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Origins of Modern Irish Socialism 1881-1896

Origins of Modern Irish Socialism 1881-1896

Fintan Lane

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It is popularly accepted that James Connolly initiated modern socialism in Ireland when he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in May 1896. In this book Dr. Lane challenges that myth by making available for the first time a detailed history of the beginnings of modern Irish socialism. Using original sources Dr. Lane traces the development of socialism in Ireland from the influence of William Thompson, Marx and the First International through to the arrival of Connolly and the struggle for independence. He explores the radicalizing element of the land war, the impact of British socialism in Ireland and the emergence of socialist organizations in Dublin.

He also examines the leading role played by socialists in the politicization of the labour movement and charts their changing position in relation to Irish independence. The picture that emerges is one of a tradition more diverse and more vibrant than previously believed, and Irish socialism is firmly placed within the context of the British socialist revival of the 1880's and the 1890's.

It is within this wider movement that we can now locate the origins of the Irish socialist traditions. Among the organizations examined are the National Labour League, which organised an unemployment agitation in 1887 and the new Irish Socialist Union, whose members were centrally involved in introducing new unionism into Ireland between Michael Davitt, Charles Stewart Parnell and the labour movement. The Land League and its connection with Henry George, the American radical who greatly influenced the socialist revival in Britain, is explored and it is shown that a number of leading Land Leaguers strongly supported the policy of land nationalization.

This book provides new and interesting information on the social history of late nineteenth century Ireland. In particular, it greatly improves our knowledge of working-class political life during the period surveyed and sheds valuable light on the international influences on the labour movement in Ireland at the time.

Additional Information

Author Fintan Lane
Publisher Cork University Press
Publication date 1 May 1997
Format Hardback
ISBN/EAN 9781859181515

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