THE IRISH CASE IN TIMES OF MARX AND ENGELS
In their writings on Ireland, Marx and Engels elaborated the strategy to follow for the colonies in the stage of early capitalist development, consisting in the fact of the proletariat of those peripherical regions contributing to eliminate the obstacles that were preventing the generalization of the burgess relations of production. But they reflected on it from the standing point of the specific situation of this oppressed nationality by English capital during the decade of the years fifty and sixty of the past century.
In first place, Ireland was by then the base of the big land owners of English nationality and, therefore, that oppressed country constituted an important source of surplus value that the English landowners were extracting from the social work of Ireland to capitalize it in the metropolis. This operation was fulfilled in a systematic way through the plunder of the tenant farmers. Upon increasing the territorial revenue in proportion to the increase in the earnings of their farmers, the landowners were delaying the development of the productive forces in the countryside upon subtracting funds of investment in fixed capital applied to the agrarian social work. The products of this origin that constituted the direct consumption of the workers thus resulted more expensive, putting pressure to an increase in the minimum wages of subsistence in urban industry and to the consequent decrease in the industrial profit, thus reducing the necessary capital accumulation to give employment to the available bulk of workers in accordance to the vegetative growth of the population.
In this way, in the countryside as well as in the city, the increase in the Irish worker population was not translated in more employment but in growing unemployment, whose only alternative was emigration. In Ireland, this system of plunder by mediation of the confiscatory increase in the rents of the leased lands was carried to the extreme of imposing the conditions that in the end provoked the disappearance of the figure of the lessee, of the small Irish peasant. In the 50s, Marx denounced this situation publishing articles in the German and American press vindicating the rights of the lessees:
<<The English landowners of Ireland are confederated for a perverse extermination war against the peasants; they are combined for the economic experiment of cleaning the lands of useless mouths. One must finish the small local landowners without greater fatigues that takes a maid with an insect. Those unhappy, despaired, by their part, attempt a weak resistance through the formation of secret societies, disseminated all over the territory and impotent to carry out nothing that surpasses individual revenge demonstrations>> (K.MARX: "New York Daily Tribune" 11 of January of 1859)
That is why the system of large land possessions in such a way turned into a national problem par excellence, combined with worker’s unemployment, was maintained in Ireland with the help of the English army. From these objective conditions, Marx extracted the political conclusion of the fact that only the expropriation of the landowners by means of the nationalization of the land - radical burgess democratic reform advised by the classic economists - would solve the national question in Ireland. So, Marx and Engels defined the solution of the national question in Ireland during the period of the XIX century early capitalism, as a revolution of a nationalistic burgess agrarian character, whose program should revolve in connection with three slogans:
1) Self-government and independence with respect to England
2) Agrarian revolution and
3) Protectionist duties to help lift up again the industry destroyed by the English.
And saw with clarity that these slogans could only be fulfilled in Irish soil by the small and medium farmers, the rural proletariat, the craftsmen and the industrial working class. And for that, not only would they have on the other side the alliance between England and the local landowners, but also the national – liberal bourgeoisie.
But this revolution would not be consolidated without the active support of the English working class. And the case was that, having carried to the extreme the exploitation of the wage earners and Irish lessees, the English bourgeoisie provoked the depopulation of the countryside, the deindustrialization in the cities and the massive emigration of Irish labour toward England, something which increased the labour army of reserve in English soil, worsening still more the situation of the English working class. Such was by then the economic base that encouraged the political division between the proletariat of those two nationalities in enemy fields:
<<The revolutionary ardour of the Celtic worker is not harmoniously matched to the positive, but slow nature, of the Anglo-Saxon worker. To the contrary, in all large industrial centres of England there exists a deep antagonism between the English and Irish proletariat. The average English worker hates the Irish one, which he considers a rival that causes the decrease of the wages and the standard of living. He feels a national and religious antipathy toward him. He almost looks at him as the poor whites of the southern states of North America used to look the black slaves. The bourgeoisie encourages and maintains this antagonism between the proletarians within England itself. She knows that in this division of the proletariat resides the authentic secret of the maintenance of her power>> (K. Marx: "Extract of a confidential communication" 28/03/870)
Now, given the conditions of the economic struggle in Ireland:
1) That were concentrated in the territorial property;
2) That had a national character, and
3) That the people of Ireland had motives to be more revolutionary and get more exasperated than the English proletariat,
Marx anticipated with reason that to overcome this political division between the English and Irish wage earners, the domination system would have to begin by crumbling in Ireland. Only in this way could it be extended to England that was the strategic revolutionary objective. That is why he advised the First International to the most decisive support to the struggle of the Irish people for the defence of the fatherland against English colonialism and for the right to its national self-determination.
