Updated: Sept. 29th 2006

Articles on Labour History -
reprinted from the archives of the Socialist Party and the CWI

This collection was started on June 12th 2004, we will build it up as time permits. The majority of articles will deal with Irish Labour history, but a few others [see the bottom of this page], such as reviews of important books and topics, such as The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, and others, will be included. Some aspects of International Labour History are carried at the end, i.e. the Russian revolution, the US labour movement, etc.

New additions will be listed at the top of this page, but after a while articles will be in order by (roughly) the period they deal with. This collection has a large 'general' section at the end i.e. a piece on the Communist Manifesto.

Added Sept. 29th 2006

1926 Gen. Strike in the Socialist, April 2006

The real ideas of James Connolly

And 2 letters about Connolly and Religion. This is an article by Peter Hadden carried in Socialism Today, No. 100. It was followed by 2 letters dealing with Connolly and Religion. Read more here..

Added, 19th August - this article from 2000 marks the murder of Trotsky by Stalinism

Leon Trotsky - An Enduring Socialist Legacy

SIXTY YEARS ago, on 20 August 1940, Ramon Mercader, an agent of Stalin’s secret police (the GPU) struck a crushing blow with an ice-pick into Leon Trotsky’s skull, ending the life of Stalin’s most feared critic, the foremost Marxist theoretician and outstanding revolutionary.

By Alec Thraves

3 related articles from the same period by Lawrence Coates, Trotsky's relevance today by Peter Taaffe and The Assassination of Trotsky by Lynn Walsh.

New additions - added 23rd Jan. 2006

For Workers Unity

This was a 1974 pamphlet by the SP in Northern Ireland, it contains some historical and theoretical material as a part of our response to a small loyalist-stalinst sect, the workers association/BICO. Here's the introduction

Russia 1917

This piece from 1992 was written by Steve Jolly for the Australian SP paper, Militant

Hungarian Revolution - 1956

Hungary 1956 - A risen people – against Stalinism, for workers’ democracy Norma Prendiville, Militant Irish Monthly, Dec. 1986 On the evening of October 23rd 1956 in Budapest, a crowd attacked the huge Stalin statue in one of the city’s main squares. They threw ropes and steel cables around it and pulled and tugged until the head came off. Read the rest here.

1919 Revolution in Germany

Mick Barry, Militant Irish Monthly, Feb. 1989, No. 169

"Then came stirring news. Mutiny in the Kaiser's fleet. I saw women who laughed and wept because they had their men in the fleet. From windows and doors in the front of the food stores sounded the anxious voices: 'The fleet must not sail!' 'It's murder!' 'Finish the war!' "(Jan Valtin, Out of the Night.)

This was Germany in November 1918. The mutiny that the women celebrated was the beginning of a social revolution which would succeed in ending the war and overthrowing the Kaiser. It would also see the workers take power in virtually every city in Germany.

Trotsky: The Political Profiles of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

Posted on Monday, July 25 2005

WE HAVE suffered two heavy losses at once which merge into one enormous bereavement. There have been struck down from our ranks two leaders whose names will be for ever entered in the great book of the proletarian revolution: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. They have perished. They have been killed. They are no longer with us! Written By Leon Trotsky, 1919.

"You Can't Have Capitalism Without Racism"
Looking Back at Malcolm X (1925-1965)

By Hank Gonzalez, in Justice, the paper of the CWI in the USA.
February 21 marked the 40th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination. Only 39 years old at the time of his murder, Malcolm X would have turned 80 on May 19 of this year. Read the rest here.

The Spanish Revolution 1936 –39

Belfast Socialist Party Historic Reprints Pamphlet 4

1936 Revolution in Spain: Workers rise against fascist coup, Manus Maguire writing in Militant Irish Monthly, May 1986
Spain 1936 – the lessons of the Popular Front
Manus Maguire writing in Militant Irish Monthly, July-August 1986, No. 142.

Felix Morrow’s: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain - Chapter 3:The Revolution of July 19
The ‘May Days’ of 1937 in Barcelona by Pierre Broue, Jan.1986

Available here and as a pdf document.. The pdf vrsion has some images, posters, etc.

