence of any compensating industrial development this meant that the Irish peasant masses were faced with a life-and-death struggle to survive having been robbed of their land. This was what Marx was referring to in December 1867 when he said:

‘What even those Englishmen who side with the Irish, who concede them the right to secession, do not see, is that the regime since 1846 though less barbarian in form, is in effect destructive, leaving no alternative but Ireland's voluntary emancipation by England or life-and-death struggle'.

The Irish question, said Marx, is therefore not simply a nationality question but a question of land and existence a social question as well.

‘Ruin or revolution is the watchword'. The Fenian movement founded in the late 1850s combined the armed struggle against colonial oppression with the struggle against the eviction of Irish tenants from the land. It was this that gave it its revolutionary character. Marx summed up his position in a letter to Engels on 30 November 1867.

‘What the English do not yet know is that since 1846 the economic content and therefore also the political aim of English domination in Ireland have entered into an entirely new phase, and that, precisely because of this, Fenianism is characterised by a socialistic tendency (in a negative sense, directed against the appropriation of the soil) and by being a lower orders movement.'

The national liberation movement in Ireland by the mid-1860s had assumed revolutionary forms. This, however, only deals with the situation in Ireland. We now must turn to examine the effect of English colonial rule on the class struggle in England.

The Irish National Revolution and the English Working Class

The English ruling class was divided into two main sections — the landed aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. The major political issues of the day involved conflicts between these two sections of the ruling class. The working class had in fact used these conflicts in order to forward its own interests, such as in the struggle for the 10 Hour Bill.

With this background in mind we can begin to see the significance of the other central points Marx and Engels made about English colonial rule in Ireland. First not only was Ireland a bastion of power for the English landed aristocracy but it was also a point of unity between both sections of the ruling class.

The exploitation of Ireland was ‘one of the main sources of the English aristocracy's material welfare: it is its greatest moral strength'. And the domination of England over Ireland was ‘the great means by which the English aristocracy maintains its domination in England itself'.

The English bourgeoisie also benefited from English domination over Ireland. It had a common interest with the aristocracy in turning Ireland into mere pasture land which provided the English market with food and wool at the ‘cheapest possible prices'.

But secondly it also had an even more important interest. The concentration of land and the eviction of the Irish peasantry off the land meant that Ireland steadily supplied England with its surplus population and ‘this forces down wages and lowers the moral and material condition of the English working class'. Irish immigrants were forced to live in conditions of unimaginable degradation and squalor.

And most important of all! The forced emigration of impoverished Irishmen to England divided the proletariat into two-hostile camps. In January 1870 Marx wrote:

‘... in all the big industrial centres in England there is a profound antagonism between the Irish proletariat and the English proletariat. The average English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers wages and the standard of life. He feels national and religious antipathies for him. He regards him somewhat like the poor whites of the Southern States of Northern America regard their black slaves. This antagonism among the proletarians of England is artificially nourished and supported by the bourgeoise, it knows that this scission is the true secret of maintaining its power.'

The English worker sees himself as a member of the ruling nation in relation to the Irish. In doing so he turns himself 'into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists of his country against Ireland, and thus strengthening their domination over himself'. The antagonism between the English and the Irish worker is 'the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation'. These words ring true today. The English working class by identifying with ruling class policy on Ireland strengthens the domination of the ruling class over itself.

The Irish peasant driven off the land formed an oppressed layer of the working class in England. It was looked down upon by sections of the English working class. The working class movement was therefore divided by national antagonism, while the ruling class were united around their common interests in the plunder of Ireland.

This led to Marx's third major point. A working class revolution in England required as preliminary condition the overthrow of the English landed aristocracy. And that, said Marx, remained impossible because the aristocracy's position in England was invulnerable as long as 'it maintains its strongly entrenched outposts in Ireland'. However the landed aristocracy was most vulnerable in Ireland. The very process which had increased its wealth in Ireland has created a revolutionary opposition to its rule. The Irish peasant was forced to fight for national independence in order to regain the source of its existence —the land. The Fenian movement was therefore a central threat to the landed aristocracy and hence to a section of the English ruling class. That is why Marx said ‘the lever must be applied in Ireland'. Unless the working class in England supported the Fenian movement by calling for the separation of Britain from Ireland, the working class would ‘never accomplish anything'. A conclusion that has lost none of its force today.

