From Sinn Féin, September 13, 1913.
The successful methods of dealing with labour troubles in the countries we have referred to, find their base in the recognition by all sections of capital and labour that the nation’s interest is greater than special interests. It is obvious there can be no national labour policy in any country where labour denies the Nation’s existence or authority. Last Sunday in Dublin an Englishman told many thousands of Irishmen that there was nothing between them and England but a drop of water—and we cannot find in any report of the meeting at which this denial of the existence of an Irish nation was made that dissent was manifested.
To elaborate a national labour policy at a time when employer and employed are suffering from inflammation of the brain would be waste of energy. Five years ago we stated certain propositions which those whose judgment is cool in the present warm atmosphere will recognise, we think, as sound. We believe them to be the basis of a true policy for what for want of a more precise term is vaguely described as Labour.
- That the true interests of Capital and Labour are not inimical but independent.
- That neither Capital nor Labour has fully realised the fact, and that the realisation must be forced upon them by the Nation.
- That in any pitched battle between Capital and Labour, with no intervening force, Capital must always win.
- That the Nation cannot afford that any one of its sections should be enslaved by the other, and therefore cannot permit such a pitched battle.
- That the right of Labour to a fair share of the joint product of Labour and Capital is clear and inalienable, and it is the duty of the Nation (or the State) to see that it gets it.
- That the Strike as a weapon of offence is useless and as a weapon of defence is only the last resort.
- That the path of progress for Labour is not along the line of destruction (the strike), since it cannot destroy without, like Samson, burying itself in the ruins, but along the line of construction (co-operation), by which it can bring its own strength gradually nearer to the level of the strength of Capital.
This is not the moment to elaborate these propositions which the wisdom of those who have lead into the Serbonian bog could not recognise. The Nation is the one force in material affairs stronger than Capital. The fallacy of labour-leadership in the last century was that by eliminating the Nation Labour could weaken the power of Capital to resist Labour’s demands. The fallacy has reached Ireland after it has been found out and thrown out of other countries and has been received by some with delight as a new Truth. But it was inevitable that it should come here as it is inevitable that we should get the two-year-old popular song of Paris via the London music halls when Paris had forgotten all about it. Without our language and our national government we are at the back of the world.