Manifesto of the National Labour League to the Working Men of Ireland (1887)

[No extant copy of the manifesto is known to exist. It is reproduced here from two long quotations from it that were published by the Irish Times on 14 Oct and 21 Oct 1887. The two sources have been merged below. Fintan Lane was first to rediscover the manifesto, and quoted from the 21 Oct 1887 article in his 1997 publication, The Origins of Modern Irish Socialism.]

“Up to the present, labour has been unorganised in Ireland, except in the few instances of trades’ unions that exist in the principal towns; and even in these few cases there does not exist the spirit of fraternity without which it is impossible to make a successful stand against the blighting influence of capitalism.

To remedy this state of neglect and apathy the Labour League has been formed, for the purpose of organising all classes of workers, independent of any particular trade or calling they may follow. Recognising the fact that all wealth springs from labour, we will gladly welcome into our ranks any man that is willing to work for its emancipation from the tyranny that it now groans under.

To bring this desirable object about, it is necessary that a new departure must be made in the mode of organisation. In the past age, and even at the present time, working men believe that it was necessary to have the support of some influential capitalist in order to benefit their own condition. This has been their mistake, because no employer or capitalist is going to advocate the cause of labour to the detriment of his own particular interest.

The time has arrived when it behoves you, fellow-workers, to organise and combine for a just participation in the wealth produced by you, but which is filched from you by the action of the landlord and capitalist class.

All over the civilised world the people are arising against their tyrants – the capitalist class.

Shall you, men of Ireland, remain behind in the great struggle that labour is making for its emancipation? Too long the people have been kept apart by false issues raised by their rulers. The interest of labour is the same all the world over, and it is only by a friendly understanding with the workers of every country that we will be able to secure for labour its just rights.

The Labour League will agitate for the breaking of the last link in the chain that binds the white slave to the chariot wheels of his capitalist lord. We are aware we shall have enemies among the interested classes, but with the growing intelligence of the workers we feel confident our efforts will not be misunderstood.”

Manifesto of the National Labour League to the Working Men of Ireland (1887)

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