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2. Jim Larkin and Larkinism

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Jim Larkin and Larkinism

Jim Larkin and Larkinism

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  • 1. HHIS403 - Political & Social Movements in Twentieth-Century Ireland The Irish Labour Movement, 1889 – 1924   Lecture Two: Jim Larkin and ‘Larkinism
  • 2. 1.Life 2.Belfast 1907 3.ITGWU 4.Larkinism
  • 3. Des Brannigan. Born 1918. Interviewed 22 January 2010
  • 4. 1. Life: Jim Larkin, 1876-1947
  • 5. 1874 – Born in Liverpool of Irish parents 1881 – Starts work at age 7, a ‘half-timer’ – a pupil permitted to divide time between school and work
  • 6. 1874 – Born in Liverpool of Irish parents 1881 – Starts work at age 7, a ‘half-timer’ – a pupil permitted to divide time between school and work 1885 – Leaves school at age 11 and begins work full-time – various jobs – butcher’s assistant, paperhanger, engineering apprentice, 1890 – starts work on Liverpool docks, age 16.
  • 7. 1874 – Born in Liverpool of Irish parents 1881 – Starts work at age 7, a ‘half-timer’ – a pupil permitted to divide time between school and work 1885 – Leaves school at age 11 and begins work full-time – various jobs – butcher’s assistant, paperhanger, engineering apprentice, 1890 – starts work on Liverpool docks, age 16. 1893 – joins the Independent Labour Party – adopted a socialism ‘driven by moral outrage and underpinned by a personal code of ethics’ rather than a scientific or materialist reading of socialism 1901 – joins the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) 1903 – becomes a foreman docker, marries Elizabeth Brown, daughter of a Baptist laypreacher.
  • 8. 1874 – Born in Liverpool of Irish parents 1881 – Starts work at age 7, a ‘half-timer’ – a pupil permitted to divide time between school and work 1885 – Leaves school at age 11 and begins work full-time – various jobs – butcher’s assistant, paperhanger, engineering apprentice, 1890 – starts work on Liverpool docks, age 16. 1893 – joins the Independent Labour Party – adopted a socialism ‘driven by moral outrage and underpinned by a personal code of ethics’ rather than a scientific or materialist reading of socialism 1901 – joins the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) 1903 – becomes a foreman docker, marries Elizabeth Brown, daughter of a Baptist laypreacher. 1905 – Liverpool dock strike. Larkin emerges as a powerful leader. Sacked from the docks. 1906 - Employed full-time by NUDL as a trade unionist organiser.
  • 9. January 1907 – Sent to Belfast
  • 10. January 1907 – Sent to Belfast April-May 1907 – calls selective strikes on the Belfast docks June 1907 – Calls a general strike on the docks
  • 11. January 1907 – Sent to Belfast April-May 1907 – calls selective strikes on the Belfast docks June 1907 – Calls a general strike on the docks 24 July 1907 – Belfast police mutiny and give support to the dockers. Government responds with deployment of troops. August 1907 – James Sexton, NUDL general secretary, takes away control of the strike from Larkin and negotiates a weak settlement. Larkin goes to Dublin November/December 1908 – strikes on Dublin and Cork docks leads to further tension between Sexton and Larkin.
  • 12. January 1907 – Sent to Belfast April-May 1907 – calls selective strikes on the Belfast docks June 1907 – Calls a general strike on the docks 24 July 1907 – Belfast police mutiny and give support to the dockers. Government responds with deployment of troops. August 1907 – James Sexton, NUDL general secretary, takes away control of the strike from Larkin and negotiates a weak settlement. Larkin goes to Dublin November/December 1908 – strikes on Dublin and Cork docks leads to further tension between Sexton and Larkin. 7 December 1908 – Larkin suspended as NUDL official 28 December 1908 – Larkin forms the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU)
  • 13. 17 June 1910 – sentenced to 12-months hard labour in Cork arising out of a dispute with Sexton over NUDL union funds. 1 October 1910 – released after public protest at the severity of the sentence May 1911 – Larkin and ITGWU launch Irish Worker Summer 1911 – wave of militant grassroots strike action across UK. Significant syndicalist influence. 1912 – Larkin elected as a labour councillor, Dublin Corporation 1913 – ITGWU approx. 20,000 members August 1913 – ITGWU rents Croydon Park Estate, Marino. ‘Bread and Roses.’ 26 August 1913 – In response to sackings of ITGWU members by William Martin Murphy, owner of Irish Independent and Dublin tram service, Larkin calls a strike on the trams. September 1913 – around 400 employers dismiss over 20,000 workers across Dublin city for membership/support of ITGWU. The Great Lockout.
