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Thread: Marx and Engels on Ireland

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    Default Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Marx and Engels wrote tirelessly about Ireland and were active on Irish questions - particularly the rights and welfare of Irish political prisoners (the Fenian prisoners) in England and the question of the right of Irish people to organise independently within the British working class movement.

    Marx viewed the Irish question as a central one for the British revolution and supported the aspirations of Irish nationalists.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...ish-speech.htm

    Marx and Engels often pointed to the support that the Irish cause had from British workers, and expressed frustration that nationalist leaders did not see anything to be gained for themselves by this support.

    Engels wrote the draft of a history of Ireland.

    There is a wealth of analysis in their work on Ireland, much of which is still very relevant today.

    Lawrence and Wishart brought out a volume of Marx and Engels' writings in 1971, published in English and printed in the USSR.

    This appears to be an online version, with some additional letters included.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...land/index.htm

    I don't know if this volume has been influential in Ireland, but I have never heard it mentioned in discussions.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...land/index.htm

    Marx gave a speech to visiting German socialists in which he homed in on the issue of land. His view was that the deindustrialisation of Ireland that followed Union forced a preoccupation with land.

    During the American War of Independence the reins were loosened a little. Further concessions had to be granted during the French Revolution. Ireland rose so quickly that her people threatened to outstrip the English.

    The English government drove them to rebellion and achieved the Union [390] by bribery. The Union delivered the death blow to reviving Irish industry. On one occasion Meagher said: all Irish branches of industry have been destroyed, all we have been left is the making of coffins.

    It became a vital necessity to have land; the big landowners leased their lands to speculators; land passed through four or five lease stages before it reached the peasant, and this made prices disproportionately high.

    The agrarian population lived on potatoes and water; wheat and meat were sent to England; the rent was eaten up in London, Paris and Florence. In 1836, £7,000,000 was sent abroad to absent landowners. Fertilisers were exported with the produce and rent, and the soil was exhausted. Famine often set in here and there, and owing to the potato blight there was a general famine in 1846. A million people starved to death. The potato blight resulted from the exhaustion of the soil, it was a product of English rule.

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    Default Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Engels was very critical of the Irish in some of his earlier works- in 'the Condition of the English Working Class', written in the early 1840s, Engels wrote a scathing account of the effects of Irish immigration on wages and conditions.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...class/ch06.htm

    I don't know if this volume has been influential in Ireland, but I have never heard it mentioned in discussions.
    I'm afraid that's your answer, I've never heard this volume mentioned or discussed before and while I'm sure others here have read it and know about it, I've never heard them referenced in discussions on the national question.
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    'Our goal is to conquer state power for the Irish working class'
    Pat Rabitte, 1987

    "Can I ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side?"
    Michael Noonan, November 2010

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    Default Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Engels was very critical of the Irish in some of his earlier works- in 'the Condition of the English Working Class', written in the early 1840s, Engels wrote a scathing account of the effects of Irish immigration on wages and conditions.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...class/ch06.htm

    I don't know if this volume has been influential in Ireland, but I have never heard it mentioned in discussions.
    I'm afraid that's your answer, I've never heard this volume mentioned or discussed before and while I'm sure others here have read it and know about it, I've never heard them referenced in discussions on the national question. There are many other interesting facets of the Irish labour movement and its history (both here and contributions in England and other countries), especially the great role men like Bronterre O'Brien and Feargus O'Connor played in helping to found the English labour movement, their influence on Marx's economic thinking (O'Brien formulated a version of the theory of surplus value in the 1830s), as well as that the history of the Land League and Michael Davott's role and progressive politics.

    With a lucidity which cannot escape even the most obtuse mind, O'Connor shows that the Irish people must fight with all their might and in close association with the English working classes and the Chartists in order to win the six points of the People’s Charter — annual parliaments, universal suffrage, vote by ballot, abolition of the property qualification for members of Parliament, payment of M.P.s and the establishment of equal electoral districts. Only after these six points are won will the achievement of the Repeal have any advantages for Ireland.
    Written in 1848.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...1848/01/09.htm
    Last edited by antiestablishmentarian; 28-01-2012 at 07:32 AM.
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    'Our goal is to conquer state power for the Irish working class'
    Pat Rabitte, 1987

    "Can I ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side?"
    Michael Noonan, November 2010

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    Default Re: Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by antiestablishmentarian View Post
    Engels was very critical of the Irish in some of his earlier works- in 'the Condition of the English Working Class', written in the early 1840s, Engels wrote a scathing account of the effects of Irish immigration on wages and conditions.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...class/ch06.htm

    I'm afraid that's your answer, I've never heard this volume mentioned or discussed before and while I'm sure others here have read it and know about it, I've never heard them referenced in discussions on the national question.
    That piece is a short extract from "The Condition of the English Working Class" and misses out on its context in the book.

