In 1864 representitives of the working class of many European countries and the USA, who wanted to cooperate for the emancipation of the workers, met in London and formed the International Workingmen’s Association. They analysed, that they can only emanicpate themselves, it they work together on international level. Here some of their guidelines, their constitution and some information about their activities. To form such an association again, might be the order of the day! The pictures are from Karl Marx, who wrote the Address and from the meeting in London. It gives us for the emancipation several important task: Struggeling for laws, which safes the needs of people in an economy which cares only for profits! Organizing associated factories by the workers themselves and supporting such associated economy by political support up to the leven of a by the working people selforganised economy! Occupying the democratical political power by the working class, to make politics for the priniples of the working class, social production controlled by social foresight not any more for the middle class according to the blind rule of the supply and demand laws, independent of its human costs. Intervening in the foreign policy for a moral policy towards other countries! Unification for these tasks on international level, selfeducation, so that the big numer of working people is lead by strong knowledge!
“This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.
But there was in store a still greater victory of the political economy of labor over the political economy of property. We speak of the co-operative movement, especially the co-operative factories raised by the unassisted efforts of a few bold “hands”. The value of these great social experiments cannot be overrated. By deed instead of by argument, they have shown that production on a large scale, and in accord with the behests of modern science, may be carried on without the existence of a class of masters employing a class of hands; that to bear fruit, the means of labor need not be monopolized as a means of dominion over, and of extortion against, the laboring man himself; and that, like slave labor, like serf labor, hired labor is but a transitory and inferior form, destined to disappear before associated labor plying its toil with a willing hand, a ready mind, and a joyous heart. In England, the seeds of the co-operative system were sown by Robert Owen; the workingmen’s experiments tried on the Continent were, in fact, the practical upshot of the theories, not invented, but loudly proclaimed, in 1848.
At the same time the experience of the period from 1848 to 1864 has proved beyond doubt that, however, excellent in principle and however useful in practice, co-operative labor, if kept within the narrow circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly lighten the burden of their miseries. It is perhaps for this very reason that plausible noblemen, philanthropic middle-class spouters, and even keep political economists have all at once turned nauseously complimentary to the very co-operative labor system they had vainly tried to nip in the bud by deriding it as the utopia of the dreamer, or stigmatizing it as the sacrilege of the socialist. To save the industrious masses, co-operative labor ought to be developed to national dimensions, and, consequently, to be fostered by national means.
To conquer political power has, therefore, become the great duty of the working classes. They seem to have comprehended this, for in England, Germany, Italy, and France, there have taken place simultaneous revivals, and simultaneous efforts are being made at the political organization of the workingmen’s party.
One element of success they possess — numbers; but numbers weigh in the balance only if united by combination and led by knowledge. Past experience has shown how disregard of that bond of brotherhood which ought to exist between the workmen of different countries, and incite them to stand firmly by each other in all their struggles for emancipation, will be chastised by the common discomfiture of their incoherent efforts. This thought prompted the workingmen of different countries assembled on September 28, 1864, in public meeting at St. Martin’s Hall, to found the International Association.
Another conviction swayed that meeting.
If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfill that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the people’s blood and treasure? It was not the wisdom of the ruling classes, but the heroic resistance to their criminal folly by the working classes of England, that saved the west of Europe from plunging headlong into an infamous crusade for the perpetuation and propagation of slavery on the other side of the Atlantic. The shameless approval, mock sympathy, or idiotic indifference with which the upper classes of Europe have witnessed the mountain fortress of the Caucasus falling a prey to, and heroic Poland being assassinated by, Russia: the immense and unresisted encroachments of that barbarous power, whose head is in St. Petersburg, and whose hands are in every cabinet of Europe, have taught the working classes the duty to master themselves the mysteries of international politics; to watch the diplomatic acts of their respective governments; to counteract them, if necessary, by all means in their power; when unable to prevent, to combine in simultaneous denunciations, and to vindicate the simple laws or morals and justice, which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the rules paramount of the intercourse of nations.
The fight for such a foreign policy forms part of the general struggle for the emancipation of the working classes.