These articles were added, 27th July 2005.

Pre 20th Century

1798 - myth versus reality The 200th anniversary of the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion has inspired an astonishing amount of published material and commemorative events. From republicans, claiming 1798 as the birth of their tradition; to the Orange Order, re-enacting the Battle of the Diamond which resulted in their establishment in 1795. TOM CREAN, from the National Executive of the SP, looks at the real legacy of 1798 for the workers' movement today. Socialism Today, produced by the cdes in Britain, No. 34, January 1999.

The Land League - Mass movement of rural workers and tenant farmers

Tom Burns writing in Militant Irish Monthly, No. 76, Sept. 1979

The organised Labour Movement should try to win the small farmers to its banner. Their problems and the problems faced by rural labourers result from the capitalist system with the banks and industrial monopolies run for the profit of a small minority. One hundred years ago, Michael Davitt, leader of the Land League, tried to link the struggles of urban and rural workers and tenant farmers. In this article Tom Burns describes the history of the Land League and its relevance today.

Early 20th Century

Russia 1905 -When workers gained a glimpse of power
The momentous events of 100 years ago, 1905, provided the working class in Russia with the understanding that it was a force capable of bringing industry to its knees, a force capable of turning railways, power, gas etc. on and off like a light-switch.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party, in the Socialist, Jan 22nd 2005

1907 - Belfast on the brink of revolution

Manus Maguire, reprinted from the 1983 pamphlet, Ireland, Socialist Reprints

1907 marked the first major confrontation between the forces of labour and the forces of capital in Ireland. The Belfast dockers' and carters; strike of that year saw the emergence of the working class onto the scene of history as an independent force. Read the article...

The Belfast Linen strike of 1911

Reprinted from the 1983 pamphlet, Ireland - Socialist Reprints

Conditions for working class people in the Belfast of 1911 were horrendous. Wages were low, lower even than in Britain. Only Dublin workers were paid less. Work was scare and unsecured. Malnutrition was widespread and serious illness and disease rampant in the working class districts. Read more here.

Dublin the 1913 Lockout

An article by Pat Smyth, from September 1983, is now available. Read more here....

Irish Labour history Part 1: The rise of the General Unions John Sinclair, Militant Irish Monthly, No. 42, April 1976

The Irish Labour Party was set up by the decision of the Irish Trades Union Congress at its 1912 conference in Clonmel. Congress represented 70,000 organised workers. James Connolly proposed the motion to set up the Labour Party. Jim Larkin was the main supporting speaker. The Labour Party grew out of the trade union movement to represent working people. Read the rest here...

Read the rest here...

The Origins of Irish Labour

Part 2: The struggles of the early 1900's John Sinclair, Militant Irish Monthly, June 1976, No. 44

The 1898 Local Government elections were Labour's first big step forward politically. Workers now had the vote in local elections. Labour Electoral associations sprang up all over Ireland. Read the rest here...

Read the rest here...

1919 strike: Interview with Ted Brown, veteran Belfast socialist
Militant Irish Monthly, April 1976, No. 42.

Ted Brown: I was born in a working class are in Belfast. Read more here...

Connolly in America

James Connolly and the United States, written by Carl and Anne Barton-Reeve.

Reviewed by Niall Kelly, Galway, Militant Irish Monthly, February 1980.

James Connolly and the United States covers the years from 1902 to 1910 spent by Connolly in America. It is a welcome publication covering a period of Connolly's life which is still largely unknown to most people, even those active in the Labour Movement in Ireland and almost completely ignored by American labour historians.Read more here...

James Connolly

Bill Joyce, Militant Irish Monthly, No. 44, June 1976

James Connolly (1868-1916) is one of the outstanding figures in the history of the socialist movement. Born of Irish parents in Scotland, Connolly was active as a leading participant in the labour and trade union movement in both Ireland and America, where he helped organise the 'Wobblies' In Easter 1916 he commanded the insurrectionary forces in Dublin, for which action he was executed by firing squads at the order of the British authorities.

His work, Labour in Irish History (1910) is a Marxist analysis of events in Ireland since the 17th century, in particular the struggles of the common people. Read more here...

