Proceedings of the 1889 International Congress (marxist)

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Preface[edit source]

The preface is intended to be an apology — ̇an apology for late and imperfect appearance. And the best apology in this case is a clear statement of the circumstances and the facts.

The original proceedings, which could only be completed in Paris, were to be edited by me for Germany and translated into German by Wedde.

The French electoral campaign, which started immediately after the Congress and only ended in the autumn last year, delayed the drafting of the original because Guesde, to whom it was entrusted, had to devote all his energies to agitation. Several months were lost in this way. When the manuscript finally began to arrive from Paris, Wedde, for whom the work was a real pleasure, threw himself into the task with such enthusiasm that he usually finished each consignment before a new delivery arrived.[Translator's notes 1]

Then, in the midst of the best and most joyful work, our friend who took such pleasure in life and in the struggle met with sudden death. ——

I will not consider here the loss that the party suffered in losing Wedde. For the German announcement of the proceedings of the Congress his death was truly disastrous.

The manuscripts got into disarray, some were lost and had to be laboriously replaced. And who should now do the translation into German?

— IV —In the meantime, we Germans, too, had been thrown into the electoral struggle — I had my hands full and could not possibly step in. It was necessary to sort it out ourselves. Several comrades who were well versed in French shared the remaining larger half of the work. It worked because it had to; it was not easy, especially for me, you can believe me.

Despite all the hindrances and obstacles, the German edition will appear before the French original.

And despite all its shortcomings, the proceedings of the Congress are of great value — they are rich in content and they exude something of the fresh, victorious spirit of world conquest that pervaded the first international workingmen’s parliament.

I will not talk about the significance of the Congress. To those who were dissatisfied with the way business was conducted, I have to inform them that attendance at the Congress had far exceeded the boldest expectations of the Paris conveners, and that as a result the preparations were inadequate. In truth it was an embarras de succèstoo successful. The next international workers‘ Congress will have the benefit of the experience gained, including with regard to the conduct and management of business. In the future for example, one will — quite apart from the motions — have to submit reports to the Congress in printed form, so that the time used in oral presentations is saved and time remains for discussion. All the lessons will be learned, and conducting a multilingual, truly international Congress is no small matter even with the most fraternal and tolerant support of the participants.

In the future, the composition of the bureau will have to be agreed in advance — of course without anticipating the sovereign decisions of the Congress. In particular, a sufficient staff of translators must be on hand.

I want to leave unanswered the ugly attacks which a Dutch party organ brought against the German Congress delegates and especially against me — for the sake of the peace of the party, and because I hope that the impropriety and injustice of the attack has in the meantime been recognized by the authors.[Translator's notes 2] Be that as it may, no personal resentment can take from the world — V —the fact that the International Workers‘ Congress, which met in Paris on the centenary of the French Revolution, was the greatest cultural triumph and the greatest cultural event of the 19th century, and forms the beginning of a new era, which has nothing to do with the many “very latest” eras of the class state, moving along the old well-worn tracks of the politics of the day, but signifies a break with everything that has gone before.

The First of May of this year proved that it was not a flash in the pan that blazed from the Congress — the first huge, world-encompassing action of the global proletariat, which last year in Paris signed an everlasting covenant of peace, freedom and equality.

Borsdorf, June 2, 1890.

W. Liebknecht.

Sunday, July 14th. Opening session[edit source]

The red painted assembly room — La salle Petrelle — is full by 9 a.m. On the red back wall of the stage are emblazoned in gold letters Marx's words:

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

On the right and left are two emblems, here that of the “Workers’ Party” (Parti ouvrier), there that of the “Revolutionary Central Comittee” (Comité révolutionnaire central) under which the most important cities of France represented here are listed. The red flag rises above the two emblems.

In the middle there is a third emblem with the inscription:

In the name of the Paris of June 1848 and of March, April and May 1871, and of the France of Babeuf, Blanqui and Varlin, greetings to the socialist workers of the world.

In the foreground can be seen an indication of the goal and demands of every worker organized in a socialist party, wherever it may be:

Political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class, socialisation of the means of production.

On behalf of the Paris Organizing Commission — whose printed report was distributed — at 10 o‘clock citizen Paul Lafargue welcomed the delegates from the departments and abroad, especially the Germans who despite the difficult circumstances in their country appeared in large numbers, proving that there is no question between socialist Germany and socialist France of those foolish hatreds and blind passions which the chauvinists of both countries keep alive with such zeal. The delegates from Europe and America gathered in this room do not represent any of their various fatherlands; they do not gather under the folds of the tricolor or any other national banner; they come together under the folds of the red flag, the flag of the international proletariat. In this room you are not in capitalist France, not in the Paris of the Bourgeoisie — you are in one of the capitals of the international proletariat, of international socialism.

The bourgeoisie is celebrating the centenary of their revolution, that revolution which proclaimed that it would bring justice, freedom and equality to humanity, and which knew no better conclusion than the cruelest and most unrestrained exploitation of the workers. The bourgeois, who only overthrew the aristocracy to gain the mastership of society for themselves, have brought down the feudal Bastille only to turn the whole country into a capitalist labour Bastille in which they can condemn the children, women and men of the proletariat —2—to the agony of overwork. The delegates to the international socialist Congress of 1889 declare by the mere act of meeting that they have something different to do than the work of the revolution of 1789; they do not bow to the “rights of man and citizen” of 1789, which are only the rights of the citizen’s purse. The revolutionary bourgeois of the last century sent their messengers across Europe with the sermon: “Fraternity to the peoples! War to the tyrants!” In this room the apostles of a new way of thinking are gathered. For years you have been preaching to the workers of the civilized nation, "You are brothers and you have only one enemy: private capital — be it Prussian, English, French or Chinese.” Your tireless propaganda, in spite of all the economic and political oppression by the capitalist class, has already brought about the intellectual unification of the socialists of both hemispheres. The social transformation, prepared by national and international development and organization of the productive forces, will weld the civilized nations of Europe and America together into a single people of free producers and owners of the riches that have arisen from common labour.

Finally, to general applause, Lafargue declared the Congress open and called for a chairman to be elected. The names of the German Reichstag member Liebknecht and the Paris municipal councilor Vaillant were suggested. Lafargue proposed that both be elected and that the first session be held under their joint chairmanship. "That will be a testimony to the brotherly union, which unites the socialists of Germany and France." (Repeated tumultuous applause.)

As vice-presidents and secretaries were elected: the MPs Costa and Cipriani for Italy, Anseele for Belgium, Leo Fränkel for Hungary, Peter Lawroff for Russia, Domela Nieuwenhuis for the Netherlands and the MP Ferroul for France.

Citizen Vaillant accepted the joint chairmanship with Liebknecht and gave the following address to the Congress:

“I thank you for the honour you are doing me by calling me to chair this great international socialist Congress on its opening day, and by uniting me with my friend, the Reichstag deputy Liebknecht, whom we all know. So you appoint both of us simultaneously, in the name of international socialism, to welcome the delegates who have come from all countries to seal on behalf of the peoples the socialist Unification Treaty which is the beginning of your joint action and which must lead to your liberation; you entrust me, in the spirit of all revolutionary socialists in France, to welcome the brothers who have come from abroad to offer us their hand — to congratulate them because they have come in such numbers, with such determination — but especially to congratulate those impressive ambassadors from Germany, who represent the largest organized socialist power on earth.

In the face of the liberticidal and warmongering preparations of kings and ruling classes, we have to emphasize the necessity of international peace, our will to maintain this peace, and in place of militarism, in place of the policy of looting and conquering, the democratic defensive policy of the peoples, armed and organized, in order to protect their independence against any external threat and the development of their freedom against any internal threat.

We have to make it our firm resolve to obtain from the masters of power and capital the guarantees of protection for work and workers, which those masters continue to — 3 —refuse as a diminution of their prerogatives. Our masters must be brought forthwith, by means of an international law, to arrange less monstrous, more humane conditions of existence for the workers; the proletariat must immediately be protected against starvation by a minimum wage; against being sweated to death by a restriction of the working day — and finally, it must be enabled through this first and indispensable reform to prepare the means to really emancipate itself, through an organized campaign against the privilege and rule of private capital.

In the course of our debates we will have enough other demands to formulate, for the goal we are striving for is unmistakable for the conscious proletarians of all countries, for the socialists, whose delegates are united here, and who all have one desire, whatever the path may be: to achieve at last the seizure of the means and materials of labour by society, in short, to achieve legal and factual equality in the social-democratic people's state.

Whatever the outcome of these debates, it can be of little importance compared to what has really already been achieved - the assembling of this Congress.

Never before have so many delegates come together at a national French socialist congress, representatives from Paris and all the other workers’ centers, representatives of all the trade unions and workers’ organizations of the departments. Never before has an international socialist congress brought so many representatives of international socialism together, rushing in from all points of the socialist world, on the day after bloody battles, amid the machinations of government and capitalism. The seeds of the Commune are beginning to sprout. And all these delegates from France and other countries gathered here have only one object in their hearts, only one desire: to seal forever the covenant of unity, the treaty of solidarity of the Socialists of all countries, a treaty already concluded by the simple fact of this fraternal gathering, and to which we all swear allegiance through thick and thin.

This Congress, the success and magnitude of which exceeds all our hopes, will be one of the great events in the history of the peoples. It brilliantly opens up a new era of the conscious, systematic enforcement of the rights of the oppressed, planned, unanimous action by the international proletariat and socialism. It is the pledge of certain and decisive victory; long live the social international republic! (Lively applause.)

Citizen Liebknecht gave thanks for the trust placed in him: “It is the proudest moment of my life to stand here and see the fulfillment of the ideal announced by the words: Proletarians of all countries unite! And it gives me even more pleasure that I, a representative of German social democracy, stand here shoulder to shoulder with my friend Vaillant, a representative of French social democracy. After the terrible fratricidal war in which our two nations were torn to pieces, the two peoples so to speak shake hands in our persons: social-democratic Germany with social-democratic France. (The chairmen shake hands to the roaring cheers of the assembly.) The enmity of Germany and France has so far been the main obstacle to political and social progress in Europe. The fraternization of France and Germany is the triumph of peace, civilization, and socialism. And the fact that in this — 4 —hall, in the mother city of the revolution, the representatives of the working people of all countries have come together — all animated by the one thought of the emancipation of the proletariat and the one feeling of solidarity gives this parliament of the worker the significance of a great work for peace, an epoch-making cultural deed. And while I formally offer my fraternal greeting to the non-German comrades present here in the name of the German social democracy, I now want to translate for my German comrades the enthusiastic words of the international greeting which have just been addressed to the Congress by our French friends Lafargue and Vaillant. (The speaker gives a summary of the two speeches and continues): I agree with the previous speaker. This congress is the starting point of international cooperation among the proletariat of the world. Whatever the resolutions it may take, the main importance of the Congress lies in the fact that it is meeting, in the fact that the worker-delegates of the different countries are meeting one another in person, recognizing the equality of their aspirations in spite of the difference of countries and tongues, and reaching out brotherly hands to the Pacte d'Union — to the sacred alliance treaty of the international proletariat.

Free from national prejudices, free from the selfish striving to dominate and exploit, the proletariat will realize the ideals which the heroes of the great revolution that is celebrating its centenary today had in mind — the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, which, however, contradicted the egoism of the bourgeoisie as it achieved domination, and so could not be realized until now.

This is not the first international workingmen‘s congress that I have attended. In 1869 I was in Basel, and when we had finished with the work, and it was a matter of determining the time and place for the next congress, one of the French delegates invited us on behalf of the French comrades for next year in Paris — Paris would then be free from Bonaparte. And the invitation was accepted with jubilant unanimity, and with the cry: "Next year in Paris!" we parted.

That French delegate was Varlin.

The next year came — 1870 — and the war came — which unfortunately we could not prevent — Bonaparte fell — and the Commune came — and Varlin, like the other French congress delegates, did his duty in the council and on the battlefield — the Commune fell and Varlin, the noble, heroic Varlin, was captured by the inhuman victors and, under terrible abuse, to which he opposed stoic equanimity and defiant silence, was dragged for hours through streets turned red by the murder of his brothers, until those cruel enemies themselves grew tired. and shot the hated man, whose last word was a curse against this vicious bourgeois society, against a wall.

The martyr‘s blood of the Commune was the seed of revolution. The workers‘ movement grew powerfully everywhere, especially in Germany, even though the bourgeoisie believed they had stifled it forever in blood and defamation.

And after twenty years we have now accepted Varlin‘s invitation, and now more has come true than Varlin, than all of us dreamed back then — an international workingmen‘s parliament, hundreds of representatives of the foreign proletariat, among them over eighty from Germany — besides the representatives of the workers of Paris and France.

—5—The treaty of alliance does not need to be made — it has been made!

And before we proceed to the constitution of the Congress, I have only one thing left to say: this Congress is open to all honest fighters for the emancipation of the proletariat. Nobody is excluded who wants to cooperate on the work of liberation.

(Liebknecht had spoken partly in French — especially towards the end. The speech was followed by unanimous, sustained applause: Long live socialist Germany! Long live the International!)

A commission was then appointed to examine the mandates, which was composed by nationality, as follows: Germany — Vollmar, Geyer, Geck; France — Lavigne, Guesde, Vaillant; Russia — Lawroff; Poland — Mendelsohn; Switzerland — Brandt (Vice President of the Grütli Association); Italy — Costa and Cipriani; Spain — Mesa; Scandinavia — Petersen; Belgium — Stautemas and Steffens; Netherlands — Domela-Nieuwenhuis; Austria, as a German country — Dr. Adler; Austria, as a Slavic country — Hybes; Hungary — Frankel; England — William Morris; United States of North America — Ahles; Romania — Mann.

The Bureau indicates that it has received various requests, including one from Citizen Lawroff, who is responsible for giving a general report on the situation in Russia, and who, in view of the unstable state of his health, has asked to be allow to give it in the next sitting. That is accepted.

After a lengthy discussion about the rules for the sessions, in which the citizens Dupres, Camescasse, Anseele, Bebel and Merlino take part, the Congress decides to meet again on Monday morning at 9 o'clock.

Citizen Werner from Berlin declares that he, like several of his fellow delegates, is instructed to do everything possible to bring about an agreement between the two congresses. He proposes the appointment of a commission of 5 members to handle this matter.

Citizen Bernstein points out that it is impossible to appoint any commission before the mandates of the delegates have been examined. Incidentally — he added — we have always wished to reach an agreement.

.Citizen Costa declares that all Italian delegates have been mandated to unite both congresses and to make every effort to merge them into one. Should the question be excluded from discussion, it would be impossible for them to fulfill their mandate. So he insists on getting started immediately.

Citizen Liebknecht believes that nothing can be done before the congress has been fully constituted. For 4 months everything has been tried to bring about an agreement. The obstacles did not come from our side, but from the other. In this situation, how should we urge our friends, the French socialists, to come to an agreement which they have always been denied? That would be putting a gun to their heads. We Germans are in favour of unification, we are in favour of a single international congress. But it does not depend on us whether this will be achieved. We have always offered our hand, we are still offering it. May it be taken! (General applause.)

Monday, July 15th. Morning session[edit source]

— 6 —Since the meeting room — la Salle Petrelle — has proved to be too small for the steadily growing number of delegates, the Congress has migrated to the Salle des Fantasies Parisiennes in Rue Rochechouart. The meeting opens at 10 a.m. and the floor is given to the various rapporteurs of the Comittee for the review of mandates.

The delegates, whose names follow, are in turn recognized as members of the Congress.

Each delegate stands up when his name is called and replies: “Here!” Each name is greeted with applause, which is particularly strong for Liebknecht, Bebel, Lawroff, Domela-Nieuwenhuis, Dr. Adler and the representatives of the miners from France, Germany, England and Scotland.

The number of recognized delegates is:


Citizen Vollmar, reporting for Germany, declares that the Social Democratic Party is represented by 81 members who have been elected in all parts of the Reich, with the sole exception of the Province of Posen. The election of delegates was carried out in various ways. The election in public assembly, which we consider the normal mode, was only possible in 125 cases; in very many cases assemblies which were to vote for this Congress were banned or dissolved. In order to carry out the election of the delegates, people then resorted to voting lists which were circulated in the workshops, farms, and factories. One of these lists has 5,000 voters' names. The mandates granted are of two types: mandates from people who are only brought together by shared political convictions, and mandates from economic or commercial groups of workers in the same profession. One delegate may represent an entire trade union, another an entire region or constituency — in particular members of the Reichstag or a Landtag. In general, the election to the international —7—Congress had as many participants as the elections to the Reichstag. Among the elected are 11 current and 4 former MPs, as well as 3 authorized representatives of the miners who recently went through a strike, 2 from Westphalia and 1 from the Kingdom of Saxony. (Loud applause) There are also 1 student, 1 representative of the socialist Germans in the United States and 1 representative of the Socialist trade unions in New York.

(These two German-Americans are not included in the total of 81 Germans given by Vollmar, but are counted as Americans in the list above.)

Citizen Vaillant gives the French translation and adds that this great workers’ demonstration has happened under the rule of the Exceptional Law and the state of emergency. The German workers defied everything, obstacles and persecutions, in order to come to Paris to fraternize with workers of the whole world. Herein lies a new and luminous proof that the old social world is doomed to ruin once and for all, and that it is approaching a catastrophe in which we shall be called to do all our duty. (Loud applause.)

Citizen Liebknecht declares that he has already participated in many national and international congresses, but that none of them can be compared to the present one. “Not the national ones, if only because they were only national ones. But the earlier congresses of the International Workingmen’s Association could not offer anything similar either. The International Workingmen’s Association was only a great blueprint for the future: the plan of a general workers’ fraternity and workers’ organization — but a plan which, as a result of the youth of the movement, has not yet been fully implemented in most countries. Just as in battles and sieges of antiquity the champions hurled their spear far out into the enemy ranks, over the wall of the best of the enemy, in order to urge the masses to rush after the missile, so the International Workingmen’s Association hurled the spear of the international struggle for liberation far ahead into the middle of the armies, into the middle of the fortress of capitalism — and the proletariat has rushed after to retrieve the spear and break up the armies of the enemy and storm their fortress. The International Workingmen’s Association, however, after showing the workers of all countries the common goal and teaching them the necessity of common action and struggle, had fulfilled its mission. It is not dead — it has passed over into the powerful workers’ organizations and workers’ movements in the individual countries, and lives on in these. It lives on in us. This congress is the work of the International Workingmen’s Association.

The international labour movement has become too large to be part of a single, unified organization. But the seeds of the International Workingmen’s Association have sprouted so well in the hearts of the workers that the idea of internationalism dominates every workers’ organization and movement of the present day. The International Workingmen’s Association, as far as it is still possible today, does not need to be re-established — it exists — exists to a far greater extent than the founders dared to hope — it embraces the entire class-conscious and purposeful proletariat of the whole world — a giant army in which the organized workers of the individual countries form the individual army corps; — but all army corps in one single army!

To implement the program of the International Workingmen’s Association in all its parts, to continually improve the national organizations, —8—to tie the bond of internationalism ever tighter — that is our duty — the duty of all the emissaries of the proletariat who have come together in this great international workingmen’s parliament.

The English Chartists already had a “workers’ parliament.” However large the Chartist movement was, that workers’ parliament only included the delegates of English workers. The earlier international congresses cannot be compared with this Congress either, because most countries were only very imperfectly represented, and in some cases not represented at all, so those congresses could not be regarded as a true expression of the international workers’ movement. In this Congress of ours, however, the entire workers’ movement of the world is represented, if not yet completely, to such an extent that we can say without arrogance: this is a global workingmen’s parliament — the first that the world has ever seen.

The workers of all countries have turned their eyes confidently on us. And that trust will not be misplaced — so announces the enthusiasm that shines in all our eyes.”

Citizen Vaillant speaks in the same spirit and recalls the international character of the Commune of 71. The Congress will mark an epoch in the history of the struggle for the liberation of labour. In order to avoid any loss of time, the speaker requests the selection of a permanent bureau, which should be drawn from all nations and a faithful image of the congress in miniature. He excuses himself from voting, as he is chairman for the day. (Unanimous agreement.)

The bureau is composed as follows and in the following order: Switzerland — Brandt; Germany — Bebel and Liebknecht; France — Lafargue and Vaillant for the socialist organizations, Besset for the Paris trade unions, Lavigne for the departmental trade unions; Italy — Cipriani and Costa; Netherlands — Domela-Nieuwenduis; England — Morris, Citizeness Marx-Aveling and Cuninghame-Graham; Spain — Iglesias; Hungary — Leo Fränkel; Scandinavia — Petersen, Jeppesen and Palmgreen; Alsace-Lorraine — Jaclard; Russia — Lawroff; Poland — Mendelsohn; German Austria — Popp; Belgium; — De Paepe and Anseele; United States of America — Ahles; Romania — Mangle; Finland — Finn.

At the suggestion of citizen Lafargue, the miners’ delegates from France, Germany, England and Scotland are added: Lacombe, Dieckmann, Ehrhardt, Stolle, Keir Hardie.

Citizenesses Jankowska and Zetkin and citizens Deville, Guesde, Ferroul, Longuet, Daumas, Frohme, Wedde, Geyer, Bernstein are appointed as secretaries.

To translate from French into English — Citizeness Marx-Aveling and Morris; from English into French — Longuet; from German into English — Krantz; from French into German — Vollmar; from French and English into German — Liebknecht and Bernstein.

The delegates of the remaining nations declare that they do not need a translator, as some understand French and some German.

There follows the reading of the telegrams of endorsement and the letters that have arrived from various countries, the majority from Germany.

Telegrams read out:


Arnstadt; Berlin, — the Berlin building workers; Berlin — the general metalworkers’ association in Berlin and the surrounding area; Berlin — the bricklayers (Grothmann); Berlin — Association of plumbers of Berlin and the surrounding area; Hamburg — the workers of Hamburg, Altona —9—and surrounding area; Hamburg — the stonemasons; Hamburg — the moulders of Hamburg-Altona; Dresden — the Dresden carpenters in Saxon Switzerland, Schandau; Dresden — the 4th, 5th and 6th constituency of Saxony; Leipzig — the socialists gathered in the Pantheon; Grüna (Saxony) — the electoral association; Würzburg — the workers; Lübeck — the moulders; Frankfurt am Main — the workforce; Brandenburg — the workforce; Burgstädt — the electoral association; Chemnitz — Quartet Association; Cologne — the workers; Darmstadt — the Social Democrats; Glauchau — worker; Gotha — the workers; Elmsborn — the workers; Forst — the party comrades; Hartmannsdorf — Association of Manufacturing Workers; Heilbronn (Württemberg) — many workers; Hohenstein-Ernstthal — the workers; Meissen — the carpenters; Nuremberg; Posen; Ronsdorf — Assembly of voters of the Lennep district; Schlachtensee — Berlin workers' club Cubarippe; Schneeberg — 19th Saxon constituency; Wandsbeck — the shoemaker; Zwittau (oder Zwickau?) — the comrades; London — the members of the communist workers' education association; Boitsfort (Brussels) — the German Social Democrats from Brussels.


Vienna — the united button-turners and plasterers; Vienna — the blacksmiths; Vienna — the socialists of Floridsdorf; Kratzau — the socialists of North Bohemia; Moravian Ostrava — the socialist workers; Reichenberg (Bohemia): the comrades.




Basel — the German socialists; Lausanne — the freedom fighters; Geneva — the Central Committee of Geneva Workers; Saint Gallen — the German socialists.


Rome — Social Study Circle.


Madrid — National Committee of the socialist workers’ Party.




Ternfuzen — the socialist propaganda club.


Christiania; Bergen.


London — the communist workers’ educational association.




Narbonne; Laumes; Marseille.

The congress received letters of endorsement and addresses from:

Berlin: The social democratic reading club ’Lessing’ declares its solidarity with the workers all over the world and demands the protection of labour from capital and protection of the peoples against the bellicose policies of the class governments.

—10—Berlin: The enlightened domestic servants send fraternal greetings and wishes for the fruitful work of the Congress.

Raumburg on Saale: The city's socialist group sends the congress the most sincere wishes for the success of its work.

Posen: At the request of the workers of Posen, Abdallah wishes the congress the best success in the interests of the proletariat and explains why Posen could not be represented.

Gersdorf: The Czech emigrants in Saxony are convinced that the proletariat can break its chains as soon as it unites in a world organization without distinction of nationality. They are therefore determined to fight together with the international proletariat and to win, and they call to the Congress: "Forward into the struggle!"

Vevey (Switzerland): The German workers’ association assures the congress of its full sympathy and sends wishes for the prosperity of the just cause of social democracy.

Zurich: The tailors' association declares its warmest sympathy for the work of the Congress and regrets that it was impossible for it to send a representative. The association considers any labour protection legislation that does not also cover domestic industry to be only partial and hopes that the congress will again remind the workers that they can depend on themselves alone in their endeavours, and that it promotes the international cooperation of the workers of all countries.

Vienna: The professional association of carpenters sends socialist greetings and support to the international socialist workers’ representatives.

St. Veit (Carinthia): The socialist group sends congratulations and fraternal greetings, and cheers the solidarity of the socialists and proletarians of all nations.

Großwardein (Hungary): Some workers’ voices explain their feeling of deep solidarity with the congress and its work and hope that these will have a positive effect on the organization of the Hungarian proletariat.

Buenos Aires (Argentina): On behalf of the comrades, Uhle sends the congress fraternal greetings and sincere wishes for the success of its work.

Glasgow: The Glasgow branch of the Socialist League affirms its regret for not being able to send a representative to the congress, as well as its fraternal feelings and wishes for the success of the congress.

London:The participants in a well-attended meeting at Hammersmith declare their sympathy for the Congress.

New-York-Brooklyn: The Central Labor Union of Brooklyn and vicinity declares its solidarity with the resolutions of the Congress and sends best wishes in the hope that the work of the congress represents a step forward for the emancipation of labour.

Montpellier: Citizeness Paule Minck expresses her conviction that the liberation of women can only take place together with the emancipation of the proletariat. The Congress will create the basis for a fruitful unification of the international proletariat. Citizeness Minck regrets that she cannot take part in the work of the congress.

Paris: The socialist-revolutionary group of the 18th arrondissement (Montmartre) expresses its sympathy for the congress and calls out “bravo” for the resolution to hold a demonstration in front of the Communards’ wall.

—11—Cette: The Porters Union declares its approval of the congress and sends best wishes and a number of requests regarding the items on the agenda.

These readings are followed by a letter from citizen Cleirac with the information that he could not take part in the work of the Congress because he was in prison.

Citizen Volders, on behalf of the Belgian delegates, asks that the question of the amalgamation of the congresses be taken in hand at once. The National Council of the Belgian workers’ Party has sent a letter to both Congresses on this matter. Citizen Volders insists that this letter be read out.

But since it is already 4 p.m., the Congress breaks up after scheduling an evening session for 8 p.m.

Monday, July 15th. Evening session[edit source]

Citizen Brandt takes the chair and expresses his thanks for the honour that is being paid to the Swiss Free State in his person. In the struggle for existence that it currently has to endure, Switzerland counts on the French republic, which citizen Brandt calls a sister republic. If he specifically greets France here, it is not meant to set one nationality against another. Switzerland is in fact an amalgamation of different nationalities which, under the aegis of the same laws, rub along together in peace and freedom. The delegates sent to this congress represent the entirety of the Swiss proletariat (applause), which gives all the more interest and sympathy to these great negotiations of working men because Switzerland has earned the merit of taking the initiative towards an international labour protection law. This meeting in Paris of the workers’ organizations and socialist parties of the whole world is a pledge of peace, the peace that only the workers who have come together in political parties seriously strive for, just as they alone strive for the freedom and well-being of the peoples (Bravo).

The telegrams and messages of support that have arrived since midday are then read out.

Citizen Lavigne, rapporteur for France, reports the arrival of new delegates, among whom is an envoy from the Miners’ Union of the Loire Department, Citizen Ottin, with an obligatory mandate to join only the so-called “Marxist” Congress (applause).

Citizen Georg M. Hugh reads out a statement of sympathy from the American Federation of Labor, signed by President Samuel Gompers, which includes a clarification that the Federation is too occupied with the eight-hour movement to be able to send a representative to the Congress, and which recommends union with the Possibilist Congress, and the greatest prudence in all resolutions taken.

Citizen de Paepe communicates the letter of the National Council of the Belgian Workers’ Party,[Translator's notes 3] which is addressed to both congresses and reads as follows:


Brussels, July 9, 1889.

To the members of the Executive and the Assembly of Delegates of the International Socialist Congress in Paris.


The Belgian Workers’ Party, convinced of the overwhelming necessity to gather all socialist workforces of the world into one single bundle,[Translator's notes 4] obeys an imperative duty in turning to you with the request that you join it in the endeavour to merge both of the Socialist Congresses summoned to Paris into one.

It is a matter of the highest interest to the whole socialist proletariat. There are not two international socialist proletariats, there is only one; there are not two international social-democracies, there is only one. That means: one congress must suffice and two congresses are a moment of weakness for today and a danger for tomorrow. It is useless to go back over the things which led to the calling of two congresses. What is done, is done. But it is urgent and indispensable that the party, which upholds its prerogatives and autonomy in respect of private capital, should not provide an opportunity for applause at the spectacle of the fragmentation of the workforce.

All countries are represented at the Paris Congress; everyone wants fraternal understanding in international socialism. May you decide to merge the two congresses, and then this understanding will be realized, as it it should be.

All socialist workers’ groups strive to march together, closely united, on the way to the realization of the socialist ideal. Since the masses have decided, and since you are a democratic party, you must bow and obey. That is what the Workers’ Party demands, what it explains to each of the two congresses.

And if — which would be a real misfortune - if this request is not followed, it explains to the delegates that one must at all costs avoid aggravating the contradictions caused by the calling of two congresses. It claims the honour of being able to invite the next international socialist congress, for 1890 or 1891, to Belgium. The adoption of this proposal in each of the two assemblies would allow the end of the duplication of the international socialist congress.

The Workers’ Party of Belgium greets you fraternally and invites the representatives of the other foreign socialist parties to join it with the aim of establishing a permanent and definitive organization of the whole social democratic movement.

For the Belgian Workers' Party, on behalf of the General Council,

Secretary Gustave Defuet.

Citizen Lafargue announces that Citizen Keir Hardie represents 60,000 Scottish miners.

The chairman submits the following motions on behalf of the Bureau:

  1. Requests to speak must be made in writing (unanimously accepted).
  2. Decisions are made by head count, except when the entire delegation of a country requires a vote by nationality for a particular case.
  3. One session should take place every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., an evening session on Wednesday evening at 8 a.m., a large public meeting on Saturday evening and a closing banquet on Sunday.

—13—Citizen Volders will in no way accept a vote by head count, since this would automatically give a majority of the Congress to the French. He asked what reasons the Bureau had for proposing this method of voting.

Citizen Vaillant replies on behalf of the Bureau that nationality is irrelevant at an international congress. There should no longer be French, Germans, Belgians etc. here, but only members of a large international socialist family.

Citizen Kessler does not want to allow voting by nationalities even as an exception. There is only one proletariat here, in which neither large nor small nationalities, which could outvote the others or be outvoted, have any place. He also notes a practical reason for sticking to voting by head count, namely that the other way of voting would require the delegates of each nation to meet separately to agree on their national vote, thereby wasting precious time.

Citizen Bebel replies that voting by nationalities had to be applied in certain cases so that those socialist parties which, like German social democracy, were subject to exceptional laws, were given the opportunity to abstain from any resolutions for which they could not assume any responsibility.

It is approved by a large majority that voting by head count is the rule and that in the event that the delegates of a country unanimously demand voting by nationality, this will be allowed as an exception.

In a long debate, citizens Guillot, Brunet and Duprès on the one hand demand evening sessions in larger halls for purposes of propaganda and agitation, while on the other hand citizens Antide Boyer, Vaillant and Bebel declare that an international congress has a completely different task: communication between the workers everywhere for joint action; subsequently, Congress accepts the Bureau's proposal as to the timing of the sessions.

The sitting ended once the unification question had been placed at the top of the agenda for the next session.

Tuesday July 16th. Morning session[edit source]

Citizen Deville chairs the meeting; he asks for the greatest possible silence. He is determined to fully enforce the rules of order established by Congress itself in the interests of all. He will therefore not consider a request to speak that has not been addressed to him in writing; on the other hand, anyone who is on the list of speakers can certainly count on having the floor when it is their turn. First and foremost, the debate which is about to begin relates to the amalgamation of the congresses and only to this question.

After reading out the telegrams and letters of support, the President proposes that speaking time be limited to 5 or 10 minutes for each speaker. The congress decides on 5 minutes, but at the request of Citizen Lafargue, makes an exception for those presenting motions, whose time is not to be limited,

Citizen Andrea Costa states that, in addition to the socialist workers organizations already represented, the Central Committee of the Italian Workers' Party, which has over 10,000 men behind it, most of them country people, sends Citizen Croce as delegate.[Translator's notes 5] Also twelve workers’ groups in Rome —14—have sent a telegram in which they express their wish for the restoration of the International Workingmen's Association. Citizen Costa wholeheartedly supports the merger of the two congresses, the letter from the Belgian Workers’ Party and the address of the American Federation. He hopes that the other Congress will co-operate, and that a cordial understanding will be the result.

Citizen Volders returns to the voting method, because Citizen Vaillant did not convince him. He supports the proposal of the Belgian Workers’ Party. In his opinion, the task of the congress is to bring about the merger. If it achieves nothing but this, it will have already done a great and important job. He calls for the merger on behalf of the Belgians he represents, of the Dutch, the Italians, in short of almost all non-French delegates. We are — he says — a democratic party, so subject to the decisions of the majority. Well, the majority want the merger; the merger must therefore come about and personal misgivings must come second. In the event that the merger proposal does not succeed, however, he demands that the Belgians have the honour of calling the next international congress in Belgium in 1890 or 1891, in a way that buries the divisions which would inevitably in the longer term spread to the other countries, so that one would have a divided and therefore powerless proletariat everywhere.

Citizen Cipriani agrees with Citizen Volders. Without unity, proletarians remain the slaves of their paymasters. We need a single congress in which there is no room for personal sensitivities and the vanities of leaders. Personal feuds must be pacified. The unity of the great family of workers is indispensable for the struggle against the Boulangists, Bonapartists and other reactionaries. The Italians have received a binding mandate to use all their powers for this unification, in order to avoid the spectacle of a split in the proletariat in the land of the revolution. Citizen Cipriani begs the Congress to support the peace proposal, since the Possibilist Congress also represents a workers’ party. At the end he exclaims: "Unification speaks for itself!"

Citizen de Paepe is astonished that the merger project does not glide to its goal as smoothly as a letter through the post. He is disappointed because he sees the matter dragging on. He is convinced that unification is desired by the organizers of both congresses; but he believes that it is up to this Congress, as the more socialist and more advanced, to take the matter in hand and thereby put its consistent socialism into practive. Since this congress has begun one day earlier than the other, it could have done something for unification. Citizen de Paepe knows well that grudges do not disappear overnight, but one could nevertheless, without losing any personal dignity, work together shoulder to shoulder in a unified congress. He hopes that the French will follow the example of the foreigners and bring themselves to unite, following the example of good comradeship given at the Paris city council by the representatives of the various schools of socialism.

Citizen Duprès: There is so much talk about the merger. But has one also investigated whether a fusion is possible between revolutionary socialists and cadettists[2] like Joffrin? Our foreign —15—friends have come to Paris to come to an understanding with working and revolutionary France, not with the allies of bourgeois radicalism and opportunism. For example, what would the so advanced German socialists think of us if they saw us grovelling before the confederates of Ranc and Clemenceau? The Socialists cannot go to the Possibilists because the latter are merely bourgeois politicians, and because the foreign socialists would not agree to unite with the bourgeois. Nobody denies that there are convinced socialists among the Possibilists. But let them come to us and let the others stay away.

Citizen Liebknecht notes that before the Belgians and Italians, in the opening session itself, the delegates from Berlin were the first to bring up the proposal of a merger. The Germans have always favoured merger and still stand by this point of view. But it is a question of finding an appropriate form which harms no one, does not demean anyone and does not create mistrust; without such a form, merger would only toss a new apple of discord among the socialists. It is quite impossible to demand a merger at any cost. Such a demand would signify a reproach against the organizers of the Congress, who have completely fulfilled their duty and done everything possible to bring about an agreement. Unity is undoubtedly a very fine thing; but it will not be possible to carry it out to the benefit of those who are to blame for the fact that harmony does not yet exist, and to the detriment of those who, like the Hague Conference and the Paris Organizational Commission, have done everything to bring about unity. The speaker recounts the history of the Paris International Congress. He recalls that German social democracy was initially tasked by the St. Gallen Congress with organizing an international congress. That congress was well into preparation when it was learned that the English Trades Unions had convened an international congress in London for 1888. The German Social Democrats immediately gave up their congress to join the London one, on the assumption that the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Unions would allow conditions that would also be acceptable to the countries that as the result of an abnormal state of public affairs could not give the delegates of their powerful workers’ organizations a regular mandate. Instead, the Parliamentary Committee made such demands that neither the Germans nor the Austrians could have taken part in such a congress.[Translator's notes 6] If mandates had been added under the conditions demanded in London, this would have resulted in the dissolution of all workers’ organizations in the two countries mentioned and the confiscation of their funds. In vain did the German socialists contact the Committee of the Trades Unions to obtain acceptable conditions. The latter maintained its pretensions, which in practice amounted to the systematic exclusion of Germany and Austria. The Swiss and Americans, on principle, demonstratively withdrew from such a congress, —16—to protest against this. A London Congress thus constituted and its resolutions cannot have the slightest value for the German socialists. The Germans, however, had a second reason to hold back from the International Paris Congress which was decided in London and which a single faction of the French proletariat was entrusted with organizing: this new international congress was called precisely on the pattern of the first. Meanwhile the other faction[Translator's notes 7] of the French proletariat for its part called an international congress in Paris with the most liberal principles of admission. The world of the proletariat would therefore see two international congresses. Then the Germans made an attempt to bring about an understanding to lead to a single congress. This understanding was supposed to come from an international conference, which, originally arranged for Nancy — which was considered the most convenient meeting place for the French — finally took place in the Hague. Both French factions were invited without partisanship. But the Possibilists stayed away: they refused to come, giving purely formal reasons. Despite their negative behaviour, a spirit of reconciliation dominated the conference, as our Belgian friends and comrades Anseele and Volders can testify. The recognition of the mandate given by the London Congress to the Possibilists, however imperfect, was approved. Only two conditions were set: first, the congress should be sovereign in determining its agenda and in examining the mandates of its participants; secondly, the convocation should come from all socialist parties and be signed equally by the Possibilists and by those delegated to do so by the congresses of Bordeaux and Troyes. The Possibilists flatly rejected these two perfectly just demands. The calling of a congress on our part was therefore inevitable. Despite all this, we are still in favour of an agreement today; but, as I have already explained, we have to find a form that does not leave us prostrate before those who have till now thwarted any equitable outcome. Liebknecht reads out the following resolution and adds: “We can go as far as this resolution. It is even necessary that we go that far; but for my part I cannot go any further without traducing my friends and my honour."

The Liebknecht motion:

The Congress recognizes that the members of the Hague Conference and the Paris Organizing Committee have expressed their sincere desire to bring about an understanding of all socialist parties and workers’ organizations regarding the International Congress, and regrets that the steps taken to achieve such an understanding have not achieved this goal.

We say that unity is the indispensable precondition for the liberation of the proletariat, and that it is therefore the duty of every social democrat not to neglect any step which might contribute to the suppression of discord.

The Congress therefore declares that it is still ready to come to an understanding and to unity, provided that the groups of the other Congress adopt a resolution in the same sense which is acceptable to all members of our Congress.

Citizen Tressaud (Marseille) disputes any idea of unification, including the Liebknecht resolution, both from various theoretical points of view, and in particular on material grounds. All the work of the constitution of —17—the Congress would have to start from scratch; one would have to choose a new meeting place, etc. Then, above all, we cannot ally with our worst enemies. Just as the German socialists can hardly ally themselves with the pseudo-socialists à la Bismarck, so it is hardly possible for us to join the accomplices of Ferry and Clemenceau. We are always told Boulanger is the enemy; but he is not the only enemy. Behind him stands Ferry. And we cannot join hands with the bourgeoisie who rule and oppress us. Tressaud therefore places a resolution on behalf of the 58 trade unions in Marseille which he represents on the bureau's desk:


That the international revolutionary socialist Congress arose from the union of the national congresses of Marseilles, Havre, etc. with the congresses of the workers’ unions held in Lyon, Montluçon and Bordeaux,[Translator's notes 8] that it is accordingly the real congress of the socialist workers’ party, that its doors are still open to all socialist groups and circles, as well as to the workers' unions;

That, furthermore, the organizers of the Dissident Congress have been offered every concession to reach an agreement; that a conference on this subject has been held at The Hague and that it has only given negative results; that the dissidents have rejected any reconciliation, for political motives which they cannot admit to, and the meaning of which may not be clear to our friends from abroad; but which to the French socialists are completely trasparent;

On these grounds the Congress decides that it is inappropriate to once again make conncessions to people who have long marched hand in hand with the worst enemies of the workers — with the opportunists and bourgeois radicals with whom they have sealed the shameful alliance of the Rue Cadet

— and so moves to the agenda.

Nevertheless, we call once again for all delegates of the groups, circles and unions to be welcomed with the warmth that lies in the nature of independent socialists.

Finally, Citizen Tressaud remarks: “So you can see that we do not want to exclude anyone. All organizations that approach us should be welcome.

Citizen Morris (England) is also in favour of a Congress that is open to all, but does not consider a merger to be feasible. The parties represented here have chosen this Congress as a truly socialist one and will not be able to go anywhere else. What we are striving for is a transformation of the foundations of society, that is, the emancipation of labour through a corresponding reorganisation of all relations, while at the other Congress one will be content to determine the fate of the modern slaves within limits that are compatible with the present order of things. The Possibilists only cultivate electoral opportunism, and no socialism. If we went over to the other congress, we would only put the socialist stamp on a bourgeois assembly. Our congress is open to all people of good will, but a merger is a complete impossibility. The two congresses are too different to be able to merge. Here one strives for the abolition of the wage system, there for nothing but feeble reforms. We are revolutionary socialists and have nothing to do with Cadettists.

—18—Citizen Lafargue translates Morris' speech into French.

Citizen Costa (Italy) protests against the translation of Citizen Lafargue, claiming that it is “too free”.

The chairman remarks to Citizen Costa that Citizen Morris understands French, since he has signed up as a translator from English into French, and that he himself would therefore be able to protest against an inaccurate translation of his speech. Citizen Morris is equally content.[Translator's notes 9]

Citizen Lavigne (Bordeaux): “We have always shown the most conciliatory disposition. Lafargue, our delegate at the conference, was instructed to support any unification efforts that might have emerged at the Hague Conference, and he carried out his task faithfully, as Anseele and Volders were able to see for themselves, just as they knew — because it was they who passed the Hague proposals on to the Possibilists — how curtly the latter rejected these proposals. Should those who from the beginning did everything to bring about an agreement, and who, moreover, have always served the socialist cause well, should they tolerate the suggestion that they ought to bow down to those who always curtly refused to come to an understanding while at the same time piling betrayal on betrayal?“ — The speaker thanked their friends from abroad for their good intentions. But they must know that everything has been done to avoid duplicating the Congress. If one wanted to please the Possibilists, one would have to send a delegation to them, which would give them the pretext to announce to the world that our Congress, which we held without them, had been shipwrecked and we had surrendered. Lavigne presented a resolution signed by him, Baudin and Dormay to this effect, but withdrew it in favour of the Tressaud resolution.[Translator's notes 10]

Citizen Keats[Translator's notes 11] (England) thinks that it is materially impossible to merge the two congresses. It is too late. He thinks that a congress agreed under such circumstances would not bring about a reconciliation, but would turn into a debating club, if not a battlefield. They had learnt to recognize the letters of invitation from both congresses at the time; their character was so different that they could not be confused. The organizers of our Congress have been inundated with insults from the bourgeois press and from the newspapers which denounce the name of socialism. All the malicious anti-socialists of England, who do not want to improve the lot of the workers but rather their own situation, went to the other congress with the Possibilist leaders who are just like them. They would be overjoyed to be able to say to the English bourgeoisie after achieving the merger of the two congresses: We have faithfully carried out the mandate you have given us and destroyed the International Socialist Congress.

