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First International History First International Bibliography

Commentary on the International Workingmen's Association

First International

Established September 28, 1864, St. Martin's Hall, London

Planning conference, September 25-29, 1865, London

First Congress: Geneva, September 3-8, 1866

Second Congress: Lausanne, September 2-7, 1867

Third Congress: Brussels, September 6-13, 1868

Fourth Congress: Basle, September 6-12, 1869

Conference of September 17-23, 1871, London (Due to the disruption caused by the Franco-Prussian War, a full Congress could not be called.)

Fifth Congress: The Hague, September 2-7, 1872 (schism congress)

Sixth Congress: Geneva, September 1-6, 1873. (Bakuninist)

Seventh Congress: Brussels, September 7-12, 1874 (Bakuninist)

The General Council in New York in 1876 published a notice that the First International ceased to exist.

Eighth Congress: Bern, October 26-29, 1876 (Bakuninist)

Ninth Congress: Verviers, September 6-8, 1877 (Bakuninist)

Jura Federation

Founded on October 9, 1870 at a meeting in Saint-Imier of local sections of the IWA.

Sonvilier, November 12, 1871, first separate congress of the Jura Federation.

Le Locle, May 19, 1872

La Chaux de Fonds, August 18, 1872

Special Congress at St. Imier, September 14, 1872 in response to the Hague Congress of the IWA. The Hague resolutions were rejected. Bakunin represented the Sovillier section at this congress.

Neuchatel, April 27, 1873.

Saint-Imier, August 4-6, 1877

Fribourg, August 3-5, 1878

La Chaux-de-Fonds, October 12, 1879

La Chaux-de-Fonds, October 9-10, 1880

London, July 14-19, 1881
Held in the back room of the Fitzroy Arms and attended by forty-five delegates the meeting attempted to resurrect the IWA and reinstated the International Working People's Association -- the "Black International."

Lausanne 1882

Anarchist International

London, July 14-19, 1881
Delegates overwhelmingly endorsed propaganda by the deed. Those attending included Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Johann Neve, Emile Gautier, Saverio Merlino, Louise Michel, Victor Dave, Frank Kitz, Joseph Peukert, and Gusave Brocher. Also included were representatives from five U.S. groups. Neve represented the New York section of the SLP, Gustave Brocher represented the libertarian commune, the Icarians, in Adams County, Iowa, the Boston Revolutionists were represented by Marie P. Le Compte, associate editor of the Labor Standard, and Carl Seelig represented both the Social-Revolutionary Club in New York and a club from Philadelphia. Closed sessions were followed by a public meeting on 20 July.

Paris, 1889

Chicago, 1893

Zurich, 1896

Amsterdam, 1907: article on the meeting

International Workingmen's Association Founded in London, September 28, 1864
"Composed initially of five national groupings, each with its peculiar view of the means and ends of working-class action, the Association and its organizational embodiment, the General Council.... was intended to act as a centre of communication and co-operation between them." (Stafford, 1971, p. 7.)

George Odger, Secretary of the London Trades Council, called for international co-operation, which led to the unanimous decision to found an international organisation of workers with its center in London and a central committee of 21 elected members. It was instructed to draft rules and a constitution. Most of the committee's British members were trade-union leaders involved with the Universal League for the Material Elevation of the Industrious Classes and also included Owenites and Chartists. The French members were Denoual, Victor Le Lubez, and Bosquet. Italy was represented by Fontana. Other members were: Louis Wolff, Johann Eccarius, and Karl Marx, who participated in his individual capacity, but did not speak during the meeting.

Marx was chosen to elaborate the statutes, which were ratified in Geneva in 1866. The ratified statutes were almost entirely Marx's work (Meijer, p. 74).

The International Workingmen's Association thus began as an alliance of diverse groups, including French Mutualists, Blanquists, English Owenites, followers of Mazzini, American proponents of individualist anarchism including Stephen Pearl Andrews and William B. Greene, and various other socialists.

