An important and welcome development has taken place with the publication of works of James Connolly for the first time in Brazil – translated into Portuguese. They are collected together under the title Socialism and Religion. The following is an English translation of the introduction to this selection of Connolly’s works. The book is issued by the publishing house of the left-wing Brazilian website Opera.
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Marxist, Catholic, nationalist: James Connolly’s texts have been published in Brazil for the first time,
by Masetti Assessoria
On Easter Monday 24 April 1916 hundreds of Irish people took up arms, occupied key points in the city of Dublin and proclaimed the independence of Ireland from British rule. The “Easter Rebellion” or “Easter Rising”, as the insurrection became known, was defeated six days later. More than 60 rebels were killed in the fighting, and 16 were executed. Among the latter was James Connolly, one of the leaders of the Military Council that organised the uprising. Severely wounded in the combat, so unable to stand in front of the firing squad, he was brought to his execution on a stretcher and then tied to a chair to be shot.
“Although James Connolly was one of the most important socialist leaders of the twentieth century, who had exchanged numerous letters with Lenin and when his son visited Lenin in Russia in 1922 some Soviet newspapers described him as the ‘Irish Lenin’, he has not been known about in Brazil. Till now his works have never been published in Portuguese, and even on the internet it is rare to find articles of his that have been translated. That is primarily why we have published this book.”
“One of the interesting aspects of his work is that it is written well before the Medellín Conference [the 1968 Conference of Latin American Bishops which agreed to take “a preferential option for the poor.”] and the explosion of Liberation Theology in Latin America. In Ireland religion has played a social and political role, that has separated the colonised Irish from their British occupiers, and because of this there has always been much political debate about religion.”
The book brings together seven texts by Connolly – among them: “Work, Nationality and Religion”, published as a book in 1910; and “Children, the Irish Transport and Transport Workers’ Union and the Archbishop”, written during the Dublin lock-out in 1913 – in which the founder of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the Irish Citizen Army, himself a Catholic, discusses the relationship between religion, socialism and the political formation of Ireland.
Sometimes Connolly publicly clashed with clerics: “That political activity in the past, like the clerical opposition to Socialism at present, was and is an attempt to serve God and Mammon – an attempt to combine the service of Him who in His humbleness rode upon an ass, with the service of those who rode roughshod over the hearts and souls and hopes of suffering humanity”, Connolly told Father Robert Kane in one of the articles.
About the Book:
Title: Socialism and Religion
Author: James Connolly Publisher:
Available from the Opera Store
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Many of James Connolly’s writings in English can be found here on marxists.org.