Labour & Dignity – James Connolly in America Exhibition December 9, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in History.
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Got sent the following announcement that ought to be of interest to people here.
Trinity’s Long Room Hub is hosting an exhibition by New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House, Labour and Dignity – James Connolly in America.
The exhibition explores the time that James Connolly, one of Ireland’s
national icons, spent in the United States where he witnessed the successes
and failures of labor radicalism and unionization, and of working class
conditions resulting from unregulated corporate expansion.
Despite major advances made by Irish labor activists in the 19th century,
Connolly found that employers still had the advantage when he arrived in
America in 1902. Over the next eight years, he was among an influential
second generation of Irish American leaders in the United States who
rallied immigrants from all over Europe to press for the dignity of labor.
Turning homeward in 1910, he insisted that the fight for Irish nationalism
was inseparable from the battle for the rights of all workers, in factories
as well as on farms.
Connolly’s experiences in the US influenced his actions during the Dublin
Lockout of 1913, which was part of a larger transatlantic effort to secure
the rights of the working class in the years before World War I.
The ‘Labor & Dignity’ exhibition is Glucksman Ireland House’s first
contribution to Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations, which was announced in
2012 by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny. It is also part of a year-long
series of special academic initiatives to mark the twentieth anniversary of
Glucksman Ireland House, established as the Center for Irish and Irish
American Studies at New York University in 1993.
Professor Marion R. Casey, a faculty member at Glucksman Ireland House, and
Daphne Dyer Wolf, a PhD candidate in History and Culture at Drew
University, curated the exhibition, which was designed by Hilary J. Sweeney.
*The Trinity Long Room Hub will host the exhibition until February 2014. It
is free and open to the public between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday.
The exhibition brochure can be downloaded here
RTÉ’s 1976 documentary on Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War December 5, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in History, Irish History.
The description is as follows…
RTÉ’s 1976 documentary on Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War (Spanish Anti-Fascist War, 1936-1939). Presented and produced by Cathal O’Shannon.
Features contributions from Irishmen who fought for the International Brigades on the Republican side and those who travelled with Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy’s Irish Brigade to support Franco and fascism.
Documentary title inspired by poet Charlie Donnelly, who remarked that ‘even the olives are bleeding’ shortly before he died fighting for the Republic at the Battle of Jarama in 1938.
Includes interviews with my grandfather Michael O’Riordan as well as many of his great comrades, including Bob Doyle.
A childhood in poverty in the 1950s, 19th century British democracy and a piece of WorldbyStorm family history… August 5, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, History, The Left.
I’d meant to post this up quite a while back, but events got in the way. Anyhow, the Guardian review had a number of book reviews which touch on concerns here I think.
I have to admit I’m intrigued by this memoir by Alan Johnson, serviceably Blairite Minister in the 2000s, but one of the few who due to his clear working class antecedents stood out in that glum line of mediocrity – who weeps for Alan Milburn, who indeed?
Anyhow Peter Wilby’s review is fascinating noting that:
Johnson’s track record may be that of a loyal Blairite, but he is a rare example, and perhaps the last example, of a leading politician who was born into the working class – perhaps even what we would now call the underclass – and stayed in it or close to it, first as a postal worker, then as a full-time official for the postal (later communication) workers’ union.
And there’s much more, but a lot of food for thought on the way:
As Johnson points out, benefits in the 1950s “welfare state” (his quote marks) were administered through the head of household who, until Lily managed to track him down and organise a divorce, was still technically her husband. Lily supported herself and her two children, barely at subsistence levels, from a medley of part-time jobs, mostly serving in shops and cafés and domestic cleaning. She was constantly in debt, sending her children to shops to get food and other essentials on credit. The electricity, to which the family wasn’t even connected until 1956, was frequently cut off. The main supply of coal was lumps spilled in the street during deliveries. Clothes were always second-hand, or gifts from Lily’s employers. There were just half-a dozen books, mostly handed out at a private club where Johnson’s father played the piano for an annual children’s party. Johnson was nearly always hungry: “I’ve never forgotten that emptiness and craving for food.”
Wilby notes that:
Many readers will want to know why, given this background, Johnson, though initially a Marxist and later a militant union general secretary, eventually moved to Labour’s Blairite right. The book has a lot about football, his youthful ambitions to be a pop musician (which came much closer to realisation than those of his patron Tony Blair) and his careful cultivation of Mod style. But Johnson makes no attempt to relate childhood experiences to his later political development, and rightly so. This is about two extraordinary women who waged a battle for survival, with neither time nor energy left for politics. Johnson has given them a handsome and eloquent tribute.
And let’s dig a bit deeper in the roots of those times, and ours come to think of it. For, in an excoriating review of Antonia Fraser’s book on the Great Reform Bill of 1832, John Barrell points up a few home truths:
Two hundred years ago the world’s “oldest democracy”, as Margaret Thatcher liked to call it, was staggeringly undemocratic. The total electorate in England and Wales was a mere 366,000, about 11% of the total of adult males. Constituencies were so unequal in size that more than half the 513 MPs were returned by a grand total of 11,000 voters. Scotland, then a country of two million people, returned 45 MPs, chosen by a total electorate of less than 3,000. More than half of all supposed representatives of the people, in the Commons, were put there by members of the House of Lords, who claimed constituencies as their personal property, to be bought and sold at will. There was a yawning north-south divide: Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham had no representatives, while 21 little towns in Cornwall returned two members each, and the counties along the south coast, with 15% of the population of England, returned a third of all English MPs.
