On the appearance of our first number in such a time of tension and excitement, our readers, we are sure, expect some sort of declaration of policy. This we hasten to give.
The policy of this paper will be to implant in the minds of its readers a correct understanding of the position and needs of Labour in Ireland and abroad. To do this we shall devote most of our space to the Labour movement in this country, and whatever articles or reprints we shall publish dealing with conditions and developments elsewhere, will be published because they serve to shed a light upon some of our home problems, or because they show how people elsewhere have mastered some difficulty with which we are still grappling. Thus in the present issue we quote from a German trades union writer an article giving particulars of how the German municipal authorities have grappled with the problem of the increase of the price of food a problem which is no less acute in Ireland than it is in Germany, but which in this country has not yet been grappled with in any statesmanlike manner. In the article on ³The Problem of the Child² we show how the care of children is taken up in Hungary, which seems to have solved the question that the much talked of ³War Babies² have produced in these countries to the apparent destruction of all our conventional ideas of sex-morality.
At a time when everybody is talking of military matters, it would be mere affectation, or worse, to attempt to exclude such from our columns. Hence we keep in the fashion by our Citizen Army notes, which deal with the lessons of military science as exemplified in campaigns of similar bodies of armed citizens in other countries in the past.
We pass no verdict upon the great War now raging. That part of our work was done in the columns of our predecessors, and any Irishman who has not made up his mind as to his duty must just make it up as best he can without our assistance. The Defence of the Realm Act is very far-reaching, and we are not yet in a position to prevent its enforcement were we ever so willing.
We regret nothing in our former action. The work we did then had to be done at all risks or costs, to save the honour of our class and our country we did it, and in such an emergency we should so act again.
Our great work now is to consolidate our ranks, to educate our members, to lay broad and deep the foundations of a great Labour movement in this country, and to think out and propound the plans by which we hope to make it possible for that movement to enter into the possession of a regenerated Ireland.
From time to time we shall do our best to present to our readers an understanding of the true magnificence of the Labour movement; we shall tell how the workers of Ireland have suffered in the past, how they are winning their way to emancipation, and we shall do our endeavour to make this country realise that all those strivings after better wages and better conditions, all those squabbles over half-pennies and pennies per hour, squalid and sordid as they seem, are nevertheless in their essence beautiful and spiritual strivings of imperfect human souls for the cleansing of the environment in which they are placed.
In the long run the freedom of a nation is measured by the freedom of its lowest class; every upward step of that class to the possibility of possessing higher things raises the standard of the nation in the scale of civilisation; every time that class is beaten back into the mire, the whole moral tone of the nation suffers. Contemned and despised though he be the rebellious docker is a sign and symbol to all that an imperfect civilisation cannot last, for slavery cannot survive the awakened intelligence of the slave.
To increase the intelligence of the slave, to sow broadcast the seeds of that intelligence, that they may take root and ripen into revolt, to be the interpreter of that revolt, and finally to help in guiding it to victory, is the mission we set before ourselves in the columns of the Workersı Republic.
Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997.