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The Irish Question in Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels's Writings on Capitalism and Empire

Mathur, Chandana and Dix, Dermot (2009) The Irish Question in Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels's Writings on Capitalism and Empire. In: Social Thought on Ireland in the Ninteteenth Century. University College Dublin Press, Dublin, pp. 97-107. ISBN 9781904558668

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Abstract

Few nineteenth-century formulations of Ireland's suffering under British rule were as explicit as those of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in focusing away from essentialist explanations cast in the language of British villainy, and in concentrating instead on material factors, on the conjoined expansion of capitalism in Britain and underdevelopment in Ireland. This is plainly evident even in the very manner in which Ireland features in the chapter organisation of their explicitly theoretical work. Ellen Hazelkorn points out that, by placing consideration of Irish agriculture in the chapter headed the 'General Law of Capitalist Accumulation', Marx scorned the historicist argument that focused attention on the Act of Union and English anti- Irishness, and turned to evaluate how the transference of capital, foodstuffs, and labour from Ireland to England formed an integral and necessary part of their respective economic growth (Hazelkorn 198 I: 26). The systemic underpinnings of British rule in Ireland have subsequently tended to be under-discussed: it is hard to believe that it is still necessary to go back to the writings of Marx and Engels to be reminded of this key element in the relationship between England and Ireland. Indeed, Eamonn Slater and Terrence McDonough have observed that even the rise of postcolonial theory in Ireland has not helped to mitigate the inattention to political economy that characterises the field of Irish studies (Slater and McDonough 1994: 63-4)-

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Karl Marx; Friedrich Engels; Ireland; Irish agriculture; Capitalism; political economy; Capitalist Accumulation;
Subjects: Social Sciences > Anthropology
Item ID: 2994
Depositing User: Dr. Chandana Mathur
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2012 14:39
Publisher: University College Dublin Press
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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