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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
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  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
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  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets
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First International Bibliography First International Commentary




Translated from the French of Edmond Villetard, Editor of the
Journal des Débais, by


With an introduction by Henry N. Day, Author of "Aesthetics," "Logic,",
"Rhetoric," etc.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1874, by
In the Office of Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C.

New Haven, Conn.: The College Courant Press.


The conflict between labor and capital is, perhaps, an unavoidable condition of the advance of civilization. At the present stage of its progress from a state of barbarism, in which property and power belong to a few, towards a state of equality, liberty, and universal brotherhood, certainly this conflict shows itself as an invariable attendant and sign. Only under the reign of perfect virtue and good-will can the elevation of a part fail to provoke the envy, the distrust, and the ill-will of the rest. On the one side there will be instances of oppression and cruelty, which will naturally provoke resistance and revenge and lasting hate; on the other side, there will be instance of peculation and eye-service, which will as naturally provoke increasing rigor and harder exaction, and wrongs from individuals will be resented against the class. But the perfect reign of virtue and good- will is the reign of peace and contentment: only where the former is established can the latter be realized. Resistance to oppression and injustice is itself characterized by the same imperfection out of which issues the wrong it would correct or remove. The inequalities in condition, which men naturally and rightly desire to correct, exist side by side with envy and hate, which will inevitably enter into the work of reform and improvement. It is a most worthy ambition on the part of the inferior to rise to the condition of his superior. The advance of society to a higher and better stage of civilization is impossible where this ambition does not exist; it is rapid just in proportion as this principle prevails in the community. The condition of the workman is in itself inferior to that of the employer; labor is lower than capital. It is a true and worthy manhood that seeks to rise from the one to the other. The conflict of labor and capital is not to be ended by suppressing this noble aspiration. Unless civilization recedes, the effort to rise will continue. It is rationally to be expected, also, that, by reason of human imperfection, the effort will be characterized by mistake and ill feeling; that the conflict will continue. We assume, therefore, the certainty of a continuance of the conflict; and the duty of the philanthropist is simply to seek to prevent, so far as possible, the recurrence of mistakes and the outbreak of ill-will.

No one can doubt that the interests of the capitalist and the laborer are one; that in the relation itself there is no ground of hostility, but only reason for reciprocal good-will and harmonious cooperation. Conflict arises only from ignorance, or from selfishness and malice. The two leading duties of society in respect to the prevention or diminution of the threatened evils from this conflict are obviously, first, general enlightenment; secondly, protection against wrong, and positive repression of it, so far as specific evils exist or threaten to manifest themselves.

Experience is man's best teacher. The "History of the International" is a most instructive lesson from experience. The enlightenment which we in this country, as well as the European nations, need as to the true relationship of labor and capital, and the best means of correcting and preventing the evils which are so liable to spring out of it among imperfect men, is in a rich manner given us in this instructive history. It is brief; it is lucid; it is carefully prepared; it is faithful to fact; it deals with the most stirring scenes and incidents; it traces the progress from its origin to its end of an organization of a most stupendous character, whether its principles, its advocacy, its magnitude, or its proceedings be regarded; it sets forth the strength and weakness of this great organization, its wisdom and its mistake, its success and its failure, in circumstances and conditions, too, that give it a peculiar extrinsic interest, and in the clear light of faithful narrative,--a most wonderful revelation of the workings of the human mind in regard to the most agitating social problem of modern times. It offers matter for study to the historian, the philosopher, the philanthropist; it especially brings counsel to the capitalist and the laborer alike, in regard to their duties at this present time, when society is so profoundly agitated by the practical questions which their relations involve.

In the conviction that this little history will help to solve this great problem of the age, as its solution is demanded for our own country at the present time, the translation has been undertaken, and is now commended to the favor of the public.



CHAPTER I . . . . . . . . . . 1


The Theorists: Saint-Simon, Fourier, Cabet, Louis Blanc.

CHAPTER II, . . . . . . . . . . 10


I.    Workingmen's Association from 1830 to 1848.

II.  Workingmen's Associations under the Second Republic.

III.   Workingmen's Associations under the Government of December.

IV.   Coalitions.—Strikes.—Societies of Resistance.

CHAPTER III, . . . . . . . . . . 41


Practical Socialism in England.—Crimes of Sheffield.—Trade-Unions.

CHAPTER IV, . . . . . . . . . . 51


I.    The London Exposition of 1862.—The fete of the International Fraternity at the Tavern of the Free-Masons.

II.  The Question of the Workingmen's Candidatures in Paris in 1864.—Law concerning Coalitions.—Meeting at Saint-Martin's Hall.—Project of Statutes of the International.