    He doesn't mince words, but I think it is a misreading to say that Engels was critical of the Irish. He was highly critical of their conditions of life of the Irish immigrants who arrived in England as a result of famine and poverty as he was of those of the English working class.

    "The Condition of the English Working Class" was a very important book that had a big impact in its day. It described minutely the horrific conditions in which the British working class lived.

    He quotes Carlyle on the Irish but then says -
    If we except his exaggerated and one-sided condemnation of the Irish national character, Carlyle is perfectly right
    except = omit / leave out.

    Engels said that hundreds of thousands of Irish people poured into England and supplied the labour that made possible the big economic development that took place in Britain.

    They were penniless and rural, with no possessions, who had lived in the single room, windowless, mud cabins (only a few remain these days, and people often think they were animal houses, not homes) in which most people in rural Ireland lived. They were driven by hunger to Britain and their arrival created terrible overcrowding and drove down wages. They drank because there was nothing else to do to take the edge off life and relieve it.
    At home in his mud-cabin there was only one room for all domestic purposes; more than one room his family does not need in England. So the custom of crowding many persons into a single room, now so universal, has been chiefly implanted by the Irish immigration. And since the poor devil must have one enjoyment, and society has shut him out of all others, he betakes himself to the drinking of spirits. Drink is the only thing which makes the Irishman's life worth having, drink and his cheery care-free temperament; so he revels in drink to the point of the most bestial drunkenness. The southern facile character of the Irishman, his crudity, which places him but little above the savage, his contempt for all humane enjoyments, in which his very crudeness makes him incapable of sharing, his filth and poverty, all favour drunkenness. The temptation is great, he cannot resist it, and so when he has money he gets rid of it down his throat. What else should he do? How can society blame him when it places him in a position in which he almost of necessity becomes a drunkard; when it leaves him to himself, to his savagery?
    Even in the late 20th century Irish immigrants, who had no education and came from poor rural families to work in building in Britain, lived often six or eight to a room, with a small locker and a suitcase under the bed, and no personal comforts, and only the pub to go to for some humanity, company and warmth. The term "savage", used by Engels about the Irish, had the sense of primitive, untamed, not violent as it would be used today.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=savage

    Reading further into Engels' and Marx's writing on Ireland and the Irish will make it clear that they did not share Carlyle's "exaggerated and one-side view" of the Irish.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 28-01-2012 at 10:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    I'm going to post up the Marx and Engels material on Ireland piece by piece, one post a day.

    This one, to start off, is a record of a speech made by Marx to Germans, so is an approximate version only of what he said, but is a good (if rough) overview of Marx's view of Irish history and the relationship with England.

    Source: MECW Volume 21, p. 317;
    First published: in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, 2nd Russian Edition, 1960.

    This record of Marx’s speech on the Irish question on December 16, 1867 was made by Eccarius. It was intended for the journal Der Vorbote and was sent by Friedrich Lessner to Johann Philipp Becker in Switzerland but remained unpublished. The record of Marx’s speech was first published in English in Marx and Engels, Ireland and the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1971.