Proletarians of all countries, unite!”
International Workingmen’s Association
Logo first used by the Spanish IWA.
(not legal successor)
|Formation||September 28, 1864|
|Founders||George Odger, Henri Tolain,Edward Spencer Beesly|
|Headquarters||St James’s Hall, Regent Street, West End|
|Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin,Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,Louis Auguste Blanqui,Giuseppe Garibaldi|
|Congress of the First International|
In 1872 the organization split in two over conflicts between socialist and anarchist factions. It dissolved in 1876. The Second International was founded in 1889.
In Europe, a period of harsh reaction followed the widespread Revolutions of 1848. The next major phase of revolutionary activity began almost twenty years later with the founding of the IWA in 1864. At its peak, the IWA reported having 8 million members, while police reported 5 million.The International Workingmen’s Association (IWA, 1864–1876), often called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class and class struggle. It was founded in 1864 in a workmen’s meeting held in St Martin’s Hall, London. Its first congress was held in 1866 in Geneva.
- 2St. Martin’s Hall Meeting, London, 1864
- 3Internal tensions
- 4The Geneva Congress, 1866
- 5The Lausanne Congress, 1867
- 6The Brussels Congress, 1868
- 7The Basle Congress, 1869
- 8The Hague Congress, 1872
- 9After 1872: two First Internationals
- 10See also
- 12Further reading
- 13External links
Following the January Uprising in Poland in 1863, French and British workers started to discuss developing a closer working relationship. Henri Tolain, Perrachon, and Limousin visited London in July 1863, attending a meeting held in St. James’ Hall in honour of the Polish uprising. Here there was discussion of the need for an international organization, which would, amongst other things, prevent the import of foreign workers to break strikes. In September, 1864, some French delegates again visited London with the concrete aim of setting up a special committee for the exchange of information upon matters of interest to the workers of all lands.
St. Martin’s Hall Meeting, London, 1864
On September 28, a great international meeting for the reception of the French delegates took place in St. Martin’s Hall in London. The meeting was attended by a wide array of European radicals, including English Owenites, French followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Auguste Blanqui, Irish and Polish nationalists, Italian republicans, and German socialists. Included among the last-mentioned of this eclectic band was a somewhat obscure 46-year-old émigré journalist, Karl Marx, who would soon come to play a decisive role in the organisation.
The positivist historian Edward Spencer Beesly, a professor at London University, was in the chair. His speech pilloried the violent proceedings of the governments and referred to their flagrant breaches of international law and advocated a union of the workers of the world for the realisation of justice on earth. George Odger, Secretary of the London Trades Council, read a speech calling for international co-operation.
The meeting unanimously decided to found an international organisation of workers. The centre was to be in London, directed by a committee of 21, which was instructed to draft a programme and constitution. Most of the British members of the committee were drawn from the Universal League for the Material Elevation of the Industrious Classes and were noted trade-union leaders like Odger, George Howell (former secretary of the London Trades Council (LTC) which itself declined affiliation to the IWA (although remaining close to it)), Osborne, and Lucraft and included Owenites and Chartists. The French members were Denoual, Victor Le Lubez, and Bosquet. Italy was represented by Fontana. Other members were: Louis Wolff, Johann Eccarius, and at the foot of the list, Karl Marx. Marx participated in his individual capacity, and did not speak during the meeting.
This executive committee in turn selected a subcommittee to do the actual writing of the organisational programme — a group which included Karl Marx and which met at his home about a week after the conclusion of the St. Martin’s Hall assembly. This subcommittee deferred the task of collective writing in favor of sole authorship by Marx, and it was he who ultimately drew up the fundamental documents of the new organisation.
On October 5, the General Council was formed with co-opted additional members representing other nationalities. It was based at the headquarters of the Universal League for the Material Elevation of the Industrious Classes at 18 Greek Street. Different groups offered proposals for the organisation: Louis Wolff (Mazzini‘s secretary) offered a proposal based on the rules and constitution of the Italian Workingmen’s Association (a Mazzinist organisation) and John Weston, an Owenite, also tabled a programme. Wolff left for Italy, and Lubez rewrote it in a way which appalled Marx. Through deft manipulation of the sub-committee Marx was left with all the papers, and set about writing the Address to the Working Classes to which was attached a simplified set of rules.
