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New Left Review I/8, March-April 1961


Alasdair MacIntyre

The Man Who Answered the Irish Question

The Life and Times of James Connolly,

by C. Desmond Greaves:

Laurence & Wishart. 35s.

mr. greaves has given us one of the books which was waiting to be written about James Connolly and has made a fine, scholarly job of it. Those who have a picture of Communist scholarship as partisan, falsifying, careless of fact could not do better than read Mr. Greaves. Here is enormous and scrupulous care over every detail of fact. We need no longer to puzzle over the dates or the places of Connolly’s different activities. All the evidence has now been set out for us, all the conclusions are fairly drawn. Except the political ones. The field for a political biography of Connolly remains open and the need is urgent. For Mr. Greaves’book is a monument of bourgeois objectivism. On the one side there are the facts; on the other there are the political judgments. And this separation of factual material from political judgment means that in these pages Connolly is a dead man. The organic development of his thought is obliterated. His life is a mere chronicle of activity.

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Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘The Man Who Solved the Irish Question’, NLR I/8: £3
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