1976 article on the Easter Rising


October 1932

When the Falls and the Shankill United Socialist Voice Oct. 2002, By Ciaran Crossey

Teamster Rebellion:- 70th anniversary of Labor’s historic victory in Minneapolis
Seventy years ago, a small mid-western city was shaken to its very foundations. The 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike is one of the greatest labor battles in U.S. history. For two months, the working class owned the streets.

Canyon Lalama, Minneapolis, from Justice, the paper of Socialist Alternative, the CWI in USA, Issue# 41, November 2004-January 2005

Trotsky in Norway 1935-36

By Laurence Coates , Offensiv, (Swedish CWI paper), 2000 An article on the time Trotsky spent in Norway after being sent into exile by the Stalinists. Read more of this piece...

Moscow Trials - a river of blood

Pat Smyth, Militant Irish Monthly,October 1986 On the 15th of August 1936 the government of Stalin announced to the world that two of the great leaders of the Russian Revolution, Zinoviev and Kamenev, were to be tried with 14 others on charges of terrorism and treason. It was to the first savage part of a political purge that was without precedent in world history. Read the rest here...


O'Neill Years: When Labour threatened Unionist rule

By a Militant reporter, Militant, July-August 1990

The former Stormont Prime Minister (1963-69) Terrence O'Neill died in June. There was a torrent of eulogies from the capitalist press and politiciansRead more here....


1982 Health Dispute Strike showed power of workers unity

'Today the sleeping giant of Labour has re-awakened in Belfast.' Thus Jimmy Blair, leader of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, exclaimed to over 7,000 workers in a packed Grosvenor Hall in Belfast on September 22nd 1982.

Written by Micky Duffy, Secretary North and West Belfast, Joint Shop Stewards Committee-Health Unions, Militant, May 1986. Read the rest of this important article here.

General Articles

Militant Irish Monthly, No. 107, Nov-Dec. 1982

At 84, still a young socialist

'We need a mass youth organisation campaigning around the country on a socialist programme'. So said Jack Coughlan, resident of Tuam Labour Party, East Galway, at a meeting of the Tuam Labour Youth last year. At 84 years of age Jack Coughlan has been campaigning for Labour since the 1920s and is still an active socialist. Read the article...

1883-1983 Marxism – the ideas of the founders of Irish Labour

Militant Irish Monthly, March 1983
Finn Geaney, Executive Dublin Trades council (personal capacity)
For more than a century millionaire industrialists, landlords, and military dictators have shuddered at the onrush of Marxist ideas amongst workers, peasants, rural labourers and other oppressed sections of the population. Read the article...

Obituary for Jimmy Deane - pioneer UK Trotskyist
Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party, CWI section, England and Wales in 2002 Jimmy Deane - pioneer of Trotskyism in Britain IT IS with great sadness that we have heard of the death of Jimmy Deane. When I joined in 1958, Jim was general secretary of the organisation that became Militant, Militant Labour and the Socialist Party (CWI section in England and Wales). He had already been active for over 20 years building the Trotskyist forces. Read more here

Interview With Jimmy Deane
This interview was carried in the book, Liverpool, a city that dared to fight, produced by Militant in 1988. 'In 1937 I met Eric Brewer and joined the Labour Party. Read on...

The Communist Manifesto - 'A handbook for every class-conscious worker'

Finn Geaney, (Dublin Trades Council Executive - personal capacity)

Militant, March 1988

140 years have passed since Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto. Read more here

Markievicz - an inspiring woman

Diana Norma's book - Terrible Beauty A life of Constance Markievicz reviewed by Ruth Coppinger in Militant, September 1988

Only two people spoke in the entire debate on the Treaty which confirmed Partition in 1922, on behalf of the Irish working class. One was Liam Mellowes, the other was Constance Markievicz. Read the rest of Ruth's book review of this.