III.   History of the International Association of Workingmen between the Banquet at Saint-Martin's Hall (1862) and the Congress of Geneva (1864).

CHAPTER V, . . . . . . . . . . 75


I.    Theory and Practice.—Sections.—Federations.—Branches.

II.  Local Committees.—Federal Councils.

III.   General Council.—Congress.

IV.   Particular Statutes of the Federations.

V.  Budget of the International.—General and Particular Budgets.—Yearly and Monthly Assessments.—La caisse du sou.

CHAPTER VI, . . . . . . . . . . 102


I.    Dates of the Congresses.—Names of the Delegates who took Part in them.

II.  Congress of Geneva (1866) and of Lausanne (1867).—First Attacks against the Principle of Property.

III.   Congress of Brussels (1868).—It decides the Confiscation by the State of Mines, Quarries, Railroads, Forests, and Arab'e Lands.—M. Tolain.

CHAPTER VII, . . . . . . . . . . 126


Their Number.—How they speak of the Bourgeoisie, the Army, the Magistracy, and the Clergy.

CHAPTER VIII, . . . . . . . . . . 136


I.    Official Doctrine of the International on the Subject of Strikes.—Practice Different from Theory.—The Strike a Powerful Means of Propagandism.—How the International recruited General Duval.

II.  Strike of Roubaix in 1867.—Manifesto of the International and the Journal des Débats.

III.   Strike of Seraing in 1869.—Manifesto of the General Belgian Council.

CHAPTER IX, . . . . . . . . . . 170


I.    Parties in 1864.—The Revolutionary Party: the Jacobins and the Socialists.—The Founders of the International decide that the Association shall remain a stranger to Politics.

II.  First Relations between the International and the Imperial Government.—M. Rouher solicits an Interview.—He asks Compliments for the Emperor.—The International resembles the Jacobins.—First Hostilities.—Manifestation of the Boulevard Montmartre.—Rupture with the Deputies of the Seine.—First and Second Trial of the International.

III.   The French branch disguises itself in Federation with Workingmen's Societies.—Hatred of the Leaders of the Association against the Bourgeois Republicans.—They Abuse and Use Them.—Hope of a Speedy Triumph.

IV.   Last Months of the Empire.—Ministry of January 2nd.—Funeral of Victor Noir.—M. Rochefort.—History of La Marseillaise..—Strike of Creuzot.—Cluseret announces the Intention of Burning Paris.—The International begins to fear the Orleanist Princes.

V.  The Plébiscite.—Affair of the Bombs.—Third Trial of the International.

CHAPTER X, . . . . . . . . . . 215


I.    The International condemns National Wars.—It only admits Social Wars.

II.  Protest of the International against the War of 1870.

CHAPTER XI, . . . . . . . . . . 227


The 4th of September in Paris and the Provinces. The Siege of Paris.—The capitulation.—Disorganization of the Battalions devoted to the Cause of Order.—Organization of the Central Committee.—The 18th of March.



Adhesion given by the Meetings and the Journals of the International to all the Acts of the Commune, including Assassinations and Conflagrations.—Manifesto of the General Council of London.—Protests of some of its Leaders.

CONCLUSION,    . . . . . . . . . . 251

Real Power of the International.—How can it be Resisted?—Laws of Compression; They will do more Harm than Good.—Organization of an International Resistance to the International Conspiracy of Demagogism.





When a man falls sick, he can call to his bed of pain either a quack, who will boast of a radical cure in a few minutes, thanks to some marvelous operation, and who will finish either by doing nothing or by killing him with some drug prescribed out of place, or a true physician, who, without proclaiming himself to be an infallible savior, will conscientiously study the symptoms of the disease and fight the evil step by step, until health is completely re-established. Suffering society has also its quacks and physicians. The physicians of the social body are the wise and prudent politicians, who devote themselves to calming passions, to subduing storms, to preventing crises, to maintaining or re-establishing peace, to bringing back equilibrium into the budget, order into the finances, liberty into the laws, in order that the condition of the whole world may grow better and better, that of each individual profiting by the general amelioration. The quacks of the political order are the reformers of great pretensions, who flatter themselves that they have found a marvelous formula, by virtue of which we will see the misery of the world vanish away, and the golden age flourish again upon the earth.

Man has suffered in all times, both as an individual and a member of society; he has very naturally sought, at all times, a remedy for his misfortunes. Unfortunately, he has been much inclined, in all ages, to lend a favorable ear to those classes who, instead of simply engaging to alleviate his sufferings little by little, promise with confidence to free him from them all by a turn of the plans for social renovation, have never lacked clients and disciples.