<<So, the attitude of the International Association in the problem of Ireland is absolutely clear. Its first objective is to accelerate the social revolution in England. For such objective it is necessary to give the decisive blow in Ireland......>> (Ibíd)
During the last third of the XIX century, the problem of the land in Ireland intensified to an extreme degree. Wheat imports from the U.S. provoked agrarian prices to decrease so much, that many Irish lessees could not pay the rent to the English landowners, so the evictions and the tensions with the English government responsible for that foreign policy of laissez faire grew. This situation made more peremptory for the Irish peasants the need of self-government, of an own Parliament in which to discuss and solve the matters of Ireland itself. Such aspiration received the name of Law of autonomy (Home Rule). For the time being, that need and national aspiration translated itself in the creation of the Territorial League of Ireland, whose immediate purpose consisted in demanding that a law be promulgated that would reduce the rents and facilitate the gradual transfer of the property of the land to the lessees that were working them.
In view of the immobility of the viceroys an armed struggle was unleashed against the landowners and soon zones were established in which the justice administration was officiously in hands of the League. One of the most effective measures was to condemn to ostracism refusing any kind of relation with anyone that would rent back the plot of a dispossessed; this action was devised and put in practice in the May county by a captain named Boycott, word that, thanks to the formidable explosive weight of social rebellion contained in it, was adopted in several languages as synonymous with isolation, exclusion, slight and opprobrium.
This attitude of open revolt deterred the English government and in 1881 the Record of the Land was promulgated, which guaranteed the definitive possession of the land to those who paid their duties and established that any lessee who left a property, would have to be economically compensated for any improvement that he might have made to it. It also decreed that the duties would have to be fixed not by the landowner but by a Territorial Court.
But this measure of the English government was not sufficient to calm the impetus of the feinian militants that, from the U.S., continued claiming the independence in unit of the Island. Thus, in 1886, the Territorial League of Ireland, created by the Irish landowner Parnell, derived in the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) that campaigned in the English parliament for the Law of Autonomy. In the general elections of 1885, this party that grouped the Irish peasants owners of land interested in self-government, procured 85 of 103 seats in the Chamber of the Commons, assuring themselves the role of hinge between the English liberals of Gladstone and the conservatives of Lord Salisbury, so the Law of autonomy became one of the pressing issues of English politics.
This new situation became menacing for the Protestant Irish of the north. Of the million of them living in Ireland, almost half were concentrated in the Ulster. As opposed to what happened in the south of Ireland, where the colonial policy of England decapitalized and depopulated its lands, preventing the industrial revolution from taking roots in that part of the Island, something different happened in the Ulster. From the times of Henry VIII, the introduction of Scottish and English Protestant settlers was carried out; these imposed themselves in number and flaunting of wealth to the indigenous mass of catholic origin. (1)
The newcomers, richer, more educated and bolder than the native catholic peasants, established in the Ulster the first industrial and commercial companies. From nearby Scotland - separated from Ireland only by a strait of 22 Km., also arrived in the course of the XIX century the metallurgicals. It is owed to them the installation of the shipyards of Belfast. Since more than a hundred years the English government has imposed the State policy - with independence of the alternation of the bourgeois parties in charge of the government - of helping this province that continues to form part of the United Kingdom. The textile industry could blossom here because in England there was not other capable of overshadowing it; thus prosperity arrived to Belfast and the population of this city grew going from 20.000 inhabitants in 1800 to 100.000 in 1850. Years later, the naval construction became the most important industry of the area. In the course of those years the fundamental differences between Belfast and Dublin became definitely sealed, the unequal development between the North and the South of Ireland. (2)
From those times it is clear for the Irish Protestant majority of the North that its greater relative prosperity, as much with respect to the south, as well as to the catholic minorities of the north, depends on the narrow economic and political links with its adoptive mother: the English bourgeoisie. And though the Law of Autonomy continued leaving the international matters, the decisions on war and peace, and even the control of customs and taxes of Ireland in hands of the imperial Parliament, the Protestant fraction of the North saw in that measure an intolerable first step toward the definitive breaking of links with England.