Irish Women Workers Union: 75 Years of Struggle

Review of These Obstreperous Lassies - A history of the Irish Women Workers Union, written by Mary Jones, published by Gill and Macmillan, 1988. Reviewed by FBWU Jacobs in Militant, April 1989

Death of Nimrod Sejake News has reached us, June 18th, that Nimrod Sejake, a comrade from South Africa, died last week. He had been a political activist for over 50 years, suffering repression, exile and hardship for most of that time. After decades in exile Nimrod ended up in Ireland where he joined with us in the Militant, fighting for Marxist politics here and internationally. With the easing of restrictions Nimrod went back to South Africa in the early 1990s where he got involved with the S African section of the CWI. Here is an initial obituary comment by a cde in Belfast, we will follow this up later with a full obituary, and an interview he did with the Swedish cdes in 2000.

Workers' Power and the crisis of leadershipNimrod Sejake writing in Inqaba ya Basebenzi, the journal of the Marxist Workers' Tendency of the African National Congress, No. 12 Nov. 1983 - Feb. 1984.

This piece has a number of biographical notes about his experiences in building Marxism in Southern Africa in the 1950's and 1960's. He also deals with broader questions of interest to S African workers and others, such as armed struggle versus mass struggle, etc.

We send out condolences to his family, friends and cdes in South Africa and internationally. He will be missed.

Marxism and Labour in Ireland

Finn Geaney, Militant, Feb. 1979

In the period since the defeat of the Coalition Government in 1977, the ranks of the Irish Labour Party have been loudly calling for socialist policies. Resolutions demanding the nationalisation of the banks and the finance houses, sections of the building industry and of all land zoned for housing have been carried at National and Regional conferences. A leftward shift is now again becoming dominant. But another factor is also entering the situation. The direction in which the Party is moving is not just a re-run of the 'Sixties.

The banner of Marxism is now being increasingly raised. The Marxist tradition within the Irish Labour Movement was pushed to the side. Not only during the years of Coalition, but almost from the time of James Connolly's execution in 1916. The thread of history cut then is now being re-tied. Read more here.

A painter's tale - The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, by Robert Tressell

Reviewed by Martyna Quirke, Dublin South East YS, in Militant, Jan-Feb. 1982

Militant, January 1987, No. 148

Added to site, Feb. 8th 2005

Peadar O'Donnell- tribute to a socialist fighter

Militant, June 1986
By Anton McCabe and Bill Webster

Peadar O'Donnell, socialist and writer, died on 13th May at the age of 93. With him died a link with the revolutionary movement that swept Ireland between 1907 and 1923 and the great figures who led it. Read on

Against the Tide - book review by Pat Smyth

The publication of Noel Browne's fine autobiography, Against the Tide, will make uncomfortable reading for many of our senior politicians. Their sickening complacency to the facts of poverty and cringing servility in the face of the Catholic Church have changed little since the days of Browne's ill-fated Mother and Child Scheme. For anyone who shares Browne's anger at the hypocrisy of Irish society it makes a very good read. Read the rest of the review.

'On the rack of profit - Children of the Dead End, written by Patrick McGill

Reviewed by Pat Smyth, Militant, Nov-Dec. 1982. While this is a novel, it is autobiographical, giving a graphic portrayal of conditions of migratory workers at the time, pre World War 1. It justifies a place in this Labour history area.

International Labour History

Back to the top of this page

Teamster Rebellion:- 70th anniversary of Labor’s historic victory in Minneapolis
Seventy years ago, a small mid-western city was shaken to its very foundations. The 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike is one of the greatest labor battles in U.S. history. For two months, the working class owned the streets.

Canyon Lalama, Minneapolis, from Justice, the paper of Socialist Alternative, the CWI in USA, Issue# 41, November 2004-January 2005

Russia 1905 -When workers gained a glimpse of power
The momentous events of 100 years ago, 1905, provided the working class in Russia with the understanding that it was a force capable of bringing industry to its knees, a force capable of turning railways, power, gas etc. on and off like a light-switch.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party, in the Socialist, Jan 22nd 2005

American Civil Rights History
This article was published as a five part series in the Panther newspaper, the publication of an organization in Britain called Panther that was affiliated with the Committee for a Workers' International. Written by Colin De Freitas, it explains the principal events, processes and lessons of the huge Black rebellion that swept the U.S. over a period spanning 25 years. The Civil Rights Movement spanned 25 years. It was the largest mobilization of Blacks, and one of the biggest movements in US history. In one way or another, it influenced the lives of every Black American. It reached Blacks as far afield as Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. It stirred new forms of music and dance. Above all, it changed the way we saw ourselves. Read the rest here

Life and Times of Eleanor Marx

Review by Norma Prenderville of Eleanor Marx, Vol.'s 1 and 2, by Yvonne Kapp in Militant Irish Monthly, June 1985

The story of Eleanor Marx deserves to be widely known. It is the moving story of a strong minded, courageous and independent woman who devoted her talents and energies, throughout her life, to the socialist cause. Read the rest here...