The German delegates ask for the debate to be closed. There are 33 speakers left. Citizen Lafargue asked if he could read the report of the commission. Since it has already been distributed to the delegates, this request is rejected.

Citizen Sommer (Dresden) says in favour of closure that he and his colleagues have been sufficiently informed about the subject. The English Trades Unions and the labour unions that have joined the Possibilist Congress are not socialist, and just as we had to part with the non-socialist associations à la Schulze-Delitzsch, we also have to give the others, the French, freedom to make an analogous divorce.

After a few words from Keir Hardie (England) and Morris (England) against closure, and from Luss (France) to return to the agenda, closure is approved by a large majority.

—19—Citizen de Paepe (Belgium) asks, following the vote, for an exception in favour of the nationalities who have not yet spoken on the matter, and the English delegates who have different views than Keats and Morris.

This motion, intended to give the Spaniards, Romanians, Scandinavians, Austrians and Americans a hearing, is rejected by a vote for an absolute closure.

Citizen de Paepe following on from this new vote, demands that the vote should be decided according to nationalities.

The Chairman noted that this would be a resumption of the debate under a different form.

Citizen Costa (Italy) asks citizen de Paepe to withdraw his request regardless. After citizen Mesa (Spain) declared that the Spanish delegates bowed to the will of the majority, the Congress decides on citizen Jaclard's proposal that in future it will be decided before the vote whether to vote by head or by nationality. A vote, once it has taken place in one way or the other, is absolutely binding.

Citizen Mesa (Spain) asks that in future there should be no voting before at least one representative of each nationality has been heard.

Citizen Werner (Berlin) stated before the reading of the remaining motions that although he had demanded an explanation of the preparatory steps for the merger in the opening session, he had not meant by that to express the slightest rebuke against the organizers of the Congress. Liebknecht has since added the desired information. Because of this, the speaker withdraws his proposal from the opening session: “Because we have the same points of view as the French Marxists, we are absolutely against merging with the Possibilists.”

Vaillant Motion

The Congress declares that the Hague Conference and the Paris Organizing Commission have done everything possible, not only to bring about the Congress, but also to achieve agreement and understanding.

The Congress appeals to the sense of belonging[Translator's notes 12] of the few groups and trade unions that have so far kept apart, and so moves to the agenda.

Citizen Vaillant adds to the reading: After what has been done there is nothing more to be done. Our congress is open to all who want to take part in it. We cannot go a step further because we want to remain a socialist congress.

Guesde-Deville-Jaclard-Longuet-Lafargue Motion

Recognising that the Socialist parties represented at the Congress resulting from the Hague Conference have taken part in numerous attempts to amalgamate the two congresses and made every effort to bring about unity, which they wish to declare themselves in favour of today, and that all their efforts have failed,

Recognising that attempting further steps is not required of those who have always declared themselves ready for an agreement and who have so far only been rejected, the Congress calls on the advocates of these further steps not to turn first to those who have already consented to the merger, but to those who have repulsed them, postpones any decision until it sees a formal request from the latter, and so moves to the agenda, noting that it is still open to all groups of socialist workers.

—20—Citizen Jules Guesde notes that this agenda[Translator's notes 13] was intended to prevent roles from being reversed. It is not fitting for those who have always striven for an understanding to be portrayed as having thwarted it.

Domela-Nieuwenhuis Motion

The Congress

Noting with regret that all efforts to unite into a single Congress have been unsuccessful,

Considering that the agenda of both Congresses is almost exactly the same,

Considering that the unification of the workers of the whole world is the duty of all,

Resolves that the amalgamation of the two congresses is accepted, that the validity of the mandates on both sides is recognized, and that, as soon as the other congress has passed an identical resolution, a commission will be elected to reach an understanding on unification.

“I have to ask for your forbearance right from the start - says Citizen Domela-Nieuwenhuis, because I cannot speak very loud: all the talking back and forth has almost robbed me of my voice. I think that our resolution does not need many words, because it speaks for itself. The rest of us who do not live in France do not want to interfere in disputes of the French socialists, but we also do not want these various disputes to cross borders and become international. We want international understanding, not international division. We do not have to investigate who is to blame for this unfortunate difference, but we are all affected by the fact that there are two congresses with almost the same agenda: do we not have a sacred duty to do everything possible to make the two congresses one, even if we have to sacrifice our own? I think — yes! When I stepped into our hall, the first thing I saw was the word of our illustrious friend and master Karl Marx, the testament that he left us: “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” Marx did not say: socialists of all countries!, but simply: proletarians of all countries! Well, let us preach this gospel! We must not let this teaching remain a dead letter, we must put it into practice. One does not say: “There is only one really Catholic Church and all others are heretics and dissidents.” I know, the Possibilists have said exactly that in their paper “Le Parti Ouvrier” (“The Workers’ Party”). But that is no reason for us to follow them on this path. It would also be, so to speak, a lawyers’ quibble, because who would say that the program of the Possibilists in France, the program of the Social-Democratic Federation of England, is not socialist? Who would say that the previous year in London the decision was not made to hold a socialist congress? No, we do not want to investigate which of the two is right, but at this moment when the eyes of the whole world are on Paris and the attitude of the socialists, it would be deplorable if the bourgeois world enjoyed the pleasure of seeing division in the socialist camp. The division is their triumph and our disgrace. When the delegates from everywhere say with one voice: “We are celebrating the anniversary of the French Revolution! We consider it an excellent idea that the socialists from all over the world should come together for this festival”, — —21—well, then we have the right to demand that the two socialist parties of France conclude an armistice for this moment, so that we, to our joy and to the benefit of the whole proletariat, can spare the whole world the spectacle of two congresses assembled at the same time in the same city with the same purpose and with almost the same agenda. I hope everyone will support our view in the proposed form, which will not hurt anyone on either side, so that we can say: We are not rejecting unity! On the contrary, we are providing the proof that we are ready to make a sacrifice. There are two currents here, one of which says that it does not want unity at all. These are the French and many of the English, for whom the situation is the same as in France, as a result of the differences between the Socialist League and the Social-democratic Federation. As they have spoken thus, I ask them whether the efforts that Liebknecht reported were just a farce? Yes or no? If one wants an agreement, one must look for conditions which make it possible. Not what divides us, but what unites us, is what forms our strength against our common enemy — and we have a common enemy that we all fight, capitalism. Truly, my friends, capitalism will tremble when it sees the united socialists marching together against it. Our war cry is: “Down with capitalism! Long live revolutionary socialism!”

Citizen Domela, who had been greeted with prolonged applause, ended with lively applause.

Citizen Desville apologizes for violating his duty as chairman by firstly allowing Citizen Domela to reopen a debate that has been closed several times and secondly by letting Citizen Domela speak for more than 5 minutes. He acted in this way out of respect for a man who had sacrificed so much for the labour cause and suffered so much.

Citizen Merlino (Italy) supports the Nieuwenhuis motion.

Citizen Adler (Austria) vigorously protests on behalf of the Austrians against the talk of some people that the Austrian Workers' Party was represented at the Possibilist Congress. All the delegates of this party are here at the Socialist Congress. where international democracy is united. We are in favour of unification, but if you want it you have to avoid making victor and vanquished; otherwise one will only produce new hatreds and divisions. Now, according to Tressaud's proposal, the Possibilists would be the vanquished; according to Nieuwenhuis, it would be the Marxists. The speaker is therefore for the Liebknecht motion. Foreign delegates should not interfere in the disputes of the French.[Translator's notes 14]

Declaration by the Romanians

The Rumanian delegates reserve the right to submit their proposal regarding a future congress again, but initially unanimously agree to second Liebknecht’s motion and ask that the next congress be called in such a form that all anti-capitalist forces with regard to the class struggle and the socialization of the means of production are brought together.

D. Beinow. C. Racowitz. A. Sculescu. Procopine. Many.

Citizen Bushe (United States of America) has received a mandate for both congresses. He went to the Editorial Committee of The Proletariat (official organ of the Possibilists) and did not find the gentlemen there socialist enough, that is why he is here. Meanwhile he is in favour of unification. Even if there were only a few socialists at the other congress, one would have to reach out a hand.

—22—Citizen Frohme (Germany) speaks against unconditional unification. One can sacrifice personal misgivings to unification, but not honour. He approves Liebknecht's motion, which maintains honour, but is otherwise as forgiving as possible.

Citizen Iglesias (Spain) is also for unification, but it must be a work of the head, not just a work of the heart. He wonders why the Dutch and Belgians insist on an agreement in this congress, although they are better informed than he can possibly be about everything that has been tried to reach an understanding. It is up to the other congress to preach unity, for it is precisely they who have ceaselessly rejected it. Iglesias agrees with Liebknecht's motion and adds that the Spanish delegates at the Possibilist congress do not represent any part of the Spanish Workers’ Party.

Citizen Batisse (Troyes) states that he supports the Guesde motion.

Citizen Palmgreen on behalf of the delegates of Sweden and Norway and Citizen Petersen (Denmark)[Translator's notes 15] presented the following resolution to the Congress, adding:

“It is impossible to reach an agreement with the Possibilists, who have allied themselves with the bourgeoisie. If there are really groups among them who stand on the ground of the class struggle, let them come to us! Let the others, the pro-government people, stay where they are!"

Palmgreen-Petersen Motion


In view of the fact that the unity of all socialist and revolutionary workers is self-evident, we, the societies of Norway and Sweden, warmly wish for this unification; but in recognition that unification can only take place among socialists who stand on the revolutionary class standpoint, we believe, on the basis of the explanations given, that we cannot consider unification to be possible in the present case.

Palmgreen, Allard, Delegates from Sweden. A Jeggesen, delegate from Norway.[Translator's notes 16]

Delegate Keir Hardie (England) is against the Liebknecht motion and in favour of the Nieuwenhuis motion. He wants unification because there are socialist trades unionists at the Possibilist Congress, with whom one can come to an understanding, since there is no difference in principle, and since we have to show the bourgeoisie a united front.

Citizen Christensen (Denmark): The Danish Socialist Party has done everything possible for unification without having achieved the slightest result so far. It does not reject the considerations of Liebknecht's motion, but nevertheless supports the Nieuwenhuis motion.

Citizen John Ritson (Manchester) argues that although there were socialists at the other congress, the leaders were not socialists; anyway, all attempts at unification had come from our side and had been rejected by the latter; and finally the time was now actually lacking to carry out a unification.

Citizen Wortelmans (Antwerp) does not understand how one can speak of the Possibilists as if they were not socialists, when their congress has the same agenda as ours.

Citizen Kuhnert (Berlin) supports the Tressaud motion. He finds that a fresh, cheerful war is worth more than a rotten peace.

Citizen Cipriani (Italy), on behalf of the Italian delegates, requests voting by nationality.

Three motions are to be considered,since the signatories of the Guesde and Vaillant motions are supporting that of Liebknecht: —23—the aforementioned motion of Liebknecht, the Nienwenhuis motion, and the Tressaud motion. The latter declares that he is not against unification, as de Paepe suggested, but only against it being us to demand it.

The vote gives the following result:

for the Liebknecht motion: Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Alsace-Lorraine, Russia, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Spain, America, England, France - 12 nationalities.

for the Tressaud motion: Sweden and Norway - 2 nationalities;

for the Nieuwenhuis motion: Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark - 4 nationalities.

Liebknecht's motion is therefore approved.

In announcing France's vote, Vaillant makes a certain reservation. All the French, he said. were unanimously in favour of Tressaud's proposal. But in consideration of the circumstances and in compliance with the delegates from abroad, they supported Liebknecht's motion, since it adequately protects the dignity of the Congress and keeps to the grounds of the Organizing Commission and the Hague Congress. The English delegates agree with this reservation and express their full sympathy for Tressaud's proposal.

After the results of the vote had been announced, the meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m.

Wednesday July 17th. Morning session[edit source]

Citizen Vaillant is in the chair and indicates that he will announce a large number of newly arrived letters and telegrams in the evening session.

On the agenda are reports on the state of labour and the socialist movement in the various countries.

Lafargue indicates that a Finnish delegate has arrived, Citizen Finn. The same is elected by acclamation to the bureau.

A letter from the Labor Elector Association informs Congress that their envoy, Cunninghame Graham, Member of the English Parliament, will arrive in Paris today or tomorrow.

Lafargue requests every nationality to draw up a complete list of their delegates with their addresses and to hand it over to the Bureau, so that the list, according to Vollmar's motion, can be distributed to all members of the congress as a memento.

The Congress approved this and another proposal by Lafargue, according to which an overview of all the convictions suffered by the various Congress delegates for the workers’ cause should be compiled.[Translator's notes 17]

Citizen Sebastien Faure, anarchist, protests both in his name and in that of his comrades against any assumption that they are systematically causing difficulties. “We are not opponents”, he adds.

It was precisely at this moment that a poster was pinned up in the Congress hall itself, by means of which the “comrades” call on the socialists to get rid of their presumptuous “leaders”, claiming that the latter are nothing but enemies of proletarian fraternization.[Translator's notes 18]

—24—Citizen Cipriani states that, in accordance with the order received, he and Citizen Costa had gone to the Possibilist Congress to inform them about the Liebknecht motion regarding the merger. They found a mood favourable to reconciliation. Nevertheless, the Possibilist Congress has decided to make the merger dependent on a new joint examination of all delegate powers — a proposal against which Citizen Costa raised an objection, pointing out that “a step towards brotherhood must not begin with an act of distrust.”

On the proposal of a commission for verbal negotations with the Possibilist Commission, the Congress replies, after a long debate, led in particular by Citizens Bernstein, Vaillant, Cipriani and Morris, by adopting a resolution formulated by Jaclard as follows:

“In view of the decision taken by the Possibilist Congress in the session of the 16th of this month, the Congress instructs its permanent bureau to take care of the necessary measures.”

The agenda is immediately started, and Bebel, a Reichstag deputy, delivers his report on Germany after receiving repeated applause, somewhat as follows:

It is one of the most important symptoms of the course of our development that the question of international labour protection legislation can be discussed today. Barely twenty years ago it would have been impossible to open negotiations with such a programme. The workers’ movement at that time was less concerned with practice than with theory. The discussion of questions of principle suggested that the transformation of society was just around the corner. Since then it has been recognized that the bourgeois order of things is irrevocably doomed, but for the moment it still has enough resistance to hold up for a while; and that on the other hand the forces of the working class have not yet solidified sufficiently in order to be able to bring about the necessary social restructuring. The practical questions, the questions about what should happen immediately in order to create immediate benefits, come to the fore, and they have all the more right to do so because they have an eminent recruiting power to pull the working class more and more into the socialist orbit and so pave the way for socialism.

At first it was generally believed in Germany that the trade union movement, the professional associations, with their emphasis on everyday questions of practical life, were an obstacle to the development of socialism. One has gradually gained clarity about this error into which one had entered. The impossibility of winning the masses over to the whole and ultimate goal of socialism in one fell swoop, and the impossibility of attaining this goal without further ado, made it necessary for one to advocate more and more practical measures that are suitable, first of all, to arouse the class consciousness of the workers. The results which have been achieved in this way are excellent. Although the German labour movement is relatively young, younger than the labour movement in England and France, it is characterized by the clarity with which it looks at the goal to be achieved, and by the strength which it has already tested in the struggle. This strength of theirs is already such that it may instill fear and terror beyond measure in the ruling classes.

We owe this development to the theoretical activity of social democracy on the one hand, and on the other to economic premises —25—— the rapid expansion of large-scale industry in Germany, especially during the last twenty years. As the labour movement became more and more lively and reached wider and wider circles, on the one hand it aroused more and more concern among its opponents; on the other hand, it instilled in them ever greater respect, and so they gradually had to recognize the practical demands of the workers, at least in principle, including those of international workers protection legislation. Today there is a general, I might even say official, discussion of questions which, less than 20 years ago, were considered by the other side in theory and practice to be inadmissible and reprehensible. This is a shining proof of the great power which the workers’ movement has won, and shows the influence it wields. For example, today nobody in Germany will dare to claim that international labour protection legislation is an impossibility, and that our economic system does not have major shortcomings and grave disadvantages.

This complete transformation of public opinion shows the worth of German social democracy, the importance of which is already evident from the number of representatives who appeared at this congress.

As early as 1870, the movement had achieved considerable strength. But only since the time that brought the political and economic unity of Germany, has the great upswing that we have observed taken place, and at the same time agitation on practical questions has become a characteristic feature of the movement. In addition to the political organization of the party, trade unions and professional associations grew like mushrooms on the soil, and numerous newspapers and magazines came into existence which combated the prejudices of public opinion and educated the working class about their situation. Within a few years the socialist party had nearly fifty press organs, some of which appeared daily, some two or three times a week, and the rest were weeklies. The progress made in this way is to be estimated according to the growing number of votes obtained in the various Reichstag elections. The party's first election campaign in 1867 earned it barely 100,000 votes. In 1871 the number of votes had risen only very marginally, as enormous counter-pressure from the government and systematically falsified public opinion had been exerted under the impact of the war, but in 1874 our votes reached 351,000, in 1877 the number 493,000.

Fear and worry took hold of our ruling classes and governments. The assassination attempts by Hödel and Nobiling[Translator's notes 19] came just in time to provide a pretext for the suppression of our party. Prince Bismarck, who is particularly responsible for the affairs of the German bourgeoisie, responded to the Hödel assassination with the submission of an “exceptional law against social democracy!” The first draft was rejected because the bourgeoisie was still concerned that the government, if it were given unrestricted authority, could also use it against the bourgeois classes.

Then came the Nobiling assassination attempt and all concerns were put aside. Public opinion was worked on in a way that it had never been before. The assassinations were presented as the fruit of socialist agitation and the spectre of social revolution was painted before the eyes. The elections that came about under such pressure naturally resulted in a parliament which passed the exceptional law.

What did this law signify? Governments and police can and must suppress any “social-democratic, socialist or communist endeavours” which in their opinion are “aimed at overthrowing the existing state or social order —26—in a way that endangers public peace, and in particular the unity of the popular classes,” as the law says.

The general law applicable to all was supplemented in relation to the activities of social democracy by the arbitrariness of the police. They decided what they wanted to mean by those “endeavours”, and forbade and suppressed what appeared to encourage such endeavours.

No sooner was the law passed than all the socialist journals were suppressed and all of our organizations dissolved. Hundreds, even thousands of families, whose breadwinners had been occupied in editing and despatching our newspapers or in the printing works of our party, or as street-sellers, etc. had their existence undermined at one blow, they were ruined. Furthermore, large densely populated areas were subjected to the so-called minor state of siege, on the basis of which the expulsion of all persons who were allegedly dangerous to “public order and security” was made possible. The beginning was made with Berlin and its environs, and from there, at one stroke, 93 of the most zealous and active socialists were driven out. Then came the turn of Hamburg-Altona and the surrounding area in 1880, in 1881 Leipzig and the surrounding area , followed later by Frankfurt am Maine, Stettin and other places. Many of the deportees were hounded from district to district, so that many had to emigrate to America because they could not find a living anywhere. About three and a half million Germans are currently subject to the minor state of siege; the expulsions number in the hundreds and mostly involve heads of families. The police are the mistress of the country. This state of affairs has finally established a surveillance system in Germany that France itself did not know under Napoleon the third. Since Prince Bismarck has been given millions of secret funds for unchecked use, the surveillance of our party comrades by agents of the secret police has been able to reach an unprecedented level of training. In addition, the police are empowered to dissolve any gathering, to suppress any journal or organization as soon as they sense “subversive tendencies” in them. There is no longer a free right of association and assembly; the exercise of the civil rights guaranteed by the constitution has become illusory for the socialdemocrats, often even during the election period. More than 1200 writings and printed matter of all kinds have been confiscated and forbidden under the regime of the Socialist Law. The owners of assembly halls are often determined not to allow us to meet on their premises. All the power of the empire and all the wit of its vaunted statecraft were mobilized to destroy social democracy. But the party emerged as victor from this unparalleled struggle. Where the blows against them were hardest, their competence has proven itself best. It is precisely in the areas of the minor state of siege that the party has the most, the most intelligent, the most enthusiastic and the most self-sacrificing supporters. The correctness of their manner, their diligent endeavor to avoid excesses, even under provocation, and to keep themselves as carefully as possible pure from all doubtful elements, gradually won public opinion over. In increasing numbers they supplemented and strengthened their ranks, both from the working class and from the various strata of the petty bourgeoisie, which is being crushed by the deadly competition of large-scale industry and wholesalers. Even our working class press has gradually surpassed the level it had reached before the exceptional law. The principles of socialism are represented in it with greater skill and with greater success than before, and never had our newspapers and magazines such a wide —27—distribution as today. New workers‘ organizations emerge under the eyes of the police, as the police have to admit in their annual reports on the minor state of siege to the Reichstag, without their being able to make full use of the right to dissolve them in consideration of the change in public opinion. The party is growing under their hands, without their being able to prevent it. Prince Bismarck tries to use an incident with Switzerland as a lever to obtain repressive measures against us from that country. Well, he may, if he likes, place an uninterrupted line of police officers and gendarmes along the Swiss border! It won't help him. He is not able to hinder the socialist movement in its growth and strengthening. The outcome of this conflict with Switzerland, however it turns out, will not harm us. The only ones who really have to suffer from this will be the good friends of the Chancellor, the gentlemen and ladies of the high nobility and the bourgeoisie, who seek their recovery from the exertions of winter fun in Switzerland and on this occasion can get to know the blessings of the police state in their own person. Perhaps then one day they will realize what kind of means their idol is using to curb the greatest movement in history.

Another proof of the importance of the workers’ movement is provided by the economic struggles, the great workers‘ strikes, which have broken out everywhere in the last few months. The economic system of the bourgeoisie itself sees to it that socialist ideas penetrate the most remote districts. Nothing is more mistaken than putting the latest miners' strikes in the Rhineland and Westphalia onto our account. They are the natural product of the current social order. But it is true that socialism alone takes advantage of all these conflicts between workers and employers, in whatever form they come to light. They awaken the class consciousness of the workers by showing how irreconcilably the interests of the employer and the employer are opposed to one another. So the capitalist class itself is playing beautifully into our hands. It did this in particular during the Westphalian miners' strike; on that occasion it brought the class struggle to the fore in all its nakedness, when the capitalist class, the iron and coal barons, otherwise overflowing with loyalty and monarchist sentiments, did not even listen to the emperor's direct warnings, because these warnings were directed against the unbridled exploitation of their superior economic position over the workers. The effects are inevitable, that will become more and more evident to everyone. Even the opposition press has to admit that everything that goes on there only works in favour of the socialdemocrats.

The electoral statistics are the most striking evidence of the impotence of the exceptional law. Thanks to the great material damage and confusion which the enactment of this law initially caused and naturally had to cause — and would have caused to a greater extent with any other party — the number of our votes in the elections in 1881 fell to 310,000. But this decline was short-lived. To our satisfaction the number rose to 550,000 in 1884 and further to 775,000 in 1887. It should not be overlooked that in Germany one does not become a voter until the age of 25, so that behind our 775,000 voters there are still many hundreds of thousands of convinced younger socialists. The next Reichstag elections will show with sufficient clarity how deeply and broadly the social democratic ideas have penetrated the German people. The result should surprise even the party comrades who are most privy to our circumstances. Our opponents have really —28—involuntarily rendered us the very best service in recent years. But let us not give in to the false hope that we now have a free and open path to our goal in Germany. On the contrary! Our struggle in the future will be fiercer and harder than at any previous time; but as we are determined to achieve our goal, we do not doubt our eventual complete victory.

German social democracy not only strives to spread its actual ideas, it also sets itself the task of improving the working and living conditions of the worker by means of legislation in order to provide him with an existence in which he can fight for emancipation more easily and with greater prospect of success. Based on this consideration, the party representatives in the Reichstag have for a great number of years been steadily taking the initiative to create laws aimed to fix a normal working day, suppress night and holiday work, restrict or prohibit women's work in certain branches of industry that are harmful to the female organism, the prohibition of child labour, to establish labour courts which enable the workers to assert their rights, and the inspection of large and small industry, as well as domestic industry and the like. These motions have, of course, been systematically rejected by a large majority up to now, but they have already had so much effect that all the other parties feel compelled to hold a kind of race for the favour of the working classes. — —

In the further course of his speech, Bebel gave an overview of the history of workers' legislation in the Reichstag. He pointed out how the most decisive resistance to it been put up by Bismarck’s side, the greatest enemy of labour protection legislation. Then the speaker discussed Switzerland's approach and highlighted its efforts towards international labour protection legislation, and showed how the similar economic development of all cultured countries makes such legislation more and more indispensable. The Congress was convoked in order to discuss what it deemed necessary in this regard.

The members of the bureau have not yet agreed on this point. So he, the speaker, had drawn up a resolution on his own initiative, which he laid before the Congress, so that every delegate would be able to add to or modify it in the course of the discussion. This resolution, of course, does not claim to restrict the action of the socialists in the various countries, it should only indicate the direction of travel in which they should march. In every country, the particular situation and the particular conditions of the same must be decisive for what could be immediately applied. Where it is initially impossible to achieve a normal working day of 8 hours, one must be satisfied with one of 9 or 10 hours. But it is important to insist on the eight-hour day in principle everywhere, rather than on a goal permitted by the productive conditions of today. In relation to agitation in the various countries, the resolution does not impose any impracticable demands.

Bebel then goes through the individual points of his resolution paying particular attention to the need to bring about a legal regulation of employment in domestic and small-scale industry. Expanding inspection to these areas is particularly important. The sad situation of large sections of the population must finally be pulled out of darkness and into daylight. How shameful that our century, boasting of its humanity, allowed the barbarity of child labour. There is of course a law in Germany which —29—limits the work of children under 14 to 6 hours a day, but this law does not apply to small and domestic industries. And yet the most dreadful conditions prevail there. The Saxon bourgeoisie had declared that if the Reichstag forbade child labour in large-scale industry, it would allow the latter to be destroyed by the murderous competition which it would then face from small-scale industry and domestic industry with the help of child labour. The objection that so extensive an inspection would bring great costs should not be given as an objection. As long as it is actually the case that governments are constantly raising tariffs and taxes in favour of militarism, and have hundreds and even thousands of millions at their disposal, it would be absurd to claim that a sufficient number of industrial inspectors would impose unaffordable burdens on the state. There is only a lack of money when it comes to the interests of the great working masses, on the other hand money is always found as soon as the interests of the bourgeoisie are involved. Incidentally, the working class is ready to take the supervision and inspection of industry into its own hands. The working class itself would watch over the observation of the laws, if only granted the necessary freedom. And it would cope with this task significantly better than the current incumbents, whose reports leave almost everything to be desired, although they have thrown a praiseworthy light on certain points of the current situation of the working-class.

A major difficulty in the political field is that it has been made almost impossible for workers to use their right of association to improve their lot. Nevertheless, the proletariat must persevere in the endeavour to perfect its organization. It must be made clear that it has next to nothing to expect from the good will of the government and the bourgeoisie, but that it will achieve everything in the struggle for its rights and exclusively through its own strength. It is not enough to pass resolutions; to those must be added the energetic act, the firm determination to actually bring what the Congress has recognized as right, to real victory,, by means of vigorous propaganda and action. Once the proletariat of all countries has spoken out in favour of international labour protection legislation, then such a demand will also have to be taken into account. “The more energetically we insist on our demands, the clearer and more assertively we express them, the better will the results be, which we can bring to the next international congress." (A veritable thunder of applause follows the end of this speech).

The Congress then accepted a proposal from the Belgian delegates, according to which the resolutions should be printed and the reports should be published; It also accepts a request from citizen Duprès ‘that a daily collection should be made in favour of the Westphalian strike and the victims of St. Etienne.[Translator's notes 20]

After the order in which the reports are to be made has been determined, the meeting is closed at around 2 p.m.

The Bureau is convened and receives a communication of the wording of the resolution passed by the Possibilist Congress in the matter of the amalgamation of the two congresses. It is stated as follows:

To the International Workers' Congress, Rue Rochechouart 42.

Citizens! In the name of the International Workers’ Congress, 10 rue de Lancry, which has met with the authority of the resolutions of the International Congresses of —21—Paris and London, we inform you of the motion which this Congress approved yesterday evening.

The Congress declares that it will accept the merger on the condition that the examination of the mandates in the unified Congress will be undertaken by each nationality [for itself]. It goes without saying that those delegates whose mandate is rejected may appeal to the Congress, which will decide in the last instance.

The Italian delegation has been instructed to deliver this message.

The secretary: N. Lavy.

The chairman: J. Allemane.

The Bureau, which had the necessary authority for this purpose through the decision of the Congress, replied as follows:

To the International Workers' Congress, Rue de Lancry 10.

Citizens! On behalf of the International Socialist Workers’ Congress, Rue Rochechouart 42, which has met by authority of the resolutions of the Congresses of Bordeaux and Troyes and of the International Conference of The Hague, we inform you of the decision regarding your letter made by the Permanent Bureau, which is authorized for this purpose.

According to the resolution passed yesterday, our Congress will only consent to a pure and simple union of the two congresses. It did not and does not make any restrictions, it neither set nor sets any conditions, but neither does it accept any.

The Italian delegation has been instructed to deliver this message.

For the bureau:

The secretary: R. Lavigne.

The chairman: Wilhelm Liebknecht.

Wednesday July 17th. Evening session[edit source]

Under the chairmanship of Citizen Anseele from Ghent, who indicates that strict measures have been taken in order to bring the work of the Congress to a successful conclusion undisturbed.

The German delegates subscribed 1000 francs for the miners who fell victim to the St. Etienne disaster. (Applause)

The Bureau invites the delegates of the other nationalities to follow this example and to make contributions according to their means.

French delegates demanded that the proceeds of the collection be shared with the striking miners of Westphalia, but the German delegates insist that the 1,000 francs they have contributed go to the victims of St. Etienne in full.

The congress agrees by acclamation to the motion of the German delegates to go together to the Père la Chaise cemetary in order to lay a wreath on the grave of the Communards who were shot in 1871 — the bureau is instructed to determine the day and the hour.

—31—New delegates have enrolled, including two from Christiania, whereby the members of the Congress increase to 467, namely 223 French and 184 foreigners.

After receiving the telegrams and declarations of sympathy by letter, citizen Lawroff begins to read his report on the state of socialism in Russia, to applause:

It is the first time that Russian socialists have been able to send delegates to an international socialist congress. But they do not appear before you as members of workers’ organizations, but only as socialists, fighting for the first elements of a political system of government for which a workers organization could serve as the basis. But 16 years of struggle in the name of the socialist idea in which we are all united, 16 years of courageous practice of this idea in the prisons, in the deserts of Siberia, at the foot of the scaffold, perhaps give the Russian socialists the right to say to their united brothers: Through our apostolate we have won our place in the union of the socialists of all countries!

I regret that among the Russian delegates there is no representative of the long and terrible struggle between an almighty monarchy on the one hand and a comparatively small group of young people defending their convictions on the other. But in the name of those fighters I greet our brothers who have succeeded in winning the international organization of workers on the basis of political rights in their own countries. This basis was and is still missing in Russia, the only country in Europe where all political rights are concentrated in the person of an omnipotent and irresponsible monarch.

The year of the centenary of the French Revolution — perhaps it would be more correct to say the European Revolution — is also the year of a two-hundredth anniversary for Russia.

It is two hundred years since a young man of seventeen, crushing his inconvenient opposition, became the first Russian monarch of the European type.

The historians have called him a genius.

Possessing an untamed energy, a passionate proponent of European civilization, he seems to have sincerely wanted the good of his empire.

He was all powerful; he was supported in his efforts by all the educated in his country. The system of government which he laid down as a basis was followed by all of his successors. Absolute Monarchy has never had such an easy job of it to establish the welfare of a country and, relying on the strengths of the nation, to make itself happy through them.

Well, this period of civilizing reform, begun by Peter I, was also the time for Russia when the slavery of the majority of the Russian peasants made the most terrible advances, and when millions of free farmers were turned into serfs.

As a result, by the end of the century, the educated had entered the ranks of the opposition.

The moral and political impotence of an absolute monarchy has never revealed itself more drastically. Since then the advanced groups began to struggle against the absolutism of the Czars, against the serfdom of the peasants, and against the ruling economic system, the cause of these two cancers.

Voltaire’s friend, Catherine the Great, banished scientifically educated men to Siberia because they belonged to the opposition. She had to struggle against the most terrible peasant uprising ever lived through. Her son wanted to separate Russia from Europe by strict orders.

—32—But the viewing window which Peter I had opened towards the West could no longer be closed, and the breath of the revolution blew inexorably in.

Russian officers brought the idea of secret political societies with them from the wars against Napoleon.

The fighters of December 1825 — the Decembrists - had included a liberal constitution and the liberation of the peasants in their program. Nicholas I's accession to the throne was distinguished by the penalty of death by hanging on the bastions of the St. Petersburg fortress pronounced over five conspirators, and bz the exile to Siberia of a number of men who were the flower of their generation.

The era of purely political programs was replaced by that of utopian socialism.

The question of workers' organization emerged in the midst of the struggle of the western political parties.

The Communist Manifesto called on the proletarians of all countries to unite with one another.

The opposition in Russia did not stop being the bitter enemy of absolutism, but immersed itself more and more in socialist ideas. Among the systems that were especially cultivated by a select group of men in Moscow and Petersburg , St. Simonism took the place of honour. One of the most influential members of this group was Hertzen, later the founder of the first Russian free press and printing company abroad.

The young people who were transported to Siberia in 1849 were for the most part Fourierists. Chernyshevsky convincingly set out the socialist criticism of economics. Under the influence of the ideas developed in the country through the literary propaganda of Hertzen, Chernyshevsky and their worthy students, the Czar's government, terrified by the ongoing peasant revolts, was forced to emancipate the serfs and to undertake some other reforms.

But again absolutism showed itself in all its impotence.

All the reforms of Alexander II were spoiled as soon as they came into existence because the bitterest enemies of every act of reform were entrusted with carrying them out.

And so it was that these reforms were later brought to a standstill, precisely in their essential parts.

After more than a quarter of a century the emancipated peasant finds himself economically ruined and even more miserable than he was before his emancipation.

By the year 1870 Carl Marx's ideas had already penetrated Russia. His masterpiece: “Capital”, was translated into Russian before any other language.

The conviction that the people could in fact not be emancipated other than through an uprising of the workers was accepted more and more by the Russian socialists. But in Russia the worker was the worker on the land — the farmer of the communities of Greater Russia.

Sympathy with the peasant created a whole realistic literature, which precisely through its realism became a literature of social agitation.

The educated Russian youth was imbued with the conviction:

“We owe everything we are to the Russian worker, especially the peasant; our duty is therefore to pay off our debt to him by working together, to help socialism to victory.”

—33—Under the influence of the Commune of Paris, around 1873 a new Russian socialist literature emerged abroad and a new apostolate of socialism among Russian youth, which spread to the masses in the country and in the factories, bringing the new gospel to the people.

A characteristic fact which emerged then and still exists today deserves to be mentioned even today: the Russian socialist press abroad presented the spectacle of passionate disagreement. The anarchists or Bakuninists fought against the supporters of the journal „Forwards“ (Vperëd); the Jacobins of the „Tocsin“ attacked both. But in Russia itself, in view of the size of the country and of the factories, in view of the prisons and forced labor which determined the careers of so many propagandists, regardless of party, all these disagreements disappeared.

The anarchists, the Jacobins, the supporters of “Forwards” distributed the same brochures and called for the same struggle.

Hundreds of young men and young women took part in this great movement.

The administration of the empire itself had to admit that 37 Guberniya had been gripped by revolutionary propaganda. The ideas of a Sophia Bardina and the peasant Alexeyev before the judges of the court made a deep impression throughout the country.[Translator's notes 21]

They showed the degree of expansion of socialism in Russia at that time.

But the propaganda among the peasants was a long and arduous task, and the number of victims was very considerable.

The prisons and Siberia quickly thinned the ranks of propagandists. People began to doubt the effectiveness of the propaganda, especially in the countryside. One began to believe that the struggle against absolutism required more concentrated attention, that one would have to act more forcibly if one wanted to continue the propaganda among the people. It was hoped that an energetic attack on the despotism of the Czar would soon lead to victory.

This belief was reinforced by the impression produced by the acquittal of Vera Zassulisch in 1878; it suddenly became apparent that the liberal tendencies had spread and gained ground almost everywhere in the country.

But the liberal Russians, lacking any organization or political tradition or any aptitude for sacrifice they could keep up in the struggle against hated absolutism, were unable to play an influential political role under such difficult conditions.

The socialist revolutionary youth alone can fight Czarism and carry high the socialist banner at the same time. At that time the revolutionary party of Russia, Zemlya i volya (“land and liberty”), split into two parties. One faction of this party, the Chornyi peredel (“black repartition”) kept to the basis of federalism and the original program.

They later became the Emancipation of Labour group, and finally the Association of Russian Social Democrats — and more and more doubted the benefits of propaganda among the peasants and the role of the current Russian peasant community.

They preached the impossibility of Russia's socialist evolution going any other way than that of Western Europe, namely the development of capitalism, the formation of an —34—industrial proletariat, its organization and eventual triumph. In addition to a number of polemical works, the Federation of Russian Social Democrats recently published writings by Marx, Engels, Lafargue and Guesde in very valuable translations.

One of the members, Vera Zassulisch, is currently working on a history of the International Workingmens' Association. The other faction, the People's Will (Narodnaya Volya) party, centralized itself as a fighting party under the direction of an executive committee and, although it remained socialist, and carried on the propaganda among the workers of the cities, which it tried to organize, and for whom it founded a newspaper, it directed its activity chiefly to the struggle against the government.

Most cruely persecuted, this party responded to lawless assassination with terrorist attacks. All the living forces of the country flowed towards it; their rivals themselves applauded. One of them, and he was one of the most significant, woke me one day at 4 a.m. with the news of one of the most terrible blows which the Committee of the “People's Will” had dealt its opponents. Here, too, the theoretical disputes blurred in the face of the struggle; for the followers of the “People’s will” believed in the possibility of socialist propaganda among the peasants; They were supporters of the Peasant Commune and were inclined to support the plan for economic development to take a shorter route than that of the formation of an industrial proletariat under the pressure of capitalist rule.

In response to this attack, the imperial government had to change all of its administrative arrangements.

An emperor fell in the battle. The Russian Social Democrats have been fortunate to see the Polish Socialists of the “Proletariat” join them, forgetting the hundred years of national hatred. But the terrible struggle exhausted the forces of the party of the “People’s Will”. There were betrayals, terrible catastrophes, divisions — distrust crept into the ranks of the brothers — all dangerous symptoms of demoralization. The organization of the party became weak, the Committee disappeared, the majority of the members died on the gallows or in prison. Towards the end of 1886 there was a moment when all seemed lost; but from then on new life appeared. New groups, young and energetic, are looking to find a path despite the brutal police pressure. The elements are parting company, a painful but useful process. Many who were considered to be firm supporters of the revolution showed themselves to be weak; many fell away from the party. But those who remained loyal to the revolutionary socialist banner are more irreconcilable than ever. Groups of new fighters form daily and threaten the government, without it being possible to control their sometimes too daring activities.

The ever increasing harshness of the administration against the prisoners and deportees, of which we only recently saw outrageous examples in Yakutsk, Sakhalin, Moscow - this harshness is driving the new groups to increasingly terrorist acts.

Since the accession to the throne of Alexander III a furious reaction in all branches of administration has embittered all classes of the population. This growing bitterness can lead to unexpected and terrible events which no power is now able to prevent. The groups which adhere to the program of the “People’s Will” are still numerous; the absence of a Committee that centralizes their actions makes this action something quite different from what it was before. But in the most scrupulous way they posed themselves the problem of gaining political freedoms for their country, as the necessary basis of its social revolution. Others —35—seek their way elsewhere. And at this very moment a quite deplorable fact is occuring.

In order to fight absolutism, some groups have arrived at the unfortunate idea of leaving the social question aside for the moment and seeking a coalition against absolutism with the liberal Russians, from whom nothing is to be hoped, even if they are cruelly oppressed by the current government.

It is the first time that revolutionary Russian socialists have decided to temporarily deny the basic principles of their program. Faced with this apostasy, the groups that stick to their principles as a political justification of their existence have the appearance of wanting to unite and forsake the disputes of recent times. This union can become the basis of a socialist organization which can once again be called a Russian revolutionary socialist party. —

That is the current state of the socialist movement in my country. The various groups which honoured me with their mandate have shown through the presence of their delegate to this congress that socialism remains the unshakeable basis of their actions. The memory of Marx and Hasenclever, of Varlin and Blanqui is as sacred to them as it is to their brothers in the West. (Enthusiastic applause.) As socialists, and not otherwise, they will continue the struggle against absolutism. (Renewed applause.) They exist as a party strictly separated from the liberal parties of the non-socialists — or they cease to be. The journal “The Socialist”, which gave me a mandate, is striving to become its organ. The “Society of Russian Workers in Paris”, which I have the honour of representing, has been socialist since it was founded several years ago. The groups that follow the program of the “People‘s Will”, some of which have existed abroad for five years, continue the socialist tradition. The “Bank of socialist publications of Zurich”, the “Revolutionary socialist group of St. Petersburg”, the “Armenian group of Geneva” send their support to the socialist congress in Paris and their greetings to the socialist brothers of all countries. Also present here is the delegate of the "Association of Russian Revolutionary Social Democrats", of which I have spoken in more detail, and the delegates of socialist Russian workers from London and New York. The London organization dates from 1885, that of New York from 1887. A Russian-socialist-democratic paper appears in America: “The Standard”. The Jewish socialists of London, almost all Russians and Poles, have their socialist organ: “The Worker's Friend”, edited in Hebrew dialect. They assure the Congress that, although compelled to use the only language they know, they are far from being isolated in their nationality, and that in England, in America, as in Russia, they are a lively part of the socialist workers’ movement as they find it in different countries. “The Association of Jewish Craftsmen of New York”, represented here by two delegates, consists of 1,500 Jewish proletarians.

In the report which I have been deputed to make, I can therefore give the assurance that Russian socialism has not been defeated in the struggle it has now kept up for 16 years. It has not yet managed to form a workers' party, but only the political situation in Russia has prevented this so far. The revolutionary socialist party, which has fought and which is still fighting to change these conditions, has suffered severe blows - its martyrdom —36—has been long and painful, it has had deserters, it still lacks organization and at this moment is going through a deep crisis.

But those who are on your side are determined to fight to the utmost to create favourable conditions for the establishment of a workers' party. They are determined to fight to the death to ensure a better future for their homeland. I am confident that I will be able to convey the wishes of Congress for their success to the groups that have sent me, as I have conveyed their fraternal gratitude to you. (Repeated storm of “bravo”s.)

Several anarchists had repeatedly interrupted Lawroff's report; the President had to draw their attention to the fact that they owed respect to the Russian nihilists and to the Congress. Since they disobeyed this first warning, citizen Anseele found it necessary to declare that the delegates of the proletariat of both hemispheres had not travelled hundreds of miles and spent thousands of francs to have their work disturbed by some hooligans (gaillards ); and he then asked the French delegates to remove these systematic troublemakers from the room, which was done in a few moments.[Translator's notes 22]

After calm had been restored, citizen Vaillant declared that they did not want to remove anyone because of their opinion, but that they were determined to prevent any willfully provoked tumult from the outset and with the utmost vigour.

The floor is now given to citizen Jules Guesde for a report on France . There was loud applause when he appeared on the platform, Guesde attributing this reception to the great cause to which he has dedicated his life. And this cause is the same for which, under different names, but with a common aim, the struggle is waged everywhere in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and the United States. The socialism, which the imagination of some has managed to nationalize, to differentiate into a French one and a German one, is in reality one and the same, just as the capitalist mode of production, which enabled socialism, is one and the same; and that one banner of one colour that the proletarians of the whole world have planted on their own initiative, a banner under which victory beckons us, it waves over us in this international workers’ congress. (Repeated ‘bravo’s.)

Citizen Guesde apologizes for the imperfect nature of the report which he will seek to give at the request of the brothers abroad. He will try to be as true to the facts as possible in this delicate task.

Three main groups are represented at this Congress: The Workers’ Party (Parti Ouvrier), to which the speaker belongs; the Central Revolutionary Comitee (Comité revolutionnaire centrale) and the National Association of the Workers' Syndicates of France (Fédération nationale des syndicats ouvriers de France).