(1) The political genesis of this flow of surplus labour toward England, cause of the antagonism between English and Irish workers, remits to the reign of Henry VIII of England, who after breaking with the Pope Clement VII because he did not authorize his divorce from Catalina of Aragon, established the Anglican Church from which, at the request of the parliament, had himself proclaimed spiritual master. This new situation induced him to finish with the power of the Irish aristocracy, annexing their lands to the Imperial Crown of the Kingdom of England then to distribute them between English and Scottish settlers loyal to his majesty.
During the era of Elisabeth I of England, daughter and heir of Enrique VIII, the noble Irish insurgents sought support in the Spanish sovereign Felipe II, to turn Ireland into a catholic harassment base to the Anglicanism of the English Crown, in the same way as the English government was supporting the Dutch revolt to undermine the Spanish power. In 1579, the Holy Catholic Church and the king of Spain lent help to the revolt of Munster, which received the blessing as crusade from Pope Gregorio XIII.
In 1601, a Spanish force of more than 3.000 men arrived to Kinsale, in Munster to support the revolt of the Count of Tyrone. Defeated by the forces of Jacob I successor of Isabel I in the throne of England, the lands that covered six of the nine counties of Ireland until then in hands of the Count of Tyrone, were given to English Protestant settlers.
In a third moment, in mid XVII century, during the civil war in England unleashed because of the conflict between the crown and the parliament, the Irish rebels supported themselves in Charles I of England against the puritans, with Oliver Cromwell as leader, main enemies of the Irish aspirations. For the English parliament, to lose the power on Ireland would mean to put in danger the interests of the English aristocracy, to re-establish Catholicism and turn Ireland back into a power base for foreign interventions.
Such were the political conditions that had by conclusion the Irish revolt of 1641, whose more meaningful political facts were the restoration of the Catholic Church, the creation of a central government, the denial of all national differences between all the Catholics of Ireland and the acceptance of all the Catholics that wished to be incorporated into the Union. In this way, the Irish federation assumed a national character, proclaimed the defence of the catholic church and the loyalty to the Crown of England.
In 1649, an army sent by the Republic in command of Oliver Cromwell arrived to Ireland and in a swift campaign defeated the rebels annihilating more than three thousand persons. After their exit in 1650, other bloody expeditions completed in two years the English reconquest. Such was the way in which the English regime imposed a new colonization based on the greater act of confiscation in the history of Ireland. Vast extensions of Eire became property of English landowners set aside for pastures for the breeding of sheep and cows.
(2) In Ireland of the north, on the contrary, was carried out the installation of Scottish and English Protestant colonists that were imposed in number and wealth showiness to the indigenous bulk of catholic origin. The newcomer, people richer instructed and bold than the native catholic peasants, established in the Ulster the first industrial and commercial companies. Of the nearby Scotland -separate of Ireland so only by a narrow of 22 Km., arrived also in the course of the century XIX the metallurgical. To them it should be the installation of the shipyards of Belfast. From makes more than hundred years the English government was imposed the State policy - with independence of the alternation of the bourgeois parties to cargo of the government - of helping this province that continues forming part of the United Kingdom.
y el resto de nuestros documentos en otros formatos grupo
de propaganda marxista
y el resto de nuestros documentos en otros formatos
de propaganda marxista