Written: October, 1871
First Published: October 24, 1871
Source: Original pamphlet
Transcription/Markup: Zodiac/Brian Baggins
Online Version: Marx & Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2000
That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;
That the economical subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of labor — that is, the source of life — lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;
That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;
That all efforts aiming at the great end hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labor in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries;
That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;
That the present revival of the working classes in the most industrious countries of Europe, while it raises a new hope, gives solemn warning against a relapse into the old errors, and calls for the immediate combination of the still disconnected movements;
For these reasons —
The International Working Men’s Association has been founded.
That all societies and individuals adhering to it will acknowledge truth, justice, and morality as the basis of their conduct toward each other and toward all men, without regard to color, creed, or nationality;
That it acknowledges no rights without duties, no duties without rights;
And, in this spirit, the following Rules have been drawn up.
1. This Association is established to afford a central medium of communication and co-operation between workingmen’s societies existing in different countries and aiming at the same end; viz., the protection, advancement, and complete emancipation of the working classes.
2. The name of the society shall be “The International Working Men’s Association.”
3. There shall annually meet a General Working Men’s Congress, consisting of delegates of the branches of the Association. The Congress will have to proclaim the common aspirations of the working class, take the measures required for the successful working of the International Association, and appoint the General Council of the society.
4. Each Congress appoints the time and place of meeting for the next Congress. The delegates assemble at the appointed time and place, without any special invitation. The General Council may, in case of need, change the place, but has no power to postpone the time of the General Council annually. The Congress appoints the seat and elects the members of the General Council annually. The General Council thus elected shall have power to add to the number of its members.
On its annual meetings, the General Congress shall receive a public account of the annual transactions of the General Council. The latter may, in case of emergency, convoke the General Congress before the regular yearly term.
5. The General Council shall consist of workingmen from the different countries represented in the International Association. It shall, from its own members, elect the officers necessary for the transaction of business, such as a treasurer, a general secretary, corresponding secretaries for the different countries, etc.
6. The General Council shall form an international agency between the different and local groups of the Association, so that the workingmen in one country be consistently informed of the movements of their class in every other country; that an inquiry into the social state of the different countries of Europe be made simultaneously, and under a common direction; that the questions of general interest mooted in one society be ventilated by all; and that when immediate practical steps should be needed — as, for instance, in case of international quarrels — the action of the associated societies be simultaneous and uniform. Whenever it seems opportune, the General Council shall take the initiative of proposals to be laid before the different national or local societies. To facilitate the communications, the General Council shall publish periodical reports.
7. Since the success of the workingmen’s movement in each country cannot be secured but by the power of union and combination, while, on the other hand, the usefulness of the International General Council must greatly depend on the circumstance whether it has to deal with a few national centres of workingmen’s associations, or with a great number of small and disconnected local societies — the members of the International Association shall use their utmost efforts to combine the disconnected workingmen’s societies of their respective countries into national bodies, represented by central national organs. It is self-understood, however, that the appliance of this rule will depend upon the peculiar laws of each country, and that, apart from legal obstacles, no independent local society shall be precluded from corresponding directly with the General Council.
8. Every section has the right to appoint its own secretary corresponding directly with the General Council.
9. Everybody who acknowledges and defends the principles of the International Working Men’s Association is eligible to become a member. Every branch is responsible for the integrity of the members it admits.
10. Each member of the International Association, on removing his domicile from one country to another, will receive the fraternal support of the Associated Working Men.
11. While united in a perpetual bond of fraternal co-operation, the workingmen’s societies joining the International Association will preserve their existent organizations intact.
12. The present Rules may be revised by each Congress, provided that two-thirds of the delegates present are in favor of such revision.
13. Everything not provided for in the present Rules will be supplied by special Regulations, subject to the revision of every Congress.