These different organizations operate on different grounds, some being more economically oriented, others more political. But they are all animated by the same spirit, they all pursue the same goal and have always marched together in all decisive cases.

To start with the oldest organization that was founded under complete proscription in London by refugees from the Commune: the Central Revolutionary Committee, which has declared itself to be communist like Blanqui, from whom it derives. From Paris, where it —37—has its headquarters, it spread over Lyons and the Cher department. And its politics, regardless of the differences in expression, is so close to our politics that in 1884, when the most important of its members was sent from the Père la Chaise district to the Paris city council, we could celebrate Vaillant's election as though it were the triumph of one of our own. All the demands of our Marxist program, including the suppression of the national debt or the budget of the rentiers, have been so well represented by the Blanquist — Vaillant — elected to the city council that we only have one regret: that such an admirable campaign of the fighting proletariat did not take place in the Chamber of Deputies, not on the legislative platform, and could not be well-known in all parts of the country.

The Workers‘ Party, of which 145 groups are represented here, oficially dates from the Workers‘ Congress of Marseille which the journal Equality (Egalité) had prepared. For the first time the delegates of the French proletariat at the Congress of 1879 broke not only with the bourgeoisie, but also with the narrow-minded bourgeois ideas of savings banks, consumer associations, and so on, with the sole aim of their efforts being to recapture the means of production and their utilization by the united workers in a society they have liberated from scroungers. At that time, when even the elite of our workers in the great international democracy of labour had remained largely individualistic, captured by Proudhon's metaphysics, at Marseille collectivism — another name for communism — finally triumphed.

And while the liberation of labour was made dependent on the expropriation of the capitalist class, it was decided at the same time to organize the proletariat as a definite political party which must conquer the state from the bourgeois parties of every shade.

At the end of the year the National Congress of Havre completed this class organization by giving the Workers‘ Party its election program, which included the immediate demands which Marx and Engels had worked on together. With this program, which withstood all attacks, we penetrated the town councils of Alais, St. Quentin, Armentière, Roubaix, Montluçon, Beauvais, Comentry, Calais, etc.

In the departments of: Allier, Norden, Pas de Calais, Aisne, du Rhone, Marne, Heraut, the workers' party is most numerous and best organized.

Guesde then moves on to the National Federation of labour syndicates, which was created in Lyon in 1886, in a trade union congress which the Freycinet-Lockroy ministry hoped to dominate and which it had supported for that purpose. However, the government miscalculated. The workers were invited to organize themselves in trade unions and in professional associations without any political party tendency, but the federation declared itself from the beginning to be socialist in the scientific and revolutionary sense of the word. It looked for salvation where it actually is, in “Socialization of the means of production”, and demanded as preparatory measures the limitation of the working day to eight hours and the removal of national and international barriers and restrictions on the labour movement. Since then, the association has held two more national congresses, at Montluçon in 1887 and Bordeaux in 1888, and it now comprises 450 unions or corporate groups.

—38—It is the Federation which, in order to break the resistance of the political powers, has taken the initiative of the demonstrations, which took place in work places on February 10th and 24th this year. But even if it is the most powerful of the workers’ associations that have ever existed in our country, it can undoubtedly not be compared with the Trades Unions of England, either with regard to the number of members or the resources it has at its disposal. But why this lag relative to others? Because no working class as much as ours has been subject to absolute bourgeois anarchy and bourgeois despotism for nearly a century.

Our bourgeoisie, the worst, most ruthless, most pitiless of all bourgeoisies (remember the butchers of June 1848 and May 1871) and the most hypocritical, has systematically pounded the French proletariat into powder, dissolved it into atoms, cured it of carrying out any act in common, by prohibiting from 1790 on and the Chapelier Law not only every association, but also every union of a trade, allegedly in the public interest. And this prohibition, aggravated by the draconian articles of the law named after Napoleon ( Code Napoleon ) against associations, was the shame of France until 1884, that is until the day when industrial centralization made the freedom of the unions illusory. We have seen it at Anzin, Vierzon, Montceau, wherever the serfs of the mines, the railways, the blast furnaces wanted to make use of the right of association and union finally granted them by law, they saw themselves overwhelmed by the veto of the companies: < em>No unions! - no associations! — if not, no work! which means no bread!

Can it be any wonder that the French workers, deprived of the use of their legs for several generations, march so slowly along the path of trade union organization? Even our really socialist organizations cannot be compared with German social democracy and its hundreds of thousands of supporters. What paralyzes us, at least for this moment, what makes our propaganda less fruitful and our recruitment slower, though perhaps safer — is, strange as it may seem at first sight — the political freedom we enjoy, and through which many of the workers are deceived. What holds us back is the republic, which has lasted for 19 years and which the masses do not cease to see as a talisman which, without any effort on their part, will in the course of time tear them away from their misery and servitude.

A people of action more than of organization, we French are also used to proceeding in leaps and bounds where others march step by step . Under the pressure of events we improvise, and in the fight itself we recruit the necessary army.

Our traditions, our temperament, allow us to hope for the same in the future: everything comes down to cadres, nothing but cadres. And to cadres that are adequate for the mobilization required by the circumstances; these we have already. And that also allows us, without any boasting, to look to the future with confidence.

Not only in Paris, but in all industrial cities, there is a conscious minority among the workers, capable of taking over the leadership of the movement and preventing errors and mistakes.

What we did not know either in July 1830 or in February 1848 we now know. At that time the workers were masters of public spaces, yet —39—they allowed another faction of the same hostile class to install itself on the ruins of the bourgeois government which they had overthrown by their heroism.

That is no longer possible. Once power has fallen from the hands of the opportunists into those of the socialists, then neither Boulanger nor any other person will snatch it away from the workers. The power belongs to us, it must belong to us; the proletarians who will sieze it will know how to defend it against all and sundry.

When a new Commune comes, this time the whole of working France will support Paris; the spectacle of 19 years ago will not be repeated: workers standing guard over the account of the capitalists, in order to protect for the bourgeoisie the billions in the bank which they have stolen from working France; or if guards are put in place, it will happen after the bank has really become the Bank of France , by repaying sou for sou the stolen proceeds of the people‘s labour.

Our small numbers will suffice for this task of directing the next action. The comrades abroad can be sure that even if the conflict which the social contradictions will cause and which the political divisions of the ruling classes will accelerate begins tomorrow, the struggle will end favourably for socialism.

The era of defeats, as glorious as they are and as fruitful as they can be, is ended, ended with certainty. Brothers from abroad, we guarantee you the victory and we can guarantee it for you (Stormy prolonged applause.)

New delegates from the departments are registered by the citizen Lafargue, who on this occasion, with facts to hand, reveals the tricks of the Possibilists who wake up our friends from the provinces at the stations and regardless of their formal mandates “seek to entice them into their mock congress”.[Translator's notes 23]

The President is reciting these words, which so contradict yesterday's vote in favor of an understanding, when Citizen Vaillant shares with the Congress the exchange of letters with the Possibilists, and the day’s agenda through which these latter have finally buried the merger of the two congresses. Citizen Vaillant adds that this unconditional refusal of any understanding aroused the unconditional protest of the Italian delegates, and that these, like the Dutch delegates, withdrew from the congress of the Rue de Lancry (where the Possibilists met). (Applause.)

The session ended at 11 p.m. after the next meeting had been scheduled for the following day at 9 a.m.

Thursday July 18th, morning session[edit source]

Citizen Daumas, city councilor of Paris, chairs the meeting. He communicates to the assembly the dispatches, letters and addresses of support relating to the congress.

Citizen Morris gives an overview of the socialist movement in England,[Translator's notes 24] without, however, dwelling on the situation of the working class there, which, as elsewhere, is the slave of private capital. There has been talk of socialism in England for barely 6 years, even if something of the Chartist movement was still alive, as well as —40—something of Owen’s communism. The influence of continental socialism had naturally made itself felt, but the bourgeoisie, made arrogant by its successes in trade, ignored the situation of the proletariat or wanted to ignore it. The great multitude considered the ultimate goal to be striven for to be the realization of a system of hypocritical formulae which dominated all politics.

Economic development has now transformed this situation: socialism has become a hope for the proletariat, a terror for the bourgeoisie. And that is not all. Some bourgeois declare themselves in favour of socialism as long as they are not forced to recognize the principle of the class struggle. The horrifying form in which poverty emerges in England seems to have woken up a bit of a drowsy conscience in these people, and they therefore support and proclaim all kinds of reform. So the state has encouraged emigration in order to free the country from large numbers of proletarians; so a timid attempt has been made to revive peasant property and to stimulate small-scale rural industry; efforts have been made to obtain labour insurance à la Bismarck and a new, cheaper form of the productive cooperative. Numerous aids are proposed from pure simple philanthropism down to Malthusianism and abortion by the bourgeois who are aware of what a volcano our society has become.

Until recently the socialist movement remained almost exclusively in the realm of thought, supported almost entirely by members of the educated proletariat. Today the tide has turned, as economic developments have prepared the minds of the workers sufficiently to pick up and accept the socialist doctrines. The workers have recognized the class struggle as such; they have understood that the amount of misery in their lives depends on the role they play in letting themselves adapt to the mechanism of the capitalist mode of production. They are brought by an irresistible drive to want to transform society from the ground up.

This awakening is due in part to the propaganda which a group of staunch socialists carried out on street corners. Only three to four years ago our speakers were hissed and hooted in certain places by the workers themselves; today they find an attentive audience everywhere, yes, they are even applauded. In the past, the radical London clubs did not deign to listen to socialists; today the socialists hardly find any opposition there. Better still: political life in the true sense of the word (understand that the speaker does not mean the futile arguments — wire-pulling — of the electoral period) is expressed in these clubs solely through the movement of those who declare themselves socialists. In a word, socialism affects political parties in such a way that Minister Harcourt could exclaim: "We are all socialists!" The most serious obstacle that the socialists have faced is is to be found in the indifference of the workers employed in the established industries. Since England was the first of all countries to succeed in fully adopting large-scale industry, so necessarily the workers of the industrial centres have had for generations to give themselves over completely to the utmost dependence. They have grown accustomed to seeing themselves as just a part of the factory’s machinery. For them, the factory owner is a "paymaster" with whom they sometimes have a dispute, but whom they regard as indispensable for their existence.

On the other hand, the socialist movement in England is favoured by the —41—fact that there is a commonality of feelings with the peasant, i.e. between the farm worker and the urban worker, which is unthinkable in France, and just as little elsewhere on the continent — at least not nearly to the same extent. The farm labourer in England is the slave of the tenant farmer and therefore by no means conservative, even if it often happens that he is compelled to vote for a Conservative; he has his own opinion and a keen inclination to break his chains.

The development of the parties has served the cause of socialism. The Irish question alone — which the English socialists have been very occupied with — has confused all the old parties. The workers, until now used to blindly entrusting themselves to Parliament, have lost their confidence in it. It must be stated that the new group of Socialist Radicals ̇— represented in the press by the “Star” — has little influence in Parliament and that they will no longer have any influence on the day when the Irish question is resolved or eliminated.

We — that is, the Socialist League on whose behalf I speak — we, I say, can congratulate ourselves on this situation, for we definitely believe that workers are wasting their time and effort when they strive to get their own representatives into parliament. We are therefore far from regretting the poor results that were achieved with the aforementioned attempts. On the other hand, the County Councils , which have recently been introduced in the large cities and especially in London, very much against the intentions of the Tories, show a strong tendency towards socialism. One may hope that one day they will be a rallying point for the people who oppose centralist and bureaucratic parliamentary power; because in England this parliamentary power is — and there it can only be — reactionary, because it is under the unbreakable spell of being a defense committee for the most sacred right of private property that the socialists are attacking. This committee, called Parliament, has not been sorry to include a few members of the exploited class in its midst, whose presence has a twofold end: to serve as a safety valve for the discontent of the people, and as a signal of the way the workers’ complaints are going, but also to show the limits within which bourgeois hypocrisy can allow itself to move freely.

All in all, the state of the movement in England is very encouraging. Public opinion seeks with ever greater eagerness to find out where the truth lies, and even if the organization of the party may still be inadequate, one can be sure that it will make headway by itself and in an irresistible way.

We should not forget to mention that socialism is spreading more and more in Australia , not in the sense that we see it unfolding in America , but rather in a way similar to the English movement. Incidentally, the very fact that socialism first appeared in England as a movement of thought justifies the hope that its progress will not stall. The idealism, which follows from this, is an indispensable element of every movement that wants to impose itself. It is undoubtedly dangerous to base our hopes on economic fatalism, on the continual decay of the bourgeois element. The logical development of production and society necessarily obliges us to take these facts into consideration; however, historical changes in conditions can interrupt the course of that development and grant the supremacy of the bourgeoisie a further period of life. England may possibly still enjoy a period of great flourishing of trade; —42—as a result of the incentive which this flourishing must give to inventions and the improvement of mechanics, the workers will have an even smaller share in the so-called national wealth than even in the present industrial period.

Whatever happens, we will not stop being socialists. Indeed, we can become better fed slaves, parasites in a mosre pleasant situation — but should we be satisfied with that? No! The movement in the realm of thought, which must continue to take place, will not allow us to be satisfied with a state that is not the full and complete realization of our ideal. We know that we have to demand complete equality of living conditions for all people, and that this is a very realizable ideal. We will never forget the hard lesson learned; we will know how to remember that whatever the fate of some individuals may be, the "dregs", albeit with improvements, always remains the “dregs” of which John Bright spoke with such complete complacency — and that it will remain so until all our demands are satisfied. The workers, even the best of them, do they not always depend on their paymasters? And, if we get to the bottom of things, on the master of their masters, on the international market? The English worker will tenaciously pursue the demand for his full rights, and he will will not halt on the way, we know that, until he has won them completely. In all of this, we acknowledge that the socialist party will be threatened with a period of disappointment if it degenerates into a purely political party. In which case it becomes the plaything of a handful of adventurers and vote-chasers who have nothing in mind but their own interests. To this end they will nourish the hopes of the proletariat and betray them by lying agitation in favor of a few palliatives, which a bourgeois parliament will not fail to approve, since such a parliament knows very well that these palliatives, should they really be carried out, will not give the masses of the people more than the freedom to vote and - to die of hunger.

One must say two things to the credit of the English socialists. First, notwithstanding certain differences of opinion, the English socialists — with few exceptions — are thoroughly international. They condemn jingoism — whatever form it takes — with the utmost energy. The word “nationality” only has a geographical meaning for them. The ”British Empire”, by no means an object of love and pride for them, is only seen as a force for disaster, rule based on injustice and violence, which is therefore repulsive to every decent person. Second, the English socialists, by virtue of their idealism, have established themselves as the special crew of the aesthetic side of socialism. Without accepting the utopias of Charles Fourier, they are, mostly without even knowing it, the heirs of his idea of attractive work (the demand to design work in socialist society in such a way that it ceases to be irksome and attracts the worker as a pleasure). This point is important. All socialists want everybody to have to work, but when they have achieved this goal they will subscribe to the proposition that work is less an unpleasant burden than a delightful obligation. Despite inevitable mistakes, the —43—socialist movement of England has rendered tangible and useful services to the whole of socialism by showing the workers the goal to be achieved: a beautiful and complete life.

The socialist movement of England has produced a noteworthy literature. In addition to several daily workers’ papers, one can see two socialist weeklies, “Justice”, organ of the “Social Democratic Federation” and “Commonweal”, organ of the “Socialist League”. The socialists also publish pamphlets, brochures, leaflets; however, more weighty works are not lacking either. A characteristic sign is that our novelists find it good to make their books up-to-date by adding a pinch of socialism. Socialism has become fashionable!

Socialism is thus a vigorous plant in England that is producing fresh sprouts, admittedly still young, so young that it has not yet produced flowers or fruit. (Loud applause.)

Doctor Adler, delegate of the Austrian Socialists, presented a report on the situation of the socialist movement in Austria, which was often interrupted by enthusiastic applause. In Austria, he says, there is a very viable party that works tirelessly and does not shy away from any difficulty. I bring here the fraternal greetings of thousands of workers living all over Austria. They intended to give me a formal mandate; but that was an impossibility. Freedom in Austria is a composite being which takes the middle ground between freedom in Russia and freedom in Germany. (Great amusement.) It is German in form, Russian in execution. Aside from France and England, Austria has perhaps the most liberal laws in all of Europe, so much so that it resembles a republic headed by a King instead of a President. Unfortunately, it is only in practice that one does not proceed according to what the law prescribes, but solely according to the wishes of the police commissioner concerned. The police commissioner is authorized to confiscate all legal freedoms, and one can well believe that he needs to use this right — and abuse it. This peculiar condition robs the workers' movement in Austria of all uniformity in progress, all security in decision-making and action. It is constantly exposed to all sorts of changes of fortune, blooming today, abandoned to destruction tomorrow, without the government having to resort to exceptional laws. The Exceptional Law against the Anarchists, published in 1884, has in no way changed the essence of the situation. What do the socialists care about whether they are condemned by professional judges or by jury? In accordance with this law, the police expelled more than 400 people from Vienna and Florisdorf in the first week after it was published. Those deported were mostly innocent people, members or committee members of trade unions. Of course, this law had to stifle the young workers’ movement, and it actually did so. But, strange to say, the Austrian government is equally incapable of being consistent with an act of justice as it is with an act of oppression; it is constantly swaying back and forth — we have the Despotism tempered by sloppiness (great amusement). The young movement used the latter to take a deep breath and to secure itself better. Let us emphasize that profound differences of opinion have emerged in the Workers’ Party,[Translator's notes 25] especially with regard to the question: “Should the workers, armed with direct universal suffrage, constitute themselves as a political party or not?” Purely a question of principle! The workers in Austria have no voting rights and will not have them any time soon.

—44—Nonetheless, this question divided the Workers’ Party into two fractions, one of which consisted of so-called more radical, the other of so-called more moderate elements. The agreement only came about when certain previously influential personalities had disappeared. The movement had another difficulty to contend with, the hawker’s law by virtue of which anyone distributing a newspaper can be charged with offenses against the press law. (Stir in the hall.)[Translator's notes 26] Finally, a third difficulty arises only too often from the clash of nationalities. Although the proletarians of different nationalities generally show a serious spirit of unity and sincerely sympathize with one another, the difficulties of propaganda are increased considerably by the differences of language. Let us add to all of this that the level of popular education is very low and has no tendency to rise. Ever since Ferdinand the Catholic, people in this country have raged with fire and sword against popular education. Austria is not only a Catholic country, it is also a backward country.

Despite all these difficulties, in the parts of the country where industry has taken root, there is a socialist party which the bourgeoisie fears.

It is a noteworthy fact that in Austria, in contrast to what the other countries are experiencing, a last remnant of the old feudal world still exists in a party which has played a decisive role in public life up to the present hour. Although this feudal society cannot avoid essential changes under the pressure of the new economic era, it nonetheless has interests opposed to those of the young bourgeoisie. Accordingly, one seeks to win over the workers now from this side, now from that side, the bourgeoisie in the form of a highly hypocritical political liberalism, the feudal nobility by means of labour legislation.

So Austria has labour legislation which — apart from England and Switzerland — would be the best in all of Europe if it did not exist almost exclusively on paper! In Austria the normal working day is 11 hours, night work for women and children is forbidden, etc. etc. There is also absolute freedom of the press. But note, the law allows exceptions, the authorities make exceptions, and their decisions can always be sure to get confirmation from the ministry. We should acknowledge, however, that in spite of these “legal illegalities” the labour law has improved the condition of the workers in big industry. It has drawn the proletariat's attention to the situation in which it finds itself, thereby helping to awaken the workers’ conscience. Furthermore, the factory inspection, however imperfect it may be, is not nearly as badly organized as it is in Germany. In order to make the inspection truly effective, one would have to start increasing the number of inspectors. The bourgeoisie refuses to recruit new inspectors on the pretext that the taxpayers’ money has been used up by the military. We currently only have 15 inspectors. What is more, the government has refused to give the inspectors an ordinary working-class man as assistant, universally recognized as helpful.

In spite of these shortcomings, the law has succeeded, let us repeat, in drawing public attention to conditions previously wholly ignored.

—45—What do the Austrian socialists think about labour legislation now? The goal, the achievement of which is crucial, is: improvement of the physical, intellectual and moral condition of the proletariat. Labour legislation is by no means capable of solving by itself the task which the workers' movement has to deal with; but it is a means without the application of which the proletariat will not be able to achieve its ultimate goal.

In the final hour, when the capitalist social order collapses — and it will collapse completely of its own accord without, so to speak, needing help — then the fate of the proletariat will be decided according to the degree of intellectual development it has achieved. We have less influence on the occurrence of this moment than we ourselves are accustomed to assume — far less than our enemies suspect. But one thing is in our power: to prepare for this moment. The future depends on this preparation. Will it find slaves broken by their chains, or men who are determined to be free? To be prepared — that is everything. That is the reason why we demand labour protection legislation everywhere, as indispensable for good social hygiene. (Continuous applause.)

Citizen Adler also announced that the Austrian party was exclusively represented at this congress. The so-called “Federation of Upper Austria and Salzburg”, which is represented at the Possibilist Congress, has the singular misfortune that it does not exist at all.

After this communication the Congress enters into a fairly long discussion on the question of whether or not it is necessary to continue reading the reports or not.

The Belgian representatives, supported by the American delegate Bush, propose that each speaker be given only 15 minutes to read out their reports.

Citizen Lafargue thinks that one should drop the reading of the reports, which will be published as such, and that one should begin the discussion of the questions on the agenda.

The English delegate Kitz thinks it useful to hear the miners' delegates in any case.

Citizen Dubucq suggests that each rapporteur be allowed 10 minutes; At the same time he would like a commission of 30 men to be elected with the task of combining all the individual reports into a single general report.

The German delegates are in favour of accepting the reports, and citizen Wedde opposes Lafargue’s proposal. The purpose of the congress is not only to study the question of workers' legislation, a question on which, moreover, all socialist parties are in principle united; — its aim is just as much to discuss closer connections between the proletarians of the various nations. And reading out the reports contributes significantly to this end. To this end, after having heard the reports of the so-called great nations, it will be necessary to likewise hear those of the smaller nations. Otherwise the Congress would sin against the spirit of fraternity and justice.

—46—Citizens Lafargue and Dubucq withdraw their motion and the congress unanimously decides for the reading of the reports, but done in such a way that, following the proposal of citizen Cesar de Paepe, each speaker can only be given 10 minutes. The Congress also accepts the Bureau’s proposal that it be entrusted with the drafting of definitive resolutions, for which each delegate is invited to assist the Bureau by submitting resolutions or observations relating to the questions on the agenda.

Citizen Volders, the delegate of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Belgium, has the floor to report on the socialist movement in Belgium.

The Belgian bourgeoisie is the worst of all because it has by far the most political power in its hands. It alone has the right to vote. Likewise, it not only reserves the land and all means of production for itself, but also the entire state power. It recently added an addendum to the electoral law that allows a handful of foremen and small traders to enter town councils. In addition, a qualifying examination is required for this. The socialist party in this country therefore has to contend incessantly with great difficulties, which inevitably exert their influence on the tactics which its members must adopt.

There is no labour legislation in Belgium. The way in which this important question was recently put on the agenda shows the bad faith of the bourgeoisie.

Popular education is far below the most modest of requirements.

Besides, the political situation of the country is made even more complicated by the economic one. Belgium is the country of large-scale industry par excellence, in fact an international industry that produces for the world market. The bourgeoisie uses the competition it gets from abroad and forges it into a weapon against the proletariat; it sows hatred between Belgian and foreign workers, and only the socialists fight this chauvinism.

The socialist movement in Belgium is comparatively young. Five or six years ago the only organized socialist sections were found in the industrial centers. Ghent alone had a solid general staff ( État-major ) of staunch socialists, including many Germans. It was they who tried in 1885 on the basis of a socialist program to unite all corporate organizations, all political and socialist study clubs, all consumer and productive cooperatives, mutual funds, etc. Then the Belgian Workers’ Party,[Translator's notes 27] one of the best organized in all of Europe, was founded on a genuinely socialist basis. The German socialist workers made a particularly important contribution to the association, and they did so so zealously that the efforts of only a few years were successful in getting the movement underway. Those at the large corporate co-operatives that belong to the party and about which Anseele will give a special report, work entirely in a socialist spirit. The establishment of such corporate co-operatives has had a huge impact on public opinion in favor of the movement. Entire localities belong to the party, although the majority of these new members were initially completely uneducated about social issues. In the cities and industrial centres after a short time one could count around 100 political associations, socialists were elected to municipal and provincial councils. But the initial enthusiasm for the new party soon turned out to be a flash in the pan. We must admit that in Belgium it is impossible to count on the formation of political groups alone. At the slightest storm, these groups which have no other basis break up, as for example the Hainaut Political League proved, failing to last at all. On the other hand, those organisations held together through common economic interest do last.

—47—For example, the professional associations, which have the purpose of upholding certain tariffs and raising wages, as well as the corporate cooperatives, which form a solid basis for the unification of organizations and their members. Dissolution is more difficult because their members remain united for the maintenance of common property, which provides a valuable source of money besides; a significant percentage of their profits is used first of all for socialist propaganda, for the founding of newspapers, etc. The tactics of the Belgian party are characterized by their overall position. T1his all explains why the Belgian delegates insisted that an attempt should be made to merge the two congresses. The situation of their country has enforced systematic concessions on the socialists whenever the higher interest of the proletarian demands it. The Belgian party would not exist for a day longer if a strong, exclusive program were to be insisted on. Just the difference between Walloons and Flemings calls for tolerant tactics and a broad program.

Thus the Belgian party, although stringent on matters of principle, is open to persuasion when it is only a question of tactics; it is tolerant towards the workers, but at war with the bourgeoisie, rejecting all deals.

All comrades from other countries, whose situation is analogous to ours, could be inspired by our principles, which are solely aimed at bringing about victory in the open struggle for the emancipation of the international proletariat.

Everything that German social democracy demands with regard to labour laws, we demand too. (Applause.) —

Hybès, the Bohemian delegate, took the floor to report on the Czech movement. He does not want to speak in Czech, but in German, in order to save the congress the waste of time that would result from another translation.

Bohemia is represented for the first time at an international congress of the proletariat. Bohemia is a backwards country, in that it has not led an independent existence since the Reformation. Under the pretext of the Germanization and Catholicization of its population, all and every freedom has been stifled, all national rights have been suppressed. This situation was created by feudalism, which, under the pretext of serving the patriotic cause, in reality has served only its own cause and itself.

In spite of this, socialism has made its victorious entry into Bohemia; it has achieved this simultaneously with the industrial advances which have created a numerous proletariat exposed to every misery. The socialist doctrines brought to Bohemia from abroad, mostly presented through translations, were spread among the Czech proletariat. The language issue was one obstacle to propaganda, the relentless persecution was a second. In spite of so many obstacles opposed to the formation of an organization, the workers owe the initiative and the work of organization to themselves alone. Contrary to what has been seen in other countries, no man of the educated class has come to the proletariat to show them the path to be followed in their striving for emancipation. Similarly, no Czech lawyer has ever offered his hand to lead a socialist trial as a defender.

The speaker knows from his own experience the bitterness with which the government and the police persecute the socialists. He was himself persecuted, imprisoned, and accused of being a member of the “General Council” and of having founded “anarchist” groups everywhere, and was finally condemned, although the public prosecutor could not bring anything against him except his work for two foreign newspapers, one in New York, —48—Johann Most’s “Freiheit”, and the second an anarchist organ in Chicago, which had been published for a year. During the briefing for the trial, 90 hearings were held, and witnesses summoned from all parts of the kingdom of St. Wenceslas. Many other socialists had the same fate. In Bohemia the distribution of a newspaper is immediately punished with imprisonment or a fine; investigations into offenses for which there is a maximum of 2 or 3 days of detention often take months. The arrested are brought to the regional court in Prague, in chains. Although it is believed that the post office should work freely and independently and above all maintain the confidentiality of letters, a house search is invariably carried out immediately a few hours after a person has been sent a foreign newspaper. Anyone who is accused of being a member of a secret society is sentenced to 2 or 3 months in prison, the so-called “ringleaders” of these organizations to one year. In the eyes of the police, every worker who is somewhat more intelligent and more informed than his comrades is considered to be such a “ringleader”.

To give an idea of the arbitrariness and severity of the police, one fact suffices: of 340 people accused of socialism by a single public prosecutor, only 110 were acquitted! Not a single association has recently been approved in which Czech workers have organized themselves. The police organize a system of intimidation by which they prevent many workers from entering the movement.

In spite of all the humiliations, however, socialism has taken deep roots in Bohemia, so that it cannot possibly be eradicated today. Although there is still no intellectual base, which is indispensable, the movement is developing, and we have no doubt that it will one day triumph. (Loud applause.)

—48—After calm had returned, Keir Hardie, the representative of 56,000 organized Scottish miners, took the floor for his report, which had been commissioned by the M.P.s of the Parliamentary Socialist Labour Party of Great Britain.

The speaker recognizes the class struggle and strives for the elimination of capitalism and the seizure of all means of labour by society;[Translator's notes 28] the full product of labour must fall to the part of the workers. He thinks that this goal will be achieved if one manages to enact a series of laws that constitute serious labour legislation. In order to achieve this, they organize themselves mainly in the political field; therefore, they are working towards enabling their people to enter parliament and local administrations. They are not begging for laws, as a favour, or a grace, granted by a higher class to a lower class — no, they demand that Parliament, the creature and servant of the people, pass laws that correspond to the will and needs of the people.

The organization represented by Keir Hardie constitutes a particular party that strives for the welfare of the workers. A few months ago, working comrades in Newcastle cast 45,000 ballots for the party's candidates, three of whom were elected to the school board. For a long time it has been repeated as a fixed belief that the worker in Wales and Great Britain only works 9 hours a day. Nothing could be more false! It is true that here and there, e.g. in factories, the law prescribes it. The fixed working hours there are 56 hours a week; in the same way there is an approximate nine-hour working day for the craftsmen of the big cities. In the meantime, whenever an opportunity arises in the period of prosperity in an industry, the working day often lasts 12 hours or even 14 hours! We also notice that among the better of our workers there is a powerful tendency in favour of —49—claiming an eight working day, which is required by law and which it should be strictly forbidden to exceed. But that is far from being achieved. The officials and workers of the trams and railways also work 12 to 18 hours a day! The workers in the large, continuous process factories have a working day of 12 hours and work all 7 days a week!

As for wages, they are by no means brilliant. In the rural districts they amount to 12-15 shillings per week. The unskilled workers (manual workers) who are employed in public works earn 12 shillings a week; the miners and iron workers up to 22 shillings in the big cities; skilled workers receive 20 to 35 shillings per week for a working day standardized to 9 hours.

We should notice in passing that the official statisticians calculate the wealth created in Great Britain lock, stock and barrel at £1,200,000,000. The workers do not receive even a third part of this round sum; 800 million pounds sterling and more flow into the pockets of the idle or semi-idle.

Of the 10 million workers in Great Britain, 1 million are members of trades unions . The trades unions mostly comprise skilled workers who care very little about workers outside their organizations. The unskilled workers have no organizations at all, so to speak.

Every year a Trades Union Congress is held with the purpose of discussing labour legislation; but most of the leaders are convinced from the outset that Parliament is not in a position — and even if it were, is unwilling — to improve the economic situation of the workers. The resolutions of these congresses are therefore without any influence whatsoever. According to the view of the trades unions, the workers have to set their hands to regulating working hours and wages, without expecting any help from parliament. Experience has shown the untenability of this principle; and in the present economic system is the employer not the absolute master in both the economic and the political spheres? Within the trades unions there is therefore a strong tendency in favour of fixing working hours by law. In the course of this year the trades unionists will vote for or against a law that limits the working day to 8 Hours. Their leaders, to be sure, oppose any decision inspired by socialist ideas; but contrary to popular belief, socialist ideas are gaining more and more ground. So trade-unionism is nearing its end, and there is better work to be done. It recognizes, therefore, that if it became decisively socialist and political it would remain strong; if not, it will soon be nothing more than a mutual aid society. Certainly the Trades Unions have done some good service. They may have been the link between the past and the future, but there come certain times when the best of institutions must necessarily undergo a transformation. It is a question of life for them. So we repeat, if the trades unions do not take the step to socialism, they themselves will have pronounced their own fate.

Despite everything that has been tried in England to resolve the apalling misery, the paupers, who now number one million, will have grown to several million in a few years if we do not finally wake up and assert ourselves. One in seven every people who die is buried in a common grave. And "Great Britain is the richest country in the world", they say!

—50—For some years the workers have suffered a great deal from the competition of foreign workers who have come to England and are now helping to lower wage rates. The steelworkers of the county of Ayrshire were once paid 17 shillings a week. Now, all of a sudden, through the mediation of the Russian consul in Glasgow, the owner employs Poles, whom he pays only 12 shillings a week. Of course he reduced the wages of the other workers by the same amount, threatening the reluctant to replace them with other Poles who were ready to come at once. A similar event occurred during the last sailors' strike a few weeks ago. The owners replaced the strikers with sailors picked up everywhere, so to speak; the strikers had to submit.

Only international understanding between the workers will suffice to carry through the struggle against this measure, which the capitalists are increasingly resorting to. The consequence of this is that while the capitalists are calling in foreigners, English workers are unemployed in large numbers. Eighteen months ago, a million and a half were thrown on the streets without work, and despite a notable upturn in business, hundreds of thousands of English workers were unemployed. A normal working day of 8 hours would have the beneficial effect of creating work for all of the world. If, on the other hand, this is not achieved, in a few years' time, when this period of relative prosperity is followed by a period of crisis, the government will be faced with the alternative of shooting 1,500,000 workers, who are dying of hunger with their wives and children, or of providing them with work. The most effective means of curing this malady consists in fixing a working day of eight hours by law. In no country on the continent is the overwork greater and the underpay lower than in Great Britain.

However, the situation calls for urgent remedial action. But we English are a northern, practical and cold-blooded nation! We expect progress from something more tangible and rational than mere words, or a bloody revolution that, if started tomorrow, could hardly bring about anything good.

The submission of a bill in favor of the eight-hour day would have more effect than any revolution, that is, it would itself be one, and indeed the most effective.[Translator's notes 29] Cunninghame Graham, Member of Parliament, excelled in the debate over this issue. Its success has been so great that not just politicians but even the uninterested have followed it. The question of the eight-hour day will join the existing items for discussion on the agenda of practical politics, and the international congress will not pass by without serious consideration of a movement towards it. We give a brotherly welcome to all our comrades who have come from all countries, whatever the colour of the tendency they follow! (Continuing applause.)[Translator's notes 30]

Citizen Kitz, an English delegate, protests against the previous speaker’s statement with reference to the "Revolution" and assures Congress that there are people in England who believe in an imminent revolution.

The Danish delegate, Petersen , considers it useful, in relation to the facts presented by Keir Hardie, to recall that Danish seafarers who had been seduced into competing with the English strikers, had their contracts terminated as soon as the Trades Chamber of Copenhagen had learnt the purpose for which they had been recruited.

The Congress recognizes this act of solidarity with lively applause.

—51—Once this is over, citizeness Jankovska takes the floor to a general cheer:

I want to present you less a report than a simple statement on behalf of the socialist workers' committee of Warsaw .

I could turn myself into an echo of the lamentations which the wretched lot imposed on our proletarians extracts from them; I could depict the painful feelings which steal over every truly human soul at the sight of such great misery; I prefer to forego it so as not to rob you of your precious time.

Besides, is this misery not the lot of the workers of all countries who languish under the inexorable fate of the iron law of wages?

I only remind you that for us Poles there is still another circumstance which increases this shared misery, that is the political yoke of a despotism without equal, that is the feudal yoke under which we have sighed for so long that still today fathers can tell their children about the tortures and insults of which they themselves were victims.

If there is a country that really deserves the name of a Vale of Tears, it is our Poland.

This misery is so great at the present hour that, as concerns the resolutions that you intend express in the form of demands, which I take to be pacific, we can only follow you in the realm of theory.

Since we have neither freedom of speech nor freedom of association, but walkouts and workers’ associations are forbidden, our working people are not such legions of militants as the workers of other countries. We are forced into an essentially different kind of action, quite different from your large, fully public, organizations which give rise to such high hopes for the future, as your workers’ syndicates — trade union organizations — do.

But the difficulties do not allow us to turn down the task; we are far from it! We are preparing for the time when we will be able to widen the circle of our propaganda; We are working towards extensive workers’ propaganda that will not only take into account the demands that our friends in the West have already enforced, but also the wishes that are on the agenda of this Congress.

Will our efforts be crowned with success? The results that have already been achieved are an encouragement to us. Ten years ago there was hardly a strike among Polish workers. The struggle between employers and workers broke out in the form of riots, violent protests, the expressions of unchained fury. Today the workers in Warsaw have their strikes from which they emerge as winners. Even defeat does not paralyze their energy.

The discontented factory workers seek out the socialists and learn from them about the means of struggle; when the battle begins, the workers’ comrades rush to the aid of the fighters and support them with their money. A recent strike sparked such enthusiasm that the strikers were surrounded by a crowd of workers and celebrated like heroes. They were taken to a block of flats, given dinner, and the workers took it as an honour to be allowed to serve them. These facts are characteristic. These feelings of brotherhood and solidarity, of which they bear witness, will not fail to bear fruit.

Since time has not allowed me to prepare a complete survey of the Polish movement, I am content to say that Poland, although it does not yet have an organization capable of rivaling yours, is one in spirit with all those united here, marches on the same road; in saying this, on the one hand, I base myself on the results that have been achieved and —52—on the other hand, on the total moral bankruptcy of our bourgeois and national parties.

If we were so late in coming to join the socialist army, we were none the less happily able to form an all the more solid revolutionary army. If, on the other hand, it is only a small army that we can bring with us, yet you will find us by your side wherever and whenever the cause of the working people is fought for; and we will be happy to do everything in our power to bring about the victory of the European proletariat; and we are assured that the victorious legions of the West will not fail to break the chains of their Slavic brethren, who, if it is possible, suffer even more than they do themselves.

By confirming the solidarity which unites the proletariat of the West, we wist at the same time to especially confirm the solidarity which unites us with our comrades, the Russian and German socialists, our natural and closest allies. (Lively sustained cheers.)

The session was adjourned for an hour and a half.

Thursday July 18th, afternoon session[edit source]

Citizen Leo Frankl chairs the session. He gives citizen Brandt[Translator's notes 31] the floor to report on the subject of “The workers’ movement in Switzerland”:

The entire Swiss proletariat, which is very pleased to see the question of international labour protection legislation on the agenda of this congress — a question officially suggested by Switzerland — would have wished to be represented here. The Grütliverein - a political, social and democratic association with around 15,000 members, the trade union federation, a federation of professional associations that has 7000 followers, the Social Democratic Party founded in 1887 in an attempt to bring a national socialist party in Switzerland into being: all three of them are represented at this congress. They felt the obligation to attend it not only for the benefit of the cause that they have in their hearts, but also because they do not want to remain aloof at this serious time when the workers of all countries are extending the hand of fellowship to bring their common interests to victory more quickly. As a nation and as a party, we are passing through a critical period. As a nation, because Germany, our powerful neighbor, makes our life difficult; as a party, because these entanglements also cause difficulties for us internally. As in all of Europe, the Bismarck system is exerting its fateful influence on our Swiss land. Bismarck’s example certainly accelerated our social reform; and on the other hand, under the influence of the power which he has wielded against us, our timid authorities, supported by the bourgeoisie, imitate his police force. Our Federal Council has shown a very particular zeal on this latter point.

Deportations, house searches and interrogations are the order of the day, and Swiss citizenship gives no protection against despotism. A house search was carried out on the Swiss citizen Conzett as well as on the German refugees in Basel; an editor of the “Grütlianer” has been subjected to cross-examination as well as politically suspect foreigners.

Powerful influences, both external and internal, oppress the free —53—democratic spirit and announce increasingly bitter struggles for the future. One typical fact may be emphasized. In Switzerland we are tending towards a division in outlook, a division which, up to the present, has not appeared in our tradition and which could not be predicted from our history, but which, because it is taking place everywhere, imposes the obligation on the working class to be completely self-dependent. Switzerland is no exception in the development process of the capitalist form of property and production, a development which with us, as everywhere else, intensifies social contradictions ever more sharply. In fact, society is more and more split into two camps: on the one hand capitalists, on the other proletarians. Hence, the more capitalism grows, the more it absorbs all the means of power for its own purposes alone, the more seriously it imposes on the working class the duty to gather together for defense as well as attack, with the firm intention of reclaiming its rights.

Capitalism not only exploits the worker, the artisan and the farmer, it also corrodes our rulers, it undermines the power of the state. It is the enemy within, and is so the more mighty and therefore powerful it is. It will still take long struggles to return it to its former powerlessness. Capitalism seeks step by step to stop our advance. But powerful as the plutocracy is, it connot stop it; dissatisfaction increases more and more, brought on by the social conditions that capitalism itself has created; and with this dissatisfaction arises the conviction that this state of affairs cannot last. And in fact everyone speaks of the necessity of social reform and our federal councils themselves are fighting for the honour of assisting with this reform. It goes without saying that this social reform, dressed in police uniform, looks strange and not exactly attractive to us socialists; but on the other hand we gladly acknowledge that the national Federal Council (Bundesrath) was the first to approach the social problem. But what it has done is inadequate. It is also true that today in social circles which are not receptive to socialism and democracy, among conservatives and the bourgeoisie, there are people who demand a superficial social legislation that does not cure the evil, rather than saying: “One can no longer cure a sick society by palliative and weak remedies — one can only remove social evils by destroying their roots.” Among other things, a society for reforming land ownership has recently been formed.

We may regret the battles we foresee and which will come, but we look to the future without fear. The trials that await us will increase our power and we will ultimately achieve victory over our opponents. In the course of the last few years the workers’ party has gained a great deal of clarity, sense of purpose and determination; their influence and the number of their followers grow day by day as the old parties dissolve more and more. The number of workers’ papers, with partly political, partly trade-union content, which are published in three languages, is 15. The organization of workers in the true sense of the word includes, apart from the associations already mentioned, the active printers’ association, the union of sewing machinists, who are currently very numerous, the associations of watchmakers and the Catholic workers’ groups.

—54—All these organizations are included in the large Swiss Workers Federation, which has 100,000 members and has the Workers' Secretariat as an organ, which, although with a neutral political standpoint, nonetheless provides valuable support for the protection of the working class. In addition, thanks to the recently established reserve fund, these organizations provide strong support in the economic struggle. Among the advances that have brought our country praise and honour, the Federal Factory Act deserves to be mentioned first and foremost. This stipulates an 11 hour normal working day, restricts child labour, forbids night work, protects women, and ensures Sunday rest.

One can only regret that the execution of this law is entrusted to the supervision of the cantons by 3 factory inspectors; the latter, with one exception, fulfil their duty. The law, which could serve as a model for many other states, has currently passed its test. The experience that we have had of it has been satisfactory, although the provisions of the law are still inadequate; however, no one would want to abolish it now, and an attack would only serve to expand and complete it.

It is the same with liability for accidents. We started with liability of the railway company, later introducing it for factories` and even later we are thinking about applying it to other industries. This slow but sure advance is dictated by prudence; incidentally, it corresponds to the Swiss national character, and its success speaks in its favour. Incidentally, even if we declare ourselves to be supporters of this step-by-step approach, we will never lose sight of our ultimate goals. At the same time, while conscious of the principle and the ideals that we strive for, we do not reject the concessions that are made to us, we accept them as installments, while we endeavour to extract the final payment!

The workers are now striving for a stricter implementation of the labour protection laws, they are working for new laws on accident, sickness and old age insurance; they are striving in the same way, not without success, for an improvement in the factory law as now enforced; they demand, for example, the 10-hour normal working day, for book printers and watchmakers even an 8-hour day, and all this at the moment when international labour legislation is on the agenda.

All of this shows how wrong they are who claim that Switzerland took the initiative on international labour legislation only because the factory law being foregrounded — with the eleven-hour working day — has had a paralyzing effect. The question of a comprehensive industrial law is also being discussed in detail, and that will determine the organization of compulsory trades councils (Gewerkschaftkammer). The impetus for the organization of trades councils has already been given in some cantonal councils, and one sees everywhere, especially from the watchmakers, vigorous agitation for this demand. In other cantons, attention is also beginning to be drawn to the employment of women in fashion magazines, restaurants, beerhalls, hotels etc.. In Basel, for example, legal measures have been taken to protect women who are employed in designated establishments.

