Plain truths about the International Congress of Workers in Paris in 1889

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Comrades and Fellow-Citizens, —

The decision of a section of our Socialist comrades in France, acting in conjunction with others who are not Socialists, to hold a Congress in Paris, in opposition to that which has been called and is being organised by our comrades of the Possibilist Party, demands a statement of the truth from the Social-Democratic Federation, by far the largest and most powerful Socialist organisation in Great Britain. No effort has been wanting on our part to bring about an understanding between the two parties, and we approach the consideration of the matter without any prejudice. We confine ourselves, however, for the present, to the setting out of plain facts which have never been disputed, leaving Socialists, and all who sympathise with Socialism, to judge as to who are responsible for this most unfortunate and harmful schism at this critical juncture.

  1. The Possibilist Party of France known as the Parti Ouvrier, were empowered by the International Trade Union Congress of Paris in 1886 to call, and to make arrangements for, an International Congress of Workers in Paris in 1889. The Germans were represented at this Paris Congress of 1886 by Grimpe.
  2. The Parliamentary Committee of the English Trade Unions most unfairly and unjustly excluded the Germans and Austrians from any representation at the International Trade Union Congress of London in 1888. Thereupon, the Germans denounced the Congress as a Rump-Congress, and Bebel, Liebknecht, and others, who are organising the present rival Congress in Paris, appealed to all other nationalities not to attend the London Congress because they were excluded from it.
  3. The International Trade Union Congress of London of 1888 was, nevertheless, held and was very successful. The special allies of the Parliamentary Germans in France, the so-called Marxists or Guesdists, were represented by Farjat. That Congress unanimously empowered the Possibilists to call, and to make arrangements for, an International Congress of the Workers in Paris in 1889. Farjat held up his hand with the rest in favour of this resolution, the Belgians, represented by Anseele, and the Dutch concurring. Anseele and Croll both, nevertheless, went to the Hague Caucus.
  4. Acting on these two successive mandates the Possibilists, who are by far the strongest Socialist Party in France, alike in Paris (where they cast 50,000 votes) and in the Provinces, proceeded, as in duty bound, to call and organise an International Congress of Workers at the end of July, 1889.
  5. To this the Marxists, though pledged by Farjat's vote, objected, and induced the Germans to object because, as they said, the Possibilists meant to exclude their opponents and to manipulate the Congress to their own ends. This charge was made, although the Possibilists have never excluded any section of Socialists from any Congress before and not a tittle of evidence has ever yet been adduced to show that they intended to do so on this occasion. The invitations included all Socialist bodies.
  6. At any rate, a Conference was called at Nancy by Lafargue, Guesde, and other Marxists, acting in concert with the Germans of the Reichstag Party and their friends. To this Conference the Possibilists were invited last of all, and only a week before the Conference was to have been held.
  7. That proposed Conference at Nancy did not take place, but, instead, a Conference was summoned at the Hague. To this Conference, also, the Possibilists were invited last of all. In reply to the invitation they wrote letters asking several very important questions. Those letters were never answered and the Conference was held at once without their assistance.
  8. [Sic. The list includes two point 7s. MIA] This Conference was held without any representative being present from Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and several other countries. The Social-Democratic Federation was not even informed that it was going to be called. Only those were invited who were known to be hostile to the Possibilists. Lafargue himself was the sole representative of France, though he had a bitter personal feud with the Possibilists of many years' standing! The full proceedings of the Conference were not, and have never been, published.
  9. Such a Conference as this was manifestly nothing but a Caucus summoned, we fear, for no good purpose. Our noble comrade Domela Nieuwenhuis, we deeply reget to say, states in a letter to the Social-Democratic Federation that it was intended to be secret. As it was held at the office of the Recht voor Allen he can scarcely be misinformed on this point.
  10. By this Caucus, thus sitting with closed doors, a set of resolutions were passed to which no serious objection can in principle be taken. Volders was, however, despatched to Paris to force these decisions on the Possibilists as if they were the decrees of an Œcumenical Council, and Bernstein in London wrote in the same strain. The letters of the German leaders, which we hope we shall not be obliged to publish, are also written in a very bitter and arbitrary tone, threatening a rival Congress unless their orders were complied with immediately.
  11. The Possibilists, nevertheless, accepted in effect every one of the resolutions so passed and so presented to them.
  12. In spite of this acceptance, and of the fact that the Congress summoned by the Possibilists will be, and always would have been, supreme over its own proceedings, in spite of the fact that all cases in dispute can be referred by either side to the whole Congress for decision and settlement, the adherents of the Hague Caucus have now called another Congress in Paris.
  13. They have called this Congress for the very time appointed for the Congress called by the Possibilists; though at the Hague they unanimously passed a resolution condemning the end of July as a most inconvenient and improper time to hold a Congress of Workers at Paris at all; though also, Anseele, in a letter to the S.D.F. stated that, if a second Congress were held, it would take place in September, and Liebknecht that it would be be held either this year or next.
  14. The chief promoters of the Hague Caucus and of the rival Congress in Paris are Lafargue, Guesde, Mrs. Eleanor Marx Aveling (whose sister, a daughter of Karl Marx, Lafargue married), Bernstein (editor of the Sozial-Demokrat), Rebel, and Liebknecht. Friedrich Engels is in full accord with their proceedings.

Comrades and Fellow-Citizens, the facts are before you. It is for you to see to it that your cause, the cause of the workers of the world, is not deliberately injured by those who should be the first to suppress their personal jealousies for the sake of Socialism.




The above has been ordered to be translated into several European languages and distributed in all countries.