Marx made the further point that 'Landlordism in Ireland is maintained solely by the English army'. It alone prevents an agrarian revolution taking place. And that Ireland was the only pretext for the English government retaining a big standing army which, if need be, could be used against the English workers after having done its military training in Ireland. Again a point worth noting for our understanding of the Irish question today.

To sum up the argument so far, Marx and Engels support, through their work in the First International, for the Irish liberation movement was not only to oppose the brutality of English rule on the grounds of ‘sympathy' or ‘international justice'. As Marx wrote to Kugelmann on 29 November 1869.

‘... Both my utterance on this Irish amnesty question and my further proposal to the General Council to discuss the attitude of the English working class to Ireland and to pass resolutions on it have of course other objects besides that of speaking out loudly and decidedly for the oppressed Irish against their oppressors.'

Those 'other objects' were precisely to separate the policy of the working class with regard to Ireland most definitely from the policy of the ruling class. Only by making 'common cause with the Irish' and taking the initiative in dissolving the Act of Union could the working class lay down the basis for its own emancipation. This was inevitably to put Marx into conflict with those opportunist leaders of the English labour movement who wanted to follow Gladstone and the leaders of the liberal bourgeoisie. The Irish question then as today posed the very practical question of the struggle against opportunism in the labour movement. As Engels was to remark much later on being asked about the attitude of the English workers to the Irish movement:

‘The masses are for the Irish. The organisations and the labour aristocracy in general, follow Gladstone and the liberal bourgeois and do not go any further than these.'

Unless the working class were broken from their opportunist leaders who were hand in glove with the ruling class on Ireland, the English working class ‘would never accomplish anything'.

The First International and Ireland

Marx and Engels not only regarded the Irish question as critical for the class struggle in England but also internationally. England the dominant world power at that time was the ‘most important country for the workers' revolution' being the ‘only country in which the material conditions for this revolution have developed up to a certain degree of maturity'. To hasten the social revolution in England said Marx, in a letter to Meyer and Vogt on 9 April 1870, 'is the most important object of the International'. The sole means of doing this is to make Ireland independent. Marx explained in a letter to the Lafargues on 5 March 1870:

‘To accelerate the social development in Europe, you must push on the catastrophe of official England. To do so, you must attack her in Ireland. That's her weakest point. Ireland lost, the British "Empire" is gone, and the class war in England, till now somnolent and chronic will assume acute forms ... '

Therefore the task of the International was everywhere to put the ‘conflict between England and Ireland in the foreground and everywhere to side openly with the Irish'.

The International took up the Irish question on many occasions. It played a leading role in defending the Irish liberation struggle and fighting for the rights of Fenian prisoners.

In 1865 the Fenians made plans for an armed uprising but due to the activities of informers this did not take place, and some of the leaders of the movement were arrested. The Fenian newspapers were suppressed and Habeas Corpus suspended. The General Council of the International supported a campaign started in England in defence of Fenian prisoners. Then as now the British government treated the Irish political prisoners in the most barbaric fashion. Of note was the Pentonville separate system where the prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and not allowed any association. Any breach of discipline was met by flogging and a regime of bread and water in a dark cell for 28 days. Many prisoners were driven insane by this system. The H-Blocks, the control units, the beatings of Irish political prisoners today show how little has changed.

The General Council made sure that wide publicity was given in the press to the barbaric treatment of Irish prisoners, and it supported appeals to collect funds for families of Irish prisoners.

In February-March 1867, the armed uprising, for which the Fenians had long prepared, suffered defeat. Many leaders were arrested and put on trial. On 18 September 1867, in Manchester, an armed attack on a police van was organised to release two Fenian leaders. Their escape was a success but during the clash a police officer was killed. Large numbers of Irishmen were soon arbitrarily rounded up. Five were put on trial for their lives accused of killing the policeman. In this patently rigged trial they were all found guilty and sentenced to death. A wave of protest in England and Ireland took place. Marx and his supporters won the International to a call for the commutation of the death sentence.

In the discussion which took place at that time in the General Council of the International, Dupont, a supporter of Marx defended the Fenian movement. He attacked those ‘English would-be liberators' who argued that ‘Fenianism is not altogether wrong' but asked why they did not employ 'the legal means of meetings and demonstrations by the aid of which we have gained our Reform Bill?'. Dupont gave an answer that still serves for those English 'would-be liberators' of the Irish people today.

