From the International, June 1873

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One fragment of this article was published in English for the first time in Marx and Engels, Ireland and the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1971, and another in Marx, Engels, Lenin, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972.

For a long time, the Volksstaat has published nothing about the state of affairs in the International Working Men’s Association except the official documents of the General Council in New York. It acted in the same way as all the other international papers and the greater part of the members of the Association itself. While the organs of the Hague minority led by the Bakuninist secret Alliance moved heaven and earth to present themselves as representatives of the real majority of the International, to defame and slander in every way the majority of the Congress, the old General Council and especially Marx, and to rally the unrecognised geniuses of all nations,—those attacked by them contented themselves with stating once and for all the real facts about the Hague Congress and to contrast the worst of the slanders against the facts. For the rest, they relied on the good sense of the workers and the actions of the General Council, which showed itself quite equal to the tasks of its position.

The following will show that this mode of action spontaneously adhered to without any further arrangements has borne fruit.

In England, several English members of the last General Council, in whose faces Marx threw in The Hague the accusation of corruption—on the basis of documentary proofs and their own admissions, without any of them daring to raise any objections—caused a split in the British Federal Council last December. They left and convened a secessionist congress, which consisted of eleven persons altogether, of whom no one even dared to say which sections they represented or whether they represented any at all.[1] The eleven persons spoke out in indignation against the Hague decisions and rallied under the banner of the secessionists, foremost among them two foreigners, Eccarius and Jung. From that moment, there were two federal councils, with the difference, however, that one of them, the international one, had almost all sections behind it, while the other, the secessionist one, represented no one but its own members. The latter played out this comedy for several months, but has finally passed away. One cannot play this sort of farce before the English workers, schooled by a fifty-year-old movement. On the other hand, the British Federation of the International held a congress at Manchester on June 1 and 2,[2] which was undoubtedly an epoch-making event in the English labour movement. It was attended by 26 delegates who represented the main centres of English industry as well as several smaller towns. The report of the Federal Council differed from all previous documents of this kind by the fact that—in a country with a tradition of legality—it asserted the right of the working class to use force in order to realise its demands.[3]

The congress approved the report and decided that the red flag is to be the flag of the British adherents of the International; the working class demands not only the return of all landed property to the working people but also of all means of production; it calls for the eight-hour working day as a preliminary measure; it sends congratulations to the Spanish workers who have succeeded in establishing a republic and in electing ten workers to the Cortes; and requests the English Government immediately to release all Irish Fenians[4] still imprisoned.—Anyone familiar with the history of the English labour movement will admit that no English workers’ congress has ever advanced such far-reaching demands. In any case, this congress and the miserable end of the separatist, self-appointed Federal Council has determined the attitude of the British Section of the International.

In Switzerland, the secessionists have it just as tough. It is known that the Jura Federation was, from time immemorial, the soul of all secessionism [Sonderbündlerei] in the International.[5] Already at the Hague Congress its delegates declared that they represented the true majority of the International and would prove it at the next congress. But time is the best adviser, even to those who blow their own trumpet. On April 27 and 28, the Jura Federation held its congress in Neuchatel. It transpires from the proceedings that the federation has eleven Swiss sections, out of which nine were represented. The report of the committee does not say a single word on the situation in these eleven sections, on their strength, etc.; on the other hand it declares that the whole International is, so to speak, solidly behind their secessionism.[6] Now, will this enormous majority come out at the next general congress and overturn the decisions of the Hague Congress? No, not exactly. On the contrary, the same committee proposes—and these “autonomous” delegates immediately accept the proposal: Lest the new congress should again fall in the dangerous errors of the Hague Congress, the secessionist federations should hold their own congress in some Swiss city and recognise no congress that might be convened by the New York General Council.

The Hague Congress expressly instructed the General Council to select a Swiss city in which to hold the next congress.[7] The decision of the Jura Federation thus signifies nothing but yet another climb-down hiding behind loud phrases.