It is therefore inevitable that sooner or later the Federal Council will take these interests in hand. In general, it should be noted that our social legislation will function the better the more it is entrusted in reality, as it will one day be, to the Bunde, that is, the Central Government.

Our task is very difficult and is made even more difficult by the almost overwhelming taxes that we have on our shoulders.

—55—Incidentally, in various directions we are subject in our country to special conditions on which our tactics depend. It is possible that people unfamiliar with these conditions may not understand our tactics; but you, our comrades, must have confidence in us; for we too strive for the one socialist ideal that is identical with yours. And for our advance towards this ideal we have full confidence in the Swiss people and in our democracy, which is ready, if need be, to go up against a Bismarck.

We trust in humanity, which cannot and must not submit to an individual, if one day, as we all desire, it is to emancipate itself politically and economically. Because we have this trust and hope, we are here to work with you in the present and in the future. (Lively applause.)

Bushe, delegate of the American workers‘ party,[Translator's notes 32] says that he has no intention of expatiating on the condition of workers in America. The working conditions there are the same as anywhere where big industry rules. Same misery, same oppression. As for the political situation of the worker in America, it differs in many ways from that of his European comrade, and the legislation is very different, since the United States is a conglomerate of various independent states.

There are several proletarian associations in that country: the trades unions, the majority of whose members are Irish and German, and the “Knights of Labor” who are about a million strong[3] and are in the strict sense of the word American citizens. Unfortunately, however, it should be noted that the greater part of workers born in America — about 19 million including families — is not yet organized. So before the eyes of the labour movement in the United States, the question will arise: What is to be done? How do you actually get hold of these 19 million people? In our judgment, labour legislation is a powerful tool to achieve that.

It is true that the various political parties in the country have tried to catch the workers for themselves by granting them some health and safety measures. But these laws have remained dead letters because the elements that can enforce their implementation are missing. The trades unions, for their part, like the English trade union organizations, initially wanted nothing to do with intervention by the state and political action by the proletariat. Meanwhile the situation has changed and, thanks to the daily increasing influence of socialism, part of the American proletariat has developed into a political party and has taken up the political struggle that was initially ignored. The program around which the Socialist Labor Party wants to rally the American proletariat is well known. However, the American, a thoroughly practical person, is not satisfied with putting forward a program. Above all, he asks what the means are to realize it. The answer of the socialists is given as follows: one must above all draw the attention of the people to the centralised industrial and commercial enterprises and explain to them that these undertakings are now only for the benefit of a few, while they should work for the benefit of the whole nation. This change can only be implemented through conscious, calm and sustained action by a proletariat that has formed itself into a political party. From this point of view it is of the utmost importance that the workers’ party takes the initiative in labour legislation, because —56—acting for such legislation will show that it wants practical reforms beneficial to the working masses. And this fact alone will suffice to make its strength grow numerically. The party hopes to prove itself more useful to the proletariat by actually improving the lot of the workers than by frothy revolutionary phrases. It matters little what you say, it only matters what you do. (Applause).

The Romanian delegate Many explains that in Romania the large estates comprise 3/5 of the country; one fifth belongs to the state and one fifth to the peasants, who number 7 million. For lack of land of their own, the peasants become day labourers for the large landowners on whom they depend completely. The electoral system is a true image of the property relations. The voters are divided into 3 groups: the first consisting of large landowners who pay over 1000 francs in taxes; the second includes civil servants, merchants, professors, in short all those who pursue “liberal professions”; and the third is composed of the country folk. The country folk select delegations, which in turn select the deputies. The socialist movement in Romania dates from about eighteen years ago. The example of the Paris Commune was crucial for this point in time; At the same time, Russian and Polish political refugees exerted an influence that cannot be ignored. It was the student youth who first committed themselves to socialist theories. They translated the main works of socialist literature into the Romanian language and endeavored to spread them throughout the country. The center of the movement was Jaffy; the followers were mainly recruited from the educated classes.

The young party soon had access to a scientific journal and a daily paper. The authorities did not hesitate to suppress the latter; they expelled the students from the universities and dismissed professor Nadejdi, to whom 10,000 peasants had given their votes. In fact the propaganda had been carried right into the middle of the peasants, and with great success. After an uninterrupted agitation of barely 3 years, 280 delegations representing 40,000 peasant electors sent three socialist deputies to parliament. In short, the progress of socialism is such that the radicals take articles from its program in order — by strongly mixing the socialist wine with bourgeois water — to make themselves look better in the eyes of the population. In recent years the misery of the population has increased so much that discontent has finally caused the peasants to rise up. Now, to improve this situation, the socialist MPs demanded the surrender of state lands to the municipalities and generally to cooperatives which cultivate the land in common. Parliament preferred to adopt only the proposal of the Radicals that every farmer should own a small parcel of land. Since the small arable farms cannot resist competition from arable farming on a large scale, so that the large estates swallow them up, in 10 to 15 years small peasant property and its situation will be in the same situation, if not worse than today.

In Romania, as everywhere, the only remedy in the present situation is the conversion of private property into collective property. Among the industrial workers too there is an awakening of the consciousness of their rights; the recent strikes of the printers, the saddlers and the potters are proof of this. Meanwhile the authorities, inspired by the desire to get into the good books of capital, wanted to import workers from Austria. But the Austrian proletarians refused to sort out the affairs of Messers the Capitalists!

—57—The workers of all countries are demonstrating ever more the great solidarity which will liberate them and which alone can bring about the day on which the struggle against capital will achieve victory. (Lively applause.)

Citizen Ihrlinger, delegate of the Hungarian workers‘ party,[Translator's notes 33] gives a concise overview of the situation in his home country. Having given an assurance that the socialist movement — inspired by the principles of modern socialism, contrary to what has often been said — has the international character which currently characterizes the movement throughout the world, he states that in Hungary, as in Austria, freedom exists only on paper. Every judge rules at his own discretion. The Hungarian reaction mimicked the German one, resorting to medieval decrees to beat the socialists.

The labour movement spreads mainly through the clubs. While the trade union organizations only exist in Budapest, the workers' clubs are present almost everywhere, in the small towns as well as in the villages. For a long time the Hungarian workers‘ party was towed along by the bourgeois radical party; but the representatives of this latter party have not kept their promises, the workers' party has decided to lead an independent existence and to expect anything only from itself. Socialist propaganda is made difficult by the large number of nationalities and languages in Hungary. Nevertheless the movement has advanced to the point that the divisions which have arisen in the bosom of the party have not harmed it. These divisions were inevitable as they concerned the separation of the workers‘ party from the anarchists who, largely paid for or supported by the police, brought the movement into discredit.

On the other hand, the state endeavours to kill the movement by harsh measures, trying to crush the most resolute fighters, and through these persecutions a large number of workers are kept away. Of course there is no freedom of the press for the workers. The party therefore tries to gain influence in the trade union organizations in order to instill the socialist spirit in them and gradually bring them closer to the cause. And as things stand the economic situation gives us new followers every day. As big industry develops, small industry perishes and the number of proletarians and the discontented grows ever more. The Hungarian proletariat is fighting shoulder to shoulder with the German proletariat and with that of all countries. (Applause.)

Citizen Popp, a cobbler from Budapest, declares that, contrary to the report of the previous speaker, the Hungarian movement has not developed so favourably, and at least in terms of its principles it is strongly opportunistic and is often inclined to compromise. In order to remedy this evil, he is setting about the creation of a workers' press, which for the time being consists of twenty trade journals. It is hoped that in a few years a party will exist which will reach the level of the socialist movement in general.

Anseele, the Belgian delegate who was supposed to report on the “Vooruit”, is absent. The floor is given to citizen Domela Nieumenhuis, whose appearance on the platform is greeted with thunderous applause.

Citizen Domela Nieuwenhuis describes the situation of the working class in Holland:

The economic life of a nation depends in large part on the political situation. Since in Holland the working class has no voting rights, —58—therefore it also has no legal influence on political affairs. In a word, Holland is a class state that is ruled by a plutocracy, the ominous character of which is clearly evident in all institutions.

The very oppressive taxes are designed in a ratio that is almost the opposite of the ability to pay of taxpayers. Two-fifths of them weigh heavily on the workers’ essential purchases. It is no exaggeration to say that a working class family sacrifices 10% of its income to the state, not counting municipal and other demands.

Furthermore, the hated blood tax of military service, which the rich can evade by deputizing, is borne exclusively by the working class.

Education is public, but its organization is insufficient; it is neither compulsory nor free of charge. Industrial education is almost entirely absent in Holland, and where it is available it is viewed as an utterly superfluous luxury.

The administration of justice is something Dutch workers have barely heard of. In the same way, “equality before the law” only appears on paper. Industrial arbitration courts are lacking too; disputes between employers and workers are brought before the ordinary judge, who, according to Article 1638 of our Civil Code, has to believe the employer — an outrageous proof of the disdain which the ruling class openly shows the working class.

As for the rights of association and assembly, they are recognized by the constitution. So they would actually exist if the law did not add all sorts of restrictive regulations. In addition, the police frequently abuse their authority by threatening the owners of the hall with withdrawing the license to serve liquor if they dare to allocate their premises to workers' meetings. In short, the right of association and assembly is vastly restricted, and in practice illusory.

From these facts it follows that the rights of the workers in political matters are curtailed by the law and by the narrow-mindedness of the ruling classes.

But economic slavery may be experienced even more harshly by Dutch workers. For this reason they increasingly demand not just political emancipation, but the complete transformation of society, the abolition of capitalist production: the wages system.

The economic situation of the Dutch workers is much the same as that of the workers in the other countries. Private property in its present form, that is, the egoistic private interest of individuals, forms the basis of society everywhere; and the same causes produce the same effects.

The wages of Dutch workers are quite as low as their working day is long. In addition, they are continually stricken by the thousands of tortures of the sweating system, the truck system, and arbitrary fines. Female and child labour at extremely low wages is very much the mode. Work stoppages are common and almost chronic in most industries. The desire for a social transformation is becoming more and more general, and the very justified dissatisfaction is clearly evident in Holland in the number of unemployed people in the big cities as well as in relatively significant strikes. Of the latter, we mention the strikes in the textile industry of Twente and in the peat digging districts of Friesland, which broke out last year and concluded in success. The Twente strike revealed the deep misery and crushing slavery under which the workers of this industrial district were —59—languishing, and what the capitalists have called the “workers’ paradise” has been shown to be in truth a workers’ hell.

It was the same with the strikes in the peat districts, which had the purpose of raising wages and the abolition of the truck system which is rampant here and in other parts of Holland.

Citizen Domela Nieuwenhuis, the first and so far the only socialist MP, took the opportunity to propose a law which had the purpose of ensuring that workers would be free to dispose of their wages. Incidentally, this proposal was very badly received by the bourgeois MPs; they are enemies of every state intervention unless it relates to their own interest or that of their class. Indeed, the Dutch bourgeoisie even tried to make themselves look like the workers’ protectors; and their deputy, the Minister of Justice, for his part, following the example of Domela Nieuwenhuis, introduced a legislative proposal which competed with the socialist one.

It is extremely regrettable that the Dutch Government neglects statistics so much. Statistics on the condition of the workers, such as exist, for example, in America, are completely absent in Holland. The speaker is therefore not able to give officially established figures about wages, working hours, etc. etc. On the other hand, he can provide some data that have emerged from private surveys.

As already mentioned, female and child labour is very widespread. You can find them not only in the stores, shops and tailors’ workshops, but also in weaving mills, sugar refineries, tobacco factories, printing works, in the pottery industry, in bookbinderies, brickworks, candlemakers, in cafes and pubs. In general, it must be said that women and children are increasingly used for work wherever muscle strength is not essential.

The Dutch worker works an average of 12 hours a day; the working day in the textile industry is 11 hours.

The average wage for the whole of Holland can be set at a maximum of 7 guilders (1 guilder = 1 Mk. 68 Pfg.) per week. It fluctuates in certain occupations and industries, but the average daily wage does not rise above 9-10 guilders a week in the big cities. In the small towns and in the country the wages are considerably lower.

In the textile industry three-fourths of the workers earn no more than 7 guilders, often they only earn 4 1/2 to 6 guilders a week. The situation of the workers in the peat pits and in the main branches of agriculture is even more pitiful. In the rich area of Friesland, for example, a worker is paid 70 cents (1 Fr. 10 cm. French money = 88 Pfg.) for a working day of 14 hours with 1 1/2 hours of rest. And that is in good times! In winter he earns no more than 35 cents (about 58 pfennigs) a day. This rich, fertile land has almost as much misery as Ireland!

There is nothing more heartbreaking than the lot of our coastal fishermen, who are being exploited in the most brutal way in the world by the ship owners and fishing entrepreneurs. Happy is the one who is granted a price of 8 guilders per barrel. From this sum, the crew of 9 fishermen for each boat receives only 1 guilder 65 cents, while the ship owner receives the rest of the amount, i.e. keeps 6 guilders 35 cents for himself.

It follows from this brief survey that the condition of the workers in Holland is dire. It is almost impossible for them to provide food, clothing and housing for themselves and their families. They are forced to deny themselves any other expense, and so they forego any distraction or any satisfaction of intellectual needs. Capitalism weighs on them like a yoke of lead. Holland is a —60—thoroughly free-trade country in the sense that the capitalist is free to exploit the worker without limits, so that he is in reality “liable to tallage and boonwork neverending”.[Translator's notes 34]

After having had to detail the sad political and social situation of the Dutch worker, we are pleased, before the end of our report, to be able to state a reassuring fact of undeniable importance: namely, the awakening of the workers in the last ten years, an awakening as a result of which they organized themselves and developed radical programs. They have understood how to make use of the experience of their brothers in other countries; they have understood quite well that certain attempts to improve the lot of the workers such as the cooperative system, the Tantième (profit-sharing) system, mutual benefit funds, savings banks, avance funds etc, etc are nothing more than expensive and clumsy botched household remedies (palliative methods); so they said to themselves: since the evil lies in the basis of the existing society, this basis itself must be changed.

The workers are gradually coming to the realization that they have nothing to expect from their masters, whether they be Conservatives, Liberals or Radicals, but that they have only themselves to depend on. They are organizing themselves more and more into a pure and fully independent workers’ party with its own political and economic program; and it can be said that the reactionary workers’ parties like the Mutual Insurance Society "Patrimonium" and the general union of Dutch workers are being pushed aside by the advanced working-class elements.

Only the Social Democratic League[Translator's notes 35] can proudly boast of a truly remarkable development today. It has a publication, at first appearing three times a week, the “Recht voor Allen” (Rights for All), which now appears daily. The party holds public meetings everywhere and supplies the country with brochures and pamphlets. And it is to this organized party that Dutch workers direct their hopes for the future. We need no other proof of their influence than the persecution of the government, which has several times sentenced members to prison terms, and even to forced labour.

In the political field, the socialists demand the right to vote for all; in the economic field their goal is the takeover of the means of production by society and organization of public services for the benefit of the community. As a transitional measure they attach great value to the reduction of working hours by means of labour protection legislation. While we are convinced that the complete emancipation of the working class is only possible through the conversion of private property into common property, we consider it important to declare that an international movement for legislative regulation of working hours will find in Holland ardent champions and the sympathy of a working class conscious of its interests.

All of this leads us to expect a coalition of governments for the purpose of combating the demands of the workers. We shall applaud any progress which aims at the international unification of the workers, for this alone is able to offer a counterweight to the machinations of governments. We do not look for our strength in the founding of great cooperatives, but rather in the intellectual development of the worker. That is the reason why our party has published a large number of brochures and books. We have translations of almost all economists in Europe and America. We consider it necessary that the workers first know what is to be done; only then will they actually do what is necessary.

—61—We know very well that we, who inhabit a small country, cannot be the vanguard of the revolution, which can only reach maturity and victory in a large country. But this revolution must have already taken place in our brains, and from now on we can give the assurance that we will be at our post and doing our duty. Our small people, which the tyrant Alba[Translator's notes 36]called a “people of peasants”, but which proved that it was able to resist a people of iron-clad knights, which has even triumphed over the elements of nature — it will also know how to defeat the bourgeoisie and will not rest until it has established the rule of freedom. Brothers, we will win or die under the banner of social democracy; and we will continue to hold that banner high!

(The assembly repeatedly gives its enthusiastic applause.) —

Citizen Petersen then explains the situation of workers in Denmark. This is not essentially different from that of the other countries. In general, the petty bourgeoisie and small industry predominate. Meanwhile, for some years now, big industry has also been on the rise, pushing small industry into the background. The capitalists have already introduced the truck system in Denmark.

Wages are very low, crises and stagnation occur frequently. There are no official statistics on labour relations. However, according to known testimony, it can be calculated that there are 70,000 workers in Copenhagen whose average annual earnings are 11-1200 francs; 45,000 workers in the provincial towns, with an average annual wage of 800 francs; 133,000 workers employed in the country earn an average of no more than 500 francs.

If these wages are compared with the average price of food, it is found that 78 per cent of urban workers have a difference of 500 francs between the wages they receive and the amount required for their essential needs.

The workers are organized in trade unions, 150 in number, which are linked to one another through their bureaux to form a centralised organization, the spirit of which unfortunately leaves much to be desired. In addition to the syndicates (trade unions and professional associations), we should also mention the organization of the Social Democratic Party to which around 80 electoral associations and discussion clubs belong.

The socialist press is represented by the Copenhagen “Social-Demokraten”, which has around 20,000 subscribers, and appears in 4 daily provincial issues. To these one can add an independent socialist paper, “Arbejtern” (The Worker).

Since the Danish workers’ movement arose in a petty bourgeois milieu, it necessarily retained a petty bourgeois character, which can be identified in various ways. A meeting house and a cooperative bakery were based on shares. The latter is a veritable caricature of the Ghent Cooperative Bakery, so it cannot be seen as anything else than a private industrial company that pays shareholders an annual dividend. In reality there is nothing socialist about the whole enterprise other than the party money with which it was founded, and the names of the managers who are all party leaders.

The right of association and assembly is guaranteed to workers by law, but that in no way prevents messers the capitalists from finding means to make the exercise of this right as difficult as possible. Danish workers have the right to vote from the age of 30 unless they receive poor relief from public funds.

—62—The workers usually take a lively part in the elections, and have already succeeded in sending two representatives of the party to parliament; at the moment one of their electees is sitting. So far we have to concede that the workers’ party has gone with the petty bourgeoisie and has not broken off its relations with the bourgeois parties to this day. Efforts are made to defend this mode of action by stating that a relative majority is decisive for the outcome of elections (except for runoff elections). It is clear that the socialists in league with any bourgeois party can never win anything from an election campaign, nor will they be able to pursue socialist agitation as if they remained independent. A socialist party which goes together with the petty bourgeoisie, is more or less bound to it in its political activity. In this way it makes itself the champion and defender of bourgeois institutions, for example by helping to provide credit for the small industrialists. Fortunately, however, a return to principles and an opposition to previous tactics has been making itself felt among the workers of late. The best evidence for the advance of the movement is the fact that this movement has three representatives at this congress. (Applause.)

Citizen Plechanoff, elected by the Russian Social Democrats, spoke as follows:

Since the number of speakers at this congress is very large and they have only a short time to present the political and economic situation in their respective countries, I shall give as brief a picture of the workers’ movement in Russia as possible.

One might be surprised to see representatives of Russia at this congress, a country where the movement is certainly not as advanced as in other European countries. But we Russian socialists thought that Russia should not keep itself alone apart from the workers of the rest of Europe, but that the mutual convergence of all workers could only exert a beneficial influence on the socialist movement of the whole world.

The fateful role which Russia, monarchical and official Russia, has played up to the present day in the history of Europe is unfortunately only too well known. The Czars, in truth crowned policemen, regarded it as their sacred duty to support the reactionaries of all countries, from Prussia to Spain and Italy. We do not need to point out the role which Czar Nicholas of unhappy memory played in the memorable events of 1848.

That is why the victory of the revolutionary movement in Russia would be the victory of all European workers.

The point is to know how and under what conditions the revolutionary movement in Russia can achieve victory. That is only possible — this is our hard and fast conviction, citizens! — if the Russian revolutionaries know how to win the trust and participation of the people themselves. As long as the movement is only the work of enthusiasts and the student youth, it may be dangerous for the Czars in terms of their personal security, but not for Czarism as a state institution.

If we want to break the power of Czarism once and for all, we have to rely on an element that is revolutionary in a different sense than that of the student youth — and this element, which is not lacking in Russia, is the class of the proletariat, which through its economic situation and by the nature of things is revolutionary in itself.

Certain political economists who suffer from an overly fantastic imagination, which testifies more to their goodwill than to their knowledge of the facts, have presented Russia as —63—a kind of European China whose economic situation has nothing in common with that of western Europe. That is completely false. The old economic structure of Russia is now in a state of complete disintegration. The rural community that has been talked about so much — even in the socialist press! — and which in truth formed the basis of despotism, this rural community is more and more an object of capitalist exploitation in the hands of the rich farmers. In the meantime the poor are leaving the steppes to go to the big cities and industrial centers, where factories are being built that wipe out the small, once so flourishing domestic industry.

The Russian government is doing all it can to aggravate this state of affairs and accelerate the development of capitalism. We socialists can only applaud these efforts, because in this way Czarism is preparing its own overthrow.

The Russian industrial proletariat, whose consciousness is beginning to awaken, will finally break the yoke of despotism, and on that day you will see direct representatives taking place in your congresses alongside the delegates of the more advanced countries. It is our task, in anticipation of this, to enthusiastically embrace your cause and to spread the ideas of social democracy among the Russian workers by all means at our disposal.

In conclusion, I repeat and emphasize: the revolutionary movement will triumph in Russia as a workers' movement, or it will never triumph.

(These few words from citizen Plekhanoff arouse great enthusiasm, and the Russian delegate leaves the platform to resounding applause.)

The Norwegian delegate Jeppesen harks back to the beginnings of the labour movement in his country, i.e. to five years ago. In spite of its great youth, the movement there is already in the second period of its development, that of persecution and oppression. This fact only proves to the speaker that the movement is already strong and purposeful enough to instil fear in the ruling and possessing classes. The workers’ movement, which Citizen Jeppesen has the honour to represent, has a thoroughly socialist and revolutionary character. The proletariat of his country is decisive and does not put its hopes in the palliative means that are often recommended, whatever labels they may come with. Likewise, it does not believe in the effectiveness of parliamentary reforms, since it has found that the laws that exist in Norway, otherwise liberal in form, are of no use to the workers. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Socialist Party has decided to join with the proletariat of other countries in demanding international labour legislation, since this demand is an excellent means of agitation and propaganda. In addition, the Socialist workers’ party of Norway has already introduced a labour protection law in their country's parliament. A special commission has been charged with examining this bill, which will soon be discussed in the National Assembly. Nevertheless, the workers do not expect anything from the House, they do not expect any advantages from laws which are always adapted to the advantage of the stronger. Capitalism always compels the worker to submit; and therefore the workers cannot count on anyone but themselves. (Applause)

At this moment an incident arose involving the delegate of the “United Brotherhood, Iowa” (United States) — Citizen Ahles. After being absent twice when he was supposed to speak, he was —64—re-registered for his report at the same time as Kirchner, delegate of the “United German Trade Unions” (Vereinigten deutschen Gewerkschaften) of New York, who was also entrusted with a report on America. It was purely by chance that the chairman wanted to give Kirchner the floor first, whereupon Ahles, feeling offended, left the congress, protesting against the operation of the Bureau and the way in which he had been treated.

Citizen Vaillant explains to the assembly the cause of this error on the part of Citizen Ahles and sends him an explanatory note inviting him to come back to speak. Ahles keeps to his decision and, through the mediation of a friend, repeats his protest.

The floor was then given to Citizen Merlino, an Italian delegate,[Translator's notes 37] who explained that the movement in Italy is composed of two currents: there is the faction of the anarchist socialists and that of the parliamentary or étatiste[4] socialists. But this distinction is more apparent than real, because the parliamentary socialists are also in principle anarchists, even if in particular cases they are (in fact) in favour of legality. The real anarchists are anarchists both in principle and in deed. That is the difference. However, this difference leads to a very peculiar attitude on the part of the government towards the two factions. The anarchists are called wrongdoers ( malfattori ), a slander they do not reject, preferring to go hand in glove with small thieves rather than the big thieves who hold power and ruin the country. As a result, they are mistreated, persecuted and punished as wrongdoers; they are sentenced to years of imprisonment. On the other hand, when it comes to the parliamentary socialists, the government puts on kid gloves to attack them. Of course there are also trials and persecutions against them, but the condemnations are only for appearances, they are not carried out. An example of this is the one that affected citizen Andrea Costa, which was a risible condemnation.

Here citizen Jules Guesde interrupts the speaker to tell him not to attack a fellow delegate. Citizen Merlino goes on to say that the program of the Italian parliamentary socialists was quite similar to that of the Marxists, declaring that the task of the working class was to conquer political power and property in order to socialize it.

The anarchists do not share this view. They are convinced that such a historical development would lead to a new class rule. The predominance of the ruling classes of today would be replaced by the predominance of the working class. But government cannot follow everyone’s wishes. If on the morrow of the revolution power lay in the hands of the working class, this whole change would be limited to the bosses being recruited from the workers instead of from the Bourgeoisie; but there would still be bosses, a board of directors, a bureaucracy, and we would soon return to our present state of affairs.

The Chairman asks the speaker to stick to the agenda, reminding him that the Congress had not met to listen to well-known theses about the future.

Citizen Merlino replies that, on the one hand, he cannot deny his convictions and, on the other hand, that anarchists had given him a mandate —65—to attend the congress so that he might expound theories that they believed to be true. The Congress wants to deal with the question of labour legislation. Is there socialism in that? By adopting such an agenda, Congress has shown that it is not socialist, because it wants to deal with something proposed by governments. Governments want reforms too, but socialists must not follow in their footsteps. Making yourself the proponent of labour legislation is an anti-socialist, bourgeois task, and completely absurd on the part of revolutionaries. When they embark on the path of reform, they are working to wreck their cause, which actually already bears the seeds of corruption and ruin. Socialism will show more and more that it is incapable of realizing the emancipation of humanity; its death will therefore not be mourned. Once it has been buried and its partisans have disappeared, others, the anarchists, will unfurl the banner upon which they have inscribed the complete liberation of mankind, and they will realize that better society towards which their efforts are directed. —

This discussion, applauded by a few English and French delegates, was frequently interrupted on the part of the great majority of the assembly with protestations, ironic cat-calls, and signs of great amusement. Repeated complaints had been raised demanding that the speaker be withdrawn because anarchist theories were more than well known and were just wasting precious time. The anarchists demanded a complete translation of the speech by Merlino, “who understands German and English very well, and so is in a position to check the accuracy of the translation.” Otherwise they threatened to raise a commotion.

The Chairman points out that the Bureau's translations are necessarily abbreviated and summarized, but that they are always accurate. Citizeness Aveling remarks that Merlino speaks fluent English and German, so the easiest thing is for him to translate his speech into these languages himself. This happens. The German translation is applauded, but the delegates declare that their applause relates exclusively to the translation, not to the content of the speech.

After calm has been restored, citizen Iglesias, delegate of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español ), takes the floor. He starts his report by greeting the congress on behalf of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Spain. The class-conscious proletariat on the other side of the Pyrenees sends a warm handshake to its brothers from other countries brought together by this congress.

The economic and social position of the Spanish working class is much the same as that of the workers in the other countries of Europe and America. People have got used to seeing the Spaniards as a people of politicians and beneficiaries of “Pronunciamientos”.[5] The workers are supposed to be submerged in an indifference that is close to stupidity. They work little, eat even less, but live happily in the sun during the day and under the starry sky at night, where technology and big industry have not yet found their way into the world. All of that is pure fantasy. The worker is just as unhappy, just as miserable, in Spain as in any other country. He is just as exploited, just as oppressed in the factories, in the large workshops, in the mines, and even more so in agriculture, where a large number of wage-workers suffer from the lack of the essential necessities of life, and where they are at times decimated by a fatal —66—lack of employment. It is true that capitalist concentration has not yet reached Spain in its highest degree of development; but it is on the way. On the other hand, what small industry and retail trade still exists in Spain is far from being shrouded, as in certain other countries, in a patriarchal character of simplicity and good-naturedness which makes it bearable, but is so greedy, so insatiable and so indecent that if it were in their power the workers would rush to make it disappear entirely. Indeed, they are convinced that capitalism, once centralized, would be much easier to combat and replace. In this naturally different situation, which makes our bourgeoisie a satellite of the nations marching at the head of the modern capitalist movement, the Spanish workers could do no less than follow the movement of defense and emancipation begun by the workers of other countries; for the same causes produce the same effects. So when the International Workers’ Association called for workers all over the world to unite around a single flag, it found very well-prepared soil in Spain. The ideas and plans of the organization met with the warmest reception there, and after a few months the workers belonging to the International numbered in the thousands. In almost all large cities, and even in many small ones, there were organized sections of trades united in local federations. A Federal Council which brought together the contributions and corresponded regularly with the General Council in London was active in Madrid for about two years.

The Paris Revolution of March 18, 1871 gave a new impetus to this movement, and the fall of the Commune and the terrible reprisals that followed, tore a cry of pain and anger from every worker’s breast. Spanish workers declared their solidarity with the defeated Commune as they would have done with the victorious Commune. For them this was the first and undeniable act of the class struggle. Not a year has passed since then without the workers, even many of those who did not take part in the workers’ organizations, celebrating the anniversary of March 18 as of their own revolution and condemning the cruelty of the French bourgeoisie during the bloody week. The banner established by the first workers’ revolution has become our flag. Everyone here knows the causes of the split in the International which, with the help of Reaction, ended with its being dissolved. The present socialist party was formed from its scattered parts. It is not yet very strong, its adherents are not yet numerous, but it is firmly and permanently organized, it counts groups in the capitals of Spain, in all the manufacturing and mining centers, and this organization is making steady progress. Its program is that of the French Socialist workers’ party, the German Social Democracy and the American workers’ party, i.e. it is based on the economic principles established by our unforgettable and lamented Karl Marx. It follows the political guideline that he always advised: struggle in all areas against the hostile class, against the bourgeoisie, and complete separation of the workers’ party from all bourgeois parties.

The Spanish socialist workers' council, whose real existence as a political party has dates from only three years ago, held its first congress on August 23, 1888 in Barcelona . The party's program was then confirmed, approved and an international committee appointed, which is currently based in Madrid. It was decided there, among other things, that the Spanish socialist workers’ party should appoint a representative —67—to send to the next international workers’ congress in Paris — the present congress — and to give it a special mandate to demand the creation of an international committee.

Finally, one must not forget that in addition to the actual Socialist Party, which, although composed exclusively of workers, can also include elements originating from the bourgeoisie in its bosom, as the old International did, there is also a powerful organization of oppositional societies (professional associations and trade unions) which we call trades societies, and which in our country are not united with the socialist party. Our party encourages and assists the development of these trade organizations. It also works with all its might to support the inevitable stoppages of work, for it has always regarded these as an inevitability for the worker struggling for his living. Their efforts have been crowned with victory more than once, e.g. in the great and victorious walk-out of the Madrid typesetters three years ago. In spite of all this, the socialist workers’ party has deemed it necessary to make a divorce between itself and the industrial organizations for the moment. A day will come, the speaker firmly believes, when an amalgamation of these bodies will take place of its own accord, effortlessly, since their cause is a shared one, as is the goal which the former and the latter both pursue. “And on this day, which is not far away,” said Citizen Iglesias in conclusion, “we will be a power and you will be able to count on us. The Spanish proletariat will continue to know how to do its duty; our bourgeoisie is just as rotten and oppressive as yours, but it is more ignorant and lazy, and it will not take too much effort to overcome it.” (Applause.)

Citizen Mesa, Spanish delegate, after translating this speech into French, adds that his comrade and friend Iglesias, in his humility, failed to speak of the newspaper "il Socialista" in Madrid. He himself, delegate of the founding group of this journal, had to declare that this vigilant organ was one of the most powerful levers of organization and socialist propaganda in Spain. Its life, comparatively long, has shown devotion and energy. The journal is written by workers, is set by workers free of charge, and is excellently administered by workers. (Great applause.)

Citizen Houst, delegate of Romance Switzerland, outlines the oppositional movement he represents in a brief discussion. In French-speaking Switzerland, he says, the movement is more social and economic than political. Enjoying comparatively greater freedom than in other countries, the population there is less revolutionary because it is less oppressed.

Socialism, even anarchism, can develop freely among us. The movement towards an international labour movement will allow us to train cadres and organize ourselves better. In the Jura Mountains the population has declared itself in favour of socialist ideas. They want work in the factories to be regulated and the employers to have to pay in cash. Thanks to the situation and to propaganda, the ideas of socialism are developing and taking deeper root. We too in Switzerland will not flag in the struggle against capital, and we will endeavor to constantly improve our organization. (Applause.)

After the end of this report, the session closed at around 9:30 in the evening.

Friday July 19th, morning session[edit source]

—68—Citizen von Vollmar takes the chair.

Before starting the agenda, Citizen Bebel informs the Congress that suspicious persons who have smuggled themselves among the deputies are trying to persuade the Germans that they can speak freely in Paris without using any caution at all; they could not be called to answer before any German tribunal for what they said in France — even if it were against the law on lèse majesty. Citizen Bebel urged the German delegates to be on their guard and not to allow themselves to be provoked by such obvious agents provocateurs.

After the meeting has been informed of the arrival of new delegates, telegrams, letters of approval and a donation of 100 francs from the Dutch delegates for the victims of St. Etienne, Citizen Lafargue describes the behavior of the French press towards the congress. Apparently a resolution has been circulated to keep deadly silent about this Congress, while the congress of the Possibilists is being puffed up and flattered. In contrast, the English press is much more decent.

Citizen Liebknecht adds that most of the German papers have treated the congress with outrageous indecency. The “Frankfurter Zeitung”, an allegedly democratic paper, is characterized above all by its lying reports and the meanness with which they besmirch Lafargue and Guesde with filth.

Another German newspaper recounts how citizen Anseele, delegate of Ghent, fled that city taking the Vooruit's strong box, which allegedly contained 160,000 francs.

Citizen Christensen, Danish delegate, informs the Congress that a great strike has broken out among the carpenters of Copenhagen. The fault lies with the employers who, in a breach of formal contracts, united to lower wages, which are already quite bad enough. As a result of these strikes, 7 workshops are closed and around 1200 workers are unemployed. The workers demand a wage of 20 francs a week.

Citizen Palmgreen, delegate of the Swedish socialist party and the “socialist Scandinavian circle of Paris”, begins his report by discussing how it happened that he, who lives in Paris, represents the workers' party of his homeland at the congress — the editors of the 4 socialist papers, as well as 6 to 10 of the best agitators are at the moment in prison.

Socialist propaganda encounters great difficulties in Sweden; it is universally carried out during the summer, which is not long, by organizing excursions around the country. The labour movement is still quite young. A large strike in the sawmills, which did not succeed, drove the workers to organize. It was the tailor Palm who first spread social democratic theories among the workers in Sweden. With indefatigable zeal and admirable sacrifice, this man organized propaganda meetings in deep winter, often in the middle of the woods. Three times he made his way across Sweden on foot, handing out brochures and leaflets, and sowing the good seed everywhere. He founded the “Social Democrat” in Stockholm, which currently has 5 to 6,000 subscribers. At the same time he was collecting (with Branting and Danielson) young people who, like him, were enthusiastic about socialist ideas and —69—in recruiting only from the ranks of the workers, but also from those of the students. In the beginning the party occupied itself almost exclusively with political agitation, but since the workers have organized themselves in unions, economic and social questions have predominated. In the spring of this year there was a party congress in Stockholm, at which 75 organizations were represented. This congress had almost the same agenda and the same program as the current international congress. At this congress it was decided to use legal demonstrations etc. to make propaganda in favour of achieving labour protection legislation. In Sweden, as in Austria, the laws are very liberal in form, but as soon as the labour movement wants to take advantage of them, the state will find a reactionary interpretation. In spite of all the guaranteed freedoms, the workers must often resort to cunning in order to organize their associations.

However, all these difficulties have not been able to prevent socialism from penetrating not only into the masses of the industrial workers, but also into those of the rural masses. Today the peasants and the workers of the cities support one another in the common struggle.

The Swedish state too is on the point of creating an exceptional law against the socialists, stunning evidence of the strength the movement has acquired in a short period of time. Meanwhile, the state ruthlessly uses all means, even the lowest and most shameful, to stop socialist propaganda. The letters of the socialists pass through the Black Room and socialist telegrams are not always accepted by the telegraph offices. The oppression is helping to change the character of the workers‘ movement, which is becoming more and more strictly socialist. The belief in the effectiveness of palliative measures has almost completely disappeared among the workers; the conviction is becoming more and more general that only the socialization of the means of production can solve the social question. In pursuit of this end we endeavor to avoid acts of violence, but the bourgeoisie will eventually drive things to a point where disasters set in. The Swedish socialists are well aware that the important question is to organize the power of the workers. Nothing is achieved by shouting “Long live the revolution!”; one has to act, and make the workers strong enough to fight for their rights. Certainly, we are for the revolution, i.e. for the radical transformation of the relations of production, but this revolution must be well prepared and carried out according to a plan. The organs of the Socialist workers’ party of Sweden are: “The Proletarian”, “The Social Democrat” and “The People’s Voice”; they all come out in Stockholm. Organizations abroad that belong to it, the clubs and circles of Swedish workers who live abroad, are in a sense schools in which the members can be trained to be speakers and agitators. The Scandinavian socialist circle in Paris, which Citizen Palmgreen also represents, has 85 members. (Bravo.) —

Citizen Kirchner , delegate of the “United German Trade Unions of New York”, says that one encounters the most contradictory views about the workers’ movement and about the situation of working people in the new world. At the moment, he continues, I cannot give you a complete report, supported by statistical figures, because there was only a few days gap between my selection as delegate and my departure for Paris. So it is less of a report than a sketch that I can give, and this sketch will appear a bit colourless and gloomy next to the fresh and splendid picture of the German workers’ movement that Citizen Bebel has drawn for us.

—70—In America capitalist production has reached such a level of development that one has the right to ask: "How much longer will it last?"

The capitals of small capitalists are no longer sufficient for the profitable exploitation of the working masses. Capitals are therefore heaped up on top of one another, and formal armies of capital are created. The monopolies and the trusts have driven the 19th century system of robbery to its peak, in industry as well as in agriculture. The power of the organized proletariat is not yet equal to the ever more concentrated power of capital. The wages and with them the living conditions of working people fall continuously. All or almost all attempts to raise wages fail, as evidenced by the truly heroic attempts of the coal miners, the textile workers, the New York tram workers. In America, as everywhere else, the hyena of capital is no longer content with adult marrow, but devours everything that falls into its claws regardless of age or sex. In order not to be accused of exaggeration, I will quote an excerpt from the “Third Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors of New York State”:

In New York, the report says, in the districts of tenement-houses where clothes are made, there is a labour system that comes as close as possible to slavery. The work is carried out supervised by overseers, who rent up to two small rooms on the upper floors of a high building and set up a few sewing machines and an oven to heat the iron for ironing. They hire a certain number of men and women to work for them. These workers usually start the day at half past seven and sew up to 9 or 10 in the evening, with perhaps half an hour’s break for lunch. They usually eat and sleep in the same room in which they work, and the oppressive and bad atmosphere which always surrounds them, and the filth in which they vegetate, is appalling. Thousands of young girls and boys as well as women have been passed on to this existence of filth, rubbish and humiliation. There is no ray of hope for them!

The wages they receive are extremely low, but the little they earn still gets deductions in the form of fines for work that is declared unsatisfactory, and in the form of deductions for lodging, heating, and lighting. If a machine stops working, if part of it breaks down, it is the worker who has to pay to repair it. The workers are robbed, harassed and oppressed on all sides. There is no improvement for them as long as the law does not protect them.

Even if one disregards the question of the well-being of these oppressed workers, the question of their present situation must interest the whole country. The neighborhoods they inhabit, as well as the way they live in New York, are quite capable of producing and spreading contagious diseases. This is not a distant eventuality, but a matter of paramount importance that requires immediate consideration. The only remedy can be that the manufacture of products for the market in these pest holes is absolutely prohibited”.

So says an official report.

This description of labour relations in a single branch of industry, borrowed from a source which is not suspected of partisanship, enables us to draw inferences about the conditions in the other industries.

—71—Now which are the powers that have declared war on such conditions, that is, which are the labour organizations in the United States?

To my knowledge, the most important organization, and the one which gives most hope for the future, is the “American Federation of Labour”, created by the trade unions whose spirit and tendency are reminiscent of the old English trades unions. With regard to the workers’ movement, it is still fighting on the basis of the wage system, that is, it demands a reduction in working hours and an increase in wages. This federation has taken the initiative in a movement that has recently restarted in favour of the eight-hour normal working day . I have no doubt that very intelligent leaders of this organization have already seen the inadequacy of the goals we have just mentioned. But they consider it premature to go any further in the direction of socialism. Pressure in this direction will be exerted from below and, after dissenting elements have been removed, the “Federation of Labour” will shortly proclaim the class struggle at the same time as the conscious proletariat of the old world.

The second major organization is “The Knights of Labor”. This group of workers, founded by very well-meaning and relatively capable men, did not justify the hopes which the Order initially awakened in large numbers of workers, even socialists. The organization of the “Knights of Labor” has been declining rapidly since last year, and the number of its supporters has fallen by half. This decline is mainly explained by the incompetence and dishonesty of the leaders. Mr. Powderly, the “Grand Master”, receives 5000 dollars a year — about 25,000 francs — from the pockets of the members of the order, as a regular salary; in addition, the Order covers the truly colossal “extraordinary expenses” of the chief, who is surrounded by a true hierarchy of officials who support him. Mr. Powderly has taken a wrong turn — in the beginning he referred to himself as a member of the Socialist workers‘ party. Such a person offers no guarantee for the future; such elements must be completely removed, and workers everywhere, like the German socialists in America, regard it as their duty to purify the proletarian movement of all dubious and dishonest elements, to bring about an education of the masses, and to spread better knowledge of the ultimate goals of the workers’ movement. This is not an easy task. It takes great sacrifices of time and money. German workers and their organizations are always ready to help with strikes and lockouts. On these occasions, Irishmen and Americans seek out their German comrades, for whom they often display a kind of disdain. But this in no way prevents us from doing our duty. Although slow progress has made some of us pessimists, new fighters keep appearing on the battlefield.

In view of the limited time I have at my disposal, I do not want to say anything about the effectiveness of the Germans in the purely socialist organizations, that is, in the Socialist Labor Party. In general we are at the point where it is a question of blowing a breach in the enemy fortress, and we shall not lay down our weapons before the enemy lies passed out on the ground. ( Applause).

Citizen Ferroul, French deputy, gives a brief overview of the prevailing parliamentarianism which, according to him, inevitably amounts to deceiving the masses. Before the elections —72—the gentlemen candidates give the appearance of being socialists, they claim to be full of concern for the workers. But, once elected, they care little about the interests of proletarians. Only towards the end of a legislative period, shortly before they once again present themselves to their voters, do they hurry to vote for laws with a socialist aspect, certain that they will be rejected by the Senate. This is how it went, for example, with the law on accidents, mine inspectors, etc.

The ex-deputies who want to become deputies once again make use of these laws in order to lure the voting masses with lying phrases about their alleged friendliness towards the workers; in short, they do not shrink from the crudest manoeuvres. One such electoral manoeuvre is, for example, the revision of the constitution.

As long as it is an opportunist or Radical bourgeois revision, the change it is supposed to bring about will only be an apparent one. The deputies look after the affairs of the bourgeoisie excellently, because they are the representatives of the bourgeoisie and not of the people. But there is an irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the people and those of the bourgeoisie.

Those same men who take care of the affairs of the latter can never serve the mass of the people. If workers want their interests to be effectively represented, they must take them into their own hands. They will not triumph if they rely on others, but only, when they count on their own strength. (Lively, repeated cries of ‘bravo’.)

Citizen Christensen takes the floor with a report on the workers’ movement in Denmark. The Danish movement is still young, because the bourgeoisie did not come to power until after 1849, the year in which a free constitution similar to the French one of 1789 was attained.

