On St. Patrick’s Day, Learn What Marx and Engels Thought of Irish Immigrants

For nearly 200 years, the Irish experience has been synonymous with out-migration. One of the earliest studies of the Irish diaspora came from socialist godfather Friedrich Engels who, in his 1848 work, The Condition of the Working Class in England, gave a thorough accounting of Irish migration into newly industrialized England.

Engels, however, wasn’t so much interested with the Irish experience, but with their collective impact on the native working-class. Although himself a factory-owner in England (through his family), he decried the “hardship” and “degradation” imposed on English workers by the Irish influx — particularly on native workers’ ability to maintain labor unions in the face of it.