Talking of Gaelic
brings me by an easy and natural transition to speak of the great
renascence of late years.
I think it has its bad
good points. Its bad points are, in my opinion, only accidental to the
and were well got rid of.
They consist in the
exclude all other methods of culture, to deny the value of all other
and the worth of all other peoples and, in general, to make our Irish
and maidens too self-centred.
We are not bigoted on
language question; we recognise however, that in this country those who
Irish in favour of English are generally actuated by the meanest of
are lick-spittles desirous of aping the gentry, whereas the rank and
the Gaelic movement are for the most part thoroughly democratic in
and spirit. If these latter did not so persistently revert for their
inspiration to the past they would lose nothing and gain much in our
But as this is neither
political nor an economic question it is outside our province to make
pronouncement upon it. We wish all Socialists to practise the same
the course of an interpellation in the French Chamber upon the attitude
French Government towards the Breton language, Mr. Gérault-Richard,
editor of La
Petite République, most aggressively put himself upon record
granting further toleration to that tongue in Brittany.
uncompromising in his hostility, but on the question of socialists
accepting favours and places (bribes) from capitalist ministries he was
We prefer to reverse
process; to be uncompromising in our adherence to the principles and
our party, and to refrain from all attempts to identify our cause with
other propaganda not necessarily embraced therein.
· Workers' Republic,
I believe the Gaelic
has great promise of life in it, but that promise will only be properly
fulfilled when it naturally works its way into the life of the nation,
side with every other agency making for a regenerated people.
The chief enemy of a
revival to-day is the crushing force of capitalism which irresistibly
all national or racial characteristics, and by sheer stress of its
preponderance reduces a Galway or a Dublin, a Lithuania or a Warsaw to
level of a mere second-hand imitation of Manchester or Glasgow.
In the words of Karl
`Capitalism creates a world after its own image', and the image of
is to be found in the industrial centres of Great Britain.
A very filthy image
You cannot teach
Gaelic, and the treasury of our national literature will and must
forever to the poor wage-slaves who are contented by our system of
toil from early morning to late at night for a mere starvation wage.
Therefore, I say to
of the Gaelic movement---your proper place is in the ranks of the
Republican Party, fighting for the abolition of this accursed social
which grinds us down in such a manner; which debases the character and
the ideals of our people to such a fearful degree, that to the majority
workers the most priceless manuscript of ancient Celtic lore would hold
secondary place in their esteem beside a rasher of bacon.
Help us to secure to
fellow-countrymen, a free, full and happy life; secure in possession of
rational, human existence, neither brutalised by toil nor debilitated
hunger, and then all the noble characteristics of our race will have
opportunity to expand and develop. And when all that is good in
and science is recognised as the property of all---and not the heritage
few---your ideals will receive the unquestioned adhesion of all true
I do not ask you to
cease for a
moment your endeavours on your present lines of education, but only to
recognise in us your natural allies, as you should recognise that those
under any pretext, however specious, would ask you to help them to
that British capitalism---which now thwarts you at every turn---is your
and the enemy of your cause.
The success of our
certain---sooner or later. But the welcome light of the sun of freedom
any moment, flash upon our eyes and with your help we would not fear
which may precede the dawn.
· The Workers' Republic,
October 1, 1898.
I do believe in the
and indeed in the inevitability, of an universal language; but I do not
it will be brought about, or even hastened, by smaller races or nations
consenting to the extinction of their language. Such a course of
rather of slavish inaction, would not hasten the day of a universal
but would rather lead to the intensification of the struggle for
between the languages of the greater powers.
On the other hand, a
number of small communities, speaking different tongues, are more
agree upon a common language as a common means of communication than a
number of great empires, each jealous of its own power and seeking its
I have heard some
Socialists arguing that Socialists should not sympathise with oppressed
nationalities or with nationalities resisting conquest. They argue that
sooner these nationalities are suppressed the better, as it will be
easier to conquer
political power in a few big empires than in a number of small states.
the language argument over again.
It is fallacious in
It is even more fallacious in the case of nationalities than in the
languages, because the emancipation of the working-class will function
through the economic power than through the political state. The first
the workers will be through their economic organisations seizing the
industries; the last act the conquest of political power.
In this the working
as they needs must, follow in the lines traversed by the
revolutions of Cromwellian England, of Colonial and Revolutionary
Republican France, in each of whom the capitalist class had developed
economic power before they raised the banner of political revolt.
The working class in
must perfect their organisations, and when such organisations are in a
to control, seize and operate the industries, they will find
political power equal to the task.
But the preparatory
work of the
revolutionary campaign must lie in the daily and hourly struggles in
workshop, the daily and hourly perfectioning of the industrial
And these two factors
freedom take no heed to political frontiers, nor to the demarcations of
political states. They march side by side with the capitalist; where
brings its machinery it brings the rebels against itself, and all its
governments and all its armies can establish no frontier the
Let the great truth be
fixed in your mind that the struggle for the conquest of the political
the capitalist is not the battle, it is only the echo of the battle.
battle is being fought out, and will be fought out, on the industrial
Because of this and
reasons the doctrinaire Socialists are wrong in this as in the rest of
arguments. It is not necessary that Irish Socialists should hostilise
are working for the Gaelic language, nor whoop it up for territorial
aggrandisement of any nation. Therefore, in this, we can wish the Sinn
Besides, it is well to
that nations which submit to conquest or races which abandon their
favour of that of an oppressor do so, not because of the altruistic
because of a love of brotherhood of man, but from a slavish and
From a spirit which
side by side with the revolutionary idea.
This was amply
evidenced in Ireland
by the attitude of the Irish people towards their language.
For six hundred years
English strove to suppress that mark of the distinct character of the
Gael---their language, and failed. But in one generation the
what England had failed to do.
The great Daniel
so-called liberator, conducted his meetings entirely in English. When
addressing meetings in Connaught where, in his time, everybody spoke Gaelic and over 75
per cent of
the people nothing else but Gaelic, O'Connell spoke exclusively in
thus conveyed to the simple people the impression that Gaelic was
be ashamed of---something fit for only ignorant people. He pursued the
course all over Ireland.
As a result of this
actions the simple people turned their backs upon their own language
to ape `the gentry'. It was the beginning of the reign of the toady and
crawler, the seoinin and the slave.
The agitator for
into power in the land.
It is not ancient
the history of yesterday that old Irish men and women would speak Irish
other in the presence of their children, but if they caught son or
using the language the unfortunate child would receive a cuff on the
accompanied with the adjuration:---
English, you rascal; speak English like a gintleman'!
It is freely stated in
that when the Protestant evangelisers, soupers they call them at home,
tracts and Bibles in Irish in order to help the work of proselytising,
Catholic priesthood took advantage of the incident to warn their flocks
reading all literature in Gaelic. Thus still further discrediting the
I cannot conceive of a
hesitating in his choice between a policy resulting in such
a policy of defiant self-reliance and confident trust in a people's own
of self-emancipation by a