    To the German Workers’ Educational Society In London
    On December 16, 1867

    On December 16, Karl Marx delivered a lecture to the London German Workers’ Educational Society on the conditions in Ireland, in which he showed that all attempts of the English government to Anglicise the Irish population in past centuries had ended in failure. The English, including aristocrats, who immigrated before the Reformation [386] were transformed into Irishmen by their Irish wives, and their descendants fought against England. The brutalities of the war against the Irish under Queen Elizabeth, the destruction of crops and the displacement of the population from one area to another to make room for English colonists did not change anything in this respect. At that time, gentleman and merchant adventurer received large plots of land on condition that they would be colonised by English people. In Cromwell’s time, the descendants of these colonists fought with the Irish against the English. Cromwell sold many of them as slaves in the West Indies. Under the Restoration[387], Ireland received many favours. Under William III, a class came to power which only wanted to make money, and Irish industry was suppressed in order to force the Irish to sell their raw materials to England at any price. With the help of the Protestant Penal Laws[388], the new aristocrats received freedom of action under Queen Anne. The Irish Parliament [389] was an instrument of oppression. Catholics were not allowed to hold public office, could not be landowners, were not allowed to make wills, could not claim an inheritance; to be a Catholic bishop was high treason. All these were means for robbing the Irish of their land; yet more than half of the English descendants in Ulster have remained Catholic. The people were driven into the arms of the Catholic clergy, who thus became powerful. All that the English government succeeded in doing was to plant an aristocracy in Ireland. The towns built by the English have become Irish. That is why there are so many English names among the Fenians.

    During the American War of Independence the reins were loosened a little. Further concessions had to be granted during the French Revolution. Ireland rose so quickly that her people threatened to outstrip the English. The English government drove them to rebellion and achieved the Union [390] by bribery. The Union delivered the death blow to reviving Irish industry. On one occasion Meagher said: all Irish branches of industry have been destroyed, all we have been left is the making of coffins. It became a vital necessity to have land; the big landowners leased their lands to speculators; land passed through four or five lease stages before it reached the peasant, and this made prices disproportionately high. The agrarian population lived on potatoes and water; wheat and meat were sent to England; the rent was eaten up in London, Paris and Florence. In 1836, £7,000,000 was sent abroad to absent landowners. Fertilisers were exported with the produce and rent, and the soil was exhausted. Famine often set in here and there, and owing to the potato blight there was a general famine in 1846. A million people starved to death. The potato blight resulted from the exhaustion of the soil, it was a product of English rule.

    Through the repeal of the Corn Laws Ireland lost her monopoly position on the English market, the old rent could no longer be paid. High prices of meat and the bankruptcy of the remaining small landowners further contributed to the eviction of the small peasants and the transformation of their land into sheep pastures. Over half a million acres of arable land have not been tilled since 1860. The yield per acre has dropped: oats by 16 per cent, flax by 36 per cent, potatoes by 50 per cent. At present only oats are cultivated for the English market, and wheat is imported.

    With the exhaustion of the soil, the population has deteriorated physically. There has been an absolute increase in the number of lame, blind, deaf and dumb, and insane in the decreasing population.

    Over 1,100,000 people have been replaced by 9,600,000 sheep. This is a thing unheard of in Europe. The Russians replace evicted Poles with Russians, not with sheep. Only under the Mongols in China was there once a discussion whether towns should be destroyed to make room for sheep.

    The Irish question is therefore not simply a question of nationality, but a question of land and existence. Ruin or revolution is the watchword; all the Irish are convinced that if anything is to happen at all it must happen quickly. The English should demand separation and leave it to the Irish themselves to decide the question of landownership. Everything else would be useless. If that does not happen soon the Irish emigration will lead to a war with America. The domination over Ireland at present amounts to collecting rent for the English aristocracy.

    NOTES

    386 The Reformation, begun in England under King Henry VIII (Act of Supremacy, which declared the King the head of the Church in place of the Pope, and other Acts), was completed under Elizabeth I (the adoption, in 1571, of the “39 articles” of the Anglican Church — a variety of Protestantism). The introduction of the Reformation to Catholic Ireland was a means of subjecting her to the English absolute monarchy and expropriating her population in favour of the English colonists on the pretext of struggle against Catholicism.

    387 A reference to the Restoration of the Stuart dynasty in England in 1660. The restored Stuarts (Charles II and James II) continued to rule up to the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. The Restoration was the result of a compromise between the bourgeois elite and the “new” nobility, which had grown rich during the revolution, and the aristocrats supporting the Stuarts. The adherents of the Stuarts, many of whom had lost their estates in England, now received title to confiscated Irish lands in compensation. Only in rare cases did the representatives of the new regime take action on complaints and petitions for the return of property, to Irish owners, and after the 1665 Act such complaints were no longer considered. Thus, the sweeping expropriation of the Irish population implemented during the English bourgeois revolution was sanctioned by the restored monarchy.

