James Larkin and the British, American and Irish Free State Intelligence Services: 1914-1924
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This thesis takes the form of a case study and is an investigation of the activities of James Larkin between October 1914 and June 1924. It is an analysis of how capitalist states dealt with Larkin in the context of his anti-capitalist views and activities. The thesis places Larkin in the context of his time and incorporates an analysis of the dynamics that were taking place between capitalism and labour in the first quarter of the twentieth century. In this period, elements of labour were not merely trying to gain concessions from capitalism but were threatening to overthrow it. The thesis also addresses the presence of reformists in the labour movement, and analyses the role of reformism in isolating Larkin at this time. Larkin was one of the more prominent public figures in the Anglophone world at that time, having gained his reputation during the 1913 Lockout in Dublin, Ireland. The thesis maps Larkin from when he left Ireland in 1914 and landed in America, with the aim of furthering Irish nationalism and world-wide revolution. Among the many sources used in the thesis, the records of Dublin Castle, seat of the British administration in Ireland, are analysed to find out what the British were doing in relation to Larkin’s activities in America. The records of the US Department of Justice, in the form of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI; known then as the Bureau of Investigation) are scrutinised to find out what they were planning to do to suppress Larkin while he was in America. During the course of examining British and American intelligence on Larkin, an assessment of the reliability of this intelligence information is made. Lastly, the Irish Free State Department of Justice records are analysed to find out what they were doing to marginalise Larkin when he returned to Ireland in 1923. During the course of the thesis, significant issues and resultant hypotheses that arose out of Larkin’s departure for New York until his return in 1923 are examined. That is, issues such as Larkin’s stated, implicit and suspected reasons for going to America; including the reason(s) why Larkin remained in America, and the claims he made upon his return. It will be seen that in the main the historiography to date places Larkin in an unfavourable light during this period, viewing his actions as self-serving, and ego-centric. The thesis will also introduce novel hypotheses, and existing hypotheses that have not been sufficiently explored, that shed new light on Larkin’s activities in this period (a summary of these hypotheses are in the introduction below). The purpose of the thesis will be to assess how effective the suppression and marginalisation of Larkin was by the British, American and Irish states. Accordingly, the thesis will examine the strategy put in place by the British to keep him out of Ireland. It will assess the reaction of the American state towards Larkin and examine why it incarcerated him unduly. Finally, it will look at the reaction of the Free State to Larkin’s return, and how it used its resources to prevent Larkin from regaining control of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.
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