We will not stop to recall here all the projects of radical reforms of society, which have been carried forward by dreamers in so many centuries, some of whom were men of genius. Neither will we enumerate the different practical attempts which have been made to renovate the face of the world in a single day. We will say nothing of Plato and his Republic, nor of Thomas More and his Isle of Utopia, nor of Campanella and his City of the Sun, nor of Fénelon and of the Republic of Salente, not of Morelly and Le Code de la Nature. We will not speak of the Communist movement of the sixteenth century, and of that Anabaptist kingdom of Munster, whose short history offers strange resemblances to that of the Commune de Paris; we will not even say a word of Babeuf and his conspiracy, although there may be some likeness of descent almost direct between the Conjuration des Egaux and the demagogues who filled Paris with blood and flames under the third republic. But it is necessary to relate, at least in a few word, the theoretical and practical history of socialism in the first half of the nineteenth contury.

The systems of Saint-Simon and Fourier were conceived by their authors and published before 1830*. But it was by means of the movement given to minds by their revolution of July, that they came out of the narrow circle of those first initiated, so as to reach the knowledge of the true public. What was their fate is well known. Saint-Simonism, embraced with ardor by a party of the aristocracy of the youth of 1830, seemed for an instant capable of converting the world; but after a period of brilliant life, it disappeared. Almost all the apostles of Ménilmontant, it is true, after twenty years of obscure efforts reached the first ranks of industrial and financial society of the second empire, but, nevertheless, without making the ideas of their masters triumph; the dazzling fortune of the Saint-Simonians, long since dead. Forurierism, which seemed to have less chance of success, and which never had as large a number of adepts eminent for their science and intelligence, had at least a much longer life. Retaken, resumed, and rejuvenated by Victor Considérant, as the system of Saint-Simon had been by the pleiad of his first disciples, it struggled without much glory until 1848, and seemed for a moment, after the new crisis, as if it must play, under the second republic, the role which its rival doctrine had filled in the early years of the monarchy of July; but it was in its turn extinguished little by little, without leaving in the world a very brilliant mark.

*Saint-Simon died at Paris 1825, in the arms of his first disciples, Auguste Comte, Olinde Rorigue, Bazar, Enfartin, etc.; Fourier lived until 1837, but his most important works were anterior to the revolution of July.

The first of these two doctrines completely absorbed the individual in the state, who, under pretence of directing and protecting us, became the most insupportable of tyrants. The second broke down, in a manner yet more irremediable, all personality, by suppressing not only the property, but even the life of the individual who became a simple element of a phalanx, without will, without initiative, without special rights.

These two systems at least had a singular attraction for dreamers, due to the force of the imagination of their authors, who had built the edifice of their ideal society upon a plan new and grand.

The reformers who succeeded them knew not how, any more than they, to approach the real and the possible; but far from making, like them, an appeal to the generous sentiments of human nature, they only addressed themselves to its more vulgar desires and basest passions; also, instead of attracting to them, as Fourier and especially Saint-Simon, a small number of noble minds, they ensnared merely an ignorant mob. The most celebrated of these reformers are Cabet, author of "Voyage en Icarie," and M. Louis Blanc, the too famous inventor of "L'Organization du travail." Both of these found numerous partisans, who have published the writings which we have just mentioned. "We must," says M. Corbon, in a book which deserves to be much read and quoted,* "we must distinguish the Communists determined, and consistent, from the Communists without knowing it and without intending it. These are, I am aware, numerous enough. In studying the spirit of the working class of Paris, we shall see certainly a communist tendency, manifesting itself by a marked progression towards lightening considerably individual foresight and responsibility, by burdening just as much social responsibility. Supposing that no resistance could be made to the propensity, it is very evident that one after another would arrive at the fusion of all private interests in the supreme social interest; we would have a complete community.

"But one must be very ignorant of the general dispositions of society, and even of the force of things, in order to believe that these popular tendencies can go to the final consequence.

"The decided partisans of the system were divided into two classes: the one comprised the immediate communists—that is to say, those who believed in the possibility of a speedy realization all at once; the other, those who, not having this belief, wished to proceed by means of transition.

*Le Secret du people de Paris, I vol., 8vo. 1863: Paris.

"The immediate Communists were divided into two branches: the one comprising those who desired to apply the system revolutionarily to French society, the other those who pretended only to realize it among themselves, and outside of any constraint upon society. These last were ranged, for the most part, around Cabet. It was, moreover, not the Parisian center which furnished to this socialist leader the majority of his adherents; the Icariens were recruited from all the cities of France. The most determined went to establish a community in the southern part of the United States, at Nauvoo, a plave previously occupied by the Mormons.