There’s more. Much much more. No secret ballot there:
The secret ballot, according to apologists for this system, would have been inimical to the “manly spirit” of the British people – though, as the eloquent radical Henry Hunt pointed out, in gentleman’s clubs no other system of election would have been tolerated. This was the constitution, palpably chaotic and corrupt, that some defended as “the perfection of human reason”. Two years before the “great” Reform Act of 1832, the Duke of Wellington, the Tory prime minister, declared that the state of the representation of the people had been designed by providence: it “could not be improved”; it had, because it deserved to have, “the full and entire confidence of the country”.
And when did the secret ballot finally appear? 1872. And women’s suffrage, well 1918, to an extent. But only in 1928 was the franchise extended to all eligible women over 21 years of age.
And that family history?
Recently the English branch of the WorldbyStorm family discovered an interesting anomaly in the historical record. This only came to light when it appeared that one member of the family, a woman, had been married twice, first to one man and then subsequently to another man, though there was no record of what had happened to the first man. Or not initially (indeed one theory was bigamy – and why not?).
But then someone did a check of legal records and it became apparent that the first man, a great great great grandfather was transported to Australia in 1851 as a criminal (apparently for stealing a chicken).
I looked up the record on convictrecords.com.au. He was sentenced to 7 years, arrived in May 1852 in Van Diemen’s Land/Tasmania. It’s kind of strange to see that history online. Very strange indeed. One is, in one way, closer to that history. But in another it merely opens up questions that may never be answered. Nothing is known, as of yet, about what sort of life he had – if any – there. My own knowledge of that period of British history is poor and of the transports to Australia next to nothing. Though it would appear he was, in many respects, desperately unlucky given that transportation to Van Diemen’s Land/Tasmania ended two years later. Obviously he never returned home, and wife and child had to exist as best they could in those circumstances.
And it gives an indication of the times, and their casual brutality, a brutality reflected in the political and social systems themselves both then and after.
Jonathan Sperber Podcast on Karl Marx July 28, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Books, History, Marxism.
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Interesting podcast on the Guardian about Karl Marx with the historian Jonathan Sperber, author of the recent Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life. See here for a Guardian article by Sperber on Marx and here for a review essay of Sperber’s book by Marc Mulholland at the Dublin Review of Books.
Vichy and Britain… July 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in History.
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I’ve just finished reading England’s Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940 − 1942 by Colin Smith.
It’s a genuinely riveting account of the very real war between Britain and Vichy during the Second World War, a war characterised by bizarre aspects, not least the fact that as British and Vichy air, sea and land based military units were engaging the United States, Australia and IIRC Canada had full diplomatic relations with the regime.
The events at Mers-el-Kébir are perhaps most well known, or infamous, when units of the Royal Navy sank a fair portion of the French Fleet as a pre-emptive measure to ensure the Germans were not able to get a hold of them. The rest of the French Fleet effectively sat out the war in Toulon where when the Germans decided to terminate the relatively short life of the Vichy regime they were scuttled (as the French had said they would be) when the Germans attempted to take them some years later.
There’s some nicely sardonic writing in it, as well as a real sense of the contingency and loss of war. Some quotes will give a sense of its approach.
As did the Assyrian Constabulary, who, together with some vintage RAF armoured cars, patrolled its 7 miles of steel perimeter fence and were as loyal to the British as only a persecuted minority could be.
A growing number were Communists who felt that the valour of the Red Army was living proof of the innate goodness of Stalin.
Roosevelt’s decision to maintain diplomatic relations with Vichy France, a grace and favour Nazi client state that Hitler could close down with the flick of a switch, had been castigated by the liberal press who wanted America to back de Gaulle.
A description of Dalkey from the 1894 Thoms Directory. July 11, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in History.
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Gorey, Co. Wexford
19th Byrne/Perry Summer School
Theme: “ “Men and Masters” The Great Lockout of 1913
June 28th – June 30th, 2013
In association with
WEXFORD COUNTY COUNCIL, HISTORY IRELAND
KEOUGH – NAUGHTON
NOTRE DAME CENTRE, DUBLIN
This year’s Summer School is the second in the on-going series on aspects of the Decade of Commemorations: the background, progress and outcomes of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. George Russell strikingly described it in these words; “You determined deliberately in cold blood to starve out one third of the population of this city, to break the manhood of the men by the sight of the suffering of their wives and the hunger of their children”. It was a massive, extended and bitter event which ended sadly in failure.
“Remember Spain and Mexico” Take no risks April 17, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Fine Gael, History.
From Cumann na nGaedhael in 1932 “Mr De Valera’s Policy All along has been Un-Irish and Un-Catholic…”