Friday, January 18, 2019

In which Karl Marx takes my side against Jeremy Corbyn

Embed from Getty Images

During the 2017 general election campaign I blogged about Jeremy Corbyn's cordial relations with the Provisional IRA.

Though they had not been the trump card that the Conservatives expected - it was all too long ago for most voters attracted by him - I still found them hard to forgive.

I quoted an earlier post where I wrote of the Provisionals' bombing campaign:
I was working in London at the time shoppers and workers were being killed by it. 
The very least I expect from the party of the workers is that it condemns those who murder them. 
Rather to my surprise, I have discovered that Karl Marx agrees with me.

Last night I came across the Clerkenwell Outrage of 1867 - an explosion caused by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (or Fenians) in an attempt to spring one of their leaders from Clerkenwell Prison.

It failed in its objective, but caused the deaths of 12 people, and injured 120, in the neighbouring houses.

One of the men behind it, Michael Barrett, became the last man to be publicly hanged in England, despite his defence that he had been in Glasgow at the time of the explosion.

Well, we English weren't very good at convicting the right people for Provisional IRA outrages in the 1970s, so who knows?

But what interested me was the reaction of Karl Marx. He is widely quoted across the interent, though I can't find where he wrote is, as arguing:
The London masses, who have shown great sympathy towards Ireland, will be made wild and driven into the arms of a reactionary government. One cannot expect the London proletarians to allow themselves to be blown up in honour of Fenian emissaries.


Walsie said...

The reference comes in a letter written to a Herr Kugelmann, a fellow German socialist and is reprinted in Marx on Ireland (Moscow 1972) The ful text of the letter shows that the political demands of the Fenians still had Marx's sympathy. His odure was reserved for individual terrorism as a weapon.

Interesting that his collaborator Engels was less censorious. But then we know that Engels was in a long term relationship with an Irish girl with Fenian sympathies - one Mary Burns.As one writer put it "she copped off with Fred Engels, lived with him for around twenty years, and without Mary Burns no-one would have found out about The Condition of the Working Class 1844 because she took him round and showed him the worst districts of Salford and Manchester for his research.

They say that if you can't change your doorstep you can't change the world. Basically, Mary showed Engels her doorstep and inspired him to change the world.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks for supplying the reference, David.