"The Communists of transition clung to two measures: the one of economic order, the other of political order.

"The economic measure consisted in creating social workshops under the direction and at the expense of the state, to commence by constituting it supreme director of the production and equal distributor of the products.

"The political measure consisted in advancing progressively the right of the state over private property."

M. Corbon is convinced that these deplorable tendencies were not "the fruit of the popular spirit," and that there must have been some stirring from without in order to develop them. "I have known very well," says he, "the Communist world; I have been able to follow the development of the idea; I have observed closely the work of initiation and propagation; and I shall be believed when I say that neither the initiators nor the most daring of the propagators were of the working class."

We do not propose to discuss the truth of this last assertion, but the pages we have just quoted have received a melancholy interest from the tragic events of that year. The ideas which the former member of the provisional government of 1848 believed positively judged, condemned, and even forgotten by the Parisian people, of which he boasts that he has shown us the secret, were on the contrary, even at the time at which he wrote his book, making the most frightful progress, precisely because at the time the propagators were all of the working class.

The systems of the immediate Communists of 1840 are almost absolutely known; we will study more slowly those which for three years have found their advocates in the speakers of the congress of the International, and their armed defenders in the generals and the soldiers of the Commune.

M. Corbon reminds us constantly that the Icariens, not finding the old world worthy for the success of their equal republic, transported themselves to America, where they hoped "to maintain themselves far from the impure breath of the old individualistic society." It is well known that after a short time the success of the experiment was such that the experimenters were obliged to settle their association by means of fire arms.

The system of M. Louis Blanc was never tried by such direct means as that of M. Cabet; but the principles on which it was formed, have been proved often enough to enable one to say that facts have, many times confirmed the condemnation which science justly bore against them before any practical experiment.

Every one knows that the passions which inspired that detestable and fatal pamphlet, "L'Organization du tranail," were hatred of competition and love of absolute equality. Competition, in the eyes of M. Louis Blanc, is the cause of all evils, the source of all vices; one must hasten to stop it everywhere. More competition among manufacturers or merchants excited each to produce or to sell at a better bargain then his neighbors; more competition among workmen, each endeavoring to supplant the other in the same workshop, reduces by degrees the price of their labor. Room for the social workshop, where all humanity produces for all humanity without rivalry, without jealousy; where all the workers whatever may be their business or their function, receive the same salary; where the man of talent is the equal of the incapable; where the man of genius and the idiot are a pair; where soldiers and judges, looked upon at present as unnecessary in all society to prevent or punish wrongs and crimes, are replaced by a bill bearing this inscription: "The idle man is a robber." It is a complete perfect, admirable system It is only necessary to take care, in order to render the application possible, to commence be renovating the moral nature of man more profoundly than Fourier, in his dream of the future, changed our bodies, those of animals, and even the constitution of the elements.

It must be confessed, besides, that M. Louis Blanc did not invent all these beautiful things. The ideas which he condensed in 1840, in his "Organization du travail," had been in process of formation for at least ten years, and became more popular day by day among the workingmen, as M. Corbon proves. A certain number of them found a convinced advocate, M. Buchez, who made for them too large a part in the workingmen's association, preached in 1831 and 1832 by its journal, "L'Européen." They even submitted to a beginning of trial, which was not favorable to them, as we shall see.






If the workingmen's association, such as we have seen organized at three different times during forty years, is an enterprise sufficiently new, yet more in the end which it proposed than in the mere practical results which it was able to attain, it must not be imagined that the workingmen had waited until the 24th of February, 1848, or even until the 29th of July, 1830, to consider that it would be advantageous for them to unite their efforts, in order to reap greater profits from their labor, and to lend in all circumstances a mutual aid. A wise and intelligent historian of workingmen's associations, M. Eugéne Véron, relates that Rome had formerly its eollegia opificum, just as Germany and ancient France had later their guilds. M. Corbon teaches us, on his side, that the remembrance of the corporations destroyed by the French Revolution, is dear to the working classes who still regret them.

"Since 1791," he says, "this regret has been expressed in the form of a general coalition of all bodies of trade. The laboring masses saw already the inconveniences of being abandoned, whilst the class of contractors reaped the benefits of the new system. Time has not sensibly changed the opinions of the two classes.

"As it regards the laboring masses, the regret of an institution which had in their view the character of a protector, does not always mean that the corporation dreamed of by them would be in all points organized as was the ancient one.

