On 11 October 2014 the IWCA’s Gary O’Shea was invited to speak at the annual conference of the James Connolly Society in Edinburgh. We reproduce the text below. The speech covers a broad sweep of working class history from the Paris Commune up to the present day, analysing where the working class movement has gone wrong, outlining the political rationale behind the IWCA and some of the lessons learned so far. The failure by the left to abide by democratic principles and to work with the working class in pursuit of what the working class perceives as its own immediate interests is what lies behind the left’s failure, and is also the key to its revival. As the global economy has hit the buffers in recent years, the far-right has emerged as the populist opposition to the political and economic status quo in Europe. If the left is willing to embrace democratic means and meaningfully engage with the working class again then the situation can be retrieved; if not, the road risks being left clear for the far-right to dictate the future, for the second time in a century.