The Bread and Roses strike, Lawrence, 1902, The Fight for Bread and Roses

90th Anniversary of the 1912 Lawrence Strike
By Greg Beiter in Justice, paper of Socialist Alternative, US-CWI, Issue No. 30, June-August 2002

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the "Bread and Roses" strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts that occurred in the winter of 1912. The strike was a heroic showdown of over 20,000 immigrant textile workers against the inhuman working and living conditions forced on them by the textile bosses. Lawrence was a milestone for the American labor movement, showing that it was possible to organize women, immigrants and unskilled workers.

Sixty years after the end of World War Two

Origins of the war, big business and fascism, and lessons for the workers' movement
Holger Dröge, SAV (CWI-Germany), Berlin looks at the origins of WW2, the role of big business in backing fascism, and the lessons for the workers' movement. Read the article...

Black History Sitting In and Standing Up for Civil Rights
1960-61: Student sit-ins challenge Jim Crow

By Eve Goodman
Justice, paper of Socialist Alternative, US-CWI, Jan-Feb 2002, No 28

We are taught in elementary school that the civil rights movement began in 1965 with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. In actuality, black people have been fighting against oppression in one way or another, since they first arrived as slaves in the American colonies.

100 Years of the American Socialist Party, 1901 - 2001

Justice, paper of Socialist Alternative, USA – CWI, Issue No. 25 July-August 2001 By Greg Beiter

2001 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Socialist Party. Overlooked by official history, this party anticipated the formation of a mass workers' party in the United States. At its peak in 1912, members of the Socialist Party were the mayors of Milwaukee, Berkeley and Schenectady, NY. One party publication, The Appeal to Reason, had over 600,000 subscriptions. Numerous party members were state legislators. Eugene Debs had received over 900,000 votes running as the party's candidate for President.

The Power of Protest: Lessons From the Anti-Vietnam War Movement

By Tony Wilsdon and Philip Locker
Justice, Issue 31, paper of the Socialist Alternative, US-CWI September-October 2002

Thirty years ago in Vietnam, the US government was defeated for the first time in a major war. With the revival of the anti-war movement, and a possible new US war on Iraq, what can we learn from the anti-Vietnam War movement?

Exxon Valdez: Ten Years After

By Jessica Moore, Justice No 29 March-May 2002 Paper of Socialist Alternative (US-CWI)

The toll of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a sadly familiar one: 250,000 dead birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals – all victims of the oil tanker that ran over a reef late one April night and drained 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. But most people are unaware that the tragedy did not only affect wildlife: many of the thousands of workers who helped clean up the spill have suffered serious health problems ever since. These are the workers that stood in the brown foam 18 hours a day, slept with oil matted in their hair, breathed in the thick hydrocarbon haze, and ate food speckled with oil.

Revolutionaries at 17

As a part of our series of articles from Labour History, here is a piece by Ruth Coppinger (in 2005 a Councillor for the SP in Dublin West),
Dublin South Labour Youth, from Militant Irish Monthly, December 1988/January 1989

"Youth have always been to the forefront of political and social change and some of the greatest socialist leaders in history embraced revolutionary ideas at a very early age." Read the rest here...

Jack London: The Man, The Socialist, The Fighter

Militant International Review, No. 19, 1980 We publish below a brief autobiographical sketch by Jack London, author of “The Iron Heel”, “Martin Eden”, and countless classic short stories and novels. But very few of the millions who read “White Fang” or “Call of the Wild” while at school know anything about Jack London. the lifelong socialist and revolutionary.Read the rest of the article. Added to the site, 18th March 2005