your leaders! Recently we have been treated to a
homily upon the above text. Trust your leaders;
what do you know of their plans and resources, or
what amount of confidential information they may
possess that is denied to the rank and file? That
is good advice. We endorse it thoroughly; agree
with it in every essential. Your leaders have a
right to your confidence. Let them know that you
will obey them - that is one kind of confidence.
Let them know what the rank and file are thinking
and saying - that is another sign of your confidence.
last is the most sacred kind of confidence. It is
the confidence you only give to a loved friend,
a friend whom you love so much that even at the
risk of wounding his feelings you are prepared,
for his sake as well as your own, to challenge his
judgment and impeach his wisdom. That is the highest
kind of confidence ' the most sacred kind of trust.
you are adventuring under a leader of proven judgment
in the task you both have set out to perform, do
not question his judgment rashly. But if his experience
is no more than yours - his judgment untested, and
his experience nil, do not leave him to flounder
along without that saving criticism which must in
peace provide the only possible substitute for the
terrible punishment with which mistaken judgment
is visited in war. If you do, you are untrue to
him, to yourself, and above all to the common cause.
them, O Lord," said a French writer, "that
in the haven of Liberty there are neither heroes
nor great men."
Ireland, however, we have ever seized upon mediocrities
and made them our leaders; invested them in our
minds with all the qualities we idealised, and then
when we discovered that our leaders were not heroes
but only common mortals, mediocrities, we abused
them, or killed them, for failing to be any better
than God made them.
failure dragged us down along with them because
we had insisted that they were wiser than we were,
and had stoned whoever declared them to be common
mortals, and not all-wise geniuses. Our real geniuses
and inspired apostles we never recognised, nor did
we honour them. We killed them by neglect, or stoned
them whilst they lived, and then went in reverent
procession to their graves when they were dead.
are raising our voice, or using our pen, to insist
upon taking the military leaders of the Irish people
into our confidence; to ask our readers to insist
likewise that if the rank and file must obey, so
also is it true that the leaders must listen. We
see neither heroes nor great men amongst these leaders,
and we are devoutly thankful that it is so. Being
common mortals like ourselves we shall refuse to
invest them with the super-sanctity of gods or the
wisdom and foresight of prophets. And above all
we refuse, and we counsel all others to refuse,
to assume that our policies for Ireland in this
crisis are identical until we know that they are.
At a time when all they hold dear trembles in the
balance, should the armed citizens of Ireland fall
in behind leaders without questioning what are the
policies of those leaders, or what their outlook
upon the immediate future?
do not call for public pronouncements from them,
but every man is the guardian of his own conscience
and responsible to that conscience if he shirks
his duty to his country and its cause. By your choice
of a leader now you make your choice of the part
you shall play in the hour of destiny. How can you
make that choice wisely if you do not know what
that leader's policy for the future is?
not be deceived, nor deceive yourself by words.
For instance, when you hear that some one will 'fight
conscription,' push the question until you find
out what he means by 'fighting' conscription.
Quakers in England will fight conscription, the
Dukhobors of Russia will fight conscription, the
'No Conscription Fellowship' is already fighting
conscription. But no blows are or will be struck
by them - indeed their 'fighting' consists in refusing
to strike blows. Is that your method, or that of
your leaders? Or do you prefer the method of that
Catholic priest who recently advised his people
to send a deputation of their ten best shots to
meet the conscriptors? Words are said to be the
medium by which we express our ideas, but in Ireland
words are generally the means by which we conceal
our ideas. Do not let them be so used in this great
game now being played.
is poor quibbling to say that the Workers' Republic
stands for reckless fighting and ill-considered
action. It does not. The Workers' Republic holds
that at any time since the war broke out the British
Government could have been halted in its inroads
upon public liberties in Ireland by a flat refusal
on the part of the majority of its armed citizens
to allow their rights as citizens to be interfered
needed no insurrection, no flying to arms, no storming
of jails, it only needed that the armed Volunteers
who claimed to stand for Ireland should mobilise
and speak for Ireland. And so speaking should declare
that they would not demobilise until all orders
of deportation were withdrawn, and full liberty
accorded to the Irish Volunteers to organise under
their own chosen offcers. Not a troop would have
been moved against them, nor a shot fired. The competent
military authority would have been repudiated as
readily as was the gentleman responsible for ordering
out the military on Howth Sunday.
anyone imagine that at that period of Captain Robert
Monteith's deportation, when everything was going
wrong with England, that she would have hesitated
to sacrifice her dignity or swallow an affront,
rather than provoke in Ireland a conflict that she
knew would have tested severely the loyalty of the
reserves newly recalled to the colours? Just as
Redmond could have gained Home Rule by refusing
to speak in the House of Commons until he had called
a Convention in Ireland upon the outbreak of the
war, so the leaders of the Irish Volunteers could
have prevented the flowing over this island of the
wave of military despotism by quietly challenging
its force when first it broke upon us. But neither
had the requisite imagination. Both essayed to grapple
a revolutionary situation with the weapons of a
tyranny we have since suffered under has been progressive
in its virulence. At first it was only Government
employees like Captain Monteith who were arrested
or deported, now it is any civilian under any conceivable
circumstance. Tyranny grows with what it feeds upon.
are told that the arrest of our leaders would justify
action. Our leaders would have been arrested long
ago were it not for the fact that at the protest
meeting held by the Citizen Army against the deportation
of Captain Monteith it was declared by the chief
speaker that the arrest of the Volunteer leaders
would be a proof to their followers that the British
had been defeated at sea, or that the Germans had
landed. Fear lest the people of Ireland should so
interpret their arrest has spared them to us up
believe in constitutional action in normal times;
we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional
times. These are exceptional times.
General Friend took down the sign from over Liberty
Hall he did not do so in order to provoke us to
insurrection. He calculated that a body of 100 armed
men would scarcely spring to arms at such an insult
after a body of 5,000 armed men had submitted meekly
to a greater one in the same city. His calculation
was right. Had the numbers been changed his calculation
might have missed. We acquit the competent military
authority of any intention to provoke a revolt.
But we are glad that it was not a Labour paper that
pointed out to him that he could at any time provoke
a revolt by seizing the leaders of the Volunteers.
We are sure that he is grateful for the suggestion,
but we do not believe that he needed it.
do you think of the wisdom of those who tell you
to be patient and trust your leaders whose plans
you do not understand, but if those leaders are
arrested, fly to arms? If your leaders who alone
have plans are arrested your flying to arms will
be that of a leaderless mob in a planless insurrection.
And you know, don't you, that the same voices who
talk thus of flying to arms, would then talk of
waiting until your new leaders would have made new
plans to meet the new situation? Finally: think
over this chunk of wisdom. A revolutionist who surrenders
the initiative to the enemy is already defeated
before a blow is struck. It is a fine day if it
wasn't for the rain.