"However it may be, of all the systems tending to the organization of labor, that which would give a legal existence to the corporation would be the one that would best respond to the feeling of the workingmen; and I add, that wherever that institution is most vehemently desired, most peremptorily demanded, are found the workingmen in whom intelligence is most active, and who are the most ardent partisans of democratic progress."

If the corporations no longer exist, another more mysterious form of association, which was probably anterior to them, has survived them; we allude to compagnonnage. Without enlarging upon the fabulous origin assigned to these societies, which have had at least several centuries of existence; without giving here the history of the Enfants de Maitre Facques, nor that of the Enfants de Salomon and of the various Devoirs; without entering into the details of the rivalries and hatreds which have divided them, we will limit ourselves to saying that we would strangely mistake the importance of these venerable ruins of a past time, if we saw in them only simple societies for mutual assistance.

The one thought, that they are not isolated, gives to the compagnons a force which is wanting to the workmen who do not consider themselves united together by a single tie; the editors of L'Atelier, good judges in such matters, tell us expressly:

"There is among all the workingmen who possess an organization, however imperfect it may be, a sentiment of conviction of their moral superiority over their brothers divided by egoism, separated by mistaken interests."*

M. Corbon, on his part, remarks also that where-ever the compagnonnage exists, the workman is skilful, even if he is not a compagnon; the work is relatively well done, and "the salary is greater than elsewhere," without adding that the workman is generally sound in body and mind. On the contrary, wherever compagnonnage does not penetrate, the author of the Secret du people affirms that the work is poorer, and the laborer remains on a level lower than where espirit du corps has preserved its ancient form.

We see that the workingmen have not waited for the creation of sociétés de résistance, in order to attempt, by means of a common understanding, the defense of their interests.

While corporations and the compagnonnage rendered formerly some services to the working classes, they must have seemed very insignificant to the ardent spirits who aspired, in the following days of 1830, to renovate the face of the earth by the triumph of the most absolute democracy.

*L'Atelier. Dec., 1843. Page 43.

There was no attempt to protect simply the rights of the laborer against the excessive force of capital; it was necessary to reform society from top to bottom, beginning by giving it new foundations, built upon a plan heretofore unknown.

The first architect who presented himself was a dissenting disciple of Saint-Simon, a good man, as innocent as honest, a zealous Catholic, very enthusiastic, and very ignorant of the tendencies of human nature. M. Buchez, whom we were to see, eighteen years later, president of the constituent Assembly, on the fatal May 15th, being inspired, the day following the revolution of July, with the thought of the school with which he had broken, started a monthly review, L'Européen, expressly to expose the miracles which the association was to realize. His success was very great among the elite of the working class, although but very little noticed at that time by the bourgeoisie. If M. Buchez had contented himself with engaging the most intelligent and most industrious workingmen to unite in groups, in order to acquire little by little, by mingling their efforts and the fruits of their work, a capital which would make them dependent only upon themselves, to become patrons in their turn, he would have given excellent counsel; but he would not have needed to be grand master of social sciences and disciple of Saint-Simon, the prophet, in order to discover so commonplace a remedy.

Moreover, there is little tendency in the French mind to contest itself with truths so humble, and to trouble itself to give advice purely individual. We can only comprehend, in the matter of reforms, those who embrace humanity all together, and full of scorn of ameliorations in detail, we only deign to occupy ourselves with innovations on condition of revolutionizing all the world. M. Buchez was a true Frenchman; the readers of L'Européen were yet more French than he. They hastened then to conceive the first association which aspired to from the nucleus of the universal association. "It ought," says M. Corbon, who shared at first these brilliant illusions, "to be absorbing, unique, as much as possible devoted to one profession; and all, converging to the same end, should hold themselves closely bound together. In a word, we wish to constitute the community from the instrument of labor; and as the instrument of labor, in the economic language, includes machines, tools, capital moveable or immovable, we tend then positively towards the general community of property. Our theory, at first, did not differ from that of the pure Communists, with this exception, that outside of the workshop, each disposed of his property at will."

They continued to give associations a grand faculty of absorption; they declared then, contrary to the civil law, that they would be perpetual, and that a part of the social capital would be impersonal and inalienable. Every associate was bound to set aside a portion of his profits to increase indefinitely the impersonal social capital, and to permit the society to receive new members as fast as it increased. It should be, as it were, a lifting pump put in play, without cessation, by the devotion of the associate workingmen, and ending by drawing all the capital into the hands of the laborer; they already foresaw the day when no one could help working in order to live.

