James Connolly (Irish: Séamas Ó Conghaile or Ó Conghalaigh, June 5, 1868 – May 12, 1916) was an Irish republican and socialist leader, aligned to syndicalism and the Industrial Workers of the World. He was born in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, to Irish immigrant parents. He left school for working life at the age of 11, but became one of the leading Marxist theorists of his day. He also took a role in Scottish and American politics. He was executed by a British firing squad because of his leadership role in the Easter Rising of 1916.
- If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.
- Shan Van Vocht, January, 1897. Reprinted in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 124.
- Our demands most moderate are: we only want the earth.
- Be Moderate (1907)
- The fight in Ireland has been one for the soul of a race – that Irish race which with seven centuries of defeat behind it still battled for the sanctity of its dwelling place.
- 'Ireland’s Travail and Ireland’s Resurrection,' Workers’ Republic, 7 August 1915.
- Men perish but principles live.
- Labour, Nationality and Religion (1910)
- Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.
- The Irish Worker, 29 August, 1915. Reprinted in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 248
- We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times. These are exceptional times.
- Workers Republic (socialist newspaper) 4 December, 1915 in “Trust Your Leaders!”
- 'Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword' say the Scriptures, and it may well be that in the progress of events the working class of Ireland may be called upon to face the stern necessity of taking the sword (or rifle) against the capitalist class.
- The Worker, 30 January, 1915. Reprinted in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 210.
- Under a socialist system every nation will be the supreme arbiter of its own destinies, national and international; will be forced into no alliance against its will, but will have its independence guaranteed and its freedom respected by the enlightened self-interest of the socialist democracy of the world.
- in Samuel Levenson, James Connolly (Martin, Brian and O'Keeffe, London, 1973), p. 56.
- [partition of Ireland], ... the betrayal of the national democracy of Industrial Ulster, would mean a carnival of reaction both North and South, would set back the wheels of progress, would destroy the oncoming unity of the Irish labour movement and paralyse all advanced movements while it lasted.
- in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 275.
- The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour.
- Workers' Republic 8 April, 1916. Reprinted in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 145.
- Though I have usually posed as a Catholic, I have not done my duty for 15 years, and have not the slightest tincture of faith left…
- Letter from James Connolly to John Carstairs Matheson, 30 January 1908. Socialism Today - The Connolly & religion debate
- The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. And in the work of abolishing it the Catholic and the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jew, the Catholic and the Freethinker, the Catholic and the Buddhist, the Catholic and the Mahometan will co-operate together, knowing no rivalry but the rivalry of endeavour toward an end beneficial to all. For, as we have said elsewhere, socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Mahometan, nor Jew; it is only Human. We of the socialist working class realise that as we suffer together we must work together that we may enjoy together. We reject the firebrand of capitalist warfare and offer you the olive leaf of brotherhood and justice to and for all.
- Labour, Nationality and Religion, in response to Father Robert Kane's lectures denouncing socialism, Catholicism and Socialism
- When questions of “class” interests are eliminated from public controversy a victory is thereby gained for the possessing, conservative class, whose only hope of security lies in such elimination.
- Labour in Irish History (1919), p. 15
- We do not mean that its supporters are necessarily materialists in the vulgar, and merely anti-theological, sense of the term, but that they do not base their socialism upon any interpretation of the language or meaning of scripture, nor upon the real or supposed intentions of a beneficent Deity. They as a party neither affirm or deny those things, but leave it to the individual conscience of each member to determine what beliefs on such questions they shall hold. As a political party they wisely prefer to take their stand upon the actual phenomena of social life as they can be observed in operation amongst us to-day, or as they can be traced in the recorded facts of history
- Socialism and Religion, published by the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP)
- The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave.
- in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly - Selected Writings, p. 191.
- No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.
- Songs of Freedom by Irish Authors (1907) Introduction. Revolutionary Song
Quotes about James ConnollyEdit
- I said to him, "Will you pray for the men who are about to shoot you" and he said: "I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty." His prayer was "Forgive them for they know not what they do" and then they shot him.
- Father Aloysius, in conversation to Connolly's daughter Nora. [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Sconnolly.htm James Connolly
- In 1907, During the campaign to free Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone, I was invited to speak at a meeting, in Newark, New Jersey, arranged by the Socialist Labor Party...This meeting is an unforgettable event in my life because it was here I first met James Connolly, the Irish Socialist speaker, writer and labor organizer who gave his life for Irish freedom nine years later in the Easter Week Uprising of 1916 in Dublin...He was short, rather stout, a plain-looking man with a large black moustache, a very high forehead and dark sad eyes, a man who rarely smiled. A scholar and an excellent writer, his speech was marred for American audiences by his thick, North of Ireland accent, with a Scotch burr from his long residence in Glasgow...Connolly worked for the IWW and had an office at Cooper Square. He was a splendid organizer, as his later work for the Irish Transport Workers, with James Larkin, demonstrated...He felt keenly that not enough understanding and sympathy was shown by American Socialists for the cause of Ireland's national liberation, that the Irish workers here were too readily abandoned by the Socialists as "reactionaries" and that there was not sufficient effort made to bring the message of socialism to the Irish-American workers...He published a monthly magazine, The Harp. Many poems from his own pen appeared. It was a pathetic sight to see him standing, poorly clad, at the door of Cooper Union or some other East Side hall, selling his little paper. None of the prosperous professional Irish, who shouted their admiration for him after his death, lent him a helping hand at that time. Jim Connolly was anathema to them because he was a "So'-cialist." He had no false pride and encouraged others to do these Jimmy Higgins tasks by setting an example. At the street meetings he persuaded those who had no experience in speaking to "chair the meeting" as a method of training them. Connolly had a rare skill, born of vast knowledge, in approaching the Irish workers. He spoke the truth sharply and forcefully when necessary
- Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1955)
- Connolly was born a Catholic, lived, and died a Catholic.
- James Larkin, Labour, Nationality and Religion. http://www.iww.org/PDF/Connolly2.pdf Labor, Nationality and Religion, Connolly James, 1910 - Introduction pg IV
- A revolution will only be achieved when the ordinary people of the world, us, the working class, get up off our knees and take back what is rightfully ours.
- As cited in Legendary Locals of Troy, New York (2011), p. 11
The quote is in fact from an article about James Connolly by Oisín Mac Giollamóir which appeared in the Irish anarchist magazine 'Red and Black Revolution', in Winter 2004. http://www.wsm.ie/c/james-connolly-history-irish-left-anarchism It was also published on the indymedia.ie website https://www.indymedia.ie/article/67924. Mac Giollamóir does write "A revolution will only be achieved when the ordinary people of the world, us, the working class, get up off our knees and take back what is rightfully ours" but the words are his own.