‘What is the use of talking of legal means to a people reduced to the lowest state of misery from century to century by English oppression ... Having destroyed all — life and liberty — be not surprised that nothing should be found but hatred for the oppressor. Is it well for the English to talk of legality and justice to those who on the slightest suspicion of Fenianism are arrested and incarcerated and subjected to physical and mental torture? ... The English working men who blame the Fenians commit more than a fault, for the cause of both peoples is the same; they have the same enemy to defeat —the territorial aristocracy and the capitalists'.

A bitter debate took place in the Reform League — a movement for Suffrage reform which had six members of the General Council on its standing committee — over a letter in which its President, Beales, while approving the objects of the Fenians had condemned their tactics. He was attacked on the Council of the League and most strongly by members who sat on the General Council of the International — Lucraft, Odger and Weston, the former being prominent British trade union leaders. The Irish they maintained had every right to use force since force was used to deny them their freedom.

A widespread attack in the Press on the Reform League, and Lucraft and Odger in particular, for encouraging Fenian assassins followed. This pleased Marx greatly. As he wrote to Engels on 2 November 1867:

‘You will have seen what a row "our people" kicked up in the Reform League, I have sought in every way to provoke this manifestation of the English workers in support of Fenianism'

After this the bourgeois radical leaders in the Reform League put pressure on Odger and Lucraft to withdraw their statement. At the next meeting of the League's Council Lucraft and Odger went back on their position saying that they had been misunderstood. This highlighted the problems which would later need to be confronted.

Nevertheless there was great support among the working class for the Fenians, which caused Engels to remark in a letter to Kugelmann on 8 November 1867:

‘. . . The London proletarians declare every day more and more openly for the Fenians, and hence — an-unheard-of and splendid thing here — for, first, a violent, and secondly an anti-English movement'

In spite of the widespread campaign, three of the Fenian prisoners were brutally executed. Engels' comments on this also apply today:

‘The Southerners (in the American Civil War) had at least the decency to treat John Brown as a rebel, whereas here everything is being done to transform a political attempt into a common crime'.

Just as is being done in the H-Blocks today.

The next major campaign on the issue of Irish prisoners occurred towards the end of 1869. The International helped to organise a mass demonstration in London, estimated at nearly 100,000 people, in support of the demand for amnesty for Irish political prisoners. A discussion took place in the International in November 1869 in the period when Marx put forward the revolutionary position on Ireland.

At these sessions of the General Council Marx in supporting the Irish struggle, drove a wedge between the labour movement and Gladstone. In calling for an amnesty for Irish political prisoners, Marx attacked the hypocrisy of Gladstone who before the election 'had justified the Fenian insurrection and said that every other nation would have revolted under similar circumstances' and after being elected had done nothing. Further when faced with a popular amnesty movement and a petition of 200,000 signatures calling for an amnesty he again did nothing. He tried to excuse himself on the grounds that 'the prisoners have not abandoned their designs which were cut short by imprisonment'. Gladstone, Marx said, 'wants them to renounce their principles, to degrade them morally'. Exactly what the British government is trying to do today.

Marx also told the General Council how Dr M'Donnell's letters objecting to the treatment of untried prisoners in Mountjoy led to his dismissal and the promotion of the official who had suppressed his letters. Little has changed when we remember the attempt of the British authorities to smear Robert Irwin the Police Surgeon because of his revelations about torture of Irish prisoners in the period leading to the Bennett Report.

To Gladstone's argument that the ‘Fenians were tried according to lawful custom and found guilty by a jury of their own countrymen' Marx replied: ‘If a poacher is tried by a jury of country squires he is tried by his countrymen. It is notorious that the Irish juries are made up of purveyors to the castle whose bread depends on their verdict. Oppression is always a lawful custom'

Judges in Ireland, he told the General Council, cannot be independent as their promotion depends on how they serve the government. Today the British have done away with even the pretence of justice. They leave the decision of guilt and sentencing to Loyalist judges.

Marx ended his contribution by proposing a resolution which accused Gladstone of 'deliberately insulting the Irish nation', attacked the conduct of the government and supported the amnesty movement.