It is useless to add that labor by the job was proscribed, which took away from the activity of the laborer his most powerful stimulant, since he ceased to have in view a salary proportionate to his efforts and his skill. In like manner, also, the part of the profits which was not applied to the community, was divided among the associates according to the number of their days of work, without making any alliance for the actual quantity of work furnished by each one. Of what use is it to fatigue one's-self and make efforts by which one does not profit? M. Corbon says with exceeding reason that they had calculated without consulting human nature, which does not lend itself to such experiments. "The group of workingmen who had borrowed this plan of organization of labor, and who had propagated it as well as they could, seemed to have consciousness of the impossibility of realizing a system which demanded so much abnegation and such sustained efforts. The proof of this is that they did not make great efforts to preach by example. I know something of this. I remember perfectly that I felt and said aloud, more than once, that I should have great trouble in applying myself to such an order of things. It is unfortunate that we are always disposed to demand that others should do what we omit doing ourselves. We thought then that we had accomplished our task by propagating the ideas. If we had seriously put it in practice, the impossibilities would have struck us much sooner.*

The first association, that of the joiner workingmen, endeavored to establish itself on these bases. It was founded the 10th of September, 1831, and its statutes were compiled by M. Buchez. But I spite of all the endeavors of this celebrated man, in spite of the good will of the workingmen themselves, the society could never be established in a serious manner, and it never was really organized. Various other associations, which tried to found themselves on the same principles, has not better fortune. "One only has survived," says M. Eugéne Véron, "from which we borrowed a great number of these facts, that of the jewelers, founded in 1834. It comprised at first only four associates; this number increased at one time to eighteen; but in 1851 it fell to twelve, and to day has only eight.** But it must have remained always faithful to the theory which it adopted at its birth. Thus M. Corbon tells us that the impersonal capital which it promised to render inalienable as far as the law would permit, was divided at the end of ten years. On the other hand, the rigorous condition of its constitution made a close circle for it. Thus this association, which should have absorbed all the laborers of the universe, found itself at the end of thirty years, modestly reduced to eight members. Yet M. Véron remarks with much justide that if it had prospered in spite of the errors of its statutes, it was explained by the character of its associates. "They are," he says, "men profoundly religious, who find in exaltation of their belief a compensation for the moral stimulants which they have thrown away. This is why they are resigned to remain in a state similar to torture, while the association prospers and the community is enriched. One sees very well that this cannot be proposed as a model for other associations, which cannot be entirely composed of saints.

*Corbon, Les Écrits du people de Paris. 2d part, chapter II.

**M. Véron's book (Les Associations ouvriéres) appeared in 1865.


We have seen only a small number of workingmen's societies established during the reign of Louis Phillipe, but the theories which made the association the remedy of all the evils of the laboring classes, and the force destined to regenerate the world, were never so much in favor as at the time when the Republic triumphed for the second time in France. On the 25th of  February the association was inscribed in a decree of the Hôtel de ville, beside the guaranty of labor. The Constituent Assembly did not leave off promising the signiature of the provisional government on this point, and July 25th, 1848, upon a report presented by M. Corbon, the assistant editor of L'Atelier, it voted a law opening a credit of three millions, designed to furnish advances of the workingmen who wished to become associated. At the same time, there was instituted a council of encouragement, to examine the demands and regulate the conditions of the loan. Ten days later the Assembly took a new step in the same direction; the workingmen who had united themselves under certain fixed conditions, were admitted to the adjudication or even to the direct concession of public labors; they went so far as to dispense with the security required of those who undertook the trust. Among the associations which took advantage of the privilege of this second law, one alone, that of the pavers, was an actual success, and realized great benefits simply by procuring an administration for the city of Paris.*

The council of encouragement instituted by the law of the 5th of July, devoted itself to the work and published a pamphlet, where was found yet more of the ideas of the editors of L'Atelier than those of the majority of the Assembly, for it spoke of the duty imposed upon the Assembly "of assisting, by the means of which it could make use, to remove laborers from the condition of receiving wages to that of voluntary associates." As we can readily believe, clients were not wanting. The council received more than five hundred demands in 1848, and more than a hundred in 1849; not merely three millions were needed, but thirty and more, in order to satisfy all those who presented themselves. "The chest was opened," says M. Levasseur in his excellent Histoire des classes ouvriéres, "many imagined that they had only to draw from it. Workingmen became associated without any determined end except to receive aid, or with pretensions that could not be realized, and vague aspirations. Patrons whose affairs were embarrassed, associated their workmen in order to have a right to the loan of the treasury." They did what they could by cutting down their parasites, and after a choice difficult enough to make, they finished by admitting thirty-two associations in Paris and twenty-nine in the departments, by a total of 2,945,500 francs—that is to say, nearly the whole of the credit; some resignations and reductions reduced the amount actually loaned to 2,590,500 francs, divided among fifty-six associations.

