By James Connolly
In this week’s issue of The Workers’ Republic we publish figures showing the enormous profits now being made by shipowners and merchants engaged in the import trade, side by side with the demand of the Government that the working class should practise more economy, and avoid all requests for higher wages.
In many other walks of life the same story could be equalled. We find it in the municipal and poor law administration where the freest endorsement is given to the extravagant demands of the higher officials, whilst the most rigid parsimony is exercised against the lowly-paid workers. We find it in every company in the business world, where the rule is to vote outrageous incomes to figureheads amongst the directors, and princely salaries to the chairmen, even whilst protesting publicly inability to pay decent wages to the workers who produce it all.
On the Imperial scale the same story is reproduced. Untold millions are voted away to the work of destruction, and the work of construction and education is grudged the most paltry allowance.
The magnificent meeting in the Dublin Mansion House on Monday to protest against the withdrawal of the grant to Irish education had and has the support of all Ireland. But of what avail? The robbery will continue – the robbery of which the holy men of old spoke when they denounced as the great sin against God “the robbery of the poor because they are poor”.
Politically we are helpless. Thanks to the militant Labour Movement we are not so helpless industrially, but even on that battlefield the odds against us have increased because of the defection of so many of those whose duty it was to lead, but who when the battle opened either deserted the battlefield entirely or went over wholly to the enemy.
The Irish Transport Workers’ Union still stands in the gap of danger. Its flag still flies, its front to the enemy is still unshaken, its serried ranks have retreated not one inch, and behind it rapidly are gathering fresh hosts of zealous fighters. We know that we have since this war began passed through the greatest crisis in our history, that forces have been loosed against us the most deadly if the most silent we have yet encountered.
We know that the storms we have survived are as naught to those gathering to break upon our head, but we know that we must press forward, that we have in our keeping the hopes of all the children yet unborn, and that those hopes must be safeguarded and shepherded to fulfilment. Many will fall by the wayside, many will desert us “ere the guns begin to shoot”, many upon whom we relied will join the enemy, our world will be torn in confusion; but despite all the flag of Labour will yet be borne aloft triumphant in a free nation in which the wrongs of the poor shall be peacefully righted.
Originally published in Workers’ Republic on January 22nd 1916.
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