The discussion of Marx's contribution is important. The attack on Gladstone was clearly too much for some of the English members of the General Council. Odger objected to demands made on the government for the ‘unconditional release' of the prisoners. While being himself, of course, for their release he argued 'it is impolitic to proceed in that way, it prejudices the case'. He then went on to defend Gladstone. Marx in answer to Odger reminded him that the resolution was one of support for the Irish and a review of the conduct of the government, and that 'it is more important to make a concession to the Irish people than to Gladstone'. A point which strikes home against those British left groups who are making all the concessions to the Labour Party and the Young Liberals in the struggle to defend Irish political prisoners today.

Mottershead regretted that Englishmen applauded the statement of Marx. Ireland he said, could not be independent. It would undermine the security of Britain. 'If we relinquish our hold, it would only be asking the French to walk in'. He then went on to defend Gladstone. The issue of the security of Britain was to be critical to the Labour Party position in 1920-1.

Three English trade unions left the International because of its principled position on the Fenians. While this certainly shows the political bankruptcy of these unions, the debates also show the important effect which Marx's revolutionary stand in support of the Irish had in exposing the opportunist leaders of the British labour movement.

Nationalism and Internationalism

There is still one more important dispute which took place in the International on the Irish question. This time it was Engels who put forward the internationalist standpoint. At the Council Meeting of 14 May 1872, John Hales, an English trade unionist and secretary to the General Council, opposed the formation of Irish nationalist branches of the International in England. He argued that such branches went against the 'fundamental principle of the Association' which was 'to destroy all semblance of nationalist doctrine'. Further the formation of Irish branches in England 'could only keep alive that national antagonism which ...existed between the people of the two countries'.

Engels' reply to Hales is of great importance. His essential argument was that in the case of the Irish, true internationalism must necessarily be based upon a distinct national organisation which had as its first and most pressing duty the national independence of Ireland. He argued that it was an insult to Irish working men to ask them to submit to a British Federal Council.

‘If members of a conquering nation called upon the nation they had conquered and continued to hold down to forget their specific nationality and position, to "sink national differences" and so forth, that was not Internationalism, it was nothing but preaching to them submission to the yoke, and attempting to justify and to perpetuate the dominion of the conqueror under the cloak of Internationalism. It was sanctioning the belief, all too common among the English working men, that they were superior beings compared to the Irish ... '

He argued that if the motion were adopted ‘after the dominion of the English aristocracy over Ireland, after the dominion of the middle class over Ireland, (the Irish) must now look forth to the advent of the dominion of the English working class over Ireland'. Engels was fully aware that the antagonism between the Irish and English working class in England had been 'the most powerful means by which class rule was upheld in England'. Now, he said, for the first time when there were possibilities of English and Irish workers acting together in their joint interests, the International was being asked to dictate to the Irish. They were being told that they must not carry on the movement in their own way but submit to be ruled by an English Council.

The Hales motion was put and lost with only one voting in favour. Engels' intervention had prevented the International undermining its own cause among Irish workers.

Engels' intervention was to be clearly vindicated in November 1872. The Irish members of the International in London decided to organise a massive demonstration in Hyde Park to demand a general amnesty for Irish prisoners. They contacted all London's democratic organisations and set up a committee which included MacDonnell (an Irishman), Murray (an Englishman) and Lessner (a German) — all members of the last General Council of the International. There was a new regulation in force which gave the government the right to control public meetings in London's parks. Two days written notice had to be given of such meetings, indicating the names of the speakers. The Irish, said Engels in his report of the event, 'who represent the most revolutionary element of the population' were not prepared to submit to this regulation seeing it as an attack on one of the people's rights. The committee unanimously agreed to this stand.

The massive demonstration took place as arranged, some 35,000 being there and hearing ‘forceful' speeches demanding a general amnesty and a repeal of the Coercion Laws. This was the first time an Irish demonstration had been held in Hyde Park. It was also the first time the English and Irish sections of the population had united in friendship. As Engels said ‘this gratifying fact is due principally to the influence of the last General Council of the International, which has always directed all its efforts to unite the workers of both peoples on a basis of complete equality'. He ended his report of the demonstration by saying that the Irish through their energetic efforts had saved the right of the people of London to hold meetings in parks 'when and how they please'.

The British left today, who under the cover of Hales' chauvinist conception of internationalism, feel it their duty to criticise and withdraw their support from the Irish liberation movement, must be made to understand that they only destroy any possibility of united action between the Irish and British working class against the common enemy — the British ruling class.

Continued in part two.

David Reed November 1980

[Material from this article later went on to become part of Ireland: the key to the British revolution by David Reed]

 

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