Planning Conference held in London September 25-29, 1865
Britain was represented by the radical trade-unionist leaders, including Odger, Howell, Cremer, Eccarius, etc.; France was represented by Tolain, Limousin, Fribourg, Varlin; Switzerland, by Dupleix, for the French-speaking section of Geneva, and J. P. Becker, for the German-speaking sections; Belgium, by Cesar de Paepe; Poland by Bobrzynski. The national groups of refugees in London were represented by Lessner and Schapper among the Germans; the Italians were represented by Major Wolff. In addition there were present corresponding members of the General Council: Dupont for France; Jung for Switzerland; and Marx for Germany. The meeting resulted in a call for the first Congress of the International. By the time the first Congress was held, many federations already were establilshed.

Congress of September 3-8, 1866, Geneva
The statutes written largely by Marx were approved. Anyone who accepted the statues could become a member of the IWA. The members were organized into sections, which could be united in national federations and the general council was to be an administrative body carrying out executive functions, but it was to have no power over the sections. At this congress, 22 sections of the International were represented by 46 delegates, including Odger, Carter, Jung, Eccarius, Cremer, and Dupont representing the General Council; the French delegates included Tolain, Camélinat, Perrachon, Murat, Chémalé Malon, Varlin, Fribourg, Anbry, and Richard; the Germans were represented by Moll; the Swiss included Dupleix, Becker, Coullery, James Guillaume, and Adhémar Schwitzguébel. The Paris mutualists were the leading group at the first Congress and the most significant decision was adoption of the eight hour day as a fundamental demand. A resolution also passed demanding the abolition of standing armies and a general arming of the people.

Congress of September 2-8, 1867, Lausanne
Seventy-one delegates from Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland attended the second Congress. Dupont, Eccarius, Carter, and Lessner represented the General Council. In addition, there were two British delegates, Walton and Daniel Swan, two Italian, one Belgian, de Paepe, six Germans, including Kugelmann, Ludwig Büchner, and F. A. Lange, eighteen French including Tolain, Chémalé, Charles Longuet, and Aubry, and thirty-eight Swiss.

In what was perhaps the most important decision, the Congress called for the collective ownership of banks and the means of transport. Marx did not attend the Lausanne conference as he was putting the finishing touches on Das Kapital.

Shortly after the Lausanne conference the League of Peace and Freedom, with Bakunin present, met in Geneva. Earlier, at Lausanne, the gathered members of the International had ignored the General Council's advice and resolved officially to participate in the League of Peace and Freedom's Congress.

Congress of September 6-15, 1868, Brussels
There were ninety-nine delegates: eighteen from France including Tolain, Murat, Pindy, Aubry, and Charles Longuet; five from Germany, including Moritz Hess; two from Italy; one from Spain; seven from Switzerland, including Perron and J. P. Becker; five from Britain; six from the General Council (Eccarius, Shaw, Lucraft, Jung, Lessner, and Cowell Stepney); and the remaining fifty-five were Belgians includinf De Paepe and Professor Hins. (Stekloff)

The Congress passed a resolution calling for the collectivization of land as well as of mines, quarries, forests and means of communication. "A majority of the delegates who voted for collective property at the Brussels Congress envisaged as their ultimate aim its decentralized control, under workers' co-operatives, such as was advocated by César de Paepe, who had provided the initiative leading to the Brussels debate." (Stafford, 1971, p. 9.)

Congress refused to accept the League of Peace and Freedom into the International.

Paul Robin's "integral education" paper was adopted as policy of the International.

In addition a long resolution against war was passed.

It was reported that in Britain there were 230 branches of the International, with 95,000 members. The Austrian branches amounted to 13,350 persons.

