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“THE CURSE OF LARKINISM”: PATRICK MCINTYRE, THE TOILER, AND THE DUBLIN LOCKOUT OF 1913 JOHN NEWSINGER the rise of Larkinism posed a serious challenge to the prevailing social order in Dublin in the years immediately before the outbreak of World War I. The successful creation of a militant union of the unskilled working class, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), with its tactics of “tainted goods” and the sympathy strike, its championing of working class interests before all other considerations, and its leadership’s socialist politics, most notably Jim Larkin’s, seriously alarmed both Dublin employers and the Home Rule politicians. Used to dealing with more moderate, more respectable and respectful representatives of labor, drawn from the skilled trades, they concluded that Larkin’s crusade to organize the most downtrodden members of the working class to demand their rights was a grave threat that would have to be met. By the summer of 1913, Jim Larkin was claiming, with some justice, that Dublin was the best organized city in the world, but his challenge was now about to be taken up. The ITGWU’s eVorts to organize the city’s trams were seized upon as an opportunity to decisively break the union by means of a general lock-out. The Dublin employers attempted to impose “the document” on their workers, whereby they agreed not to belong to Larkin’s union. The result was the most bitter, protracted industrial conXict in Irish history, a conXict that involved some 400 employers and over 25,000 workers and that ended with the ITGWU suVering a heavy defeat. Only through the loyalty and self-sacriWce of its members did the union escape destruction to Wght another day.1 PATRICK McINTYRE, THE TOILER, AND THE DUBLIN LOCKOUT OF 1913 90 1 For James Larkin, see Emmet Larkin, James Larkin (London, 1977); for the ITGWU see C. Desmond Greaves, The Irish Transport and General Workers Union: The Formative Years (Dublin, 1982); for `Larkinism’ see John Newsinger, “‘A Lamp To Guide Your Feet’: Jim Larkin, the Irish Worker and the Dublin Working Class,” European History Quarterly, 20, 1 (January, 1990). Among the battery of weapons that the employers and their allies used to attack the ITGWU were two anti-Larkinite labor newspapers, The Liberator and The Toiler. Both publications were produced for a workingclass readership and mounted a sustained assault of considerable ferocity on Larkin personally and on the movement which took his name—Larkinism . The more successful of these two newspapers was The Toiler, and the nature of its attack on the ITGWU and the extent to which it succeeded in undermining support for the union warrants analysis. So far, relatively little attention has been paid to this alternative to Larkin’s own newspaper The Irish Worker, beyond noticing the outrageous slander that it poured on his head, week after week. The Toiler deserves more attention than this. First, The Toiler attempted to give voice to the beliefs and prejudices of that section of the Dublin working class that resisted the appeal of Larkinism, and to provide a justiWcation for their taking the employers’ side during the Lockout. This aspect of working-class history is generally neglected in accounts that almost always focus on the striker rather than the strikebreaker . Secondly, The Toiler also serves as an interesting commentary on the degree of support for Larkinism among the Dublin working class. The newspaper reluctantly recognized that, despite police attacks and jailings, despite clerical condemnation, despite the starving back to work of its members, despite widespread victimizations, the hold of Larkinism was never broken. The Wrst labor newspaper to challenge the ITGWU was The Liberator, edited by Bernard Doyle. The Wrst issue appeared on 23 August 1913, only days before the start of the dispute on the Dublin trams that was to precipitate the Lockout. The paper combined a ferocious attack on the “reign of terror” being exercised by that “imported adventurer,” Larkin, with condemnation of an “unjust capitalism” which saw “the workers . . . growing poorer every year.” In these circumstances, it was no wonder that the workers lent a willing ear to the glib tongue of the so-called “labour leaders.”2 A strongly nationalist...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 90-102
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
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