    388 The Penal Code was a set of laws passed by the English for Ireland at the end of the seventeenth century and in the first half of the eighteenth century on the pretext of a struggle against Catholic conspiracies. The laws deprived the Irish, most of whom were Catholic, of all civil and political rights. Some of the laws were abrogated at the end of the eighteenth century as a result of the growing national liberation struggle in Ireland.

    389 The Anglo-Irish Parliament, convoked at the end of the thirteenth century, was initially made up of representatives of the Church and landed aristocracy. In the 1780s, under the impact of the growing national liberation struggle, the English Government extended its rights, but it was abolished in 1801 under the Act of Union.

    390 The Anglo-Irish Union was imposed by the British Government after the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1788. The Union, which came into force in 1801, abrogated the autonomy of the Irish Parliament. A consequence of this was the abolition of tariffs which had been set by the Irish Parliament.

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    Default Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    I've read the book a number of times, and I understand the context and what Engels was trying to say in it. Your interpretation of it is at odds with other parts of the passage he quoted after that 'excepting' clause.

    And even if the Irish, who have forced their way into other occupations, should become more civilised, enough of the old habits would cling to them to have a strong, degrading influence upon their English companions in toil, especially in view of the general effect of being surrounded by the Irish. For when, in almost every great city, a fifth or a quarter of the workers are Irish, or children of Irish parents, who have grown up among Irish filth, no one can wonder if the life, habits, intelligence, moral status -- in short, the whole character of the working-class assimilates a great part of the Irish characteristics.
    I'm aware he developed his ideas later in life and co-habited with an Irish woman for the better part of it, but this passage stinks to me of the Punch definition of 'savage' and Irish, rather than the Oxford definition. Also, if you look at my original post, I think you'll find that you misinterpreted what I was trying to say. In any case I think it's more in the spirit of this thread to discuss his and Marx's later contributions on politics in Ireland and the national question.
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    'Our goal is to conquer state power for the Irish working class'
    Pat Rabitte, 1987

    "Can I ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side?"
    Michael Noonan, November 2010

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    Default Re: Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by antiestablishmentarian View Post
    I've read the book a number of times, and I understand the context and what Engels was trying to say in it. Your interpretation of it is at odds with other parts of the passage he quoted after that 'excepting' clause.

    I'm aware he developed his ideas later in life and co-habited with an Irish woman for the better part of it, but this passage stinks to me of the Punch definition of 'savage' and Irish, rather than the Oxford definition. Also, if you look at my original post, I think you'll find that you misinterpreted what I was trying to say. In any case I think it's more in the spirit of this thread to discuss his and Marx's later contributions on politics in Ireland and the national question.
    Apologies - there is a double post of yours, and I missed reading the second, fuller one.

    Engels certainly laid on very thick his view of the character of Irish rural immigrants and their effect on the English working class. I wonder what he would have said about the "chavisation" of parts of the English working class under Thatcherism?

    There is nothing gratifying about Engels description of the Irish immigrants, but I don't think its purpose was the same at all as that of the Punch version of the Irish as brutal and subhuman.

    I would like this thread to take Engels and Marx's writing "warts and all," and work through them and debating them, disagreeing or agreeing as the case may be.

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    Default Re: Maidir Le: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Apologies - there is a double post of yours, and I missed reading the second, fuller one.

    Engels certainly laid on very thick his view of the character of Irish rural immigrants and their effect on the English working class. I wonder what he would have said about the "chavisation" of parts of the English working class under Thatcherism?

    There is nothing gratifying about Engels description of the Irish immigrants, but I don't think its purpose was the same at all as that of the Punch version of the Irish as brutal and subhuman.

    I would like this thread to take Engels and Marx's writings "warts and all," and work through them and debating them, disagreeing or agreeing as the case may be.
    Neither Marx nor Engels were divine beings descended from Heaven. They were brilliant thinkers with advanced ideas and a scientific outlook but they were still human beings and products of a certain age. It would be impossible, I think, for them not to display any of the imprint of their time in any of their writing on a host of subjects.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 28-01-2012 at 11:37 AM.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    VERY coincidential. I have this book and have just been rereading it since after christmas. Was just talking to my bro about it yesterday before seeing this post.
    My reading of the engle's debate is that he may state that the irish are degraded but he clearly recognises the historical role of the english rulers in creating their degradation. In the notes for his history of ireland he carefully plots out how in the 16th-18th centuries the english continually destroy the wealth of the irish nation and create the conditions for abject poverty and thus the 'condition' of the irish in the 19th century.