In July 1868 Bakunin became a member of the Geneva section of the International after resigining from the "League for Peace and Freedom" at its Bern conference. (Guillaume.) Fanelli, at Bakunin's request, travels to Spain to organize sections of the International. On September 25, 1868 Bakunin founded the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy. His "secret brootherhood dissolved in January 1869.

Congress of January 1869, Geneva
Founding of French-Speaking Swiss Federation, the Fédération Romande.

L'Egalité became its official publication.

Congress of September 6-12, 1869, Basel
Attended by Bakunin, but not Marx. After the General Council refused to admit Bakunin's Alliance as an organization, upon consultation with the members, the Alliance was dissolved and in July 1869 the General Council had admitted the group as a simple section of the International based in Geneva. At the Basel Congress Bakunin succeeded in getting a motion accepted for the abolition of private property. Bakunin also voted in favor of strengthening the General Council's authority with regard to disobedient sections. (Meijer, p. 76.) During the congress, Liebknecht spread the rumor that Bakunin was a Russian spy.

Seventy-five delegates attended: "from Great Britain, the 6 members of the General Council, Applegarth, Eccarius, Cowell Stepney, Lessner, Lucraft, and Jung; from France, which sent 26 delegates, among whom we may mention Dereure, Landrin, Chémalé, Murat, Aubry, Tolain, A. Richard, Palix, Varlin, and Bakunin: Belgium sent 5 delegates, among whom were Hins, Brismée, and De Paepe; Austria 2 delegates, Neumayer and Oberwinder; Germany sent 10 delegates, among whom were Becker, Liebknecht, Rittinghausen, and Hess; Switzerland had 22 representatives, among whom were Burkly, Greulich, Fritz Robert, Guillaume, Schwitzguébel, and Perret; Italy sent but one delegate, Caporusso; from Spain there came Farga-Pellicer and Sentinon; and the United States of America was represented by Cameron. Jung was elected chairman of the congress." (Stekloff)

The following resolutions were passed: (1) "The Congress declares that society is entitled to abolish individual ownership of the soil and to make the land communal property. (2) "It declares, further, that it is essential to-day that the land should become communal property." Another resolution, backed by Bakunin, passed calling for the abolition of the right of inheritance.

Congress of April 1870, La Chaux-de-Fonds
Second annual meeting of the Fédération Romande. Split emerges between supporters and critics of the London General Council. The General Council did not recognize the majority, led by James Guillaume.

Because of their support for the Jura Federation, Bakunin and Guillaume were expelled from the International at the Hague Congress.

Conference of September 17-23, 1871, London
Because of the Franco-Prussian War official Congresses could not be held in 1870 and 1871. Nevertheless in 1871 a conference was held in London from the 17th to the 23rd of September. The Bakuninists were virtually absent due to arrests and travel restrictions. There were only 23 delegates present, including six from Belgium, two from Switzerland and one from Spain. The meeting backed the minority in Geneva which was in conflict with the majority Juraissieene section, strengthened the General Council's authority over sections, and endorsed a commitment to political action. In addition, the conference prohibited the use of any sectarian names such as Positivists, Mutualists, Collectivists and Communists. Utin was also charged with writing a pamphlet to expose Bakunin. This conference marked Marx's attempt to commit the IWMA to his principles: "...the Conference of London [was] under the firm control of Marx [and] committed the International to the doctrine of the need for the working class to capture political power." (Stafford, 1971, p. 11-12.) The resolutions passed met with opposition and condemnation by most of the "Latin" federations.

Congress of November 1871, Sonvilier
Jura Federation formally established as Fédération Jurassienne.

The Bulletin de la Fédération Jurassieene appeared in February 1872 as the official organ of the Jura Federation. The Congress decided to send a circular to all sections of the International with the demand that the extension of the General Council's authority be rescinded. Nine out of 22 sections were represented at this meeting by 16 delegates.

