Record of Engels' Speech on the Convocation of the London Conference of 1871

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Having adopted Engels’ proposal on the convocation of the London conference, the General Council at its meeting on July 25, 1871, instructed the Sub-Committee (see Note 238) to work out its programme. It also resolved that the conference should discuss the splitting activities of the Bakuninist Alliance of Socialist Democracy in Romance Switzerland (see Note 256).

Published in English for the first time in The General Council of the First International. 1870-1871. Minutes, Moscow, 1967, pp. 244-45.


Citizen Engels proposed “That a private Conference of the Association be called in London to meet on the third Sunday in September”. He said that last year the Sections gave the General Council power to postpone the Annual Congress—because of the circumstances created by the war—and things were not much better now. It was impossible to hold a Congress in France. In Germany the Association was subject to prosecution and any member that had the courage to attend a Congress would do so at the risk of imprisonment. In Spain the Association was being persecuted, and in Belgium there was no freedom. So taking things altogether there were only two places where it would be possible to meet, England and Switzerland, and Citizen Robin had told them how in the latter country the members were divided among themselves. The position too was such, that if a Congress was summoned scarcely any of the sections could send delegates, at the same time it was necessary for the General Council to take counsel with the sections, as to the future policy, and to get its powers ratified, and such could only be done by holding a private Conference as he proposed.