The revolution in Paris in 1871 gave a tremendous impetus to the workers’ movement in Denmark. Many workers belonged to the International until the state passed a law against this association.

On May 5, 1871, the workers of Copenhagen were summoned to a large gathering on the north field, near the city. This gathering was banned by the police and the instigators Louis Pio, Brix and Gelef were arrested and sentenced to several years of hard labour. The brutality of the authorities drove the workers to a stronger organization, and Pio, released from prison, was appointed editor-in-chief of the official organ of the Danish workers’ party, the "Social Democrat", which at that time had a circulation of 10,000 copies. In 1876 Pio was put up as a worker candidate for the Chamber of Deputies, but, as the reaction was still very strong, he received only 1,100 votes against the 3,000 given to his opponent. In 1877 Pio and Gelef emigrated to America and it was believed that they had been paid by the police to facilitate the destruction of the workers' organizations. But this purpose was not achieved — on the contrary, the organizations strengthened themselves daily. Harald Brix stayed in Denmark until his death and fought vigorously for the workers’ cause. He founded a party (so-called “Haralds”) and a journal with a more revolutionary tendency, but this party perished with the death of its founder. Although there were now many disputes over personal issues, the moderate and revolutionary parties merged after the death of Brix.

—73—The socialist workers’ party in Denmark was until then composed of trade unions and professional associations, its program was both political and economic at the same time. In 1878 the Social Democratic Federation was founded, the purpose of which was the discussion of political and social questions. After the Copenhagen congress in 1880 it was decided that the two organizations — that is, the trade unions and professional associations on the one hand and the social-democratic federation on the other hand — should proceed together on the path of political and social demands. From 1880 until today the workers‘ movement has made great strides. The party's journal, “the Social Democrat”, has reached 22,000 subscribers under the editorship of citizen Wiinblad .

The party is convinced that the trade union organizations are a powerful aid in the struggle against capital.

For the moment there are 70 united unions and professional associations, with a total of 20,000 members. The separate workers’ parties take a very active part in the elections. In the 1884 election campaign, the Socialists allied with the Liberals to overthrow the Estrup ministry. The result of this was the election of two socialist candidates Halm and Hördum. But this victory did not change the unfortunate position of the workers.

The government scoffs at the bills introduced by the workers’ deputies, and the ministry has responded to them with provisional decrees. As a result, it is impossible to obtain reforms to assist the workers in the task of their future liberation.

In the elections of 1887, Citizen Hördum was not re-elected and Citizen Halm only won with a small majority. This lack of success is due to an electoral law which permits the bourgeois to monitor the voting of the workers and which determines that any elector who might have received support from public funds should lose the right to vote. Danish citizens only have the right to vote at the age of 30. The socialist candidates received the large number of 8,000 votes in Copenhagen.

At this moment the professional associations and unions are embroiled in a fierce struggle against capitalism. The master carpenters and the furniture manufacturers have thrown more than 3000 workers onto the street because they did not want to submit to capitalist tyranny. The Danish capitalists are using all means to destroy the workers’ organizations, and Minister Estrup has completely robbed the people of their political rights; for 10 years he ruled the country with provisional decrees. The Danish movement received its initial impetus from the French; in its development it follows in the path of the German socialists.

The Danish socialists have had great confidence in the bourgeois Liberal party, however, since they have always been betrayed, this illusion is beginning to fade and they are now seeking to constitute themselves as a pure class party.

The organization of the workers is in a good state everywhere in Denmark, especially in Jutland, where socialist journals have been established in four large towns, just as there are socialist groups in almost every small town.

At the beginning of this year a radical socialist paper was founded in Copenhagen with the aim of spreading socialist theories, giving the workers‘ movement a strictly socialist character and developing the Danish proletariat into a class party.

—74—The Danish government with “little Bismarck” Estrup at the helm has tried to deceive the workers with legislative measures, but the workers, who are almost strangled by capitalism, no longer have confidence in their effectiveness. They know very well that there is no legislation that benefits the worker, but only a change of scenery for the same system.

Finally, Citizen Christensen affirmed that there are not a few supporters of the workers’ party who have unclear views and who put their hopes in palliative measures. “But there are different views in the workers’ movement of Denmark about the tactics to be followed, as is also the case in other countries." (Bravo!)

With the report of the Danish delegate, the series of general reports is concluded, and the Congress proceeds to hear the special reports.

Citizen Diekmann, delegate of the miners of Westphalia, is greeted with lively applause and gives a description of the situation of his workmates.

In view of the limited amount of time that the congress can devote to each individual speaker, it is not possible for him to recount the origin and development of the strike of the Rhineland-Westphalia miners. In contradiction with the police reports, it was not social democracy that brought about this strike, rather the deepest misery has driven the miners to stop working. Eventually the miners came to be fully aware of their situation; they understood that they could not count on anyone but themselves, and so the overwhelming majority were against a delegation of Messrs. Bunte, Schröder, and Siegel as a deputation to the Kaiser. The ultramontanes had persuaded the miners to go directly to the emperor, although all the meetings of the strikers declared themselves against such a delegation, in that the people said to each other: “Our quarrel is only with our employers, the coal barons; the emperor cannot do anything here ”. In the meantime, the three named above let themselves be influenced by the main editor of the ultramontane newspaper and the management of the coal mine "Karlsglück" in Dorstfeld and drove to Berlin without being elected by the strikers. This so-called miners delegation caused the strike to fail. During the three “delegates” stay in Berlin, the newspapers published false and contradictory reports which created a real confusion among the strikers, so that they no longer knew who to follow. The strike broke down — but the miners are no longer the same as they used to be. The number of those dissatisfied has risen considerably and they have turned more and more to socialism, to which the miners had previously reacted negatively, trailing behind the chaplains and keeping away from the workers‘ movement for fear of the socialist law. Now that they have fully tasted the harshness of this law, simply because they are workers, the miners have been brought into the conscious workers‘ movement. Above all, they understand the need to be tightly organized in a union and to avoid all influence from the clergy. The new organization, whose statutes have already been drafted, will be called the “Association for the protection and promotion of the interests of miners in Rheiland-Westphalen“. Once these miners have achieved clarity about their real interests, they will escape the fateful power of the priests and the power of capital by which they are oppressed. The clergy and the police compete against each other to put a spoke in the wheels of this organization of the —75—miners. It is made almost impossible for them to call meetings; the police forbid them from the outset on the basis of the socialist law. Furthermore, the miners do not have any of the reading that is so necessary for their enlightenment, since only national liberal and ultramontane newspapers are available to them. All socialist papers and workers‘ newspapers are forbidden to them, and it is only with the greatest danger and effort that such papers can be distributed among them. In order to change this state of affairs, if possible, for the better, a workers‘ newspaper was founded, the “Westphälische Arbeiterzeitung”, which comes out in Dortmund and already has 4,000 subscribers. It tries to spread the word, and with good results. The miners of Westphalia and the Rhine Province are organizing more and more tightly to lead the fight against priesthood and capital. They have finally joined the conscious proletariat fighting for its emancipation, and they will not tire for a moment in carrying out the difficult task which they have set themselves. (Lively applause.)

Citizen Lecomte, representative of the French glassworks workers, made his report in writing and waived the floor in favour of citizen Horn, the delegate of the German glassworkers. Lecomte declares himself completely in agreement with his comrade's report, since he has seen from a conversation with him that the situation of glass workers in Germany is exactly the same as in France. As a result, he also agrees to the demands that Citizen Horn will formulate.

Citizen Horn explains the situation of the German glass workers as follows:

There are around 350 businesses in the glass industry in Germany with around 50,000 workers. The lack of any organization results in a really deplorable economic situation for this army of workers. If the workers in this trade are nonetheless represented at the international congress in Paris, it just means that they are tired of the situation they have been placed in and that they are beginning to join the movement for the organization of the proletariat. The organizational efforts of the glass workers are still young and the number of workers represented here does not exceed a few thousand; but the fact that they insisted on having a delegate at this congress is in itself important and noteworthy.

The glass industry is one of the most arduous and grueling that one can imagine. The workers most at risk are the mirror backers, whose situation is superbly depicted by Dr. Bruno Schönlank in his brochure: “The mirror backing factories in Bavaria and their workers”. Likewise, from the platform of the Reichstag, Bebel spoke about the dangers to which the workers in this branch of industry are exposed, and apparently as a result of the pressure which was thus exerted on public opinion, the Bavarian government took legal measures to protect these workers.

According to the degree of danger associated with their work, next come the glass cutters and polishers, the workers in the glass grinding shops, and finally the glassblowers themselves, who are employed in the melting furnaces.

According to carefully checked information compiled by the workers of 32 glass factories, these establishments employ 3,500 workers. The minors of both sexes in this total are 490, the female labour in general 260, of whom 60 are under 16 years of age. The number of young workers under the age of 16 comes to 230.


The working hours in these businesses are:
in the mirror-backing trade10 to 12 hours
in the lighting trade12 to 14 hours
in the manufacture of concave glasses10 to 12 hours
in glass-cutting and glass-grinding businesses12 to 14 hours
in the bead and decoration industries16 to 18 hours

These counts of hours include breakfast and lunch breaks, but those breaks are almost never strictly observed. With few exceptions, there is no Sunday rest, Sunday work lasts 10 hours. The glass workers, including minors, work 70 to 100 hours a week. The wage statistics show the following picture.

The median weekly wage is:
for the experienced worker (Master)15—25 Marks
for the unskilled or day labourer9—15
for the experienced female worker6—8
for a young worker under 16 years old (entry level)5—8

These wages are often significantly reduced by fines, and deductions of all kinds are quite common. The fines are between 1 and 10 marks! And if in rare, exceptional cases a worker's wages exceed the tariff we have given above, these exceptions have no effect on the economic well-being of the great masses.

The health-related working conditions of the large glass factories are either downright bad or at least inadequate. Inadequate ventilation, large amounts of dust, smoke, gases, sometimes moisture and sometimes excessive dryness in the various workshops and workrooms, together with unhealthy housing, low wages and long working hours create malignant diseases such as pulmonary consumption etc. These dreadful conditions create a working class of sickly people condemned to an early death, and threaten the very existence of the glass industry if serious improving reforms are not made soon.

The workers demand the following reforms:

  1. A normal working day of 8 hours,
  2. Elimination of night work in tank furnace operations,
  3. Prohibition of Sunday work,
  4. Prohibition of work by children under 14 years,
  5. Prohibition of women's work in the melting furnaces and separation of the two sexes in the workshops,
  6. Prohibition of mirror backing with mercury in glass factories,
  7. Full protective devices for workers depending on and made necessary by the nature of the industry

The delegates of the French professional association of glass workers of the Seine department and the department of the Seine and Oise declare their solidarity with these demands of the German glass workers. (Cheers.)

The President announces that he has received two motions, the first of which requireis an end to the reports, the second, an end after hearing the report on women's work and the report of captain Dupon on seafarers’ work.

Citizen Frohme requests on the basis of an earlier resolution to also hear the report of citizen Kloß on the work of the carpenters.

—77—Citizen Lentz, delegate of the waiters in cafés (and in lemonade sales outlets) wishes to read out his report. The trade association, by which he is commissioned, attaches great importance to the fact that the sad situation of the members of their profession should be made known to the congress.

After citizen Kloß has declared, with the approval of all delegates, that he will forego the floor in favor of Lentz’s report, the Congress accepts the second proposal, and Captain Dupon, chairman of the federation for the interests of seafarers, describes the situation of his clients.

It is the first time, he explains, that seafarers are represented at an international congress, and he thanks the congress, which made an exception in their favour and gave him the floor.

Far too little is known about the wretched situation and the unbearable employment conditions of workers at sea; their complaints are the most justifiable one can imagine, and this Congress has not yet heard from them. The seafarers are still under the ordenance of minister Colbert, the minister of an absolute king, Louis the Fourteenth, in whose tracks the alleged liberals of the capitalist bourgeoisie of 1889 faithfully follow.

The seaman is entirely given into the hands of exploiters who have usurped shipping; he is included in the general expenses of exploitation, just like coal, rigging, sails, painting, etc., with the sole difference that the expenses for material needs cannot suffer any reductions or cuts, while the living article, called the seaman, is continually saved on, in order to increase the dividends or the scandalously high salaries of the wholesalers of financial exploitation.

For two hundred years the social situation of seafarers has not improved in any way; of course, one must recognize that the revolution of 1848 did abolish punishment by whipping and lashes with the ship’s rope, but we still have the punishments of being bound by stays, shackling with single and double ring, keel-hauling, deprivation of food and drink, and the occasional blows, punches and kicks that are not legal, but tolerated. In order to finally hit this white slave on the point that is closest to his heart, they reduce that little bit of bread for his wife, his children, an old mother or an old father, by lowering his hard-earned wages; — and all in the name of brotherhood![6]

In order to be able to use this hated system of exploitation of people for the enrichment of other people on a permanent basis, an abominable system of administration and representation, the Organization de commissariat gouvernemental, has been maintained, to which the seaman must turn in every matter, and which is of such a nature that the exploiter is judge and plaintiff in one person in every dispute with his unfortunate victims. In a word, the poor devil cannot seek his justice anywhere else than with the government commissars and naval gendarmes, i.e. with the creatures (“hellhounds”) of the capitalist whose slave he is.

Since the capitalist speculators laid their hands on the shipping industry, the exploitation of the crews has grown to a scale unheard-of to this day. The senior officials have only one task to perform: to extract for capital what is to be extracted at the expense of the sailing personnel, by reducing wages and, above all, by reducing the personnel themselves.

—78—In particular, extensive use has been made of this latter measure, for they know from experience that they can force the seaman to do the greatest conceivable amount of work, since there is not the slightest obligation to give him the necessary rest at night, or on Sundays or public holidays.

The first one to complain will always get the answer: “You are not satisfied? The devil take you! There are 50 others on the quay ready to stand in for you!”

Captain Dupon concludes: Citizens, I submit to you the minimum requirements of your brothers in work and in misery!

With what they delegate me to ask, the exploited seafarers will be able to make their existence less dangerous and gradually contribute to the complete liberation of the workers.

Citizen Dupon reads out the demands of the seamen from the merchant ships of the port of Bordeaux, which are:

  1. Regulation of service hours as follows: 12 hours on deck, 8 hours tending the boiler fires within any 24 hours, with a full day of rest per week,
  2. Fixing of a minimum wage of 3 Frs. daily on deck, and 4 Frs. every day tending the boiler fires, together with a change in the tariff for food in a more liberal and humane sense than has been shown in the tariff currently in force,
  3. Prohibition of all corporal punishment and abolition of all withholding of wages earned,
  4. Formation of (workforce) crews according to the size of the ships and the power of the engines; the obligation to hire a cabin boy of at least 14 years for each ship and for each 10 crew members,
  5. The right for seafarers to appeal to commercial tribunals for shipping, which are to be set up immediately, the right to vote in any port where they are at the moment of any election.

In accordance with the wishes of the Congress, Captain Dupon reads out further documents concerning the situation and wishes of the seafarers. These are:

  1. The report of the ship's fitter Caudéran, who the port administration of Bordeaux had thrown into prison because he refused to be embarked on a leaky ship.
  2. The demands of the Federation of the trade associations of the mouths of the Rhone relating to maritime affairs, which are as follows:
    1. Settlement of the disability fund,
    2. Proportional pension without age limit,
    3. Fixing of pensions to at least 400 Frs. yearly,
    4. Repeal of the law of 1852; im place of the merchant navy tribunal, a tribunal of experts (trade arbitration court) with a civil character and composed entirely of experts as follows:

1 captain for long voyages, president,

1 machinist (machine master), committee member,

1 captain for short voyages (coastal voyages), committee member,

1 master boatman (Maitre d’équipage) , committee member,

1 chief stoker, committee member,

1 sailor, committee member,

1 stoker, committee member.

—79—This court of experts is to be appointed by all registered seafarers.

  1. Supervision of the state over all companies which exploit seafarers in any way possible, including:
    1. Through repeated wage reductions.
    2. By reducing the number in a crew (the ships are getting bigger and bigger and the staff are decreasing in number),
    3. Working hours (service hours) must be regulated,
    4. Likewise effective monitoring with regard to insufficient quantities and poor quality of provisions, since in this regard abuse is driven by the agents employed by the companies, who literally live from robbery and haggling over the crew's rations in favor of their own purse.
  1. The wishes of the seamen of the merchant navy of the port of Bordeaux are as follows:
    1. Settlement of the disability fund,
    2. Proportional pension with no age limit based on a minimum of 400 Francs yearly,
    3. Repeal of the Disciplinary Act of 1852, which appoints exceptional courts for seafarers, and replacement of the latter by Chambers of Experts for Maritime Affairs, which are to be composed as follows:

1 captain for long voyages, president,

1 machine master for long journeys, committee member,

1 master for coastal journeys (maitre au cabotage), committee member,

1 master boatman (maitre d’équipage) , committee member,

1 chief stoker, committee member,

1 sailor, committee member,

1 stoker, committee member,

all of whom are appointed by direct election by all registered seafarers.

Citizen Tressaud seconds these demands of the seafarers and the Congress votes by acclamation that the Dupon report as well as the documents attached to it should be published in the form of a brochure and distributed in all ports of the various nations. (Applause.)

In the name of the trade association of restaurateurs and lemonade sellers (waiters), citizen Lentz brings to the attention of Congress and the whole world the extent of the harms his corporation can rightly complain about. In examining the situation of the waiters, one has to admit that in Paris the white slave trade is in full bloom. The following facts will prove that this is not an exaggeration and that the position of the waiters can be compared to Negro slavery.

The waiter has the most arduous, grueling and difficult job. He “does” his eighteen hours a day, is exposed to a range of humiliations on the part of the varying temperaments with which he has to deal every day, and still more excessive demands on the part of his employers. Not only is he not paid for his efforts, but he is also obliged to make more or less direct contributions — to give up part of his takings. Our gentlemen principals, who for their part were mostly assistants themselves at a time when the generosity of the public was greater, believe that those exceptions to the rule, copious tips, earn the waiters considerable sums of money.

—80—But nowadays the generosity of the public has long since decreased significantly and is becoming less every day; hence the complaints about a situation that in a word can be called unbearable. If this was all limited to the lack of generosity on the part of the customers, it would not be a great misfortune — after all, one of the demands of our corporation is: Abolition of tips!

Under the pretext of broken crockery, of assistant workers of any kind, that is, of expenses that should undoubtedly be assigned to the proprietor, since he gets an advantage from them — every waiter sees 2-6 Frs vanish from his daily income.

The little the waiters earn is also reduced by the employment agencies. They often pay 120-150 Frs. for a sure position, and this is often so bad that they have to resign to avoid being rapidly dismissed. Often the proprietor is actually the accomplice of the agency owner and arranges it in such a way that his staff have to visit the agency as often as possible!

All demands made by those affected to the competent authorities for the abolition of the employment agency have so far had no effect. It must give a certain satisfaction that this speculation exists only in France and Belgium;[7] and there is also the fact that in the latter country placement agencies are not exploited by locals, but rather by French people, who have mostly lost their civil rights in France.

The deplorable situation of the waiters is enough to explain the excitement and agitation of the last year aimed at abolishing the employment or certification agency and the establishment of work certifications by the trade associations. A trade association of restaurateurs and lemonade sellers has existed since 1886, comprising about 4,500 of the 80,000 waiters employed in Paris. The association demands a normal working day, wage increases, and abolition of the job certification bureau.

It is to be hoped that the delegates present here will contribute to the emancipation of this long-ignored profession.

The demand for a fixed wage for hours worked is truly not unreasonable and the abolition of the certification agency is self-evident, since it is the only means of putting the future of the professions generally active in the food industry on a secure footing.

Citizen Lentz also reads a report that the corporations of the food industry have submitted to the Chamber of Deputies in response to the rejection of the abolition of the certification agencies proposed by the Chamber‘s Commission. The report states that the abolition of the said bodies is not, as has been alleged, an encroachment upon the freedom of the employment contract, and that in no way should compensation be given to the current owners of agencies consecutive on their abuse of an acquired right; and from the picture of the position of the waiters that it contains, it reaches the same conclusions that Citizen Lentz has just presented. (Applause.) —

Citizen Zetkin, representing the female workers of Berlin, takes the floor on the question of female labour, to lively applause. She declares that she does not want to report on the situation of —81—female workers, as this is the same as that of male workers. But with the agreement of her sponsors, she wishes to shed light on the question of female labour from the point of view of principle. Since lack of clarity rules on this question, it is absolutely necessary for an international workers’ congress to speak out loud and clear on this subject by dealing with the question of principle.

It is — explains the speaker — not to be marvelled at, that the reactionary elements have a reactionary conception of female labour. But it is surprising in the extreme that even in the socialist camp one encounters an erroneous view which demands the abolition of female labour. The question of women’s emancipation, i.e. in the last instance the question of female labour, is an economic one, and one rightly expects a higher degree of understanding of economic problems from the socialists than that which is evidenced in that particular demand.

Socialists must know that with contemporary economic developments, female labour is a necessity; that the natural tendency of female labour either leads to a diminution of the hours of labour which each individual must devote to society, or to an increase in the wealth of society; that it is not female labour itself which, through competition with male labour power, depresses wages, but the capitalist's exploitation of the female labour which he appropriates.

Socialists must above all know that social slavery or freedom is based on economic dependence or independence. Those who have written on their banner the liberation of all “that bears a human face”[Translator's notes 38] must not condemn a whole half of the human race to political and social slavery through economic dependence. Just as the worker is subjugated by the capitalist, so is the woman by the man; and she will remain subjugated as long as she is not economically independent. The indispensable condition for women’s economic independence is work. If one wants to make women into free human beings, into equal members of society like men, one need neither abolish nor limit women’s work, except in certain, very isolated exceptional cases.

Women workers who strive for social equality have no expectations of emancipation by the women's movement of the bourgeoisie, which supposedly fights for women’s rights. This edifice is built on sand and has no real foundation. Women workers are absolutely convinced that the question of women’s emancipation is not an isolated question, existing for itself, but rather a part of the great social question. They are absolutely convinced of the fact that this question will not be resolved in contemporary society now or evermore, but only after a thorough transformation of society.

The question of women’s emancipation question is a child of modern times, and the machine gave birth to it. In the Renaissance, women were intellectually and socially equal to men, but it never occurred to anyone to raise the question of their emancipation, and the emancipation of women means a complete change in their social position from the ground up, a revolution in their role in economic life. The old form of production with its imperfect means of labour tied the woman to the family and limited her sphere of activity to the interior of her house. In the bosom of the family, a woman was an extraordinarily productive worker. She produced almost all of the family's everyday items. With the state of production and trade of yesteryear, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to produce these articles outside the family. As long as these older —82—relations of production were in force, woman was economically productive. With the transformation of the relations of production, which no longer allowed women any productive activity, woman became a consumer. This about turn contributed greatly to the reduction of marriages.

Machine production has killed the economic activity of women in the family. Big industry produces all articles cheaper, faster and in greater volume than was possible with individual industry, which only worked with the imperfect tools of a dwarfish production. The woman often had to pay more dearly for the raw material, which she bought in small quantities, than for the finished product of large-scale mechanical industry. In addition to the purchase price (of the raw material), she also had to give her own time and work. As a result, productive activity within the family became economic nonsense, a waste of time and energy. Although the woman producing in the bosom of the family may be of use to single individuals, this kind of activity is none the less a loss to society.

That is the reason why the good housekeeper from the good old days has almost completely disappeared. Large-scale industry has made the production of goods in the home and for the family useless; it has removed the grounds for the activity of women in the home. At the same time, it also has created the grounds for the activity of women in society. Mechanical production, which can dispense with muscular strength and skilled labour, made it possible to employ women in a large number of fields. Woman entered industry wishing to increase the family income. Female labour in industry became a necessity in relation to the development of modern industry. And every improvement in modern times resulted in male labour becaming superfluous, thousands of workers were thrown on the streets, a reserve army of the poor was created and wages continually fell ever lower.

Formerly the man’s earnings, while the woman was simultaneously productive at home, had been enough to secure his family’s existence; now it is scarcely enough to get the unmarried worker through. The married worker must necessarily count on his wife’s paid work.

By this development woman was freed from economic dependence on man. The woman active in industry, who could not possibly be exclusively in the family, as a mere economic appendage of the man — she learned self sufficiency as an economic force who is independent of men. But if woman is no longer economically dependent on man, then there is no reasonable ground for her social dependence on him. At the same time this economic independence does not at the moment benefit the woman herself, but the capitalist. Through his monopoly of the means of production, the capitalist has seized the new economic factor and let it operate for his exclusive advantage. The woman freed from her economic dependence on her husband has been subjected to the economic rule of the capitalist; from a slave of her husband she became that of the employer: she had only changed masters. All the same she gained by this change; she is no longer economically inferior in relation to the husband and subordinate to him, but his equal. The capitalist, however, is not content with exploiting the woman himself, he makes her still more useful in that he exploits male workers even more thoroughly with her aid.

From the outset, female labour was cheaper than mens’. The man‘s wages were originally calculated to cover the living expenses —83—of a whole family; from the start, woman‘s wages represented only the cost of maintaining a single person, and even this only in part, because it was expected that the woman would also work at home as well as her work in the factory. Furthermore, the products made by the woman at home with primitive work tools, compared with the products of large-scale industry, corresponded to only a small amount of average social labour. One was led, therefore, to infer that women have less ability to work, and this consideration allowed the woman to receive less pay for her labour-power. In addition to these reasons for low pay, there was the fact that, on the whole, women have fewer needs than men.

But what made female labour-power particularly valuable to the capitalist was not only the low price, but also the greater subservience of women. The capitalist speculated on both of these factors: to pay the female worker as badly as possible, and to drive down the wages of men as much as possible through this competition. In the same way he made use of child labour to lower women‘s wages; and the work of machines to reduce those of human labour-power in general. The capitalist system alone is the reason that female labour has results that are precisely opposite to its natural tendency; that it leads to a longer working day rather than an essentially shorter one; that it does not signify an increase in the wealth of society, i.e. a greater prosperity of each individual member of society, but only an increase in the profit of a handful of capitalists and at the same time an ever greater mass impoverishment. The disastrous consequences of female labour, which are so painfully felt today, will only disappear with the capitalist system of production.

In order not to succumb to competition, the capitalist must endeavor to make the difference between the purchase price (price of production) and the sale price of his commodities as large as possible; so he seeks to produce as cheaply as possible and to sell as dearly as possible. The capitalist therefore has every interest in prolonging the working day indefinitely and in fobbing off labour with as ridiculously low wages as possible. This endeavour is in direct opposition to the interests of women workers, as well as those of men. So there is no real contradiction between the interests of male workers and female workers; but there is indeed an irreconcilable opposition between the interests of capital and those of labour.

Economic reasons speak against calling for a ban on female labour. The current economic situation is such that neither the capitalist nor the husband can do without female labour. The capitalist has to maintain it in order to remain competitive, and the husband has to count on it if he wants to start a family. If we ourselves wanted to make the case for female labour to be eliminated by legislative means, this would not improve men‘s wages. The capitalist would very soon cover the shortage of cheap female labour-power by making more extensive use of perfected machines - and in a short time everything would be back as before!

After great stoppages of work, the outcome of which was favourable for the workers, it has been seen that the capitalists, with the help of perfected machines, have eliminated the workers‘ successes and have seized the same opportunities for exploitation that they had before.

—84—If one calls for the prohibition or restriction of women's labour because of the competition that arises from it, then it is just as logical to call for the abolition of machines and the restoration of mediæval guild law, which fixes the number of workers to be employed in every commercial enterprise.

Apart from the economic reasons, there are above all reasons of principle which speak against a ban on female labour. Precisely on the basis of the principled side of the question, women must be careful to protest with all their might against any attempt of this kind; they must oppose it with the most vigorous and at the same time justified resistance, because they know that their social and political equality with men depends solely on their economic independence, which enables them to work outside the family in society.

From the standpoint of principle, we women protest strongly against the restriction of female labour. Since we do not at all want to separate our cause from the workers’ cause in general, we shall therefore not formulate any separate demands; we demand no other protection than that which labour in general demands against capital.

We leave only one exception in favour of pregnant women, whose condition requires special protective measures in the interests of the woman herself and her offspring. We do not recognize any special women‘s issue – we do not recognize any ‘female worker’s question’! We do not expect our full emancipation either from the admission of women to what are called the ‘liberal professions’, nor from the same education as men — although the demand for these two rights is only natural and just! — nor from the granting of political rights. The countries in which an alleged universal, free, and indirect suffrage exists show us how small its real value is. The right to vote without economic freedom is nothing more and nothing less than a promissory note that has been signed but has no security. If social emancipation depended on political rights, no social question would exist in countries with universal suffrage. The emancipation of women like that of the whole human race will be exclusively the result of the emancipation of labour from capital . It is only in a socialist society that women, like workers, will acquire full rights.

In view of these facts, women who are serious about their desire for liberation have no choice but to join the Socialist workers‘ party, the only one which strives for the emancipation of the workers.

Without the help of men, and often even against the will of men, women have gathered under the socialist banner; one must even admit that in certain cases they have been irresistibly driven there even against their own intention, simply by a clear understanding of the economic situation.

But they stand under that banner now, and they will remain under it! They will fight under it for their “emancipation”, for their recognition as human beings with equal rights.

In going hand in hand with the Socialist workers’ party, they are ready to share in all the efforts and sacrifices of the struggle, but they are also determined, with complete justification, to claim all their due rights after the victory. With regard to sacrifices and duties, as well as rights, they want to be neither more nor less than comrades-in-arms who have been accepted into the ranks of the fighters on equal terms.

—85—Lively applause, which repeats after Citizeness Aveling has translated these propositions into English and French.

After the series of special reports, which the Congress had resolved to accept, has been dealt with, a debate ensues as to whether the anarchists or at least one of them should be allowed to speak for more than 15 minutes (the Lafargue motion) so that they cannot complain about intolerance being shown to the propounding of their theories.

Many delegates point out that anarchist theories are more than well known, and that the Congress would give evidence of sufficient tolerance if it allowed a single anarchist speaker to speak for more than fifteen minutes.

“Compagnon” (comrade) Montant explains the origin and meaning of the word “anarchy”; he gives a long-winded exposition of the “absolute freedom” of the anarchists, which alone is capable of transforming society for the better.

These arguments meet with approval only from a few French and English delegates; the overwhelming majority loudly express their disapproval and interrupt the speaker with ironic interjections.

Citizen Franchet, delegate of the cabinet makers from Faubourg St. Antoine, complains that the workers of Paris no longer have revolutionary blood in their veins. Do they want to be fooled again by a completely rotten and thoroughly decayed parliamentarism? He recommends abstention from voting and advises against the demand for labour legislation, which in his opinion is incapable of dealing with their sad situation.

The Belgian delegates request an end to the sitting; Citizen Vaillant then suggests on behalf of the Bureau that the Congress tomorrow sits continually until its tasks have been completed.

This proposal is accepted after it has been determined that the next day’s agenda should only include the discussion of the various items that were included in the work program from the outset, in particular the votes on the resolutions to be adopted.

The session ended at 3 p.m.

Saturday July 20th, morning session[edit source]

Chair: Citizen Cunninghame Graham, Member of the English Parliament. Lafargue announces the arrival of three new Delegates. The German socialists of Buenos-Aires have given Citizen Liebknecht a mandate to represent them and send a report on the situation in the Argentine Republic.

Telegrams and letters of congratulation are shared. Liebknecht informs the congress that yesterday evening at the reception hundreds of French workers met at the Hôtel de Ville, and all assured him that instead of the chauvinism and hatred which is ascribed to them, they harboured the most brotherly feelings towards the Germans, and that they only wished to express them in action. This information is most warmly applauded. — Many delegates at the Possibilist Congress have told Bureau members that they had gone to the Possibilist Congress by mistake, and that they —86—sincerely regretted not having joined the Congress of the united socialists.

After these diverse communications have finished, the Congress continues with the agenda.

Cunninghame Graham explains that it is almost impossible to speak of a social revolution with English workers. The excess of work, misery and drunkenness have completely ruined them. It is already much if they show an interest in practical questions. If you want to win them over to a movement, you have to arouse their interest with practical questions.

One such question is that of the eight-hour normal working day which can bring workers all over the world to unite in a common action. The reduction of working hours is an absolute necessity for the health and mental development of the worker. Long hours of work condemn the worker to the existence of a beast of burden. This is the case, for example, with the Scottish miners who work eleven and a half to twelve and a half hours in the pits and who come back from work in such a state that they hardly take the time to eat as they are overcome by the need to sleep. But a dull sleep has hardly restored their strength when they have to leave for the pit again. In such a life there is no possibility of satisfying intellectual needs. It is a duty for everyone to oppose such a situation through international labour legislation. If the law does not intervene, the situation of the workers will become progressively worse. In Australia there is a law that fixes and reduces daily working hours. Well, the Australian workers are in a materially better position than their European brethren; they are also intellectually well developed and advanced, since they have time and leisure to occupy themselves with a range of questions. The capitalists strive to maintain the belief that a reduction in hours of labour must necessarily result in a reduction in wages. This claim is a lie, because the opposite occurs. The shorter the working day, the higher the wages. In Massachusetts, for example, where the eight-hour normal working day exists, the workers earn 3 shillings (1 Sh. = 1 Mark) more per day than the workers in the neighbouring states where the working hours are longer. In contrast to this there is a district in England characterized by the development that capitalism and its so-called “civilization” have produced there. Here women are busy making iron chains 14 to 15 hours a day and earn only 4½ to 5½ shillings a week. The longer the working hours, the lower the wages.. The wage rate increases with the decrease in working hours.

The question of the fixing of working hours is of paramount significance for the development of the worker. The speaker therefore urges all delegates to put aside all personal jealousy for the moment, as well as all differences of principle, in order to fight together for the reduction of daily working hours. The eight-hour normal working day is a first step towards liberating labour from capital. (Applause.) —

Citizen Guesde reminds Congress that there are three questions left on its agenda. He therefore recommends that all proposals be sent in writing to the Bureau, which has to combine them into general resolutions on which the Congress will decide in its afternoon session. Vaillant suggests —87—allowing all speakers on the list to speak until 1 p.m., and to proceed to the voting in the afternoon session.

Citizen Molkenbuhr demands that the list of speakers be set aside in order to proceed immediately to the discussion of the resolutions of the Congress. One speaker should speak for and another against the resolutions and as much account as possible should be taken of the old list of speakers.

An end to the debate on the motions was demanded, and passed by Congress. Citizen Kloß, delegate of the German carpenters, argues that certain quarters are of the opinion that it is incompatible with socialist principles to demand legislation on work. This view seems erroneous to him. The socialists, the conscious workers, have a duty to pave the way so that the broad masses do not come to a halt on their way to the promised land of socialism, so that capitalism does not let the masses degenerate to such an extent that they are mentally and physically unable to get back on their feet. For the working class of Germany it is even more necessary to champion such practical demands, because political action is greatly impeded by the present situation. For the same reason, one must not lose sight of the question of trade organization. Like the question of labour protection legislation, it is useful for winning over and educating the masses.

The speaker does not fail to recognize that many socialists are against trade associations because these do not provide everything for the intellectual education of the workers that the socialists want to see. But it is precisely the task of the socialists to raise these trade associations to a higher level of education and development. They have to form a kind of leaven in the womb of the professional associations, they have to awaken class consciousness, in a word, enable the members to understand their present situation and to fulfill their historical mission. The French resolution has not yet been read out in German, and the speaker only knows Bebel’s resolution. For the reasons he has just presented, he calls on all German delegates to unanimously vote in support of the Bebel resolution, and above all the demand for an eight-hour normal working day.

Bebel states that the Bureau had merged the resolution he had tabled with those of Guesde and Morris, and that this joint resolution would be presented to Congress in the afternoon session.

Citizen Lefebvre, representative of the weavers of Amiens, emphasizes the need for trade organization.

The weavers of Amiens work 12 to 13 hours a day.

The manufacturers employ more and more women, from whom they get work at lower prices, and who, through their competition, reduce the wages of men. Until recently there was no organization of the weavers. But in the past year, a work stoppage by the velvet weavers for a wage increase gave rise to the formation of a trade organization, which today has 350 to 400 members. This trade organization marches hand in hand with the Socialists of Amiens, and its influence is beginning to make itself felt not only among the weavers, but also among the workers in other trades. So the shoemakers have followed the example given and have also established themselves as a trade organization.

Comrade Lucian Weil cannot agree with Cunninghame Graham’s argument. The latter emphasizes the need for palliative measures in order to be able to advance the work of agitation and organization —88—among the mass of English workers. Comrade Weil is of the opposite opinion.

If the working masses of England are still backwards and have not attained class consciousness, the reason is that the proletarians have been restrained for too long by promises of reforms which are illusory at best. In order to educate the masses, one must spread the idea of revolt among them. Such demands and such promises of improvement only deceive and dumb the workers down.

If he (the speaker) has become an anarchist, this happened precisely because the leaders of French Marxism clearly revealed the mechanism of the economy, clearly showed that the iron law of wages has made all efforts to improve this mechanism through reforms hopeless. One should therefore not expect anything from petty measures. The speaker himself wholeheartedly wishes for an improvement in the situation of the working people, but he is convinced that this cannot be achieved through reforms and legislation. Universal suffrage is a decoy for the masses who have only one truly effective means at their disposal: the permanent movement. Only the social revolution can cure all social ills. (Applause from some French anarchists and English delegates.)

Citizen Ihrer, delegate of the women workers of Gera-Reuss,[Translator's notes 39] states that the organization of working women is an unavoidable precondition for the improvement of the situation of both male and female workers. Just as men organize themselves everywhere in order to regulate their working conditions, so working women must also group themselves in professional organizations. As long as working women are unorganized, they will in a certain sense and in actual fact remain competitors of men, rather than just their comrades at work and in the struggle.

If men’s organizations are not joined by those of women workers, it will be very difficult, even impossible, for the workers to be victorious in their economic struggles against capital.

Only organization will enable working women to establish and apply the principle: equal pay for equal work — the only means of removing competition between men and women. Unfortunately, women do not yet sufficiently understand the need to organize and take part in public life. The proof of this is that, in spite of the considerable number of women employed in industry, very few representatives of women workers are present at this congress. So it is the duty of all socialists to help women in the work of organizing. The objection that women are still too backwards to understand the importance of coming together is not valid. Even male workers were not always at the pitch of development they are today; for them, too, it took a great deal of effort to achieve political maturity and organization. Women workers everywhere show an excellent predisposition to join the march of the workers’ movement, but the seeds must be sown. The speaker has received letters from all parts of Germany from working women who express their joy at being represented at this workers’ congress. This fact shows that working women are beginning to understand their situation. It is the duty of comrades in all countries to help women strive for their independence — strivings that benefit both sexes.

The German police suppressed the beginning of a movement among women workers in 1886; the women who were at their head were punished; —89—citizenness Guillaume-Schack herself was expelled for her agitation. But police interference showed that women workers were on the right track. Since then the movement has happily re-emerged, and the associations, into which a large and sympathetic public of working women crowd, demonstrate definite progress. It is also to be hoped that this congress will have the result of contributing to the organization of proletarian women and of giving rise to professional groups of working women in all the larger cities. Recognizing their own interests, these organizations will march hand in hand with the great socialist workers‘ movement, and they will be the means of regaining the social and civil rights which women are now denied. The women of the bourgeoisie beg for these rights in petitions, whereas the women of the proletariat demand them on the basis of the socialist program.

The next congress will bring proof of the work of the completed organization in the person of many representatives of working women. It is time for the conscious supporters of the workers‘ movement to teach working women the slogan with which Karl Marx brought about the unification of all proletarians. The slogan: “Proletarians of all countries unite!” also means: Working women of all countries unite! and this must become our motto. (Warm applause.)

The President asks the assembly whether they want to give the floor to John Burns, although he has not been delegated to this congress. Burne has received a mandate to attend the Possibilist congress, but since he himself is deeply sympathetic to this Socialist congress, he feels the need to assure the assembly of this and to greet the representatives of the whole proletariat.

The congress unanimously gives the floor to John Burns, who explains how it was only by pure chance that he attended the collectivist congress. The Trades Union, of which he is a member, received the invitation from the Possibilists first, and the invitation to the Congress of the combined Socialists only arrived after the first invitation had already been formally accepted. He regretted that the efforts to unite the two congresses had not been successful, but he hoped that the proletariat would nevertheless benefit, because both congresses had dealt with the same questions. The speaker represents 57,000 engineering workers organized in trades unions. It is generally believed on the Continent that the English trade unions are fundamentally reactionary and conservative, and this is in part true. The majority of the trades unions have not yet understood the necessity for internationalism in every workers’ movement; they imagine that they can improve their situation through purely trade organizations, through an exclusively national approach. They therefore show little understanding and sympathy for the struggles of the non-English proletariat. Incidentally, indifference for the brothers of the other countries, as well as the reactionary tendencies of the trades unions, is not the fault of the organized workers, but of a few bosses who are rapidly going into a decline and already discredited among their own supporters. The bulk of the trade unionists are beginning to understand the error they have made, and, borne up by the dizzying rapidity of the economic conditions developing in England, they are becoming more and more lucid and aware. In five years from now, the majority of the trade unionists will have passed over to the socialist camp and, through their entry, will have significantly increased the power of the international parliament. The beginning of this development has been made. “In my name and in that of the workers I represent, I greet the congress and wish it the best of success for its work. (volleys of applause.) —

—90—Citizen Cesar de Paepe, Belgian delegate, takes the floor to support international labour legislation, as his party gave him a mandate to take a position on this question. In addition, it is probably the last time that he will speak before an international congress, since his health is very poor.

The speaker wants to refute some of the objections that are usually made against international labour legislation. It is asserted from various quarters that there will be no material results, because governments will not approve the demands in question; one would have to be content with the agitational results of these demands, and consequently it would be better to draw up more radical formulations. The speaker does not find these objections to be justified. He is of the opinion that demands that can be implemented immediately, must be applied and implemented slowly and gradually. We demand a lot of governments and no doubt we are getting little and that slowly, but step by step we are getting what we want. Our demands are increasingly taking hold of public opinion, which in turn is putting pressure on governments. Equally unjustified is the objection raised by bourgeois economists and anarchists that labour legislation threatens workers‘ freedom.

“Freedom of contract” for workers today denotes absolute freedom of exploitation. Only after socialization of the means of labour can one speak of freedom of work. The anarchists wrongly declare regulation of work to be a restriction of personal freedom. Personal will alone is not enough to maintain and advance the social mechanism. Regulation of the conditions of production, of working conditions, is just as necessary in the present as in the future. If the social body is to live and be active, it must be organized! — From a third side it is argued that international regulation of work is impossible because of the different working conditions in the different countries. But notwithstanding national and local differences, the power of facts has already led us to manage many things internationally and to hold them in common. Thus the workers of all countries complain about the same evils, and everywhere formulate the same demands. Besides, it is very easy to accept international demands under particular and special conditions. For example, the requirement for a minimum wage. We are far from understanding by this formula that wages should be the same in all parts of the globe; but we are of the opinion that a minimum wage, below which the worker‘s income must not fall, should be fixed everywhere, taking into account those special circumstances. In any case, many other requirements have already been formulated internationally and recognized as internationally practicable, e.g. the requirements regarding health care, regarding the use of toxic substances, regarding the normal working day, etc. The creation of international workers' legislation is just as feasible as are the international post and telegraph services.“

The speaker thus arrives at the conclusion that international labour legislation is necessary and applauds the appeal of the Swiss Federal Council, even if he makes much more far-reaching demands, and formulates a complete program of what the workers can already achieve through reforms within today's society (Applause.) —

—91—On behalf of the trade associations of the Provinces, Vaillant reads out the following significant statement: “The representatives of the workers organised in trade associations in the provinces inform the foreign delegations that none of their organizations have any anarchist tendency and that it was only by chance that the delegates of some Parisian anarchist groups took the floor first in the general discussion, and that for a moment it appeared as if they were the interpreters of the French proletariat. (There follow the signatures of the representatives of more than 200 provincial trade associations.) (Applause.)

The anarchists reply to this statement as follows: “We protest against the terms of the communication by which a certain number of provincial delegates declare that the organizations they represent reject anarchist teachings. We have no less right to speak on behalf of the provinces than these delegates.“

“We speak in our own name name and by the power of the mandates entrusted to us.“

“The truth is that if the trade organisations, corporate groups and socialist study circles represented by the signatories of this communication are not anarchists, the organizations, groups and corporations of which we are representatives are so entirely.“

“As a result, we all protest against these unverifiable allegations, which have the purpose of making it seems that the French provinces are completely anti-anarchist, and that the comrades who have spoken since the opening of the general discussion represent only an insignificant number. We leave it to our brothers in all countries to evaluate this practice.”