*Levasseur, Histoire des classes ouvriéres en France, depuis 1798 jusqu'á nos jours, Book 5, chapter IV.

In the month of March, 1850, L'Atelier appreciated the spirit which inspired these societies, in an article in which we find some interesting information.

At the time when the revolution of February broke out, there were, according to this journal, in the socialist party, four very distinct groups. That of the pure Communist, which had for its organs Le Populaire of Cabet, and La Fraternité of MM. Adam, cambreur, Mallarmet, worker in bronze, Savary, etc., condemned formally the association; the three others, on the contrary, expected to see in it the grand instrument of social regeneration; only they wished to organize, the one according to the principles of the phalansterian school, the other according to those of M. Louis Blanc, the third according to the conception of the editors of L'Atelier.

If we are to believe the article which we are now analysing, the greater part of the Communist wokringmen abjured, after February , their contempt of the association, and were only desirous of changing their condition of receiving salaries into that of voluntary associates.

Notwithstanding that the movement impressed all minds by the revolution which was just accomplished, one association alone wished to regulate itself upon the laws of the Phalanstery. Projected in 1847, it endeavored in 1848 to establish itself upon a domain situated some leagues from Paris, and it was disappointed. "The socialism of Fourier," says the editor of L'Atelier, "is propagated but little except among young scholars; the popular social element remains almost a stranger to this doctrine. So that of the three constituent elements of the phalanstery, the school has only found one, talent. Capital and labor have been wanting in order to try thoroughly the theory of integral association."

The system of M. Louis Blanc was, on the contrary, very popular with the laboring classes; most of the associations wished to conform to it; many even imagined, in the highest faith in the world, that they followed religiously its laws; but L'Atelier has no trouble in showing that they only deceived themselves:

"M. Louis Blanc only conceived of the association as a means of destroying competition. We have seen him fight with all his energy and with all his eloquence against the thought of distinct associations, divided in interests, especially when there was concerned but one single profession.

"That which M. Louis Blanc wished, was an association unique and tending to become universal. He only admitted the material division of the labor of workshops and localities. But he wished that all workers should sink absolutely their particular interest in the common interest, and that they should conform to the law of most complete solidarity.

"According to the doctrine of M. Louis Blanc, there should be, wherever there was need of them, social workshops; here of joiners, there of tailors or of masons; in fact, there would only one and the same association which should be the nucleus of the universal association.

"As for the principle of repartition. it should be that of the strictest equality.

"This destruction of competition by community of interest in all social workshops, and equality of salaries, are the two great conditions of M. Louis Blanc's system. Take away these two conditions, or one only, and the whole system falls to the ground.

"Now the one hundred and eighty workingmen's societies which were established in Paris, under the symbol of a level,* are they only different workshops of one and the same association?

"No. Except three or four associations which have one or two dependencies, or three t most, each associate group forms a group perfectly distinct and perfectly separate from the others.

"Some efforts were made and renewed for the consolidation of workingmen's associations: these efforts failed. The establishments which had the courage and perseverance to surmount all the difficulties of founding do not seem in the least disposed to make common their cause and treasury with other establishments more or less well organized.

"As for salary, most of the associations in their origin, wished it to be equal, conformably to the theory of M. Louis Blanc. They were almost all obliged to renounce it.

"Thus the two fundamental conditions of M. Louis Blanc, those which alone characterize the system which he himself formed, that is, unity of interest and equality of salary, have failed completely in practice.

"Competition, for which M. Louis Blanc had a horror which all his adherents shared, is made use of among the associations.

*The number of 180 societies given by L' Atelier, compared with the number of 32 associations, admitted for Paris, to take part of the 3 millions voted by the Assembly, proves that the number of societies which were created without aid of the Government was infinitely greater than is generally believed.

"It is made use of even in the bosom of the association; for salary proportionate to the work, as quantity and as quality, is still competition.

"We are then perfectly justified in saying that the transformation which begins to operate by means of the association, proceeds no more from the theory of M. Louis Blanc than from that of the phalansteries."

However, the co-workers of L'Atelier, while demonstrating that victory remained to their own ideas, recognized in the author of L'Organizatiou du travail the merit of having energetically pushed the workingmen into the path of association. If his personal theories failed, it is because the force of circumstances and human nature itself condemned them. We see by acknowledgments of M. Corbon, in Le secret du people de Paris, that the editors of L'Atelier who no longer shared in 1848 the errors of M. Louis Blanc, had at least in former times paid them tribute; if they were undeceived while M. Louis Blanc still believed them, it was because they were thrust into practice, while the noted publicist always remained in the domain of theories.