    On a bit of a tangent but still about the work, I was genuinely shocked (but did have a suspition) at the worker figures for irish industry pre-act of union. I have never studied this part of history and can only ever recall ireland being taught as a heavily populated RURAL country. If you look at the figures for 'industrial' employment (cottage or agricultural industries i think they're called) you can clearly deduce that there was significant urban development all around the island. E.G. in Dublin there were about 20,000 workers in selected industries, which would seem to indicate at least a 70,000 -100,000 population. This in itself might not be suprising but if you look at selected towns like Wicklow (1000 handlooms at work) this would point to a big population, maybe upto 10,000. Thus, Ireland may not have been so rural afterall and this great devalerian national myth of rurality was actually just plain bollox.
    It does have to be said though that these figures are given in order to show just how the act of union devastated all these industries and forced probably hundreds thousands to the land to seek subsistance. But still, if this is the case then this rurality was clearly a forced creation and not an innate characteristic of the irish.

    what say ye?

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Ogiol View Post
    VERY coincidential. I have this book and have just been rereading it since after christmas. Was just talking to my bro about it yesterday before seeing this post.
    My reading of the engle's debate is that he may state that the irish are degraded but he clearly recognises the historical role of the english rulers in creating their degradation. In the notes for his history of ireland he carefully plots out how in the 16th-18th centuries the english continually destroy the wealth of the irish nation and create the conditions for abject poverty and thus the 'condition' of the irish in the 19th century.

    On a bit of a tangent but still about the work, I was genuinely shocked (but did have a suspition) at the worker figures for irish industry pre-act of union. I have never studied this part of history and can only ever recall ireland being taught as a heavily populated RURAL country. If you look at the figures for 'industrial' employment (cottage or agricultural industries i think they're called) you can clearly deduce that there was significant urban development all around the island. E.G. in Dublin there were about 20,000 workers in selected industries, which would seem to indicate at least a 70,000 -100,000 population. This in itself might not be suprising but if you look at selected towns like Wicklow (1000 handlooms at work) this would point to a big population, maybe upto 10,000. Thus, Ireland may not have been so rural afterall and this great devalerian national myth of rurality was actually just plain bollox.
    It does have to be said though that these figures are given in order to show just how the act of union devastated all these industries and forced probably hundreds thousands to the land to seek subsistance. But still, if this is the case then this rurality was clearly a forced creation and not an innate characteristic of the irish.

    what say ye?
    I agree. I think the picture given by Conor McCabe of Ireland held in place as a big ranch to supply England with meat, with small holders rearing weanlings to supply to ranchers, and export of cattle on the hoof, needs to be seen in the context that Ireland and England were far more on an equal par with each other in the 18th century than I used to believe, and that the Act of Union was a colonialist disaster for Ireland from which came the famine and future fixation on land and landownership that fed into the disastrous property boom we've just had. With industry stripped out by English control over imports and exports, there was nothing else apart from land for people to live off.

    We're now faced with a similar coup, threatened on the peripheral countries in the EU, with their capacity to develop independently and equally being stymied for decades if not permanently.

    Georgia is an interesting comparison. It used to be a food exporter, and to have manufacturing industry, but since the fall of the USSR farming collapsed and more than 50% of the population is now dependent on small subsistence plots for their living. It's easy to see that they are now vulnerable to starvation if there is a crop failure and that they may become fixated on the importance of owning land - those who have none are even worse off.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 28-01-2012 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    I agree. I think the picture given by Conor McCabe of Ireland held in place as a big ranch to supply England with meat, with small holders rearing weanlings to supply to ranchers, and export of cattle on the hoof, needs to be seen in the context that Ireland and England were far more on an equal par with each other in the 18th century than I used to believe, and that the Act of Union was a colonialist disaster for Ireland from which came the famine and future fixation on land and landownership that fed into the disastrous property boom we've just had.

    We're now faced with a similar coup, threatened on the peripheral countries in the EU, with their capacity to develop independently and equally being stymied for decades if not permanently.
    I agree, perfectly summarized. As you say this 'ranch' idea was in fact created by the act of union and as we all know also laid the foundations for the famine and its devastating effects on this country.