This counter-protest bears the names of 9 signatories, one of whom states that he represents fifty sections of the Craftsmen’s trade association. —

Citizen Beck, Russian delegate, begins by stating that the proletarian and socialist demands for the legal regulation of labour which will be voted on at this congress are certainly the most vigorous counter to the bourgeois class and their governments. Reaction has assumed dimensions hitherto unknown, and it has become universal. Well, it is known that this reaction has always received considerable support from the absolutism of the Russian government. It is therefore in the interests of the workers’ parties and the socialists of all countries that the fall of Russian absolutism should take place in the shortest possible time, all the more so since even those European governments that have so far distinguished themselves through their democratic tendencies are beginning to place themselves at the disposal of the despot of St. Petersburg.

The question of the ways and means needed for the demands of the workers to triumph is therefore closely connected with the question: what is the social power in Russia which will overthrow this realm of illegality, abuse and arbitrariness?

In view of the amount of time available to the speaker, he must refrain from citing statistics. But before he discusses the question itself, he must say a word about the way in which from time to time people in Europe and even in Russia believe it to be already solved.

Russia, we are told, is in a transitional period from the old economic forms to new forms. The natural economy dies out to make way for market production; the rural co-operative is falling apart, while capitalist production is developing more rapidly from day to day; at the same time —92—the bourgeoisie, whose class consciousness is more and more alive, begins to find that the present political forms of Russia are holding back their development; the collision between it and the absolutist regime is therefore inevitable and will have as its first result the fall of absolutism, etc. The political and revolutionary program which is the result of this conception is very clear and simple; but the idealism of this view is immediately apparent when one takes a look at Russian history over the past 25 years. It is important for the speaker to linger over this point, for he regards the hopes based on the revolutionary tendencies of the Russian bourgeoisie as completely illusory and likely to have unfortunate consequences for the common cause of the Russian socialists and the socialists of Western Europe. Significant as the advantages promised by this illusion are, the speaker fights it nonetheless, since every illusion must be fought.

At the beginning of the second half of this century the Russia of Nicholas the First, of Arakcheyev, the Russia of serfdom and the unlimited arbitrariness of the nobility sank into the deepest swamp of dissipation and inner rottenness. The productive forces of the people, shackled by a police organization of the judiciary and their accessories in the local administration, tried to overcome the obstacles blocking their development. The interests of Europe, where industry had developed mightily, were in conflict with an institution which gave a market as large as Russia into the exclusive possession of a band of aristocrats and district satraps, so that in the Crimean War from 1851—56 a terrible clash took place between old Russia and bourgeois Europe, from which the former emerged completely defeated. This defeat, which found expression in a different form in the words that in 1860 Alexander II. addressed to the nobility of Moscow — “Let us free”, he said, “the serfs from above, so that they do not free themselves from below” — made the existing situation impossible. The indignation of the peasants drove Russian society and government to act with more decisiveness. The manifesto of February 19, 1861 opened a new era in the history of Russia: it abolished serfdom, it created the basic principles for broad reforms to be followed in the field of justice, district self-government, administration, censorship, etc. The majority of these reforms did indeed take place within a certain period. From 1862 to 1870 the separation of administration and teaching from arbitrary rule, the establishment of the “Zemstvo”, open court proceedings, election of justices of the peace and community institutions were all introduced. The principle of election by the three-class electoral system, while far from being the ideal form of participation of the population in local administration, nevertheless marked a great step forward. All these reforms, as well as the regulation of general compulsory military service, the purchase of peasant land, etc. did not in truth extend self-government enough, but at least they changed the character of social relations in the period that followed. The Zemstvo and the municipalities, to which society directly and indirectly sacrificed their best energies, began to work energetically, and achieved visible success. The questions which had a direct bearing on the needs of the people were brought onto the agenda and partially resolved; public education, public welfare, public supplies, assurance of the products of the peoples labour: an example[Translator's notes 40] of the tutelage of the government making a considerable advance in a short time, leaving far behind all that —93—had been achieved in this area by an omnipotent government. The progress achieved illustrates the brilliant victory which the principle of the election of officials had won over that of bureaucratic institutions.

At the same time essential changes had taken place in the economic field. Labour, freed from the yoke of serfdom, became legally master of itself, and organized itself on different bases, distributed in a different way among the various branches of national production. One part, while still occupied in the rural economy, began to take part in rural trade and industry. The capitalists, who until then had concentrated almost exclusively on agriculture, went into the fields of usury and manufacture. The unfavorable conditions of land distribution forced the peasants in many cases to leave the land allotted to them. To the proletariat, which in the previous period had been employed in the factories, steelworks and mines belonging to the crown and the nobility, — and to the proletariat, which emerged from the domestic serfs, who received no share of the land after the abolition of serfdom — was now added the peasant proletariat, and the labour available on the market increased steadily; the offer of hands in excess assured capital an immediate triumph. That triumph was all the more certain since capitalism came to power in Russia at a time when the development of mechanical engineering and technology had already reached a high degree. In this case, foreign capital may have played a more important role than Russian capital itself, since it was attracted by the market in cheap labour and the expansion of the market for sales. But above all, it was the government that contributed to the triumphs of capitalism in Russia. Since it had a completely free hand, for many years it almost exhausted the state treasury, distributing billions in the form of subsidies, premiums, and guaranteed returns, to the detriment of the people. In the period following the liberation of the serfs, the state budget was surrendered by the almighty government to a handful of predatory manufacturers, usurers, and large landowners.

As a result of these events there was an enormous upswing in national production, in commercial turnover, in the development of the credit system, and in the means of transport. In twenty years Russia has taken its place at the side of the powers of Western Europe, if not through the relative scale of its production, at least through the character of its economic development. The national debt, which exceeds 5 billion, is the best proof of the efforts of the government to march on the path of capitalism, but also the proof of the misery which this has created for the people. Capitalism has thus triumphed in Russia as it has triumphed everywhere. But does capital play the same role in Russia as it does everywhere it has secured its empire? Has it concentrated the productive forces in Russia, as elsewhere, in a limited number of factories, steelworks, and mines? Has it amassed the means of production in the hands of a small number of proprietors? How have forms of economic popular life been preserved up to now, such as the village collective (mir), the productive collective (artel)? Why wasn't absolute rule abolished in Russia with the abolition of serfdom, as happened elsewhere? To answer these questions one must consider the historical conditions of the forms of social and political life in Russia — conditions which influenced the emergence of the new forms and which occurred after the establishment of serfdom. The rural community, —94—the historical basis of property and economic conditions, created a certain spirit of solidarity in the rural population, which was able to withstand the destructive endeavours of big capital. The upbringing of the intelligentsia, which for centuries had grown up in slavish obedience to the organs of government, the suppression of their most moderate political aspirations, the rule of the Romanovs — all these have had effects which could not disappear in a few decades of a new life. The lack of unity and the contemplative, tolerant temperament of these classes have served as the foundation on which absolutism rested. But besides these circumstances there was something else at work both before and after the abolition of serfdom — that is the influence of international capital and the development which it had reached at the moment when it was introduced into Russia. If there is one country in which the empire of capitalism can be said to have arrived too late to fulfill its full historical role, it is surely Russia. The abolition of serfdom took place there at a time when capitalism in Europe had already aroused all the internal contradictions that are inseparable from it. One of these contradictions, the one which exists between the growing need to expand the volume of production and the diminishing capacity of the market to take up the quantities of goods with which it is inundated, has already generated sporadic rebellions on the part of the market in Europe against this type of production, exchange and distribution. The Russian bourgeoisie, which immediately after the abolition of serfdom, had gifted itself competition in the supply of hands, complained in the person of the large landowners about the high price of labour power, although it was and still is so low that many capitalists do choose to work with the most primitive equipment. But these complaints had their origin in the uncertainty of the domestic market. The more capitalism expands, the more this market uncertainty increases, the more the purchasing power of the people diminishes absolutely and relatively as the machine replaces the worker. At a certain point in capitalist development the bourgeoisie finds itself compelled to sacrifice part of its advantages in order to preserve the internal market. Then big capital does not destroy the forms of small business and small property such as domestic industry, small industry, the rural collective; it takes them for its own purposes without destroying them, as required for the domestic market.

These facts, of which there are analogous examples in the history of every other country, have their significance for the economic life of Russia. All statistical studies have shown that the number of large factories and steelworks has remained almost entirely the same over the past ten years; likewise that the number of workers employed in big industry, small industry, and agriculture in general has hardly increased. Further, landed property is far from accumulating in the hands of a small number of owners; the relations between big industry and national production in general have hardly changed at all, although the former had a great boom from 1881 to 1882 - a boom attested by the rapid introduction of machines into industry. Besides, apart from the big factories, small industry employs a much larger number of workers than big industry, and this number is not going down. These facts are explained by the inner weakness characteristic of capitalism in its final epoch, and indicative of the disorganization of universal industry.

Russia had more or less escaped the industrial crisis of 1873, —95—but was completely gripped by the general crisis from 1879 to 1882, a crisis which still persists today. Since then, Russian industry has been subject to all the consequences of the internal decline of international capitalism. Production in many branches of industry begins to diminish, as does the expansion of foreign trade. The safest large ventures become dubious and often fail. The only means of guaranteeing the market, that is, the conquest of countries and their protection by tax frontiers and Cossacks, has become ineffective, since England in the East and Austria in the south-west feel the need to resort to the same means. The conquest of new markets is very difficult, and capitalist Europe awaits with horror the moment of economic emancipation of the colonies. At the same time the workers are thrown on the street in their thousands and form large armies of "barefoots" (vagabonds); Thousands of peasants who have left their fields are looking in vain for work or a place to found a new farm. The government is looking for ways to prevent the effects of this situation. Count Ignatieff thinks of an anti-Semitic movement; the workers are transported en masse from the industrial centers to their home towns. Revolts of the peasantry, which the government is suppressing with military force, by condemning the leaders to death, and constant walkouts from work, these are the characteristic facts of the last few years in Russia. Capitalism, which was introduced in Russia at a time when it had become a universal and international mode of production, is thus on the way to ending its historical role, both there and elsewhere.

Together with all the other countries of Europe, Russia is now approaching the end of this era in that it too is subject to the effects of international capitalism. It is therefore too late to speak of the destruction of popular forms of production and property when capital has been compelled to maintain them since the beginning of its era in Russia. It is too late to speak of the development of capitalism in the near future, at a time when it is beginning to collapse under its own weight. Finally, it is too late to take into consideration the liberal and improving strivings of the Russian bourgeoisie, since immediately after the abolition of serfdom it did not have the necessary strength to establish organic connections with the interests of the people and decieve them, as the European bourgeoisie has. Since its appearance in Russia, capitalism has needed unlimited power to guarantee its parasitic existence, to silence all voices which denounced the perils of its rule, to stifle all critical minds, and to defend itself against fighting socialism. Absolute rule has therefore been and will be in future the unvarnished political program of the Russian bourgeoisie. The interests of the Romanov dynasty and the bourgeoisie are the same.

It is characteristic of the history of Russia in recent decades that the various socialist parties are at the forefront of the revolutionary movement against absolutism, that it is they who oppose it on behalf of the people. This fact is explained by the fact that the workers’ demands remain on the agenda and that they demand a change in the present political order. The bourgeoisie, denying its historical traditions, has become reactionary and conservative; it is the working classes which will produce the future. Russia does not yet have an organized working class conscious of its historical tasks, but the socialist party will claim the political ground, and political rights are —96—absolutely necessary for its development. In Europe the revolutionary socialists defend these rights against the bourgeoisie, which has already acquired them. In Russia they are compelled to fight absolutism and the bourgeoisie at the same time in order to achieve political freedom. Socialism is the only power that will know how to gain and preserve political rights; it alone will overcome Russian absolutism. The Russian bourgeoisie is compelled to maintain the various popular forms of production and property. But it maintains them today to undermine them tomorrow, and the misery of the people cannot be cured by the rural community. Only the complete transformation of the political, social and economic order can help here.

However, just as the socialists of Europe have their reasons to demand labour legislation, just so the Russian socialists demand (or at least those do who agree with the program of the Narodnaja volja) protection of the village collectives and the trade collectives (artels) by the state. In the current conditions, the Russian people have benefited from these remnants of their historical past. In the years 1880 to 1883 — years of crisis for Russia — the factory workers, in the absence of any organization, could not defend themselves against the manufacturers and usurers; the rural workers found means of resistance in their customs and practices, which are a result of the institutions of the village collectives. In a large number of districts the “Mir”, the administrative organ of the peasantry, managed to bring in a fixed wage for rural workers, and this example was followed by the governments of entire governorates. Let us hope that the facts presented here suffice to justify the demands of the Russian socialists who follow the program of “Narodnaja volja”, regarding the support of the village collective, which as a form of popular life is of great importance for the present moment as it is for the near future.

Citizen Dulucq is in favor of international labour legislation, but he demands that Congress pass formal resolutions on the way in which the parties and the organizations that have agreed to it will have to fight for the realization of the demands made.

Citizen Combemoreil notes that the Municipal Council of Paris is doing much to introduce the 9 hour working day for the city’s workers. The political rulers annulled the resolution of the municipal council; but the latter, while maintaining this resolution, also introduced the nine-hour working day for workers employed by private entrepreneurs in work for the city. It is in the majority united in the demand for protective measures, as a necessary means to prepare the workers for their complete liberation.

Citizen Chauvière, Municipal Councillor of Paris, recommends as the best means to implement the resolutions of the Congress, the disarmament of the bourgeoisie demanded by Blanqui through the abolition of the standing armies and the arming of the people.

Dupré, delegate of the cabinetmakers of the suburb of St. Antoine, refutes the opinion that workers can hope for good results from labour legislation. Up to our day legislation has never turned out to be for the best and for the benefit of the people. All yesterday’s legislation is worm-eaten, and tomorrow’s will be putrid. Economic questions have been talked about for long enough, but with all the treatment of these questions the cause of the people has not advanced. We have to destroy capital, the capitalists and —97—all monopolies. (Ironic heckling from the Germans: "All must go to rack and ruin!"[Translator's notes 41]

Citizen Domela Nieuwenhuis, Dutch delegate, begins by saying that it seems to him that the congress shows great success in so far as it expresses the unity of socialists around the world, but that it shows little success in relation to the agenda which has only been started on the final day, when, with the exception of a few privileged persons, no one is allowed to speak for more than five minutes! Well! I declare, he says, that I am not a magician who can discuss such a great and weighty question in so little time. That is why I will not use my speaking time for the question itself. But I would like your attention to add a few remarks about my friend de Paepe’s speech.

I don't expect anything from parliamentarism precisely because I am a member of a parliament, because I've seen the whole comedy. All those who are members of a parliament, I ask starting with our chairman, Cunninghame Graham, member of the English parliament, whether they expect something, yes or no, from parliamentarism? The word “parliament” is composed of two words which, according to a witty writer, fully describe the character of the thing, i.e. "parle" (speaks) and "ment" (lies). The parliaments are therefore assemblies in which one speaks and lies.[8] Who can describe parliaments in a shorter and more specific manner? Parliaments are talking shops and that is not just the fault of the people, but of the system itself. We have seen it here.

Our congress is made up of the select; no parliament in the whole world can compare itself to this Parliament here, and yet, I ask you whether it has not made exactly the same mistakes? We have talked a lot, even too much, and in the end you are forced to vote and adopt resolutions which have been prepared beforehand without having the time or opportunity to seriously discuss them. So the fault is in the system. But let's suppose for a moment that we had triumphed all along the line, let's assume that we have labour legislation as we wish: tell me, do you believe that the general situation would change greatly in favour of the workers? If asked for my opinion, I will frankly say that the worst trick the governments could play on us would be to accept your proposals, because for twenty to twenty-five years they would have killed any revolutionary socialist movement among the workers. Fortunately, governments are blind and do not understand the situation. But for me the greatest danger of the eight-hour working day consists in this: for the workers the introduction of it will in any case be a tremendous disappointment; for the workers can do what they want, they can introduce the eight-hour working day, they can emigrate, they can abstain from marriage and practice New Malthusianism — not produce any children at all — capital will always find a way to protect itself against wage increases it would have to bear, and it will not let its prey slip away; they can only be snatched away by force. As long as capitalist production persists, wages will not rise above what is necessary to maintain labour power. The capitalists, who are masters of the governments, will grant the eight-hour working day when they see that this is the only way for them to continue; and as long as they remain masters, the workers will remain slaves. The most that the workers will achieve will be that the slave chains are wrapped in velvet or silk; the chains —98—will still be chains. Then the workers will see that the evil does not consist in the working hours and not in wages, otherwise the effects would have disappeared with the causes, but that the cause of the evil is the imperfect and totally unjust distribution of the products of labour. Well, without suppressing this cause, one will never suppress misery and slavery.

Caroll Wright, Secretary of the American Statistical Bureau, fully understood this when he said:

“One of the most important questions that require a solution is the question of distributing the ever increasing products of labour among the producers in a proportionate and fair manner, for imperfect distribution and not overproduction is the great evil from which the social body suffers. Capital now takes the lion‘s share, and therefore the workers have been compelled to organize themselves and threaten to agitate against capitalism. The conflict between capital and labour can only be resolved by abolishing the wage system and replacing it with cooperative labour.”

Here is the evil and here is the remedy. If we, who are hard-headed socialists, are to champion labour legislation, then one must see that this is a concession on our part; therefore we share the opinion of the English inspector Saunders,, that steps to reform society cannot be taken with any success unless the working day is limited in advance and the legal limits are strictly observed. We will use this shortening of the working day as a lever, so that the proletarian giant, who has been thrown to the ground and cannot protect himself against the kicks of his tyrants, can get up from his feet and make use of his strength. That is the only reason why I can imagine that a staunch socialist would make an effort to impose such a thesis — it seems to me that the ultimatum of the working class to the ruling class cannot be expressed more succinctly and definitely than in the four demands of the English:

Eight hours to work, eight hours to play,

Eight hours to sleep and eight shillings a day.

— demands he knows in advance will not make a fundamental improvement. There is a parable in the Gospel that always comes to mind when discussing labour legislation: “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.” Well, doesn't that hit the nail on the head for the question we are discussing? Capitalism, that is, the system by which the worker is stopped from owning the product and the means of his labour — capitalism is our enemy, and as Cato always emphasized, “Carthaginem esse delendam” (Carthage must be destroyed) we would have to say always and everywhere: Capitalism must be destroyed!

If we want an eight-hour working day, it is only a means, never an end. A railroad train cannot always run, it sometimes has to stop to take on water; the less it stops on the way, the better, and we look for a way to make it stop as little as possible. For us, the eight-hour working day is a station where we spend a little time to refresh ourselves to start the fight again with more strength and better armed. The eight-hour working day is nothing but a weapon of war and it is just a provisional measure. The workers need to know that they have not finished the fight when they have passed a Normal Working Day Act, yes, that then the real fight is just beginning.

—99—It is not necessary to be a socialist to march with us towards this goal, and our Socialist Congress is very humble, too humble even, if it only makes this demand. That is why, when we ask for such legislation, it is necessary to add: such legislation on socialist soil[Translator's notes 42] is like a plant planted in a swamp. We must say: personal property is the greatest evil; without its destruction we will not get the healing we long for. If I am offered a place in a ministry — I hope not, and I am not afraid that they will — then I will set a single condition, namely: do we intend to attack personal property? If the reply was: ‘yes’, I would accept reluctantly, but dutifully; if the reply was: ‘no’, I would say: ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, you want to seduce me!’

Plato was asked to propose model institutions, laws for a Greek city. The philosopher replied: ‘Gladly, but will there be property owners among us?’ ‘Without a doubt,’ he was answered, ‘each of us will own a field and will be able to fence it in with walls’. — ‚Then I have nothing more to say to you; build your city, others will level it to the ground and you will not be able to defend yourselves‘. — This answer of the philosopher says it all. If personal property remains the basis of our society, then poverty, slavery, misery with all their consequences remain for the workers. The fourth estate, which is nothing and must become all, can have its rights and its place in no other way than by destroying the private form of property, which has outlived itself. Any proposal for international labour legislation will be received with sympathy, but we always reply that it is not enough, it is only a first step; ceterum censeo — Furthermore I believe: private property must be destroyed.

We accept Bebel’s resolution, but only under these two conditions: that a minimum wage is added to the fixed maximum working day ; and that the preamble states that labour legislation is only a temporary measure, and that the lot of the workers can never be improved if we do not destroy the framework of personal property as the basis of society; and that our goal is and remains: the conversion of private property into social property. (Applause.)

Citizen Liebknecht declares himself in full agreement with the German delegates that he does not want to enter into a discussion about the usefulness of parliamentarism . We know, he says, what we think of parliamentarism, but our silence must not lead to the conclusion that we are in agreement with the absolute rejection of it which Domela Nieuwenhuis has just uttered. Our position on parliamentarianism has been sharply defined at our congresses, and I refer simply to the related discussions.

As for the consequences of labour legislation, the speaker is convinced that the implementation of protective laws, far from stopping the workers’ movement, will favour it and do much to give it a powerful boost.

(Applause and signs of approval from the German delegates.)

The Bureau then communicates the sums collected for the casualties of St. Etienne and for a wreath to be laid on the “Wall of the Fédérés” (the Communards). It then asks the delegates of the weavers from the various countries to assemble after the sitting with the aim of creating an international agreement.

The meeting will be closed at 1 pm and will be excluded again at 1½. According to the decision of the Congress, the assembly will then proceed to the vote on the resolutions .

Written reports[edit source]

—100—In accordance with the resolution passed by Congress, we will leave here in outline the reports submitted to the Congress, which could not be read out due to the lack of time.

General reports[edit source]

Report of the Société républicaine-socialiste of Alsace-Lorraine, presented by their representative, citizen Jaclard.

The members of the republican-socialist democratic society of Alsace-Lorraine consider it a duty particularly incumbent on them to take part in this great socialist and international demonstration.

The peculiar situation imposed on our country — so they said to themselves — the misuse of patriotic feelings, sometimes given the stamp of crude chauvinism, sometimes placed at the service of personal-political plans and ambitious charlatans — compels us in particular to attend this congress in order to express the real feelings which must inspire every Alsace-Lorraine citizen in his innermost heart.

Citizens! As democrats, we believe that the freedom of a people is as sacred as that of the individual. When the republic was proclaimed anew on September 4, 1870, after twice succumbing to the blows of the Bonapartes, the solidarity of all members of this republic was proclaimed at the same time. We have mutually assumed the obligation to defend the freedom we have achieved in all its forms and in all parts of the social body where it might be endangered. This freedom was a common inheritance that none of us could allow harm to happen to — the Social Democrats even less than anyone else, considering that they have given the republican idea its real and perfect expression by viewing it as the source of all emancipation, by making it part of all political and social demands.

This is the secret of the glorious defense of 1870; That is the reason why we socialists, who in our disgust for despotism went so far as to wish the defeat of the imperial army, appeared as complete defencists from the day when the fatherland included the concepts of republic and revolution and decked itself out in them.

On that day our protest met with a positive response from the social democrats of all countries, at the same time that in France itself the coalition of false patriots was directed against it. While Trochu, Jules Ferry and Jules Fabre threw us into prison because we wanted to avenge Bazaine's betrayal, men were found in Berlin who had the courage to shout to the victorious armies: “No further!”, and when Bismarck demanded new credits, emphatically replied: “We refuse to give you our consent! The Germans and the French are brothers and we do not want to be complicit in a fratricidal war.” These brave men are sitting with us in this congress today! We greet them as friends and brothers as gratefully and warmly as we pursue the traitors, who left the fatherland defenceless, with inextinguishable resentment.

When complete calamity fell upon us, it was Alsace-Lorraine which had to foot the bill for everyone. It was treated as one treated conquered lands in barbaric times.

We cannot protest vigorously enough against this violation of the law.

We are the men of revenge owed to us by the courts of justice. But how should we take our revenge? How should we get it?

—101—Would you, Social Democrats, dare to take it upon yourself to pit two great nations, Germany and France, which have both contributed gloriously to the works of civilization and will do so in an even higher degree in the future, against one another and to drive them into a war of annihilation which would be fatal for both and for all of humanity? Whatever the outcome, it would in any case be a defeat of social emancipation, a return to barbarism.

We will not give in to it, we wish that this war never takes place. Our revenge should not exterminate peoples and strengthen tyranny, — our revenge consists in the advancement of republican and socialist ideas, which radiate from France across the borders and show the peoples that we are not enemies but brothers and that we have the same instincts, the same needs, that we honour the same endeavors, and that we conquer the same obstacles in the same way, have the same enemy to fight. And this enemy is oppression in all its political and social forms, it is brutal military despotism, it is the more hypocritically hidden but no less oppressive yoke of capital.

For its part, capital knows no fatherland; it is just as ruthless on German and French soil as it is on that of Alsace-Lorraine. Much fuss has been made about the philanthropic visits of the Dolfus, Cöstlin, but the only result that came about was far from freeing the workers, but only tightened the chain and made their bondage complete. Community of interests and the perils which keep the whole democracy together and unite it, and which drive it to unite its efforts, are what you herald in this congress and we Socialists of Alsace-Lorraine salute you with joy. Like you, we wish for the peace that alone allows democratic and socialist ideas to take root and grow; just like you, we do not want to break each other's necks, which is what political charlatans want us to do, but rather we want to unite, organize ourselves in groups in order to jointly contribute to the general liberation, to work for the political and economic emancipation of the great family of all proletarians! We say to the French and the Germans, as we do to the Belgians, the Swiss, etc., faced with the socialist idea, the multiplicity and the differences of the peoples disappear. For us there is only one people: the people of the workers who gather under the banner that is emblazoned in this hall and that will travel round the world better than all other banners, not to spray out carnage and anger by bringing in hatred, but to spread the fruitful seeds of general emancipation, in order to break the common chains of slavery and misery everywhere.

These chains owe their persistence to war, but we want peace; — they owe their durability to an army of soldiers in the pay of the rulers and capitalists. No more standing army! General armament of the people! This is the only means to suppress war, to secure the triumph of political and social freedom and thereby to establish the rule of brotherhood among mankind.

Report by citizen Uhle on the situation of the workers in Buenos-Aires (Republic of Argentina ), sent in on behalf of the German socialists of that city and approved by the Association of German Socialists “Vorwärts”.

The German socialists of the Republic of Argentina greet the socialist congress of the workers of both hemispheres, which —102—is due to begin on the centenary of the memorable storming of the Bastille. Unfortunately they are unable to send a delegate because of the great distance from Paris and the large travel expenses. Nevertheless, they attach great importance to being represented at this congress and submit to it a concise report on the situation of the workers in Buenos Aires.

The labour movement is still developing here. The intellectual development of the native proletarians still lags so far behind that they have not even seen the need to defend their interests.

The majority of the immigrant proletarians are recruited from Italians, Spaniards, French and only a minority from Swiss, Austrians, Germans and Northern Europeans in general. The language difference is a great obstacle to common understanding. And then many come here with the fixed idea of acquiring a large fortune in a short time and then returning home to their fatherland. We have a whole mass of this kind of people who, on the one hand, care neither about the social question, nor about any other, and only devote their attention to the “hunt for the dollar” – and as they say: Easy come, easy go, — and who, on the other hand, form a proletariat wallowing in misery.

In addition to the wage system, the neglectful and dishonest administration of this naturally rich country should be mentioned as the reason for the exploitation of workers. Thanks to the miserable administration, the Republic of Argentina has given away all ploughable land to private individuals, who speculate with it in a shameless manner and drive on usury which turns the immigrants into tribute-payers for life. Thanks to this administration, the Republic of Argentina also has a national debt of 900 million pesos (1 peso = 5 francs = 4 marks); To pay interest on this debt, more than 60 million pesos go abroad every year. Nine-tenth of the state revenue is raised through indirect taxes, which are mainly on foodstuffs, and make them so expensive that the situation of the workers is unbearable, especially when they have numerous families.

Paper money is the legal tender. According to the report of the President in his memorandum to the Congress, with a population of 312 million, more than 151 million pesos (755 million francs) are in circulation of which only 8% can be backed with gold. This scandalous disproportion, which is getting worse from day to day, created a gold premium of 60%, so that 160 pesos in paper are worth only 100 pesos in gold. This circumstance, of course, considerably aggravates the situation of the workers, who are paid exclusively with paper money, while the price of all their necessities is calculated according to the gold premium. So the high wages are just an appearance.

The daily wage of a worker varies between 1, 2, 2½ and 3 pesos; only in a few exceptionally favoured industrial establishments do wages exceed this rate.

The housing and tenancy relationships form another type of cancer that gnaws away at the workers' marrow. Rent for a single room averages 20 pesos a month and thanks to land speculation it is rising steadily. The rooms are for the most part without windows, paved with slabs, damp, and very unhealthy.

The capitalist system of robbery has happily managed to turn this land, so favoured by nature, into a hell for the workers and a paradise for the exploiters. Having children is forbidden, so to speak, in view of the fact that large working-class families find housing only with great difficulty and with considerably higher rent.

—103—In spite of their brilliant appearance, the schools by no means meet the requirements that one can reasonably expect of good schools. The children here run the risk of becoming intellectually neglected, so families with children in need of education must be seriously advised against immigrating to the Republic of Argentina. The children of the proletarians are compelled from the tenderest adolescence to earn their own bread. There are no labour protection laws restricting female and child labour in the workshops. On the contrary, with tax exemptions, with protection of interests and with the transfer of land, the state actually favours those entrepreneurs who establish firms with the stated purpose of exploiting female and child labour.

The administration of justice is feeble; patronage alone dictates the verdicts. If the worker struggles against his patron (employer) because of unpaid wages, he can litigate for many years at great expense without obtaining his rights.

This sad social situation, which continues to worsen, caused several stoppages of work at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, particularly among the workers in the railway workshops. During these strikes, the police brutally sided with the employers. The workers‘ right of association was suppressed, and strikers were thrown into prison. A few months later, 144 tailors were arrested while quietly holding a meeting after their boss denounced them. Their crime was having discussed a 25% wage increase. At the beginning of this year the capitalist press demanded a law against the socialists who were held responsible for the strikes, while in truth misery and hardship drove the strikers into a hopeless struggle, while for the most part being quite indifferent to socialism.

The influence of the socialists is in fact still very slight. Small businesses predominate and there is a lack of industries that lead workers by the thousands to workplaces or into factories.

Only here and there are a few professional associations and corporations; the total of their members is infinitesimally small and they can barely survive. One can name only one international association ( cercle international ), which mainly includes Italians, Spaniards and French, who meet once a week. They are committed to anarchist tendencies and the money they save is sent to Europe to support the propaganda there.

The repeated attempts by Italians to found a workers’ paper in Italian have always failed because of the lack of interest on the part of the masses.

For 9 years now, the German socialists from Buenos Aires have come together to form an association called “Vorwärts”, which was founded by 13 members and now has over 150 members. The association has its own club premises with a hall, a theatre stage and a library of several hundred volumes, and the majority of these books are socialist writings and scientific works. The foundation of the association is the program of the German Social Democrats. It has an agency for the sale and dissemination of socialist literature: it collects money that it sends to Germany to support the elections and the persecuted and convicted comrades. Discussions on social issues are held on the club evenings. In addition, singing is cultivated and the German workers from Buenos Aires like to attend the festivals organized by the association. The members of the association suggested and set to work to found a German workers' newspaper "Vorwärts", which is published by —104—this rapporteur. The paper was founded 3 years ago; It started out with 150 subscribers and in a small format, had to be enlarged three times and now has a circulation of 600 copies. The paper holds up with great difficulty, thanks to the help of the devoted comrades.

We have described the social situation in Buenos Aires; in the provinces the conditions are similar, and, far from being better in the country, they must be described as even worse there. The German Socialists of the state of La Plata send this brief report to the Congress and assure it that they are following its proceedings with the keenest interest and that they are working as hard as they can to spread socialist ideas in order to hasten the arrival of the day on which the Bastille of capital will be razed, and freedom, equality and fraternity will triumph. Long live the brotherhood of the workers of all countries!

Social democratic greetings

Special reports[edit source]

Report of the weavers of Amiens and the department of the Somme, submitted by citizen Lefebvre:

The great corporation of the weavers of Amiens and the department of the Somme considered it necessary to be represented at the international congress in order to depict the intolerable situation in which they themselves, like the great mass of the working people, find themselves through the fault of those who have always lived in abundance and idleness.

Since the time of the centenary of the revolution of 1789 it must be declared that nothing has been done for the workers. Only people who are ignorant of the daily sufferings and privations of the proletarians can claim the opposite. These people never learned that we weavers in particular have languished in misery, without even daring to complain.

Crammed into more or less unhealthy workrooms for 12-14 hours a day, we receive a wage that is hardly sufficient to meet half of our most essential needs. On the other hand, so-called national wealth is increasing every day due to new advances in technology etc., in unheard-of proportions. But these advances do not benefit the mass of workers; the riches which the workers create are of advantage only to the capitalist minority. This state of affairs cannot continue as it is. If our leading people understood how things were and what their duty is, they would have started by shortening the working day. The long working hours have a tremendous impact on the health of the workers, especially when the poor wage slaves are locked up from 6 in the morning until 7 or 8 in the evening. If a law on working hours, such as that long demanded by the proletarians, limited the working day according to consumption, the workers too would benefit from those advances owed to science. If there were a law to reduce working hours for women and children — and the latter will be forced to work before they have the strength to do so! — if there were, there would be less misery among the working class. The wages would then also be higher and they would allow us to consume more according to our needs; there would be no lack of work, goods would not pile up in the warehouses to rot, while we workers suffer from lack of everything.

But those who make us suffer did not make such a law!

—105—In the city of Amiens, in various industries, a great number of men are unemployed, while women have taken their place, instead of being busy with their households. Our masters take advantage of this fact by lowering our wages still further, in view of the fact that these weak creatures are compelled to be satisfied with even lower wages than men.

All sufferings, all injustices fall to the part of the workers, and yet they have always worked and given up their sweat and their strength to enrich those who bring them into utter misery. Our self-selected representatives have never done anything for us, on the contrary, they crush us with their power when we claim our right to exist. Those whom we have made our masters lack all humanity, for otherwise there would not be so many unfortunate people in a country like France, which produces twice as many goods as are necessary to suffice for all.

We are the victims of centuries of injustice on the part of our rulers, we are exploited in their favour, threatened by laws that are specially made against us, and so only union can remedy this sad situation that is the result of misery and social inequalities.

Let us unite, we are the majority; let us unite, we are the force. The hour is approaching when we will found a social democratic republic which will ensure a better future for all citizens by respecting the rights of all their members through its laws. In order to get there, let us choose representatives who march straight into the social struggle without any second thoughts, and whose work in Parliament will not waste time on childish matters or with questions of personal interest, but will serve to improve the situation of the people. We all know men in our respective departments who are worthy of our trust, men who put all their efforts into bringing about a social-democratic republic in which humanity, freedom and justice will be more than empty words. Let us prove in the next elections that we know how to choose reliable representatives, and let us march hand in hand all as one towards the same goal!

Report by citizen Bouchard, Member of the ‘Cercle socialiste d’étude et de propagande’ (Socialist Association for Study and Propaganda) of Beauvais.

The beginning of the socialist movement in the Oise department dates from the end of 1884, when our Association for Study and Propaganda was founded. In order to awaken the self-confidence of the masses, it organized lectures, debates and courses in social economy for all organized trade unions and professional associations. In order to carry out the educational part of its task, the association prepares private and public meetings in Beauvais as well as other industrial and agricultural centres of the department. Since its inception, it has, alone or with the help of citizens Guesde, Vaillant, etc. held over 20 meetings.

The activity of the groups extends to the political, the economic and the international fields.

If a conflict breaks out between employers and wage workers, the association has a representative investigate the details of the dispute and offers the threatened corporation its intellectual and moral support, because it considers it the duty of every socialist to always be in the vanguard of the workers, to advance the struggles between labour and capital through propaganda, and —106—and to come to the aid of the unemployed, the starving women and children. Once the fight has been decided on, it must be carried on with all possible energy, whether or not anything comes of it — the soldiers of the proletarian army must take part in all battles.

In this way the association facilitated the resolution of two strikes that were about to take place and, in 1887, took part in the strike of 1200 metalworkers at Creil-Montalaire, which unfortunately ended in the workers' defeat.

Constant contact with the working masses made clear to the association the great importance of corporate organization, which enables more extensive propaganda and action and provides good preparation for the worker-soldier in the struggle for emancipation. The formation of groups of professional associations[Translator's notes 43] carries the seed of that power which, in the not too distant future, will have to take over the regulation of production and the distribution of goods.

The association has therefore promoted the formation of the following trade associations in Beauvais:

Association of spinners and weavers. . . .160 members
Association of craft carpenters. . . .30 members
Association of building trade workers. . . .120 members
Association of leatherworkers. . . .25 members

A professional association for the clothing industry is emerging.

In Creil there is a metalworkers' association with 300 members.

In other small towns in the department, the association has initiated study and specialist groups.

The political activity of the society has hitherto been confined to the city of Beauvais. In the communal elections in 1888, our candidate was elected with 1789 votes in the first ballot. Since his appointment, the Socialist delegate has achieved:

  1. the establishment of a commission for labour affairs;
  2. a favorable vote for the establishment of a trade arbitration tribunal;
  3. a rise of 1700 Francs for the workers in the council workshop;
  4. a credit of 2400 Francs for the unemployed;
  5. a credit of 2200 Francs for a delegation — of men and women — to the Paris World Exhibition.

The council has taken into consideration demands for:

  1. Foundation of school catering establishments;
  2. Opening of a job exchange.

The demands for a tax on meat and to set up municipal administrative offices for the public supply of food at purchase price were rejected by a small majority.

These measures are not regarded as a means of emancipation, since this is impossible as long as the iron law of wages plays its part under the capitalist system. But they destroy economic prejudices and prepare individuals and corporations for the management of public services on the day of the transformationa.

The Labour Affairs Commission studies the municipal collective bargaining schemes and intends to set an hourly wage for the employer and to determine the advance price ( prix de deboursé ) that the employer must guarantee his workers working for the community.

If this demand is rejected, the socialist MP will be instructed to demand a maximum working day and a minimum wage for communal jobs.

—107—In the political field, the Beauvais socialist association rejects any compromise, but that in no way implies abstaining. The socialists always remain at their post with the vanguard of the republican reserve, because here under the capitalist regime this is the least unfavorable terrain for socialist purposes. It is the same with universal suffrage, which is not a panacea, but a means of propaganda and agitation.

Its political activity has led the Society on several occasions to deal with questions which are on the agenda of the Congress, namely those relating to international labour legislation.

It is striking proof of the strength of socialism and the pressure of the economic forces that governments — of course in their ways! — have resolved to study the question of international labour legislation at the conference in Bern.

Although the final liberation of the working class can only be made possible through the suppression of overwork, since this will make the production of surplus-value impossible — and this will be the shared task of the whole socialist world! — the revolutionary proletariat makes direct demands, which were already formulated at the founding of the International Workingmen's Association: for example, the reduction of the working day to 8 hours for men and women, and to 6 hours for young workers aged 14-18. As a necessary addition, this measure entails the establishment of a minimum wage which enables the worker to live and to maintain and raise his family.

The reduction in working hours means for the workers an increase in their physical, mental and moral state of health, it will give them time for study and for the work of organization, it will help to make them aware and able to fulfill their historical mission. It is, so to speak, a preparation for the final liberation of the proletariat; it will make it possible for capable, determined workers' battalions fully enlightened as to their ultimate goals to be formed, for revolutions do not fly into our mouths like roasted pigeons.

The oppression of the workers by the bourgeoisie must finally be ended, and that exclamation of despair and impotent weakness: "It must get worse before it gets better!", used to justify all the horrors of capitalism, must finally be silenced. There is no more foolish view than this, which is advocated by some comrades, and according to which it is precisely the weakest beings who are supposed to be the most apt to revolt.

Reducing working hours, increasing wages, increasing the prosperity of the workers means effectively bringing about a revolution more quickly. The fighters, thinkers and organizers of the workers’ party are generally recruited from the hosts of the less enslaved, better paid workers.

The shortening of working hours is quite possible without harming national industry: our comrades in England have a nine-hour working day, the American workers who are employed in the state workshops work eight hours, or 48 hours a week. We can limit our demand for reduction in hours to these numbers for now, though for young workers of both sexes the limit must be 36 hours.

Physiological and social reasons determine us — excluding only exceptional cases of technical impossibility and then with the introduction of a compensation system — to demand the complete suppression of night work, and the elimination of work on Sundays and public holidays. —108—This measure will not reduce the productivity of the workforce. Rested muscle power is more effective than overtired, eight-hours of work will be just as efficient as 10 or 12 hours of work, as Thomas Brassen has shown, leading entire armies of labourers into the field to build railways in France, Austria, Canada and India.

The shortening of working hours will reduce production in certain industries; it will therefore make it possible to reduce the armies of the unemployed as well. But so that the shortening of working hours in pursuit of improvement of the situation of labour does not turn into a fraud, a minimum wage must be fixed each year in every workplace, imposed by workers’ commissions on the basis of the prices of the necessities of life. The worker will then receive as much as he costs, but not yet as much as he produces. The fixing of a minimum wage does not contradict, as some claim, the laws of commodity exchange.

In order to determine the price of products, the capitalist calculates quite correctly and precisely the fluctuating prices of raw materials and the necessary means of labour. Why should he not also take into account wages and the persons of the workers in his calculation in the same way? The commodity labour, like any other commodity, must have a price that can be set. The objection that the worker as buyer, as consumer, will lose the increase in wages he receives as producer is unfounded. An increase in wages certainly increases the price of all goods produced, but since these goods are only partly consumed by the proletariat and partly by the bourgeoisie, the former will only pay a fraction of the increased prices, say, for example, half. If the whole proletariat, as sellers of labour, received 50 million francs daily, and as consumers spend 25 million francs more due to increased prices, there is still an overall improvement of 25 million francs.

Furthermore, it is not true that wage increases will ruin national industry. One sees everywhere that capital is cosmopolitan and, in order to achieve a higher surplus value, cares very little about the fatherland and its interests. Its patriotic objections are simply dictated by its egoism. In addition, the industrialized countries with high wages dominate the world market: England, the United States. Furthermore, there are no national wage rates, but wages which vary depending on the setting.[Translator's notes 44]

If one examines further the consideration according to which low wages are declared necessary in order to enable national industry to withstand foreign competition on the world market, it turns out that this tendency precisely destroys the concept of the fatherland for the worker. The main weapon in competition is cheap production and sale at cheap prices, even at the very lowest prices; and this again results in falsification of the raw materials, decreased quality of the commodities, and reduction of the value of the human labour which is crystallized in the product. This reduction is achieved either through the extensive use of mechanical forces, or through the exploitation of more and more poorly paid workers. The indispensable condition for the ability of national industry to beat foreign competition is, therefore, a constant increase in the misery of the proletarians: an increase in the unemployed, the displacement of men by women, women by children, low wages. The tender attention of the bourgeoisie to national industry makes the country that is their fatherland a country of misery for the proletarians. —109—It is a vale of tears and privation to them, lying at the foot of the golden hills which are the fatherland of capital. Bourgeois production destroys every fatherland through its own laws of life and allows only the world of capital and the world of labour to exist — regardless of the nation. If our patriots truly loved the fatherland, they ought to direct their attention to the well-being of all its children: but there is no question of that.

Incidentally, this "patriotic" counter-argument loses its last support if — as is the case — our demand is formulated by the workers of both hemispheres.

In addition to fixing working hours and a guaranteed wage rate, we demand that working spaces (factories, mines, offices, workplaces, workshops) are furnished in accordance with the laws of hygiene and are equipped with all protective devices for the life and health of the workers.

In order to implement all these preparatory and transitional measures, the proletarians can only count on themselves, although it sometimes happens that the internal, domestic pressures of the capitalist world feed into our cause.

