James Connolly


Home Thrusts

(16 December 1899)

From The Workers’ Republic, 16 December 1899.
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh for Red Banner, No.20.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Dublin Corporation.

A great body of patriots.

How their hearts do bleed for suffering humanity – at so much per bleed.

How they do hate England, and love all her enemies – at election time.

This great body of patriots, who have the honour of Ireland’s capital in their keeping, were summoned together on Monday to a special meeting of the Corporation to consider a resolution of sympathy with the Boers [1], and took the opportunity to show what mettle they are made of.

Splendid mettle. Fit for anything. Fit for road metal, in fact.

There are 60 members of the Corporation, the majority of whom are gr–r–eat Nationalists, ever thirsting for the gore of the brutal Saxon.

But out of the 60 members only 14 attended, and of the 14 a large proportion were Conservatives who came with the intention of opposing the motion.

14 members do not constitute a quorum, so that by staying away the absentees succeeded in defeating the motion.

It would have been a more manly course of action to have opposed the motion and defeated it, but then you do not surely expect manly action on the part of middle class tricksters – or Labour men engaged in selling the cause of Labour.

14 members out of 60 and 5 of them Conservatives. Nearly all the Labour members absent, including the Alderman, Fleming, his friend, Councillor Bergin, and all the other members for the North Dock Ward.

A fine object lesson for the electors. [2]

Lord Mayor Tallon was hooted and groaned, cheers were raised in the Council-room for an Irish Republic, and groans given for the Pirate Empire. The Lord Mayor read a speech he had got somebody to prepare for him, asserting his sympathy with the Boers –

But never mentioning the fact that on the voyage home he had presided at a meeting on board ship the purpose of which was to raise funds for the relief of the destitute relatives of the soldiers engaged in slaughtering the Boers.

The whole spectacle – the cowardly action of the absentees, the hypocritical clowning to the gallery by the person in charge of the motion, and the dishonest attitude by the Home Rule press – all ought to drive home the conclusion that the middle class must be driven from public life if the manhood of Ireland would rescue their country from universal contempt.

Perhaps our Republican friends who have, or profess, such a dread of political action will now see the value of it, see how much stronger and aggressive they could be if they had taken our advice and captured representative positions in the revolutionary interest.

Now they have to beg for a hearing in the corporation, where, with a representation of their own there, they could enforce it.

But of course, such a representation could only be secured by linking the political revolutionary cause to the cause of social emancipation of the workers, and perhaps that is why our friends are so much afraid of it.

The Daily Nation denounced the proposal to pass a motion of sympathy with the Boers on the ground that it might endanger the Boundaries Bill which it said was more important than the freedom of a people thousands of miles away.

This has nothing to do with the rumour that Tim Healy MP is about to be appointed to a Judgeship. [3]

The poor Evening Herald almost wept over the news of the defeat of the British at Stormberg.

In agonising sentences it pictured the sorrows of those Irish mothers whose sons had fallen in Africa, in the course of their glorious trade of hired assassins.

This game of the Herald is worth noting, as a clever and insidious method of working up sympathy for the British army.

It is on a par with the action of the same journal in continually issuing placards announcing, in its largest type, defeats of the Boers, and great victories for the British, in the most approved style of sensational jingo journalism.

All those little dodges of the Home Rule press are interesting, as exhibiting the innate characteristics of the capitalist class – a class incapable of straightforward action when money may be made by treachery.

In our day and generation there is only one class which can be depended upon for consistent revolutionary action. That class is the working class.

Not because the working class is in its individual members better than other classes, but because it is the only class in the community which has nothing to hope for from the maintenance of present conditions.

The onward march of capitalist society crushes the workers lower and lower in the mire, makes life more and more precarious for the toilers, and as a consequence confronts the manhood of Labour with the grim alternative:–

Either revolution to enable the workers to grasp the power of the State and so render possible the restoration to the labourer of the control of the means of existence, and thus of a healthy, happy, human life, or else a lifetime of degrading toil with the workhouse as a final reward.

The worker who realises his class position is consistent throughout, and his consistency carries with it the destruction of modern capitalism and all the governments and institutions which maintain its rule.




1. The war between the British empire and the Boer republics of South Africa had just begun.

2. The Irish Socialist Republican Party was standing a candidate for the North Dock Ward, E.W. Stewart. The Labour Electoral Association had just refused to endorse Stewart, backing Councillor Bergin instead.

3. Timothy Healy led the faction of the Home Rule party which the Daily Nation supported.


Last updated on 27.3.2005