James Connolly and the Scottish Left, 1890-1916
Ransom, Bernard Campbell
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James Connolly (1868-1916), Socialist leader, labour union organiser and Irish Republican general, pursued an active career of over thirtyfive years duration in left-wing politics during the period of the Second International. During this time, he played an influential role in the Social Democratic and Labour movements in Ireland, Scotland and the United States. This stuy examines his relationships with the activists and organisations of left-wing labour in Scotland in the period 1890-1916 and moreover, seeks to establish his significance as a "Marxian Syndicalist"; an activist working in a Marxist tradition distinct from both the state socialism of the Social Democratic International and the Marxism - Leninism of the Comintern. Connolly's formative years in the Social Democratic and labour movements of his native Edinburgh (1890-96) are examined in some detail, and an attempt is made to delineate some characteristics both of the mainstream of British Marxism and of the uniqueness of the situation in Edinburgh, which were important for his personal development. Subsequently, his importance in the secession of the Scottish 'impossibilist' faction from the all-British Marxist movement in 1902-3 is analysed. At this point, there is some emphasis on the theories of the Alrerican Marxist, Daniel De Leon, and of their importance both in Connolly's further theoretical development and of the Scottish Left generally. The American contribution to Connolly's thought - and his mature response to it - is then followed up, some consideration being given to his work in the American socialist movement in 1903-10. In the light of this experience, Connolly's further influence on Scottish leftwing labour in the period 1910-15 is traced; particular emphasis is laid on the Syndicalist elements in his thought and on the Scottish responses to it. Finally, there is some discussion of the relationship between the themes of Nationalism, Marxism and Syndicalism within the history of the Scottish Left in the period 1890-1920, and the concrete failure of Marxism within the Scottish working class movement is assessed against the background of the manifest advances of the nontheoretical parliamentary Labour Party.