The first commandment of necessity demands that the working masses be made aware of the scope of these demands so that they understand them. An easily understandable, energetic, concise manifesto, which the congress would need to have a commission edit and send to all countries, would significantly promote this work. The commission would have to give an opinion on the material means necessary for the publication and distribution of the manifesto. All the representatives of the party would then have to submit proposals to the bureaus of their respective members of parliament stating the reforms deemed necessary within a short period of time. All the speakers (agitators) of the workers’ parties would have to organize a campaign of meetings dealing with the subject. The trade unions and professional associations (chambres syndicales) would have to come to an agreement on joint action, and when this work is done submit a formal demand, which being sent on the same day and from all points of the world to the rulers of the bourgeois world would be of great scope and effectiveness.

In order to centralize this agitation and to orient the working class precisely, it is necessary to found an organ in the service of this movement, which could be edited by well-known champions of our cause. We are convinced that the Congress will study and resolve the question.

Time is of the essence: everywhere we see the signs of the decomposition that precedes every new formation and transformation. The military rule now showing its full might and awe will accelerate the collapse and bankruptcy of the capitalist world. The standing army, that school of bondage and suppression of the spirit, is the last bulwark of bourgeois rule, the weapon capital uses to hold down the workers, to destroy political freedom. We therefore demand the abolition of the standing armies and, in their place, direct arming of the people.

The army will then simply be a school which every man capable of military attendance goes through over a period of a few months in order to complete his training in the use of weapons. The youth would be prepared for this school through physical exercises, exercises in weapon handling, marching, topographical studies, etc. On leaving this school, the men organized as local reserve cadres would form an easily mobilized armed force, which would be just as difficult to use for wars of conquest and aggression as it would be invincible —110—in defensive fighting. Giving weapons into the hands of the proletariat means removing the power from exploitation, pulling its sting, it is the death stroke for international warfare: it is the guarantee of peace for all peoples, the guarantee of social emancipation.

The enormous development of the armed forces for war and the financial burdens connected with it make it necessary even for the bourgeoisie to proceed in the direction of our demands. The increase of the effective forces and the shortening of active service time work towards the organized arming of the people.

.All socialist parties agree with the demand for the abolition of standing armies, and that these should be replaced by general arming of the people. But what guarantee do the workers’ parties offer that nation that starts the revolutionary movement for an international approach based on solidarity? In our judgement, with regard to the development of the socialist idea and the development of the organization that is represented in social democracy, and in view of the rapid development of economic conditions, it will be Germany which leads off the revolutionary dance. What guarantee does international socialism offer socialist Germany? On the day it rises, it will see the coalition of capital of all Europe facing it, a true triple alliance: the alliance of interests. But on the same day it will also — this is our hope! — see the proletarians of both hemispheres rise to support the sublime movement of their German brothers!

As a pledge for this coalition of equality it is necessary now and henceforth to oppose the alliance of emperors and kings with the indissoluble union of the workers. May the congress give the German workers this guarantee, may it support the spread of this idea of the alliance of peoples, which is the fulcrum of the international politics of socialism. The bourgeois politicians have long enough sown hatred between nations; Let us at this Congress loudly proclaim the general solidarity of the interests of the proletariat, and let us tie the international bonds which bind peoples with one another ever more firmly everywhere and under all circumstances. Then, but only then, the workers will cease to be toys in the hands of their worst enemies and make themselves masters of their own fate.

Report of the Chambre Syndicale of Miners of St. Floride (Haute Loire) given by Citizen Rouget.

The St. Floride Miners’ Syndicate takes the opportunity to offer its wishes to the international Congress in the face of the greed of capital which displays before the eyes of the starving all the riches which they have amassed to the detriment of the workers.

Our dear France has great resources, but also great distress. There is a sad difference between those who produce everything and have nothing and those who produce nothing and have everything. Our Chambre Syndicale of miners, who live in a valley basin on the borders of the Auvergne, belongs half to the department of Puy de Döme, and half to that of the Haute Loire. There, as elsewhere, it is the system of capital that undermines labour. It works in the following way: It has been two years since the Almighty von Creusot, who calls himself Schneider took 2 concessions, that of Cambelle and those of Bouxhors, which he wanted to unite with the mines of Grosménil. Meanwhile —111—the municipal authorities and the inhabitants of the sites prevented these attempts at merger, because they had recognized that as soon as there was one lord, the tyranny would only become greater and more unbearable. But Schneider did not consider himself defeated: “Oh, you want to get your own way, you slaves for sale, you don't want a fusion? Well, I, the owner, am shutting down my mines! You wanted to petition to prevent the merger, I will force you to petition to obtain it!” Maneuvering in this way has actually begun.

In the past year Cambelle was brought to a standstill, and on June 22nd of that year Bouxhors was also decommissioned. In one year 600 workers were plunged into the blackest misery and the whole area was destroyed. At the meeting there was a majority servile enough to approve of this indescribable act. But there is a dull pain in the workers' chests, and who can foresee what will happen on the day of the great struggle.

For nineteen years we have been tricked with lies, while our MPs have been haggling over their mandates. But things will change. The workers understand more and more that their liberation can only take place through their making of a revolution, and that in order to carry it out they must organize themselves as a definite, separate party according to the program of the Parti Ouvrier.

Citizens, a clamour rises from abroad, the hammer rings out on the anvil where weapons are forged. But it is not the people who call for their making; it is the tyrants of all countries who wish to plunge us into a fratricidal war, into a slaughter without equal, in order to be able to lay an even heavier yoke on us. But stop, gentlemen, the socialists will never tolerate that. For them there are no war, no borders; they have only companions in misery, brothers with the same sufferings and the same desires.

When the tyrants are gone, the rule of righteousness opens to all who suffer; one no longer forges weapons to kill people, but ploughs to feed them. Forward! The land for the farmers, the mines for the miners, the anvil for the blacksmith! On the day when all of this will be realized, the realm of man’s exploitation by man will come to an end. — Citizens! The comrades from the black country send the Congress a fraternal handshake. They tell the representatives of the universal proletariat that they can count on them.

Report on the Position of the Cotton Spinners of Ghent, given by the delegate Fr. Sessers.

In addressing this brief report to the Congress on behalf of the cotton spinners of Ghent, the rapporteur has the purpose not only of showing the urgent need to reduce working hours, but also of showing that there must be legal regulation of working hours in all countries.

For several years the number of unemployed has been growing terribly. The improvement of the machines oppresses the worker more and more every day; soon the machines and the perfection of their mechanism will replace the workers. What will happen if effective means are not soon used to improve the situation of the whole working class? Everyone who lives from his work, if he has any, must ask himself whether the situation of the workers can continue like this, and what will become of them in the time of the crisis that we are approaching?

Hence the question of personal interests preoccupies all minds. Not the pretensions of the priests, who more than ever dream of the omnipotence —112—of the Church to rule the world, nor the terrible danger of a European war, — nothing can arouse general attention and stir human passions more. Why? Because these events, even a war between a few million soldiers, bear no comparison with this other terrible war of life and death which the disinherited all over the world have started against the ruling classes, this gigantic battle which has been preparing for a long time and which will break loose sooner than we think.

French workers, workers of the United States, and the English demand that foreign workers be sent back. Everywhere the businessmen, the manufacturers, Governments, demand protectionist laws from their governments, which try to provide them. Competition is impossible in the face of unheard of protective tariffs and border tariffs.

Everywhere distress increases and with it the stagnation of trade and industry; on the other hand we see increasing numbers of tramps, criminals, the luckless starving men. Everywhere the same symptoms of impoverishment appear — as much in countries with small populations as in countries where the working population is crammed together like herrings in a barrel. Everywhere the same misery prevails for the worker — as much in republics as in monarchies, as much in the large states which waste their energies in waging war, as in the small states which do not — as much in the countries in which the citizen enjoys universal suffrage, as in the most despotic countries — as much where the church is separated from the state, as where catholic and other idlers live from the sweat of the people — as much where free and compulsory education prevails, as where the people rot in ignorance — as much where the consumption of alcohol is counted in litres by the head, as where this poison is forbidden. In warm climates and cold climates, the same symptoms everywhere, for everywhere in the whole world the same scourge exists for the worker: the capitalist system, which rules our society as its omnipotent lord.

We would go too far if we were to enumerate all the evils from which the working class, as a whole, suffers. We therefore limit ourselves to our trade as cotton weavers, to give some figures of undeniable truthfulness.

The number of working hours of our Ghent cotton spinners is from 69 to 74 hours a week. The wages are as follows:

Setter-up (female) from 12-15 years old6 Francs per week
Setter-up (female) from 16-20 years old7-10 Francs per week
Setter-up (female) adult13-18 Francs per week
Spinner20-30 Francs per week
Carding girls from 11-15 years old2-5 Francs per week
Stretching girls from 11-15 years old8-12 Francs per week
Bench workers (adult)10-14 Francs per week
Workers on the doubling machine from 11-16 years old9-15 Francs per week
Carders (men)14-17 Francs per week
Carders (boys)10-12 Francs per week

There are 5800 cotton workers, women and children included. However, there are more than 900 unemployed. Whenever the machine is perfected, men are replaced by women or children.

There is no law on child labour in Belgium. Many manufacturers require children to have had their first communion, without asking their age; so many parents are forced to have their first communion carried out well before the age customary elsewhere. The priest, out of fanaticism and in agreement with the capitalist, gives his consent under the pretext of saving a soul from hell. No sooner have the tender children set foot in the factory than the door —113— is shut on them only to open again when it is time for home; and these unfortunate ones are kept away from school, for the hours of work of these little beings are as long as those of the adults.

That is also the main reason why there are so many crippled people, so many ailing beings, in our industrial centres, why there are so many sick people, why so many epidemics break out, and in the blossom of their years our working population is snatched away to its death.

The cotton spinners of Ghent are therefore represented at the Congress with the deliberate intention of energetically helping to uproot the scourge of workers’ slavery, that necessary consequence of wage labour, so that we can achieve our ideal goal: to make the producers masters of the world.

Report on behalf of the Syndicate of Lagresle (Loire), to which 975 weavers belong, and all the syndicates of weavers from the territory of the department of the Loire, submitted by citizen Béluze.

The Socialist Syndicate of Lagresle is sending a delegate to the international congress to come to an understanding with the other worker representatives and to put themselves on the same footing as other workers, so that the wages of our poor workers who have long been exploited by the masters, that is, by the capitalist class, are raised again. The unity and solidarity of all workers must destroy these bosses, who use their money, i.e. their capital, to intimidate the workers and subject them to 15-18 hours of brutal labour at the cotton loom each day for a wage of 1.25 to 1.5 Francs. From this low wage you have to deduct 25 cents daily for the maintenance of the loom, which the worker has to pay for.

We inform our colleagues from other nations that in Lagresle and in the whole district of the above-mentioned syndicate we have carried through a small stoppage of work by the cotton hand-weavers, lasting ten days. If we have won it, it is thanks to our energy. We fully understand that if the workers do not act very forcefully to fight the masters, the police will not help them. Quite the contrary. Laws have been made governing the syndicates, but they are not being carried out for the benefit of the workers. All the socialist workers from the mountains of the Loire want a social democratic government to abolish the capitalist class.

Report from Citizen Blacke, Delegate of the Chambre Syndicale of Blacksmiths and of the Federation of Chambres Syndicales of Lyon.

In every country in Europe the bosses know how to oppress the poor martyrs known as proletarians. They take advantage of their work and health to indulge themselves in every pleasure, to lead a life of shameful debauchery. Is it not the exploiters who create and maintain prostitution with the profit squeezed out of the labour of their victims? The exploitation of labour by capital grows ever more.

In order to cure this state of affairs it is necessary that the governments of all countries fix as soon as possible, by law, the eight-hour working day, without lowering wages, as well as the complete suppression of subcontracting.

Too much prolonged or excessively sped up work not only leads to the ruin of the health of the worker, but the excessively prolonged work of some causes the unemployment of others. Furthermore it prevents —114—the worker from cultivating his intelligence, so impairing human dignity and the principle of brotherhood. It would only be fair if the undiminished proceeds of labour were returned to the worker who produces everything and even pays with his health. In anticipation of this, we at demand that at least wages should not be lowered when daily working hours are reduced. Only international workers’ organization, the forward march hand in hand of all proletarians, will give our just demands the force they deserve; united strength alone will help us to win our human rights.

This international organization of the workers is also the necessary precondition for the definitive liberation of the working class, which will take place when the working class is in possession of all the means of production. So the machine and the tool to the worker of the foundry and the workshop, and the land to the farm worker!

Report of the weavers and similar trades, 400 of whom belong to the Chambre Syndicale of Mandore (Rhône), given by citizen Moncorge.

The rapporteur is delegated to this worthy congress to discuss the situation of the Mandore workers, who have long been exploited by the employers.

The cotton hand weaver of cottons is condemned to a daily working time of 14 to 15 hours, and that in a damp yard and for the low wages of 1 to 1.25 Francs. He finds it is absolute impossibile to support a whole family with this sum. It is hardly two months since the workers, as a result of these sad working conditions, were forced to declare a strike which, thanks to the energy and unity of the weavers, had a happy ending. In retaliation, the employers make the workers feel all their anger.

The weavers’ syndicate wants to unite with all French and foreign organizations by taking part in this Congress. It promises to cooperate in the event of a general strike for the purpose of demanding the rights of the workers of the whole world.

Report from Citizen Miller, delegate of the New York Jewish Trade Union Association, on the Jewish labour movement in New York.

The movement among the Jewish workers of New York, as in the whole of America generally, dates back 6 to 7 years. It can be traced back to the mass immigration of Jewish craftsmen and petty bourgeois who fled from Russia (and are still fleeing) because of the unbearable political and economic conditions in that country — conditions which weight particularly on the Jewish population. The number of these immigrants increases from year to year, and it is they who form the very core and centre of the Jewish labour movement in America. This movement began — like every labour movement in America, incidentally — in the field of pure and simple trade union organization: reduction of working hours, increase in wages, in general improvement of the conditions of existence of the proletariat within the boundaries of capitalist society — these are the tendencies which the organizations in question initially pursued.

The movement emphasized organization as a means of attaining these goals, in order to be able to organize and carry out economic struggles, such as strikes,boycotts, etc. However, the failure —115—of the eight-hour movement of 1886 showed how impotent such endeavours must necessarily remain as long as trade union organizations are the only ones fighting for them. This failure was not only a declaration of the bankruptcy of the trade union organizations as an independent social power; it also announced to the proletariat the need to organize itself as an independent and strongly organized political party with the aim of being able to use political power as an effective weapon in the struggle for the emancipation of working people.

Aware of this fact, the Jewish workers took a relatively and absolutely large part in the movement initiated by Henry George — a movement which at its end amounted to nothing but a stock-exchange movement[Translator's notes 45], but that at its beginning was a pure class movement .

The centre of the Jewish labour movement is in New York. In this city there exist a number of organizations, each of which has specific purposes, but which are all united in solidarity in the pursuit of general purposes, and which together make up the union of the Jewish trade unions. The following organizations form part of this association:

1) The Jewish branch of the Socialist Workers' Party of America.

This organization consists of a fairly large number of Jewish workers who are particularly active in propaganda for socialism among the mass of those who speak only dialect, and who are anxious to organize them economically and politically on the basis of a socialist program.

2) The Russian branch of the Socialist Workers’ Party of America. (Russian Socialist Club.)

This club has the same purpose, the only difference being that it is aimed at the Russian-speaking working-class population of New York. In addition, it is occupied in collecting material resources to support the revolutionary socialist movement in Russia.

3) The Pioneers of Freedom;

They form a fairly sizeable organization which is undertaking zealous agitation and propaganda in favour of socialism (to be sure somewhat toying with anarchism) among the Jewish workers. This organization publishes a weekly newspaper in Russian: “The Truth”.

4) The group "Snamia" (the flag).

The purpose of this organization is the publication and distribution of socialist literature in the Russian language. The group has a weekly paper: “Snamia”.

5) The Shirt Makers Union

This consists exclusively of Jewish male and female workers in linen factories. The purpose of this organization is not only the pursuit of objective interests, it is also active for the intellectual enlightenment and development of its members. It also works on agitation, by arranging popular assemblies in which socialist principles are explained to the workers in the various trades.

6) The Union of Jewish Typesetters;

This includes all Jewish typesetters in New York. It deserves notice because it exercises complete control over all of New York’s Jewish printing presses, although their number is relatively large.

7) The Union of Choristers.

8) The Union of Actors.

These two organizations recruit their members from among the choristers and actors of the Jewish theatres in New York. They have understood professionally that art has long since lost its privileged position; that in contemporary capitalist society the artists are paid slaves like all other workers; and that they can only defeat their enemy by joining the ranks of the fighting proletariat.

—116—9) The Russian Musical Union.

A group of Russian and Jewish speaking musicians.

10) The Tailors' Association.

A very strong organization made up of Jewish tailors.

11) The Dress-makers Union

12) The Knickerbockers Makers Union

It consists of workers who are engaged in the manufacture of knickerbockers.

13) The Association of Mattress Makers.

14) The Association of Silk Ribbon Weavers.

The program of the Jewish trade unions, like that of the union of German trade unions with which they march hand in hand, has the principle of the class struggle as its foundation and cornerstone. They state that the suppression of the wage system through the removal of personal property and the socialization of all means of production and transport are the main goals of their endeavours.

The tactics of the association of Jewish trade unions and their practical activity correspond to the principles of this program, which must be recognized by all organizations which wish to join it.

In addition to the organizations mentioned, there are also groups among the Jewish workers in New York that are not attached to the association, such as:

  1. The Russian progressive association (Fortbildungsverein),
  2. 2) Women's Study Circle, Association of Russian Women,
  3. 3) The Self Help Association, which deals with cooperative efforts etc. etc.

All these organizations one way or another work with great zeal for the spread of socialism. It is common for half a dozen public meetings to take place on the same evening at various points in the Russian quarters of New York, where thousands of Jewish workers listen intently to the explanation of the new gospel. The representation of the organized Jewish proletariat at this congress is proof of how deeply the ideas of solidarity and brotherhood of the exploited of all countries have penetrated the heart of this proletariat.

The degree of success in the development of the class consciousness of all the Jewish working masses is shown by the fact that the Jewish capitalist organs, even the largest and most powerful, consider it necessary in the interests of their existence to dress themselves up more or less in socialist plumage.

Report from Citizen E. Lecomte, Delegate of the Chambre Syndicale of Glassworkers of the Seine and Seine et Oise departments.

The Glassworkers Chambre Syndicale has already attended two congresses, in Bordeaux and Troyes and laid out their minimum demands. The reports read out at these congresses and left with their bureau have been combined into a single one, which was sent to the socialist workers’ group of the Chambre a few days after the workers’ demonstrations of February 10th and 24th of this year. The Socialist MPs have formally promised to be the interpreters of these demands in Parliament, and we know they will keep their word. But everyone knows how the requests of the workers are treated by the ruling bourgeoisie. Suggestions are made, then buried in committees, which hide these suggestions at the bottom of their files to —117—to ensure that they do are not taken out again than until the topic is no longer current.

Despite the bad will of our managers, we do not give up our demands, and since it is impossible for us to bring our complaints and complaints to those in power, it is up to the working class, the united socialists, to whom we set out our wishes: To win public opinion to our side, which will accomplish what we are still denied today.

Since all corporations have to be represented at this Congress, each of them has the right to present their own demands, so that it becomes easier to express the reforms necessary for our industry in an agreed form. To give our demands more weight, to make the reforms that we are entitled to demand more justifiable — both to our daily exploiters and to the public authorities — it is good to expose the countless injustices of which we are victims. The corporation of glass workers is all the more right to formulate its demands sharply as they are subject to the worst working conditions, which are in blatant contradiction with the demands of the most elementary hygiene.

The work of the glass workers is carried out in a kind of collective, which consists of 12 to 16 people and is called a “place”.

Now, if a worker needs to slow down the grueling activity which he has to carry out in our profession, whether as a result of burns, sickness, weakness, etc., he cannot; his work is so dependent on that of the whole “place”, that he cannot one day be less active than another, and that under working conditions which are like those of galley slaves.

So it happens that the glassworker is completely worn out between the ages of 40 and 50 — unable to continue his profession, and what is even worse: to take on another. In addition, the fact that after 15 to 20 years of activity in our trade muscular strength has waned, and the eyesight is also weakened, burned by the embers of our stoves, which, heated up to 1,800 degrees, adds a new torment to our predicament.

This general sketch of our situation will make it clear how urgently it is needed for the public authorities to decide in favour of labour legislation which will put an end to the outrageous abuse which is daily practiced in our glassworks.

We also want to talk about night work and child labour in our industry, especially in the Seine and Seine et Oise departments.

The composition of the “places” allows the use of children who are employed in large numbers.

The legal regulations on child labour are just dead letters for our employers, and in the big kilns that serve as workshops there are numerous little unfortunates under 12 years of age. As for lessons for these poor little ones, they take place in conditions that are perhaps more harmful to them and their health than invigorating and beneficial. There are even glassworks where no school is held for the children, and there are those where only one class is set up and where after daily labour of 12-14 hours the children study for 2 hours. So this makes 14-16 hours of work a day. And that is not all! Since the children go to school after the day’'s work, it often happens — we can even say: always — that they are completely sweaty, and since they have no opportunity to change their clothes, the sweat dries out of them as they move. And what kind of work these little pariahs do!

—118—To tell the truth, it is convict labour that we are forced to do, from the youngest to the oldest.

But apart from the unhealthy, debilitating nature of our work, we also have to endure night work, which is all the more unbearable since it is not possible for us to make up for the great exhaustion of energy that this smelting requires in the normal way. Judge for yourselves! The average number of working hours required by our employers is 12 out of 24. A kind of rota has now been set up for day and night work, such that we have to work both day and night by doing the same hours of work in each twelve hour period. So we never have more than 6 hours to rest, from which we have to deduct the time necessary for the journey between the glassworks and our place of residence, and the time necessary for our meals and cleaning, etc.!

These, citizens, are — to put it briefly — our working conditions, to which boys from 11-15 years are also subjected.

Do you not believe, like us, that the public authorities have to pass protective laws — if not for us, who are men, and so able to break our chains when we are conscious of our rights and our strength, — but for those children delivered up to the most ferocious capitalist exploitation?

Strong in the knowledge of our rights, assured of the support of all workers and socialists, we therefore demand as measures to be implemented immediately:

  1. Abolition of night work,
  2. Abolition of work for children under 16 years of age,
  3. Reduction of daily working hours to 8 hours,
  4. Absolute right to make use of the law of 1884 on professional associations, modified and improved according to the decisions of the present Workers' Congress,
  5. The responsibility for old people, the disabled and children to be assigned to society

We repeat, these are our minimum requirements. As for our aims and aspirations, we think, in unison with all delegates, that final and complete liberation must be our only aspiration, the only solution for our needs, and the only goal worthy of us.

Saturday July 20th, afternoon session[edit source]

The chairman is citizen Deville[Translator's notes 46].

In accordance with the resolution passed earlier,[9] the first action should be the reading out of the resolutions tabled and where possible merged by the Bureau, followed by voting on the same. Any eventual observations, clarifications, explanations, additions which anyone may wish to make should be discussed after the vote. Various anarchists thought that this practice was not democratic, that it meant a violation of the Congress, etc. So they systematically kicked up a racket as soon as anyone tried to read out the resolutions or take a vote.

The chairman remarks that certain personalities behave quite differently at the Possibilist congress than they do here. The great, even excessive, tolerance, which one has shown these gentlemen up to now has evidently made them — shameless. The racket increased when one of the French delegates firmly declared that the main anarchist loudmouths, first and foremost the Italian Merlino, —119—had behaved calmly at the Possibilist congress, so that one was entitled to assume that they wanted to disrupt the socialist Congress before it achieved any results. This statement was confirmed not only by other delegates, but also by the tenacity with which the anarchists kept raising a new racket as soon as calm returned and a vote seemed possible. Apparently there was a system in this behaviour, and it gave the impression that the Congress was faced with collusion. Citizen Vaillant demands that each delegate remain in his place so that the troublemakers can be recognized. One should keep calm, otherwise one agent might be enough to throw the whole congress into confusion.

When all the calls by the President to come to order, when the unequivocally manifested indignation of the Congress proved ineffective at putting an end to this anarchic nonsense, the Congress had to apply its house rules. The main troublemakers, Merlino, and two of his friends, were taken out of the hall, and the delegates posted at the door were instructed to allow only those with cards to enter the meeting room.[Translator's notes 47] Citizen Guillaume-Schack protested against the exclusion of the troublemakers and left the Congress with seven Englishmen and Italians.[Translator's notes 48]

The fourth question, “Abolition of standing armies, etc.” is then put to the vote first. The resolution submitted to the Congress was introduced by Vaillant and amended and changed by various resolutions submitted by the German and French sides. It reads:

Fourth question.

Abolition of standing armies and general armament of the people.

The Paris International Workers’ Congress:

Considering:[Translator's notes 49]

That a standing army or a strong army in the service of the ruling or possessing class is hostile to any democratic or republican form of government, that it is the expression of military, monarchical or oligarchic and capitalist rule and an instrument of reactionary coups and social oppression; That standing armies are the result and the cause of wars of aggression, creating a constant risk of the emergence of international conflicts; and that therefore standing armies and the policy of aggression, of which they are the organs, must give way to a policy of defence and peaceful democracy, an organization of the whole people, which is no longer for plunder and conquest, but trained and armed for the protection of its independence and its freedoms; That the standing army, as history shows, is the incessant cause of wars, and is incapable of defending a country against the overwhelming power of a coalition, but brings about its defeat and abandons the unarmed country to the mercy of the victors; while a well-armed, organized and armed nation will show itself irresistible to a hostile invasion; That the standing army disrupts all civil life, in that it deprives every nation of the blossoming of youth in the —120—period of teaching or study, of the greatest labour and activity, to shut them up in a barrack and to demoralize them;

That the standard army renders sterile labour, science and art, and blocks their growth, so that the development of the citizen, the individual and the family is threatened;

That, on the contrary, in a truly national army, where the nation is armed — “the people bearing arms” — the citizen can develop his natural talents and abilities in national life and exercise his military function as a necessary attribute of his civil rights;

That the standing army is a cause of misery and ruin due to the incessantly growing burdens of war debts, due to the ever higher taxes and loans that they require,

The Congress rejects with indignation the war plans pursued by governments desperately struggling for their existence;

Regards peace as the first and indispensable condition of any emancipation of the worker;

And together with the abolition of standing armies, demands the general arming of the people according to the following principles:

The national army, the armed nation, consists of all citizens fit for active service; they are organized in districts in such a way that every town, district, and area has a battalion or more — depending on the size of the population — made up of citizens who know each other and who, if need be, can in 24 hours be assembled, armed and ready to march. Everyone has his rifle and equipment at home, as in Switzerland, to defend public freedoms and national security. The Congress further declares that war, the sad product of present economic conditions, will only disappear when the capitalist mode of production has given way to the emancipation of labour and the international triumph of socialism.

The above resolution was adopted unanimously.[Translator's notes 50] 7 of those attending abstained from voting, but they were recognized as anarchists.[Translator's notes 51]

The resolution on the third question is then put to the vote. It reads:

Third question.

Ways and Means to realize the demand for labour protection.

The international workers’ congress in Paris calls on the workers’ organizations and socialist parties of all countries to set to work immediately and to use all means (meetings, press, petitions, demonstrations, etc.) to influence their governments and to induce them:

To send representatives to the international governmental conference envisaged for Berne following the proposal of the Swiss government;

To support the resolutions of the Paris International Congress at that conference.

In all countries in which there are socialists in the municipal, cantonal or regional assembly, they should introduce the resolutions of the Paris Congress in the form of motions in municipal councils, in the form of legislative proposals in parliaments.

—121—In all elections, whether as representatives of the whole people or as representatives of a community, socialist candidates must recognize and represent these resolutions as their program.

An executive commission is to be appointed, entrusted with the implementation of those resolutions of the Paris Congress which affect the international labour protection legislation planned by the Swiss government.

This commission, made up of five members, is entrusted with laying before the Berne Conference the principles which the organized workers and socialist parties of Europe and America at their congress in Paris from 14-20th July have determined to be absolutely necessary for labour protection legislation. This commission is also given a mandate to convene the next international workers’ congress, which is to take place in a location in Switzerland or Belgium to be determined later.

A weekly paper with the title: “The eight-hour working day” will be published, with the participation of the socialist parties represented at the international congress in Paris. This is intended to collate all the news relating to the various national movements for legislative shortening of the working day. At the request of the Dutch, the resolution is voted on by nationality. 15 nations are in favour of the resolution, 3 abstain from voting, 2 are not present. The following voted for the resolution: Germany, France (with 4 abstentions), Hungary, England,[Translator's notes 52] Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden (with 1 abstention), Romania, Poland, Russia (the latter two countries with reservations because of the exceptional situation in which they found themselves), North America (with 1 abstention from 3 delegates), Argentina. The Norwegian and Italian delegates were absent. Belgium, Holland and Austria abstained from voting.[Translator's notes 53] A supplement to the resolution: the Bureau of the international congress is hereby instructed to select the aforementioned executive commission, is adopted unanimously.

The Congress then proceeded to vote on the most important of the resolutions relating to labor protection legislation. It arose from a merger of proposals from Bebel and Guesde, and was modified in particular points by Morris, Keir Hardie, Scherrer, etc.

The resolution reads:

First and second question.

International labour protection legislation. Legal regulation of the working day. Day work, night work, Sunday and holiday work, working hours for young people, female and child labour. Supervision of large-scale and small-scale industries, including domestic industry.

The Paris International Workers’ Congress:

In the conviction that the emancipation of labour and humanity can only proceed from the proletariat organized internationally as a class which gains political power in order to set in motion the expropriation of capitalism and the social seizure of the means of production:[Translator's notes 54] Considering:

That the capitalist mode of production, in its rapid development, gradually pulls all countries into modern culture;

—122—That this development of the capitalist mode of production signifies the increasing exploitation of the workers;

That ever more intense exploitation is causing political oppression, economic subjugation, and physical as well as moral degeneration of the working class;

That as a result it is the duty of the workers of all countries to use all means at their disposal to combat a social organization which oppresses them and threatens any free development of humanity in general; but that it is above all a question of offering active resistance to the destructive effects of the present economic order; the congress decides:

Effective labour protection legislation is absolutely necessary in all countries ruled by the capitalist mode of production.

As a basis for this legislation, the Congress demands:

Fixing of a maximum working day of 8 hours for young workers;[Translator's notes 55]

Prohibition of work for children under 14 years of age and reduction of the working day to 6 hours for both sexes;

Prohibition of night work, except for certain industries, the nature of which requires uninterrupted operation;

Prohibition of women’s work in all branches of industry, the mode of operation of which has a particularly harmful effect on women’s bodies;

Night work prohibited for women and young workers under the age of 18;

Uninterrupted rest of at least 36 hours a week for all workers;

Prohibition of those branches of industry and operating modes with predictable risks to the health of the workers;

Prohibition of the truck system;

Prohibition of wage payment in groceries, as well as [in tokens for] the entrepreneur’s general store (canteens, etc.);

Prohibition of intermediate contractors (sweating system);

Prohibition of private work certification bureaus;[Translator's notes 56]

Supervision of all workshops and industrial establishments, including domestic industry, by factory inspectors paid by the state and at least half elected by the workers.

Congress declares that all these measures necessary for the recovery of social conditions are to be made the subject of international laws and treaties, and calls on the proletarians of all countries to influence their governments in this way. Once such laws and treaties have been obtained, their application and enforcement should be monitored in order to implement them more thoroughly. Congress further declares that it is the duty of the workers to accept women workers into their ranks with equal rights, and as a matter of principle demands equal wages for equal work for workers of both sexes and regardless of nationality.

In order to achieve the complete emancipation of the proletariat, Congress considers it absolutely necessary that the workers everywhere organize themselves and consequently demands the unrestricted, total right to free association and combination.[Translator's notes 57]

—123—Citizen Lavigne, on behalf of the National Association of French Chambres Syndicales and Corporate Groups, next proposes a major demonstration to help implement the resolutions of the Congress. The motion is:

International rally on May 1, 1890.

The Congress resolves:

A great international rally is to be organized for a specified date, in such a way that at the same time in all countries and in all cities on a previously agreed day the workers demand of the public authorities that the working day be fixed at eight hours and carry out the other resolutions of the International Congress of Paris. Given the fact that such a rally has already been fixed for the first of May 1890 by the American Federation of Labor at its December 1888 Congress held in St. Louis, this date will be adopted for the international rally.

The workers of the various nations will have to implement the rally in the manner prescribed for them by the conditions in their country.

At the request of the Belgians, votes are taken by nationality. All nationalities vote for the resolution with the exception of the Belgians and Russians, the former of whom will later justify their vote, and the latter only abstain because it is impossible to demonstrate in Russia.

The following resolution is now adopted:


In conformance with the resolution of the International Workers’ Congress in its 2nd session on July 20th, the permanent bureau has designated Switzerland as the seat of the executive committees; it has instructed the delegates of this country to form a commission of 5 members and to set it up in the same city where the organ “The eight-hour working day” is published. A discussion now takes place in which individual delegates attempt to justify their votes or to bring about new additions and improvements to the resolutions.

Citizen Volders protests on behalf of the Belgians against the bureau’s procedure for taking votes before any discussion. It gives him the impression that they wanted to stifle the debates. He had thought it impossible right up to the end that one would vote first and then discuss. Although the Belgians are in principle in favour of the resolutions tabled, they abstained from voting to protest against the bureau’s procedure. Instead of the congress being able to discuss freely, dogmas were laid out and put to a vote. He hopes that the next international congress will be more democratic. Citizen Deville replies that the bureau had no need to reply to Volders, since it was not acting on its own authority, but only carrying out the decisions and orders made by the congress.

—124—Citizen Körner protests against inadequate management by the bureau. The resolutions should have been presented in print before the vote, so that everyone knew exactly what they were voting for. He personally abstained from voting because he could not understand the resolutions that had been read out. Citizen Liebknecht finds it superfluous to defend the bureau. Those who were there during the negotiations also saw the difficulties in management. As to voting before discussion, it was by no means impractical, as had been asserted, since it concerned questions on which every delegate had long been clear. He is convinced that not a single person came to the congress to be instructed on the questions on the agenda; everyone already brought a settled program with them. Voting before discussion became a necessity in view of the time that had passed, and if one wanted to ensure that the congress did not break up without a conclusion. The discussions would have dragged on indefinitely with any other method. If one enters into discussions after the vote, this can only be done for the purpose of giving the opportunity to justify dissenting votes. As far as the management of the Congress is concerned, one must not forget the immense difficulties which the bureau had to contend with because of the different languages alone. The difficulties associated with running a national party congress are well known; for an international congress with three official languages these are at least tripled. Certainly it would have been good if the resolutions could have been submitted in print, but one should bear in mind that the socialists here have neither an organ nor a printer and that, despite all efforts, it was impossible to find a printer prepared to do the work for us immediately.

The American delegate Bush next introduces another resolution, which reads as follows:


Considering that the reports of the delegates of all countries at this congress have shown that the simple economic organization of laboiur (trades unions and similar organizations) is insufficient for the emancipation of the working class, while agitation for reduction of the working day, for restriction of female and child labour, and for workers protection laws, has been shown to be a means of awakening the class consciousness of the workers, which is a necessary precondition for the self-emancipation of the working class; Considering that possession of political power allows the ruling class to maintain its system of exploitation based on private entrepreneurs and the capitalist mode of production;

Considering that by means of political power oversight of industry by the state and oversight of the state by the people are prevented; the international congress of Paris decides:

That in all countries where proletarians have the right to vote, they are to join the ranks of the socialist party and, excluding any compromise with any other political party, by means of their ballot papers, under the rule of the relevant state constitution, pursue the conquest of political power; —125—That in all countries where the right to vote and constitutional rights are denied to proletarians, they should try to win the right to vote by all possible means;

That the use of repressive force on the part of the ruling class for the purpose of preventing the peaceful development of society into a cooperative industrial and social organization would be a crime against humanity, and would subject the inhumanity of the aggressors to the punishment they deserve from people struggling to defend their lives and their freedom.

This resolution is passed with only one vote against.

Citizen Werner (Berlin) declares that it is against democratic principles to vote without prior discussion. After the Congress had lost three days in formalities, there was now no more time to deal in detail with the issues on the agenda, and the vote had been pushed through at full speed. Citizen Dumortier, representative of the mechanical engineers of Lyon, declares that he is against the decision of the Congress because he cannot approve the conference in Bern, which had been convened by a bourgeois government.

The four French delegates, who abstained from voting on the resolution on the third question, declare that by abstaining they wanted to avoid the appearance of having confidence in any government.

The two Spanish delegates, Mesa and Iglesias, and a Hungarian delegate, request through a motion that the Congress bureau appoint a Central Committee representing the various countries, which would maintain international understanding between the individual workers’ organizations and parties. Citizen Vaillant declares that, given the laws of many countries, it is impossible to accept this motion, and the motion is consequently withdrawn.

Citizen Kranz, delegate of the Jewish socialist workers’ association in London, requests, as an addition to the Bebel-Guesde resolution, the abolition of intermediate entrepreneurs (factors, “sweating” in the “sweating system”). The speaker has just had the opportunity in London to learn about the system and its deplorable consequences for the workers. The addition was adopted unanimously by the Bureau and by Congress (ie. to be included in the resolution on the first and second questions.)

Citizen Seitz (Berlin) protests against the attacks on the bureau. He fully understands the great difficulties that it has to contend with. It is true that it was rushed at the end, but that was dictated by the situation. Everyone was clear about the issues on the agenda and they also know that the bureau can be completely trusted.

Citizen Liebknecht gives thanks for the explanation, although it was not necessary, since the bureau does not need to defend itself.

Citizen Chretien (Marseilles) declares that he voted with full conviction, knowing that the measures required will in fact improve the situation of the workers. A detailed discussion would certainly have been desirable, but given the short time it had, the bureau acted well in holding the vote first. Citizen Lenz, on behalf of the waiters and lemonadiers, requests an addition to the Bebel-Guesde resolution, calling for the abolition of private employment agencies.

—126—The motion was adopted unanimously. (ie. to be included in the resolution on the first and second questions.)

Citizen Tressaud (Marseille) states that the demonstration of May 1, 1890 will probably have no effect. It must therefore be supported by a general strike (grêve générale ). The congress should, however, “resolve that the general strike is the beginning of the social revolution.”

The speaker tables a motion to that effect, which is met with ironic interjections.

Citizen Liebknecht speaks briefly against the motion. He explains that a general strike is an impossibility, since it presupposes a strong and uniform organization of the workers such as does not exist at the moment and cannot exist at all in bourgeois society. The English workers were excellently organized in the late thirties and early forties, far better than the French are now, and yet their great strikes and other attempts at a general cessation of work failed. But once the workers have a strong enough organization to be able to carry out a general strike, they will hopefully not be satisfied with one, but will make better use of their organization. Then they will rule the world. And to stop work then would be a groundless folly. Citizen Tressaud notes that his motion should only apply to those countries where it would be possible to achieve something through a general strike.

Two delegates second his motion.

A motion to close the debate on this motion is introduced; this is opposed by several delegates, among others from Dormon (French province), who think that representatives from the province have said little so far and that it is important for them to show that faced with such important questions they do not have an anarchist or an unclear standpoint, but the correct socialist one.

The conclusion of the debate on the general strike is approved, and Tressaud’s motion rejected by a very large majority.

Two motions for a general amnesty for all persons convicted of political offenses and sentenced in connection with the workers’ movement come to a vote.

Citizen Liebknecht declares that in view of the struggle in which the German Social Democrats are involved with the government, it would be cowardice on their part to vote for a plea for mercy.

The motion for amnesty or for agitation for amnesty is accepted. The German delegates abstain from voting.

Citizen Faure has been instructed by 7 English and 1 Italian delegates to protest against the expulsion of Merlino and his friends.

A French delegate declares the protest to be well founded; he asks the congress to acknowledge this by a vote and then return to the agenda.

Citizen Palmgreen does not want to protest, he merely states that irregularities have occurred, but these were natural and inevitable; they only show that the congress was socialist and not parliamentary. The bureau has done its duty, it was overloaded with work and could not possibly keep more order than it did. Surely it could not put police in place to provide exhaustive oversight of discipline. —127—He is satisfied that the Congress was not too parliamentary. The congress served its purpose, we made contact with one another and saw that workers everywhere are striving for the same goal.

Citizen Besset declares that he had a mandate to support the demonstration and the general strike. Since the Congress rejected the latter, he withdraws.

Citizen Vollmar informs Congress that the laying of the wreaths on the graves of the Communards, as well as those of Börne and Heine, will take place on Sunday morning at 10 o’clock.

Citizen Lenz stated that all delegates agreed on the goal to be achieved: the emancipation of humanity. But the question now arises how one can achieve it? For his part, he is convinced only through a social revolution.

The desire for the end of the congress is generally noticeable.

Citizen Cipriani declares on behalf of his Italian fellow delegates that they were not absent from the congress, but only attended it as spectators, since their mandate to bring about a union of the two congresses could not be fulfilled.

Chairman Deville announces that the Germans, Americans and British have submitted a motion to close the Congress because it has concluded its agenda.

The proposal is accepted by a large majority.

Chairman Deville “I declare the Congress, which has now concluded its agenda, closed. The Congress has closed! Vive la Révolution sociale!”

The call comes from the German side: Three cheers for social democracy! Three cheers for international social democracy! And for several minutes the roaring cries in French and German mingle: vive la République sociale! Vive la Révolution sociale! The German delegates start singing the workers’ Marseillaise and the French sing along. They shake hands enthusiastically.

“Auf wiedersehen!” “Au revoir!”

The final session ended at 8:30 in the evening.

Sunday, July 21st[edit source]

The next morning — the 21st of July — the delegates made their way to the Père Lachaise, where the Communards made their last stand in the bloody May week of 1871, and where the “sacred band” who fought there also found their death. The huge wreath that the German delegates laid on Sunday on the mass grave of the Communards who fell in 1871 in the Père Lachaise cemetery stood for the Immortals; it was the size of a large mill wheel and was carried alternately by 16 men. The inscription was written in gold letters on a large black satin ribbon. “Congrès international ouvrier socialiste de Paris, July 21, 1889. In a long series of addresses by representatives of all nations (including Vaillant, Cipriani, Longuet, Liebknecht — the latter in German and French) celebrated the memory of those “who died for the cause of the proletariat”. The basic idea of all these speeches was: “The commune is dead, long live the commune.”

Liebknecht had previously given a short address at Ludwig Börne’s grave, in which he celebrated the memory of “this martyr of freedom and cosmopolitanism”. Then the German delegates laid a splendid wreath on Börne’s grave. —128—After the delegates had visited Blanqui’s grave, some of them went to the Montmartre cemetery. Hoffmann (Halle an der Saal) laid a beautiful large wreath on Heinrich Heine’s grave on behalf of the German Social Democrats. The wreath bore the inscription on a white satin ribbon with golden letters: “Henri Heine les socialistes Allemandes, July 21, 1889” Hoffmann pointed out the services Heine did for the cause of the proletariat.

At the fraternization banquet held on Sunday evening in the Rue St. Mandé , Vaillant (Paris) toasted the “New International”, Liebknecht (Germany) toasted the “fraternization of the peoples through socialism” and “the United States of the world” and Palmgreen (Denmark) “the unbreakable solidarity of all proletarians”, a delegate from the south of France “the fraternal assistance of the workers of all countries”, which had so splendidly proved itself with the unfortunate miners in St. Etienne.

After the communal singing of the Marseillaise, the dance began, which kept those present together in the most cheerful mood until late into the night. The morning of July 22nd had long dawned when the delegates started their way home, cheering for the Commune and the Social Democrats.