    Nowadays we may well be seeing a similar outcome. Maybe casting the new EU as a new type of act of union would make things a little easier to understand for the irish people at large. The indicators certainly seem to point towards a new but all to familiar period of serfdom.

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by Ogiol View Post
    I agree, perfectly summarized. As you say this 'ranch' idea was in fact created by the act of union and as we all know also laid the foundations for the famine and its devastating effects on this country.

    Nowadays we may well be seeing a similar outcome. Maybe casting the new EU as a new type of act of union would make things a little easier to understand for the irish people at large. The indicators certainly seem to point towards a new but all to familiar period of serfdom.
    And a new period of resistance

    There are big pluses today, most particularly that Ireland is not on its own, there is Greece and Portugal and all of Eastern Europe (and for that matter, North Africa), in a similar situation, and the working classes right across Europe are natural allies, with much better communications than there were two hundred years ago. There's a global crisis, and our situation is just one part of it.

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    I think Marx and Engels on Ireland isn't quoted that much simply because the historical circumstances to which they were responding had changed so much, and because there is no single work bringing together their views in a coherent and developed way.

    As for the act of union and its putative effects, such as causing the famine or turning Ireland into a ranch. The population was already rising incredibly quickly well before 1800, a rise due in great measure to the potato, but also due to the rise of farming for the market. Much of this demand stemmed from trade with the Americas (and to a lesser extent countries like France), as well as the demands of war as armies got bigger, as well as Britain, and again the trend significantly predates the union. We shouldn't deny the agency of Irish people in the economic decisions that were made.

    To say that Irish industry was destroyed by the union is to take an unconsciously partitionist view of what constitutes Irish industry. After all, industry in Ulster benefited greatly from the union, although we need to be wary of giving any single cause too much weight in seeking to explain the development of the Irish economy in the C19th.

    There is a recent book called Marx at the Margins that has a chapter on Marx and Ireland.

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    [quote]
    Quote Originally Posted by Garibaldy View Post
    I think Marx and Engels on Ireland isn't quoted that much simply because the historical circumstances to which they were responding had changed so much, and because there is no single work bringing together their views in a coherent and developed way.
    Perhaps this thread can pull together some conclusions.
    Imo, all of this book is valuable from the point of view of methodological approach of M and E, of Irish history, and much of it is still relevant.


    As for the act of union and its putative effects, such as causing the famine or turning Ireland into a ranch. The population was already rising incredibly quickly well before 1800, a rise due in great measure to the potato, but also due to the rise of farming for the market. Much of this demand stemmed from trade with the Americas (and to a lesser extent countries like France), as well as the demands of war as armies got bigger, as well as Britain, and again the trend significantly predates the union. We shouldn't deny the agency of Irish people in the economic decisions that were made.

    To say that Irish industry was destroyed by the union is to take an unconsciously partitionist view of what constitutes Irish industry. After all, industry in Ulster benefited greatly from the union, although we need to be wary of giving any single cause too much weight in seeking to explain the development of the Irish economy in the C19th.
    Did it? Do you know of a source for stats on this? Is there a history of industry in Ireland ?

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    Default Re: Marx and Engels on Ireland

    [quote=C. Flower;222872]

    Perhaps this thread can pull together some conclusions.
    Imo, all of this book is valuable from the point of view of methodological approach of M and E, of Irish history, and much of it is still relevant.




    Did it? Do you know of a source for stats on this? Is there a history of industry in Ireland ?
    Marx and Engels were clear that the main question at the time was the question of land ownership. The Land Acts altered that question for ever. Throw in the changed nature of the British-Irish relationship, and much of it becomes of historical interest more than contemporary relevance. I'd agree on the methodology question though.

    Andy Bielenberg's Ireland and the Industrial Revolution is a very recent book on Irish industrial history, though the main lines challenging the image of the union leading automatically to industrial decline were laid out by Louis Cullen's Economic History of Ireland (second edition about 1988). As for figures, in 1800 there were 80,000 acres of what Bielenberg calls native flax and in 1825 there were 140,000. Partly this was due to population growth, providing the British army during the Napoleonic Wars, but exports to Britain were vital - and the union made it cheaper to trade with Britain. Bielenberg points out that after the union, Ireland became the centre of the global linen trade, and at the end of the C19th the world's largest shipyard and brewery were in Ireland. Ireland's industrial history is a mixed one in other words, with massive successes as well as failures.

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