  • 14. 18 January 1914 – Larkin concedes defeat and advises ITGWU members to return to work as best they could. 25 October 1914 – departs for US as first leg in a planned world speaking tour. November 1914 – Arrives in New York. Makes contact with Socialist Party of America as well as Clan na Gael and John Devoy. October 1915 – makes contact with German embassy attachés through John Devoy. Arranges payments in return for anti-war agitation. November 1915 – moves to Chicago. 1917 – US enters the war. Larkin loses German funding after he refuses to engage in sabotage. December 1917 – returns to New York. Joins the Socialist Party of America. September 1919 – supports the foundation of the Communist Labour Party. December 1919 – arrested as part of the ‘Red Scare’ 3 May 1920 – sentenced to five to ten years for ‘criminal anarchy.’
  • 15. 17 January 1923 – given a free pardon by Governor of New York. 21 April 1923 – deported from the US to Southampton, UK. 30 April 1923 – arrives back in Dublin
  • 16. May 1923 – undertakes a speaking tour of Free State urging anti-treatites to disarm – although personally opposed to the Treaty. June 1923 – Denounces the ITGWU leadership and is suspended as general secretary. Relaunches Irish Worker September 1923 – launches new political movement, Irish Worker League (IWL) 14 March 1924 – expelled from ITWGU after legal battle for control of the union 15 June 1924 – forms a new union, Workers’ Union of Ireland. Almost 16,000 ITGWU members, two-thirds of the Dublin membership, defect to the new union. Summer 1924 – visits Moscow to attend congresses of the Comitern and Profintern. Elected to the executive committee of the Communist International. September 1927 – elected to the Dáil as a communist candidate. Prevented from taking his seat as an undischarged bankrupt. 1929 – Larkin breaks with the Comitern and the Soviets. 1932 – abandons revolutionism, discontinues the Irish Worker and retires from the Irish Workers League.
  • 17. 1933-41 – Larkin an ‘Independent Labour’ voice. July 1936 – elected as Dublin councillor. - Workers Union of Ireland admitted to Dublin Trades Council 1941 – admitted into the Irish Labour Party. - ITGWU under O’Briaen breaks with the Irish Labour Party and forms the Independent Labour Party 30 January 1947 – dies. Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
  • 18. Joe Deasy. Born 1922. Recorded 24 September 2009.
  • 19. 2. Belfast 1907
  • 20. - 1906 Trades dispute Act - Restored trade union immunities in lawful strikes - Guaranteed the right of peaceful picketing 20 January 1907 – Larkin arrives in Belfast - 4, 600 dockers and carters in Belfast - By April 1907 Larkin has organised 2,900 of them - Campaigns for William Walker - 6 May Belfast Steamship Company workers strike over union recognition – locked out 15 July – some 2,340 men locked out on the docks
  • 21. 24 July - c.300 members of the RIC demand better pay and conditions 26 July -grand trades’ council procession – 100,000 on the streets of Belfast August - extra 6,000 troops drafted into Belfast 10-11 August – heavy rioting in the city 12 August – troops kill two rioters 15 August – Sexton persuades the carters to accept terms offered by employers - Sexton’s intervention a move against Larkin
  • 22. 3. ITGWU
  • 23. 4. Larkinism
  • 24. Syndicalism – electoral politics led to elitism and betrayal - Socialism should be a celebration of working-class values - the most direct means of struggle was through worker organisations - Ultimate aim a state run by the workers themselves - industry-based, but no bosses
  • 25. French Syndicalism - urged the promotion of class consciousness through sabotage and strikes - this would culminate in a general strike - Workers then able to seize control of industry - opposed Marxist rationalism, embraced irrational forces such as faith, intuition, morality and myth American Syndicalism - unite all grades of worker in each industry into one union, the OBU [One Big Union] - Industry then controlled from the shop floor
  • 26. Syndicalist / Larkisn: - class war - ‘workerism’ [centrality of working class to society] - working-class counter-culture that would challenge capitalist individualism; create bonds between workers and their union; would foster self-reliance, solidarity, fraternity and caring - small, ordinary things throw a light on what life would look like under socialism - social as well as industrial revolution - Republican underpinnings - Larkin’s way or no way at all

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