In fact, it was time for these gentlemen to cover their rear. On June 1 and 2—fatal days for the secessionists—the congress of Swiss workers was held at Olten. Out of 80 delegates, there were five (!) Jurassians. It was proposed to found a centralised Swiss workers’ union.

The five delegates from Jura[8] countered with a proposal for an artificial federal system limited by all sorts of provisos which would have made the whole organisation ineffective. As they were in a hopeless minority, they set to the work of wasting other people’s time, just as in The Hague. The congress lost the whole Sunday debating this so-called “fundamental issue”. Finally, the majority found itself compelled, just as in The Hague, to shut these tiresome talkers up, in order to get to work. On Monday it was simply decided to found a centralised union, whereupon the five preachers read out a meaningless statement, left the hall and went home. And these people, these complete nothings in their own land, have for years proclaimed their vocation to reorganise the International!

Well, it never rains but it pours. In Italy, where the anarchists of the secessionist variety are lording it for the present, one of them, Crescio of Piacenza, sent his new paper L' Avvenire Sociale (The Social Future) to Garibaldi, who, as these gentlemen constantly claim, is one of them. The paper was full of angry invective against what they call “the authoritarian principle”, which in their view is at the root of all evil. Garibaldi replied:

“Dear Crescio, hearty thanks, etc. You intend, in your paper, to make war upon untruth and slavery. That is a very fine programme, but I believe that the International, in fighting against the principle of authority, makes a mistake and obstructs its own progress. The Paris Commune fell because there was in Paris no authority but only anarchy.”[9]

This veteran fighter for freedom who achieved more in one year—i.e., 1860—than all the anarchists will ever attempt in the course of their life, places a great value on discipline because he himself had to discipline his troops, and he did it not like the official soldiers, by drill and the threat of the firing-squad, but when facing the enemy.

Unfortunately we have not yet come to the end of the list of mishaps which the secessionists had to endure. Only one thing was still missing and that too took place. The Neuer, whose police nose had long since caught the peculiar smell of these arch mischiefmakers of the International, now supports them whole-heartedly. In issue 68 the paper states[10] that the rules drafted by the Belgians[11]—who had in fact left the International—completely correspond to its views and holds out the prospect of its joining the secessionists. Thus all our wishes have been fulfilled. When Hasselmann and Hasenclever appear at the secessionist congress, this separatist organisation will acquire its true character. On the right Bakunin, on the left Hasenclever and in the middle the hapless Belgians, who are led by the nose of their Proudhonist phrases!

  1. On the split in the British Federation of the International and the London Congress of its breakaway reformist wing in January 1873 see notes 228 and 230.
  2. See Note 237.
  3. "Report of the British Federal Congress, held at Manchester, June 1 and 2, 1873 ", General and British Federative Rules of the International Working Men's Association, together with a Report of the Second Annual Congress of the British Federation, held at Manchester, June 1st & 2nd, 1873 [London, 1873]. The resolutions of the congress mentioned below were also published in that volume.— Ed.
  4. See Note 176.
  5. On the application of the words "Sonderbund", "Sonderbündler", etc., to the anarchist secessionists in Engels' works of the period see Note 202.
  6. "Le Congrès Jurassien, des 27 et 28 avril 1873", Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne..., No. 9, May 1, 1873.— Ed.
  7. See this volume, p. 253.— Ed.
  8. J. L. Pindy, J. Guillaume, L. Schwitzguébel, Ch. Gameter, H. Wenker.— Ed.
  9. G. Garibaldi, "Caro Crescio", La Favilla, No. 134, June 5, 1873 (cf. this volume, pp. 453 and 504).— Ed
  10. "Internationale Arbeiterassoziation", Neuer Social-Demokrat, No. 68, June 18, 1873.— Ed.
  11. A reference to the draft of the new Rules of the International Working Men's Association, worked out by the Belgian Federal Council in the anarchist spirit before the Hague Congress of the International (see Note 88).