John Maclean (1879-1923) wis born in Glesgae, Scotland intae a faimily o Hieland oreegin frae the Isle o Mull. Maclean becam a dominie an syne gaed tae the Varsity o Glesgae, graduatin wi a Maister o Airts degree (Maclean aye uised MA efter his name whan bein setten furth efterhaund). Maclean is seen as ane o the chief feegurs o the Reid Clydeside era.
Maclean becam convinced that the staundart o livin o the warkin-clesses coud be made better throu the uptak o Marxist thocht juist, an he jynt the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), an bydit in the organisation as it formed the Breitish Socialist Pairty. Bi the time o Warld Weir I his socialism wis o a revolutionary mak, altho he wrocht wi ithers on the left that's socialism wisna, sic as his freend James Maxton. He strangly opponed the weir acause he felt it wis a weir o imperialism that sheddit warkers ane frae the ither.
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His poleitics made him weel kent tae the authorities o the time, an in 1915 he wis seckit frae his teachin post. Acause o this, he becam a fou-time Marxist lecturer an organiser, eddicatin ither Glaswegian warkers in Marxist theory. He later foondit the Scots Labour College.
Acause he wis a revolutionary enemy o whit he saw as an imperialist weir MacLean steively opponed the staunce taen bi the heid-anes o the BSP aboot H. M. Hyndman. Houaniver, he wisna a pairt o the new leadership that replaced Hyndman in 1916.
Acause the BSP wis the chief constituent organisation that merged intae the new-formit Communist Pairty of Great Breitain, MacLean wis alienate frae the new pairty maugre o his uphaudin o the Communist Internaitional. It seems that he micht hae becom a member o the Socialist Labour Pairty at this time for a while. Houaniver this wis aucht tae his growin belief that warkers in Scotland coud gang in a revolutionary airt quicker nor thair comrades in England an Wales.
Whan Maclean dee'd, his halth brucken by years o the jyle, several thoosand fowk lined the streets o Glesgae tae see his funeral procession gae by, sic the extent o his repute bi the time o his daith.
He left a legacy that haes efterhaund been claimed baith bi the Scots Naitionalist an Labour muvements, makkin him aamaist aesome in this respect amang Scotland's historical feigurs. The modren Scots Socialist Pairty lay strang claim tae Maclean's poleitical legacy, in parteicular the Scots Republican Socialist Muvement (a faction athin the SSP).
On 15t April 1918, Maclean wis arreisted far sedition. He wis refused bail and his trial fixit for 9 May in Edinburgh. He conductit his ain defence in a defiant manner, refusin tae plead an when askit if he objectit tae ony o the juror's replyin, "A object tae the whole lot o thaim." The prosecution case wis based on the testimony o witnesses wha had attendit his meetins, wha quotit extraicts frae oot his speeches uisin notes they had written up frae memory efter the meetin. Maclean objected tae his wirds bein taken oot o context, sayin. "The main pairts o me speech, in whilk me themes are developit are omittit. A want tae expose the trickery o the Breitish goviernment an their police an their lawyers."
Maclean addressit the jury (in Inglis) in an "impassioned speech" lastin 75 meenutes, ane o the greitest Marxist anti-capitalist attacks:
"A had a lectur, the principal heidin understandin wis “Thou shalt nae steal; thou shalt nae kill", an A pointit oot that as a consequence o the robbery that gangs an in aw civilisit kintras taeday, oor respective kintras hae had tae keep armies, an that inevitably oor armies must clash ane-tae-ane. On that an on ither groonds, A consider Capitalism the maist infamoos, bloody an evil system that mankind haes ever witnessit. Me langage is regardid as extravagant langage, bat the events o the past four years hae prooved me contention.... A wish nae hairm tae ony human bein, bat A, as ane man, am gaun tae exercise me freedom o speech. Nae human bein on the face o the Yird, nae goviernment is gaun tae tak frae me ma richt tae exprime, ma richt tae protest agains wrang, my right to do everything that is far the benefit o Mankind. A am nae here, then, as the accusit; A am here as the accuser o capitalism drippin with blood frae heid tae foot."
He wis sentencit tae five years o penal servitude, an imprisonit in Peterhead prison near Aiberdeen. Houaniver, a militant campaign wis launched for he be free again.
Efter the airmistice on 11 November, he wis releasit on 3 December 1918, returnin tae Glesga, a lot o warkers bein joyful o his liberation.
Readins an interpretaitions
The weel-kent Erse-American folk group "The Clancy Brothers an Tommy Makem" read an pronoonce the "Speech frae the Docks" in a video ye can watch on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Amf1RE0AA&feature=related.
- The Times, Thursday, 28 November 1918, "Bolshevist Candidate: Mr. Barnes's Fight at Glasgow".
- The Beuk o Milton,[wha?] whilka wis scrieved in 1973
- Here is, his complete speech airchivit an disponible
(Aw in Inglis)
- The Song Dominie aboot John MacLean (Youtube)
- Strathclyde Varsity Digital Library entry on John Maclean
- The John MacLean Archive
- The John MacLean Internet Archive
- Oor Ain John MacLean
- Pitt, Robert. John Maclean and the CPGB. July 1995. Setten furth online bi What Next? Marxist journal. Taen May 11, 2005.