List of Delegates, and Workers Parties, Groups and Organisations represented by them[edit source]



Bebel, August; Becker, Carl; Bernstein, Ed.; Bock, Wilh.; Busenbender, A.; Bruhns, Jul.; Dieckmann, Ferdinand; Dietrich, Adam; Eckhardt, Daniel; Erhardt, F.; Ewald, F.; Fischer, Richard; Fleisch-mann, Emil; Frohme, Karl; Förster, H.; Geck, Ad.; Geyer, Friedr.: Glocke, Theodor; Grünberg, K.; Harm, Friedr.; Heine, Aug.; Hirsch, Friedr; Hillmer, Ernst; Hofmann, Franz ; Hoffmann, Adolf; Horn, Georg; Ihrer, E. (Bürgerin); Joest, F.; Junge, Herm.; Kaden, Aug.; Kersten, Alex.; Keßler, Gustav; Kirchnner, F. E.; Kloß, F.; Koenen, H.; Körner, W.; Kunert, Fritz; Legien, F.; Lehmann, Karl; Liebknecht, Wilh.; Lutz, Theod.; May, Ernst; Meister, Heinrich; Müller, Herm.; Molkenbuhr, Herm.; Paschky, A.; Pfannkuch, W.; Pfeiffer, Leonh.; Pfeiffer, Aug.; Pinkau, Karl; Reißhaus, Paul; Rödiger, Hugo; Schiemann, Paul; Schmidt, W.; Schneider, Frz.; Schreiber, Balduin; Schulze, K; Schumacher, L.; Schwarz, Theod.; Schwarz, F.; Schweitzer, W.; Schütz, Oscar; Segitz, Mart.; Seitz, Jul.; Sommer, Bruno; Stolle, W.; Strunz, Ant.; Ulrich, Carl; Vahrenholz,V.; v. Vollmar, G.; Wagner, Paul; Woldersky, Hugo; Wedde, Johannes; Wesch, W.; Wernau, Jul.; Weneger, Carl; Werner, Wilh.; Zenker, Theod.; Zetkin, Clara; Zwiener, Josef. Elsaß-Lothringen: Jaclard, Dr. B.


Mitcham-Zweig (Sozialistische Liga), — Cooper, T.; Norwich-Zweig (Soz. Lig.) Netlow , F.; Hammersmith-Zweig (Soc. Lig.) — Tarleton, H.B.; Rath der Soc.Lig. — Kitz, F. und Morris , W.; Yarmouth-Zweig (Soc. Lig.), — Tochati (Bürgerin); Manchester-Zweig (Soc, Lig.), — Ritson , John; North Kensington-Zweig (Soc. Lig.), — Lyne; Ost-London (Soc. Lig) — Schach, G. G. (Bürgerin); Internationaler Arbeiter-Club — West, W.; Hammersmith radikaler Club — Tochati; Bloombury Socialisten, — Dard; Walsall Socialisten — Draken; New Road radikaler Club, — Halliday; Ost-Finsbury radikaler Clnb — Aveling, E; Hoxton Arbeiterbund, — Donald, K.; Schottische Arbeiterpartei — Gibry, O; Ayrshire Bergarbeiter — Hardie, Keir; Sheffield Socialisten — J. E. Carpenter; Wahlarbeit-Association (Electoral Labor Association) — Cunninghame Graham, Mitglied des Parlaments.


Socialistische Gruppe von Buenos-Aires, — Peyret, Alexander.


—130—Wien: Pokony, R.; Popp, Jul.; Kralik, Emil; Dr. Adler, Viktor; Brünn: Hybes; Prag: Korber, Wilh.; Jägerndorf: Franz, Joseph; Nordböhmem: Dietel, Hermamn; Althanns; Tschechische Sektion der slavischen Liga, — Habrowsky, Georg.


Cooperative Arbeitergesellschaft von Gent, — Anseele; Metallarbeiter von Gent, — Vanderhaegen; Propagandistischer Cirkel von Brüssel, — Maes, T.; Baumwollspinner von Gent, — Seifers, J.; Leinenspinner von Gent, — Bairt, C.; Weber von Gent, — Toucairt; Propagandistischer Cirkel von Gent, — Stautemas; Arbeitervereinigung von Brüssel, — Cäsar de Paepe; Mekaniker des Centrums — Selvars; Generalrath der belgischen Arbeiterpartei, — Volders, Jean; Baumwollspinner von Gent, — Hardyn; Federaiion von Antwerpen, — Goetschalck; Genossenschaft „Werke“, — Mortelmans; Borinage,— Deffuisseau.


Vereinigung der bulgarischen Studenten in Brüssel, — Many.


Socialistische Partei von Dänemark. — Christensen, P., Meyer, A. C.; Socialistische Vereinigungen von Amare und Oesterbro, Bildhauer-Gewerkschaft von Kopenhagen, deutscher und schwedischer Cirkel von Kopenhagen, — Petersen, Nicolai L.


Socialistische Arbeiterpartei, — Iglesias, Pablo; Redaktion des „Socialista“, — Mesa, Jose.

United States of North America

Socialistische Arbeiterpartei, — Busche; Vereinigte deutsche Gewerkschaften von New-York, — Kirchner, F. E.; Vereinigte jüdische Gewerkschaften von New-York, — Miller, L. .; Vereinigte jüdische Gewerkschaften von New-York, — J. Barsky; Vereinigter Bruderbund Iowa, — Ahles, Carl.


Finn, Nicolaus.


Socialistische Partei von Holland, — Fortuyn, J.A.; Vliegen, W.H.; Helsdinger W.P.G.; Domela-Nieuwenhuis.


Ungarische Arbeiterpartei, — Fränkel, Leo; Ihrlinger, A; Schuhmacher von Budapest, —- Popp, R.


Allgemeiner Völkerbund (lateinische Sektion) mit seinen zahlreichen Gruppen, Sectionen in Italien, Spanien, Portugal und Rumänien und viele sonstigen Vereine etc. in Italien, — Cipriani, Amilcare; Socialistische Federation von Predappio, — A. Costa und Croce; Socialistisch-revolutonäre Partei der Romagna, — Balducci, Piselli, Balducci; Socialistische Federation in Rom, — Merlino; Socialistisch-anarchistischer Zirkel „Eisen und Feuer“ in Alexandrien, Egypten, — Pichi, C.; Arbeitergesellschaft „Emancipation“ in Zürich (Schweiz), — Bertoja, Merlinari, E.; Socialistischer Cirkel, „Emanzipation der Arbeit“, von Livorno, — Cini, F., Foraboschi, Ezio.


—131—Norwegische socialistische Partei, — Jeppesen, Carl; Arbeiterfederation von Christiana, — Olsen, J., Bergenen, C.


Socialsftisch-revolutionäre Gruppe Oswiata in New-York, — Dasrynski, Felix; Organisation der Walka Klas, — Jankowska, Marie; Central-Comite der socialistisch-revolutionären Arbeiterpartei etc., — Mendelson, Stanislaus; Slavische Liga (polnische Section), — Winiarski, Leon.


Buchdrucker von Bukarest und ihr Organ Gutenberg etc., — Many, Voinov, D.; Arbeiter-Cirkel von Bukarest und socialdemokratische rumänische Studenten von Paris, — Racovitza; Sattlervereinigung zu Bukarest, — Procopin; Cirkel der rumänischen Arbeiter, — Seulesco, A.


Der „Socialist“, Gesellschaft der russischen Arbeiter von Paris etc. — Lawroff; Verein der socialdemokratischen Russen, — Plechanow; Drei Gruppen, welche dem Programm des „Volkswille“ anhängen, - Beck; Internationaler Club für die Belehrung der Arbeiter von London — Krantz, Philipp; Union der israelitischen Handwerker von New-York , — Barsky, Miller, Louis.


Schwedische socialistische Partei und skandinavischer SocialistensVerein in Paris, — Palmgreen, C., Allard, O.


Schweizerische sozialdemokratische Partei, — Schrag L.; Bund der schweizerischen Fachvereine — Merk, A.; Grütli-Verein. — Brandt, P; Vogelsanger, J; GrütliSektion, Canton Baselland, — Gschwind, S.; Grütli-Sektion von Neuchatel, — Houst, H.


Gewerkschaft der Lastträger von Cette, —- Affre, Antoine; Socialistisches Comité von Figeac, — Antraigues; Federation der socialistischen Arbeiter von Alais und anderer Gruppen —- Araud, Chauvet; Departements-Comité der socialistischen Republikaner der Rhone, — Archain, Baudin, C.; Gewerkschaft der Näherinnen von Bordeaux, — Arrécot, Leon; Gewerkschaft der Eisenformer von Lille, — Aussens, Louis; Gruppe L’Egalité, socialistischer Studiencirkel von Bacalan (Bordeaux), — Anscot, Charles; Union der Lastträger von Cette, — Balmain; Gewerkschaft der Bergarbeiter des Nordens und des Pas de Calais — Basly; Gewerkschaft der Kappenmacher von Troyes, — Barisse, G.; Federation der Gewerkschaften der Arbeiter von Vierzon etc., — Baudin; Gewerkschaft der Weber und verwandten Berufsgenossen von Lagreslez (Loire), — Beluze; Union der Gewerkschaften von Bézieres etc., — Besset; Lyoner Gruppe der Arbeiterpartei und anderer Gruppen, — Vessy-Placet; Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter von Troyes etc., — Pischler Ch.; Lyoner Federation von 54 Gewerschaften, — Blache, Farjat, Gabriel, Perronin; Gewerkschaft der Kutscher und Kondukteure von Cette, - Bonnet, Etienne; Gruppe: „Weder Gott noch Herr“ von Lyon, - Bonnotte; Socialistische Union von Toulouse, — Bousquet; Gewerkschaft der vereinigten Arbeiter von la Celle (Allier) etc. — Bonvin; Socialistischer Cirkel von Beauvais etc. — Bouchard, Adolf; Gewerkschaft der Gyvs-Maurer von Cette, — Bressac, Marc.; Central-comitee der socialistisch-revolutionären Jugend von Lyon etc., — Breuillé, Duplat; „Anarchistische Action“ von Rheims, — Brunet; Gewerkschaft —132—der Bergarbeiter von Carmaux, —- Calvignac; Bäcker von Bordeaux, —- Carla, Charles; Gruppe der Plänkler von Bordeanx (Arbeiter- partei) etc.; Caradec, J., Gewerkschaft der Fadennudelnmacher von Nizza, — Carlin, G.; Gewerkschaft der Färber von Roanne, — Chabas, Julien; Die Solidarität, die Avantgarde, von Bordeaux (ArbeiterPartei) — Chirac (im Gefängniß zu St. Pelagie); Union der Gewerkschaften von Marseille, — Chretien, Tressaud, Gillet, Gentil, Louis, Issalène; Weber von Thizy (Rhone), Corget; Cirkel des republikanisch-radikalen Comitees der Seyne (Var) etc., — Cluseret; Republikanischer Cirkel der Arbeiter von Montluçon — Courtignon; Junge Anarchisten von St. Quentin, — Conrtois; Kunsttischler von Cette, — Crassous; Gruppe von Petit Courgain etc. — Delcluze, A.; Union der Gewerkschaften etc. von Toulouse, — Delmas, Alph.; Lokalrath der Roanner Föderation etc., — Delor1ne, Louis, Desseigne, San-Simon, Meunier, Guill., Parraud, Jean, Vergne; Federation der Arbeiterpartei des Nordens, 74 Gruppen und Gewerkschaften, —- Delory, G., Lepers, A.; Union der Weber und verwandten Berufsgenossenschaften von Tarare, — Demangé, Bost; Föderative Union der Arbeiter-Gewerkschaften von Castres etc., — Denis; Gewerkschaft der Zimmerleute und Holzschneider von Cette, — Desmazes; Gewerkschaft der vereinigten Arbeiter von Montluçon — Dormoy, J.; Socialistisches Comitee von Amiens (A.-P.), — Ducerf; Mechaniker von Lyon, — Dumortier; Gruppe „La Vigie“ von Bordeaux (A.-P.), Gewerkschafts-Union der eingeschriebenen Seeleute, — Dupon; Gewerkschaft der Seeleute und Fischer von Cette, — Esquillan, Felix; Revolutionäres Central-Comitee von Lvon, — Farjat, Adrien; Havre’sche Liga der vereinigten Arbeiter, — Faure, Sebastien; Comitee der socialistischen Arbeiter von Nanterre, — Feline, Louis; Socialistischer Verein von Narbonne, — Ferroul; Gewerkschaft der vereinigten Arbeiter von Bezenet (Allier) etc.. — Fréjac, Raoul; Comitee der Arbeiterpartei von Vauban-Chanzy (Calais) etc., — Fuchs; Gewerkschaft der Zimmerleute von St. Quentin, — Gadrop, Leon; Tabakarbeiter von Marseille, — Gros; Arbeitergruppe der Freidenker von Marseille, das „Radicale Algier“, — Guesde, Jules; Cirkel der Avantgarde von Limoges, —- Hummec, Aristide; Gruppe „la Mouche“ des III. Arrond. von Lyon, — Jaquet; Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter von Cette, — Jeannot, Louis; Gewerkschaft der Zimmerleute (Calais), — Jude, Henri; Gewerkschaft der Möbelarbeiter von Cours (Rhone), — Lachize; Gewerkschaft deir Bergleute des Aveyron (Decazeville), — Laconche, Ant.; Nationale Arbeiterliga (Bordeaux), — Lafitte; Wählerunion des III. Arondissement von Lyon, — Landrin; Gewerkschaft der Weber von St. Quentin, — Langrand; Union der socialistischen Arbeiter von Pantin, — Lapierre; Gewerkschaft der Verwaltungsbeamten des Handels und der Industrie (Bordeaux) — Lavau; Central-Comitee der socialistischen Gruppen etc, Savigne; Central-Comitee der socialistischen Republikaner des Cher (Bourges), — Lebeau, Louis; Preichoux, Gilbert; Gewerkschaft der Weber von Amiens, — Lefebvre; Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter etc. von Comentrv (A.-P.), — Letang, S.; Gewerkschaft der Feilenhauer von I’Arnay-le-Duc (Cote-d’Or), — Levitre, Jul.; Arbeiterunion von Tulle, — Malaurie, Marc.; Revolutionäre socialistisches Commitee von St. Ouen, — Maquaire; Comitee von Mâçon, — Marmonnier; les Égaltaires des III Kantons von Reims, revolutionäre Gruppe des Ill. Kanton von Lyon, — Michel, Joseph; Gewerkschaft der Weber von Mardore (Rhone), — Moncorge, Emil; Kristallschneider der Seine Und Seine et Ouse (Aubervilliers), — Moffer; Gewerkschaft der vereinigten Weber von Annonay (Ardèche) etc. — Neveu, Henri; Gewerkschaft der Bergarbeiter der Loire (Saint-Etienne), — Ottin, Ant.; Gewerkschaft der Lastträger, Sektion Choisy-le-Roi, — Paulet; Föderation der socialistischen Grnppen der Arbeiterpartei (Reims) etc. — —133—Pédron; Stadtrath von St. Ouen, — Pernin, Maire; Gruppe „Weder Gott noch Herr“ (Lyon), — Perreux, Alex.; Union der Arbeitergewerkschaften von Nantes etc. — Piron, Joseph, Rigaud; Freidenker von Ardèche (Annonay), — Place, Henri; Gewerkschaft der Fleischer von Saint Fargeau etc, — Poilblanc, Elie; Gewerkschaft der Spinner von Vienne, — Poncet; Die Schildwache (la Sentinelle) von Saint Quentin etc. — Renard, Victor; Lyoner Schuhmacher, — Richerand; Revolutionäres Central-Comitee der 3 Kantone von Grenoble, — Robesto; Gewerkschaft der vereinigten Arbeiter der Heime-Lohne und des Puy-de-Dôme (Saint Florine), — Reuget; Die Unabhängigen von Annonay, — Rouillon; Union der 20 Gewerkschaften von Bordeaux etc., — Roux; Bergarbeiter von der Rhonemündung (Marseille), — Sabathier; Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter von Calais, — Salembier; Fischer von Sette, — Sauvaire; Gruppe der socialen Studien von Lormont (Gironde), — Sciota; Gewerkschaft der Buchdrucker von Cette, Sénégas; Gewerkschaft von Lérouville (Meuse), — Sieffert; Sammtweber von Arbresle (Rhone) etc., Sol, Louis; Socialistische Federation der Haute Vienne (Limoges), — Soulat, Henri; Föderales socialistisches Comitee von Allier (Montluçon), — Tissier; Revolutionäre socialistische Union (Marseille), — Tressaud; Socialistisch-revolutionäre Gruppe von St. Amand (Cher) etc. etc., — Vaillant; Gewerkschaft der Faßbinder und Weinabzier von Cette, — Ballat, Pierre; Socialistische Gruppe von Orleans, — Viard; Union der Socialistischen Arbeiter von Lyon, — Vimenet, Jean; Union der socialistischen Freidenker von Boulogne-sur-Seine, — Macherey; Socialistische Gruppe der Deputirtenkammer Boyer, Camelinat.


Adam, Ferdinand; Ambourg; Andrieux; Anquetil; Baju; Pellegrie; Baudet; Bedier; Besse; Boicervoise; Boulé; Besseguet; Bureau, Jacques; Calmel; Camescasse; Charreron; Chauvièreç Granger; Vajllant; Ciret, Louis; Comaille; Combomoreil; Courbet; Dangers; Delmas; Delacôte; Dereure; Desgrosjean; Deville; Dimnet, Nicolas; Dubois; Dubucq; Duprès; Guillon, G.; Lafargue, Paul; Léveillé; Feline, George; Gaiffe; Geiler; Gerbaud; Geba; Gouzon; Grenier; Guillot-Poupardin; Kahn; Hertaud; Hinart; Jannot; Lacher; Lacoste, Maximilien; Lainé; Laurençon; Lecomte, Eugen; Lentz; Lepage; Lepeut; L’Homme; Ligneul; Luß; Mercier; Marchat; Messer; Monceau; Montant; Patricot; Policon; Reinert; Rigal (Bürgerin); Rouanet; Weber; Rousseau; Roussel; Siguret; Stievenard; Troquet; Valette, Bürgerin; Weil, Lucien; Daumas, Humbert; Longuet.

Appendices:[edit source]

Translator's Notes (M.I.A.)[edit source]

The documents[edit source]

The Proceedings were, as Liebknecht explains in his preface, assembled from a mass of material, mainly in French, but also in German and English. Guesde had produced a nearly complete edited manuscript in French of this material, but this has never been published. Guesde did publish a preliminary version in French, but that only included the delegate lists and the final versions of the resolutions passed.

Much but not all of the raw material is available from the IISG Guesde archive, handwritten, but mostly digitized, and with very varying degrees of legibility. The one completely missing section is for the final Saturday session, with the crucial votes on the resolutions. Liebknecht's Proceedings seem to be a straightforward translation (with occasional minor edits) of the French edited manuscript up to that final session. For the final session the Proceedings use a newspaper report from the Berliner Volksblatt, written at the time. This is mostly used verbatim, though some details are omitted and there are minor edits in some speeches (in particular, Liebknecht seems to have felt free to make small changes to his own speeches throughout). The Volksblatt does not have the final version of the resolutions, for which Liebknecht used a version very similar to that printed by Guesde in French.

The published proceedings are therefore the end product of a series of translations and edits from multiple languages. The meaning sometimes drifts slightly from the original just because of this process, and the terminology used is not always completely consistent throughout the document. In principle it is sometimes possible to work back to a 'correct' version of the material: for example, Nieuwenhuis, Morris, Lenz and others submitted their own versions of their speeches which have survived in the archives. This has not been done: the MIA translation is a translation of the German Proceedings as published, and the original source materials have only been used occasionally to clarify ambiguous wording.

Terminology[edit source]

English has the pair of words 'work' and 'labour', where German uses only arbeit. I have used labour where the original refers to the abstract concept in Marxist theory (as in labour-power), or to legal aspects of work (Arbeiterschutzgesetzgebung as labour protection legislation. In references to workers as a class, I have used work, so that Arbeiterbewegung is translated as workers’ movement, where it could equally be labour movement. Similarly the various Arbeiter-Partei of different countries have been translated as 'Workers’ Party' rather than 'Labour Party'. The main reason for this is that the later division between a reformist labour movement and revolutionary socialism was beginning to emerge at this Congress, but there is no implication in the text that the Arbeiterbewegung is by nature aligned with either camp; in fact the opposite holds - most of the parties involved were trying hard to hold the two camps together.

A secondary overlapping problem is due to grammatical gender. The Congress itself was titled in German der International Arbeiter-Congress. English translations of this title at the time used the International Working-mens Congress, echoing the name of the 1st International, the International Workingmens Association. I have not followed this usage. In uses of the word arbeiter where the word is ambiguously either male or non-gendered, I have used the non-gendered but slightly anachronistic term 'worker', not 'workingman'. The exceptions are in Zetkin and Ihre's discussions of female labour, where the distinction between Arbeiter and Arbeiterin is explicit.

Another kind of problem comes from the different forms of labour organization at the time, which did not simply match across borders. A major form of organized labour in France was the Chambre Syndicale. In the proceedings, this is sometimes translated as SyndikatsKammer, sometimes as arbeitsverein. The English equivalents might be Trades Council (which is not quite the same thing: a CPGB document of 1922 defines a Chambre Syndicale as 'central committee of unions covering a single trade', though they do seem to have been local rather than national) and trades society (the translation used at the time by Bernstein). I have preferred to leave the original Chambre Syndicale where this or a strict synonym is present in the text, and the more neutral trades society where the original term is unclear. Similarly for the word Fachverein, which is generally - but not always - a translation for the word 'syndicat' in French. The German avoids the word 'union' as too tied to the English system. I have used 'professional association' or 'trade association' for 'fachverein'.

One of the main concerns of the Congress was the unity of the movement. The German Einigung is used a lot in the text, but can either mean unification or an agreement. It is used in both senses in the text, but it is not always clear which is meant. I have varied the two words as I thought appropriate to the context.

Finally, there is a lot of emphasis from the Marxist side on workers being aware of their own position. The French text generally has 'conscient', the German 'bewusste'. I have translated these as 'aware' or 'conscious' ('class-consciousness' is a separate expression, and one which only occurs a few times in the Proceedings). These terms were not enough for the German party, which wanted some way to refer to workers aware not only that they were oppressed, but that they would one day be in charge of the means of production. This is the 'zielbewusste proletariat', a phrase which occurs many times in the document; literally 'goal-conscious proletariat'. This sounds so strange in English that I have generally used 'revolutionary proletariat' though it does not have any necessary connotations of barricades in the streets.

Merlino's resolution[edit source]

The following is the full text of comrade Merlino's resolution, which he wished to put before the Paris Congress :

Considering that international or even national labour legislation would not only be, if accepted by the workers, the confirmation of thair slavery and the negation of the great principles of revolutionary Socialism, but is also an economic impossibility, that it is therefore deplorable that such a false hope should be dangled before the eyes of the workers.

That the workmen in different trades, the domestic servant and the workshop slave, the artisan and the peasant, the hands of the great manufacturers and the almost independent producers in the home industries, would never submit to one and the same regime, and even less so would the workmen of different countries, races, and continents.

Seeing the differences which exist between manufacturing, agricultural, and commercial countries, and the different degrees of economical development at which they have arrived, it would be unjust to attempt to equalise their conditions otherwise than by the spontaneous evolution of economical relations; as this attempt would only result in the sacrifice of the weaker to the stronger; which is inevitable in a social organisation so essentially antagonistic to every principle of Justice and Reason as is the present form of society.

Considering, in addition to these economical impossibilities, that there are also political impossibilities in the way of this gigantic illusion of international labour legislation; the governments being always armed to the teeth against each other, and continually engaged in fomenting national hatreds.

When they fail even in reconciling the interests of the capitalistic classes, which they represent, how could they succeed in agreeing together for the benefit of the workman, whose natural and irreconcilable enemies they are? The State being an enormous engine of destruction and violence, how can it be an instrument of concord and peace, not only amongst workmen who fraternise without its interference, but between the workmen and their masters ; the latter being at the same time the masters of politics, diplomacy, and finance, nay, of the State itself?

Considering that even apart from all these economical and political impossibilities which render perfectly Utopian the idea of international labour legislation, the great moral principle of Freedom is incompatible with any regulations and measures which interfere with the free development of society, and would instead mould it to a procrustean bed. Freedom has become for civilised man not only a want but one of the most important.

Further considering that it is dangerous to foster amongst the masses the great superstition of the century, which consists in pretending to solve the great social problems by the ballot box and Acts of Parliament; that it is on the contrary necessary to undermine and destroy the fetishes of legislation and legislators; and that the offer of labour legislation officially made by the governments has only one aim, that of rehabilitating in the eyes of the masses the Parliamentarism which is now becoming utterly discredited, and to prolong its agonising life.

Considering that at the present state of development of socialistic principles, and. after the conquest and defeats of the International Workingmen's Association, we should not retrace our steps to old expedients, but march onwards and push forward the great claims of the proletariat and attack the last ramparts of the bourgeoisie, monarchical and republican parliamentarism.

Considering that the bodies of thousands of victims, and the whole race of the oppressed stand between us and our enemies, and that this abyss must be deepened more and more, and not bridged over by compromises which amount in fact to treason to the Cause.

That together with private property, government, this monstrous centralised engine of fraud, corruption, oppression, and social discord, must be suppressed, and in its place must be substituted a society composed of free associations of workers settling their own affairs and organising their own work.

In accordance with these considerations the congress:

  • Declares its intention to remain true to the great principles of Revolutionary Socialism;
  • Rejects as anti-socialistic, reactionary, and fallacious any proposals for labour legislation;
  • Inscribes in its programme the abolition of the parliamentary and governmental system as an essential condition for the real abolition of the capitalistic system
  • Lastly, denying to any one the right to compromise our principles (the sole and inalienable patrimony of the proletarians of the world and their only hope) and denying also the right to reduce Socialism to the meaner proportion of a class legislation, recommends that the union between the revolutionary Socialists of the world be made on the basis of the great and imprescriptable human claims, because on any other ground no union would be founded amongst the workers, but discord, rivalry, ambition, and the tyranny of one privileged minority over the suffering masses.
  1. This list, which was correct on July 15th, was made out of date by the arrival of new delegates in the following days, so that it gives an inadequate picture. See more about this later.
  2. When the danger of Boulangism arose in France, the bourgeois republicans founded a society for “human rights“ which all defenders of the republic were to join. The Possibilists joined thia republican bourgeois mish-mash and so became official train bearers for this wedding between the bourgeois parties and the opportunist government. The “Society for Human Rights” was founded in the Rue Cadet — hence the name "Cadettists", "Cadettish" etc. for the French ruling parties.
  3. The number is considerably less according to the most recent reliable records - 600,000 at most.
  4. The word comes from the French état, the state, and is used by the Anarchist to denote any trend not leading to the “annihilation” of the state.
  5. Pronunciamento in Spanish is an attempted rebellion, which must involve the proclamation of a new government.
  6. As is well known, the motto of the republic is: freedom, equality, fraternity!
  7. Unfortunately in other countries too.
  8. The pun is French - Parliament is in French: parlement.
  9. On Thursday. The decision was a consequence of having decided to hear the reports from the smaller nations, which left no time for full discussion of the main resolutions. It appears that many delegates were unhappy with, or perhaps unaware of this decision, which was proposed by the Bureau but voted for by Congress.
  1. a. Guesde's materials were later returned to him and finally ended up in the Guesde Archive of the International Institute of Social History. Most of them have been digitized and are freely available on-line.
  2. b. The reference is to the front page editorial of the paper of the Dutch Social-Democratic Party, Recht voor Allen, 4/5 August 1889, which criticised the management of the Congress in general and in particular on the last day, when it accused “Liebknecht’s German guard” of browbeating any disagreement or even request for information into silence. According to Domela Nieuwenhuis (Van christen tot anarchist, 1907, Ch. 13) the article was written by the acting editor, Croll, based on the report of the three Dutch delegates, Fortuyn, Vliegen and Helsdingen. The party later printed its own short Proceedings for the Congress (mainly giving the resolutions passed), which had a similar tone.
  3. a. The Belgian Workers’ Party (in Dutch, Belgische Werkliedenpartij and in French Parti Ouvrier Belge) was founded by de Paepe, Anseele, Volders and others in 1885. All three were present at this Congress.
  4. b. Presumably a reference to Aesop's fable of the sticks which can be broken individually but are unbreakable as a bundle, often explained as “Unity is Strength”.
  5. a. Giuseppe Croce was leader of the Partito Operaio Italiano, which would later fuse with Andrea Costa’s Partito Socialista Rivoluzionario Italiano. However, according to the proceedings of the Possibilist Congress, Croce protested against being associated with the 'irregular' Marxist Congress by Costa.
  6. b. The Parliamentary Comittee wished to allow attendance at the Congress only by mandate of a workers' organization. The German and Austrian Laws of Exception made it an offence to be a member of such an organization, so official mandates would make the attenders at the Congress liable to arrest. The solution offered by the German and Austrian socialist parties was to have party members mandated through local organizations - union branches, electoral circles etc - of which they were also members. Kautsky was sent to London to negotiate along these lines, but was turned down.
  7. c. I.e. the ‘Marxist’ faction of Guesde and Lafargue.
  8. d. The 3rd Congres Ouvrier Socialiste was held in Marseilles in October 1879; Tressaud was on the executive, in his first major political role. The congress claimed to have inherited the duty to call an international conference from the Guesdist Chambres syndicales present. In the following congress at Havre (October 1880) the Guesdists formally broke with the more conservative union elements. The Lyon union congress of October 1886 saw the creation of the Guesdist Federation Nationale des Syndicats; the following two Congresses at Montluçon in 1887 and Bordeaux in 1888 produced demands (in particular, an 8 hour day and celebration of the 1st of May) very similar to those of the current Congress.
  9. e. The German says Gleichwohl ist Bürger Morris zufrieden.. The French manuscript of which the German Protokol is a translation says instead Loin de reclamer, Citoyen Morris applaudit - “Far from complaining, Citizen Morris applauded”. This is the only divergence between the original and the German in this section.
  10. f. Raymond Lavigne was a leader of the Federation Nationale des Syndicats from Bordeaux, and a Guesdist; Eugène Baudin, from Vierzon, was a unionist and from 1889 a socialist Deputy; and Jean Dormoy, from Montluçon, who was later leader of the Parti Ouvrier Français, inspired Lavigne’s motion for the 1st of May.
  11. g. A mistake by the German translator; this is actually Frank Kitz, Morris’s co-delegate from the Socialist League executive committee (his name is spelt correctly in the French manuscript, and there was no ‘Keats’ in the English delegation).
  12. h. The French manuscript does not mention a "sense of belonging" (Zugehörigkeitsgefühl) and simply says "The Congress appeals to those few groups ...".
  13. i. Both the French original and the German translation have "agenda" here; this seems to be a slip and "motion" is meant.
  14. j. According to the Berliner Volksblatt, 23rd July 1889 p.2, at this point there was an intervention by Frau Guillaume-Schack: "Frau Schack (London) is of the opinion that only the Possibilist leaders, not the Congress itself, are opposed to amalgamation. We have to send a delegation to the congress to ask its participants to join us directly. The troops would certainly unite against their leaders with us, and we would emerge victorious."
  15. k. Nikolaj Petersen was a member of the left fraction led by Gerson Trier in the Danish Workers’ Party. Petersen's motion was aligned with Tressaud's, and 'Pierre' Christensen's with Nieuwenhuis, which is likely to have reflected the official view of their party. In November 1889 the left faction were expelled from the party for refusing to accept an alliance with the Danish liberal party (Venstre), and formed the Revolutionary Socialist Workers’ Party. Christensen left with them.
  16. l. There is no "A. Jeggesen" listed as a Norwegian delegate, but there is Carl Jeppesen, founding member of the Norwegian Workers’ Party. Unfortunately the original motion is not included in sequence with the other papers.
  17. b. The results of this proposal are not included in the Proceedings but were summarized in the Berliner Volks-Tribune, 27th July 1889, No. 30 p.2. Bebel had spent 1,700 days in prison, Liebknecht 2,000 days, Frohme 1,534 days, and Ulrich Ulrich, member of the Hessian state parliament, 699 days. With a few exceptions, all the German delegates had been sentenced to prison for political offenses. Among the delegates of the other nations there had been even higher penalties. Several had received the death penalty but had managed to flee abroad. Cipriani had been sentenced to life imprisonment, postponed while he was a member of parliament.
  18. c. According to the report in the Sozialdemokrat of 27th July 1889, p.1, these placards were found at the entrance to the meeting rooms in the morning, and called for the delegates to bypass party leaders and carry out a merger of the two congresses themselves. According to this report the placards were signed by Sebastian Faure.
  19. a. In 1878, attempts to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm I were made by Max Hödel, a plumber and member of both the SAP and the right-wing Christian Socialist Party, and by Karl Nobiling, a former PhD student of uncertain political affiliation.
  20. d. An explosion in the coal mines of St. Etienne on the 3rd July killed 206 miners (and 60 horses). The subsequent inquiry established no definite cause and assigned no blame.
  21. a. Sophia Bardina and Alekseev were both members of a propaganda group of 50, arrested in St. Petersberg in 1875 and sentenced to hard labour or exile in 1877. The group was centred on bringing literacy and an understanding of socialism to factory workers.
  22. b. The French manuscript page after Lavrov's speech is in a different hand and appears to start in the middle of a sentence. It begins slightly differently from the German translation: "a few anarchists, for the most part not Congress delegates, having interrupted Lavrov's report on several occasions ...". The same anarchists had put forward a motion during Lavrov's talk which is not included in the printed proceedings, presumably because several of the 9 signatories were in fact not delegates (5 were delegates: Sebastien Faure, Lucien Weil, Paul Siguret, Brunet, Auguste Viard; 2 were not: Gustave Mathieu and Emil Ferrieres, a further 2 are illegible — but those legible were truly self-defined as anarchists). The motion explained the cause of their discontent, that Lavrov's talk, while excellent, was a document that could be read at any time, and that because of such talks Congress was running out of time for discussion of the actual resolutions, in particular the first, on international labour legislation.
  23. c. The German is Scheincongreẞ, but in the French original Lafargue simply says "they try to reroute them to their congress.".
  24. a. Morris left a manuscript written up from his speaker's notes, in English. However, the text here is a translation from the German proceedings. The two texts are substantially similar in outline but often different in detail. The German text is close to the edited French manuscript of the proceedings.
  25. b. At the beginning of the year Adler had been instrumental in forming the Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei (SDAP) from a coalition of left and radical groups, overcoming a long-standing division between 'radicals' (antiparliamentarians) and 'moderates' (reformists) through shared acceptance of a marxist program.
  26. c. The actual word used is just Sensation, but it is not clear why. Nothing at all is mentioned here in the French transcription.
  27. d. Parti Ouvrier Belge / Belgische Werkliedenpartij
  28. e. The German translation is not quite right or is using a different source, as the French manuscripts begins ’Ses mandataires reconnaissent l’antagonisme de classe...’: Keir Hardie does not personally say he recognizes the class struggle, but claims that the workers who sponsored him do, as he later says that it is they who think that labour legislation will lead to the socialization of the means of production.
  29. f. This passage was heavily worked on by the French editor, who added the phrase about the 8 hour day being itself a revolution, and deleted a reference to the Socialist League. The reference is not fully legible, but may be a comment added by Liebknecht during his oral translation of Morris' speech: Frank Kitz later complained that “Hardie's speech was carefully, very carefully, translated into German by Liebknecht, who in the course of it added comments of his own to demonstrate the difference between Morris and Keir Hardie.” (Commonweal, August 10th 1889, p. 250)
  30. g. Sometime after this speech Keir Hardie and other delegates from mining areas left for the International Mineworkers Conference, held in Paris from the 18th-19th July. Edward Bernstein was present (as Secretary), as well as Guillaume-Schack and delegates from the Possibilist Congress, including the mineworkers' MP, Fenwick.
  31. a. Paul Brandt (1852-1910), Portestant Clergyman and one of the leading figures in the Grütli Verein.
  32. b. The Socialist Labor Party, at that time split into two factions, a 'Lasallean' faction led by Bushe and Rosenberg, and a 'Marxist' one. Bushe was also editor of the Workmens’ Advocate.
  33. c. Antan Ihrlinger was one of the founder members of the General Workers' Party of Hungary, also referred to as the Hungarian General Labour Party. It was led by Leo Frankel, who was chairing this session.
  34. d. Taillable et corvéable à merci in French; zins- und frohnpflichtig ist zum Gotterbarmen in German. There is no direct equivalent in English, but the speaker is suggesting that for all the liberal rhetoric of the capitalist the actual position of the worker is no better than that of a mediæval serf.
  35. e. The Sociaal-Democratische Bond, founded by Domela Nieuwenhuis himself in 1881.
  36. f. The Duke of Alba, known as the Iron Duke was the governor of the Netherlands from 1567-73. He tried, and eventually failed, to suppress the Dutch Protestant revolt against Spanish Catholic rule.
  37. g. Francesco Saverio Merlino was an Italian lawyer and anarchist who had spent much of the last 5 years in exile in London, where he was loosely associated with the anarchist communists of the Freedom group.
  38. a. Quoted from Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Über die Würde des Menschen (1794). Also quoted by Friedrich Ebert at the start of the November revolution, 1919: 'So wollen wir wahr machen, was Fichte der deutschen Nation als ihre Bestimmung gegeben hat: “Wir wollen errichten ein Reich des Rechtes und der Wahrhaftigkeit, gegründet auf Gleichheit alles dessen, was Menschenantlitz trägt.”’ (We want to make true what Fichte gave the German nation as its destiny: “We want to establish a kingdom of justice and truthfulness, based on the equality of all that bears a human face”)
  39. a. Emma Ihrer (1857-1911) had founded the Verein zur Wahrung der Interessen der Arbeiterinnen ("Society for the Protection of Women Workers' Interests") in 1885 with a group of friends including Gertrude Guillaume-Schack, also present at the Congress. The Society provided medical and legal help, and soon had branches across Germany, but was closed by the police in 1886. Gera Reuss (now usually Reuss Gera) was a principate in Thuringia, in Eastern Germany.
  40. b. The French manuscript has "exemples de la tutelle unique du gouvernement". The German translation has "befreit von der Vormundschaft der Regierung". I have assumed that 'befreit' is a typo for 'beispiel', example.
  41. c. Chorus from an old comic song, König Krok, by Joseph Victor Scheffel, popularly used as a response to any statement felt to be exaggeratedly revolutionary.
  42. d. This seems to be a mistake by the German editor; Nieuwenhuis’ French original, from which this was translated to German, has on capitalist soil, which makes more sense.
  43. a. The German is gruppenBildung nach Fachvereinen but the French is le groupement syndicale.
  44. b. The French has: des salaires variable selon les milieux. The German translator appears to have misread the word 'milieux' and translated this as sondern in jedem Land verschiedenartige, je nach den Durchschnitten . . ., 'different salaries in each country, depending on the averages. . .' (ellipsis in the original).
  45. c. The French has: mouvement qui à la fin attendait exclusivement au “hoodle” (bourse), where bourse is a translators’ explanation of the (yiddish?) word hoodle. The German translation is Börsenbewegung. This is presumably a reference to Henry George's increasing emphasis on free trade as a panacea.
  46. There are no surviving French manuscript notes for this session. Instead, the German editors made use of proceedings printed shortly after the event by the Berliner Volksblatt (31st July 1889, Issue 176, page 2-3). Much of this is repeated verbatim in the Proceedings, but some parts are lightly edited and some omitted. The texts of the resolutions themselves are not taken from the Volksblatt, and are generally close to those given in the French versions printed with the Congress attendance lists.
  47. The anarchist side of this story is summarized by Max Nettlau in Geschicte der Anarchie, Vol. 1, Die Erste Blütezeit der Anarchie: 1886-1894, p.424 ff: Merlino attempted to introduce a point of order disallowing voting on resolutions before they had been discussed. This was refused. Vaillant instructed delegates to remain in their place, and added an ambiguous comment (as given in the proceedings above) to the effect that it only took one bad actor to destroy the conference. A group of Swiss-German delegates then physically held down Guillaume-Schack and Nettlau as they had heard them talking in German in spite of being members of the English group, and so suspected them of being spies. Eleanor Marx-Aveling compounded the problem by mistranslating Vaillant's statement into English as "Vaillant said that the interruptor was a police spy". Merlino protested vociferously and was forced out; a group of the English — the only ones to have heard the accusation, and assuming it had come from Vaillant — then walked out in protest. Max Nettlau was among them (he was then Socialist League representative for Norwich, signing himself as Netlow).
  48. Gertrude Guillaume-Schack was a colleague of Emma Ihrer who was exiled due to her activity in the woman's movement and moved to London where she joined the Socialist League. Her motion (in French) read:

    The undersigned delegates, present at the session of the 20th July at the Marxist Congress, protest against the decision taken by the Bureau to stifle discussion, and against the brutality used to carry out its manoeuvres [agissements].

    They declare that they have nothing further to do in such a place, and withdraw.

    G. Guillaume-Schack East London Branch S.L.

    James Tochatti, Hammersmith Radical Club, London

    Mrs. Louisa Tochatti, Yarmouth B. S.L.

    John Ritson, Manchester Branch, Socialist League

    F. Charles, North London Branch, Socialist League

    T. Cooper, Mitcham Branch, Socialist League

    F. Netlow, Norwich Branch Socialist League

    Ettore Molinari, Italian delegate.

    Nota Bene :- we request translation into German and English.

  49. This resolution was proposed by Vaillant, and was on a topic of particular concern to the Blanquists. The text is clearly a translation from the resolution distributed in the partial French congress proceedings with very minor changes. The resolution as printed in the Berliner Volksblatt - presumably Vaillant's original before the Bureau had merged its changes - is shorter and less elaborate than this version, though the substantive parts are the same apart from the last clause, which was added.
  50. The default voting method for the congress was by head count, unless any country specifically requested a vote by country. The vote on this motion was, therefore, almost unanimous.
  51. The Berliner Volksblatt says "At the request of Volders the abstentions were counted, and came to 7", with no mention of who they were.
  52. Since the Socialist League members had walked out, the English delegates still voting were (potentially) Keir Hardie, Cunninghame Graham, Dard, Draken, Halliday, Edward Aveling, K. Donald, Gibry, Edward Carpenter. Eleanor Marx-Aveling appears not to have been registered as a delegate.
  53. The Dutch and Belgian delegates abstained on all the votes in protest at not being allowed to debate or even examine the final motions before voting (“Voting took place under protest from our side, that no discussion was possible concerning resolutions that we had barely been able to see. We therefore abstained from voting.” Rapport der Afgevaardigen naar de Internationale Kongressen van arbeiders, gehonden te Parijs van 14-21 Juli 1889, p. 7-8)i. For the Belgians, see Volders similar statement after the votes. 4 of the French and 1 of the Americans abstained from the main votes, the French from antipathy to the idea of making requests to governments (the anarchist argument). The 12 Italian delegates were not counted (Cipriani explained later that since their mandate depended on the merger of the two Congresses, which had not happened, the Italians had agreed that they had no longer had a mandate to vote at all). The 3 Norwegians were also not counted for the votes, but the reason is not known.
  54. This preamble was not present in the original submitted by Bebel but was added following a separate series of motions and votes, documented in the Berliner Volksblatt. The first version of the preamble was written by Guesde and Morris and proposed by Guesde (Morris was not present for the votes). This was: Inasmuch as the International Workers’ Congress in Paris bases itself on the principle that the liberation of the worker and of humanity can only be achieved as an international act of the proletariat with the goal of socializing the means of production, the Congress demands from todays states: The motion to add this preamble was accepted by a majority of nationalities, but with the Germans, Switzerland, and Argentina voting against, Belgium and Holland abstaining, and Norway and Italy again absent. The preamble finally printed in the proceedings (and in the French printed resolutions) is not quite the same as that in Guesde's motion, inserting the requirement that the act of socializing the means of production depends on the prior winning of political power.
  55. It is hard to believe that this is not a printing error. This is the main clause in the main resolution of a Congress centred on the eight hour day, but it appears to limit the demand to young people only (‘jugendliche Arbeiter’). Both the French and Dutch printed resolutions say instead ‘adult workers’. The Berliner Volksblatt says simply: ‘a. An 8 hour normal working day’. The Dutch Proceedings have: ‘a. Fixing of the working day to a maximum of eight hours for adults.’ For comparison, the corresponding clause in the resolution of the Possibilist congress was: 1. Maximum working day of eight hours, to be fixed by international law. However, it is just possible that the change was deliberate, since the German Socialist Party was campaigning for a 10, not 8, hour day in Germany in 1890.
  56. This clause is missing in the French printed resolutions. It is an addition requested by Lenz, representing waiters.
  57. Like the preamble, these final two clauses on equal pay and the right to organize were added following separate motions, this time proposed by Bebel. The vote in favour was unanimous. For the vote on the motion as a whole, this time it was the Belgians who requested voting by nationality. Votes were similar to those on the abolition of standing armies, except that this time Argentina voted in favour, giving 14 nationalities for (with 4 abstentions among the French), Belgium and Holland abstaining, and Italy and Norway not counted.