Congress of September 2-7, 1872, Hague
There were 61 delegates at the Hague Congress. With the exception of Lafargue, all five Spanish delegates were Bakuninists, as also were the eight Belgian and the four Dutch representatives. But the Italian Bakuninists sent no representatives to the congress, since their Rimini conference in August had broken off all relations with the General Council. The Jura Federation sent Guillaume and Schwitzguebel. "The Hague Congress was, in Marx's eyes, decisive for the future of the International...As if to prove it, he appeared for the first time at one of the Association's Congresses. His aim was to increase the powers of the General Council and expel Bakunin and Guillaume." (Stafford, 1971, p. 12.) "Even the English Federation, for a long time a bastion of support for the Council, was no longer secure, and it disavowed the Hague Resolutions in January 1873. Within the following few months the resolutions had been repudiated by the French, Belgian, Spanish, American, English and Dutch Federations. The Jura Federation had immediately dissociated itself at the Congress of St. Imier of September 1872." (Staford, 1971, p. 12.) The Congress, nevertheless, extended the General Council's authority, committed the IWA to political action. In addition Bakunin and Guillaume had their membership rescinded (the congress expelled Bakunin in a 27 to 7 vote, with 8 abstentions, and then Guillaume in a 25 to 9 vote, with 9 abstentions), but Schwitzguebel survived a vote for his removal. A last decision of the congress, moved by Marx, was to move the seat of the general council from London to New York. (Meijer, p.78.)

According to Franz Mehring, "Strictly speaking, only eight delegates were present representing German organizations: Bernhard Becker (Brunswick), Cuno (Stuttgart), Dietzgen (Dresden), Kugelmann (Celle), Milke (Berlin), Rittinghausen (Munich), Scheu (Württemberg) and Schuhmacher (Solingen). Marx, who was a representative of the General Council, also had one mandate each for New York, Leipzig and Mayence, whilst Engels had a mandate each from New York and Breslau. Hepner from Leipzig also had a mandate from New York, whilst Friedländer of Berlin had a mandate from Zurich. Two other delegates with German names, Walter and Swann, were in fact Frenchmen and their real names were Heddeghem and Dentraggues. Both of them were very doubtful characters and at the Hague congress Heddeghem was already a Bonapartist spy. Those of the French delegates who were Commune fugitives appeared at the congress under their own names. Frankel and Longuet supported Marx, although Ranvier, Vaillant and others were Blanquists, but the origin of their mandates was necessarily kept more or less in the dark. The General Council was represented by two Englishmen (Roach and Sexton), a Pole (Vroblevski), three Frenchmen (Serraillier, Cournet and Dupont) and Marx himself. The Communist Workers Association in London was represented by Lessner. The British Federal Council sent four delegates, including Eccarius and Hales, who began to flirt with the Bakuninists in the Hague."

Congress of August 1872, La Chaux-de-Fonds (Jura Federation)

Congress of St. Imier, September 1872 (Jura Federation)
Convened by Jura Federation, but included representatives from the Spanish and Italian Federations and the first resolution repudiated the decisions of the Hague Congress. Follow this link to the resolutions passed at the Hague Congress.

Congress of August 1873, Lyon (secret)

Congress of September 1873, Geneva (Jura Federation)
Called by the Jura Federation to rally federations opposed to the General Council and took on the title of the "Sixth Congress of the International". There were 24 delegates representing seven national federations. Voted unanimously to abolish the General Council.

Congress of 1879, (Jura Federation)
Kropotkin presented a report entitled Idée anarchiste au point de vue de sa réalisation pratique. "In this report Kropotkin accepted the possibility of the partial realization of collectivism but argued, as Brousse had done, that the disadvantages would be out-weighed by the advantages, in that the collectivized areas would serve to convince the general population of their superiority." (Stafford, 1971, p. 43.)

La Chaux-de-Fonds, October 9-10, 1880 (Jura Federation)
The theory of anarchist communism developed by Reclus, Malatesta, Cafiero and Kropotkin is adpoted as the official position of the Jura Federation.


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