Great labour Unrest 1910-14

Revolutionaries and the mass strikes, 1910-1914: the strengths and limits of syndicalism


In WR 341 we described the wave of struggles popularly known as ‘The Great Labour Unrest’ that hit Britain and Ireland 100 years ago. We showed that these struggles – which at their high points reached near-insurrectionary levels – were in fact a spectacular expression of the mass strike analysed so clearly by Rosa Luxemburg, and formed an integral part of an international wave of class struggle that culminated in the 1917 Russian revolution. In this article we look at the impact of the mass strikes on the British and Irish working class, and the attempts of militant workers and revolutionaries to draw the lessons of these historic struggles.

Mass strikes in Britain: the ‘Great Labour Unrest’, 1910-1914

100 years ago this August the British ruling class was forced to dispatch troops and warships to Liverpool to crush a near-insurrectionary general strike. The Lord Mayor of the city warned the government that “a revolution was in progress.These extraordinary events were one of the high points of a whole series of struggles in Britain and Ireland before the First World War popularly known as ‘the Great Labour Unrest’.

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