Meanwhile M. Corbon and his friends were themselves amused in 1850 by many illusions, and at the moment in which they spoke with exultation of the transformation which had begun to operate by means of associations, the societies upon which they grounded so much hope were almost all on the brink of destruction.

Cruel miscalculations were truly not slow in chilling the beautiful enthusiasm of the earlier days. Incompatibility of humor among the associates, mobility of character, want of skill, absence of a voluntary discipline of some, brought into the societies which were just established, numerous revolutions, and cased much ruin. In 1852, among the fifty-six associations created by means of the funds voted by the Assembly, there were counted thirty* which had foundered swallowing up together nearly one million. In 1858, in Paris there remained only nine of the thirty-two of the associations which had profited by the agreement of the State, and of these nine societies only four prospered. Of the hundred end eighty associations cited with pride by L'Atelier in 1850, there only remained ten in 1867. M. Levasseur, from whom we have borrowed these figures, adds:

"The statistics mention less than fifteen hundred workingmen, who attempted, with or without the public assistance, to become associated, less than three hundred who with difficulty persisted until 1852, and this indicates that the capital accumulated by the associations, in six years, remains still inferior to the supply furnished in 1848 by the State.

"It is, in short, a small result. What are some hundreds of thousands of francs earned by fifteen or twenty groups of ten or twenty persons by the side of fortunes realized, in the same lapse of time, by old workmen becoming manufacturers or contractors? If it were possible to make a list of salaries in 1848, which in a period of ten years have changed conditions, and to place in comparison the profits amassed by those under the régime of individual activity and under the régime of cooperation, the part of the latter would assuredly appear little worthy of fixing the attention of history.

*18 in Paris and 12 in the department. They had received 954,000 francs in loan.


The imperial government showed itself in its commencement but little favorable to the workingmen's societies which had lived until the 2nd of December. Disposed to see everywhere elements of conspiracy, it suppressed most of those which had survived, societies of production, of consummation, or of mutual aid, without distinguishing very much the object which they had proposed. But, after some years, the notion of association, which had appeared dead, acquired all at once a new force, and ended by being as favorably received both by the bourgeoisie and the government itself as the laboring classes.

The experience of 1848 had profited. They no longer demanded from the state a patronage which had come to be regarded as more hurtful than useful. There was little or no question of equality.

of salaries; the workingmen -- those, at least, who were in the associations,--comprehended that capital is an indispensable element of production, and they recognized that it was just, when necessary, to give it its part of the fruits of a labor which could not have been accomplished without its aid. Capital, on its part, no longer seemed afraid of associations. In 1863, M. Béluze founded in Paris the Société du Crédit au travail, which had for its aim "the crediting of associations actually existing, and the aiding in the formation of new associations of production, of consumption, and of credit." This society, which ended by breaking down in later years, seemed for an instant called to play a role as blessed as important. Numerous societies of production were created with its aid and capital; it received funds, to a great extent, of mutual credit, it discounted the paper of a great number of coöperative societies, and was rapidly aggrandized itself, for, during the three first years of its short existence, the number of its associates and the amount of its capital had increased tenfold. MM. Léon Say and Walras founded, on their side, the Caisse d'escompte des associations populaires, which prospered rapidly, and the emperor, seeking to favor now the movement which his government had violently combated in 1852, gave 500,000 fr. To constitute a Caisse des associations coöperatives. In the departments, five or six treasuries of the same nature were formed between 1864 and 1867; M. Levasseur mentions among others the Société lyonnaise de credit au travail, the Banque de credit Au travail of Lille, and the Crédit populaire of Colmar. In the last half of the year 1866, there were already counted in Paris, one hundred and twenty crédits mutuels, seven societies of consummation, fifty-one societies of production; and in the departments, one hundred societies of natures differing in function or in formation.*

They believed for a moment that they were assisting, not, indeed, in the commencement of the universal renovation dreamed of by the socialists, but in the first period of a revolution, peaceful and deep, which would effect, little by little, commerce and industry. It was a mistake. The movement, which seems as if it must acquire new strength every day, soon loitered, and without having produced either a commercial or political crisis, most of the societies, which had seemed just now on the point of wholly conquering, disappeared, one by one, and quietly made settlements more or less disastrous. It would be impossible for us to say how many had subsisted till the last year at the time of the declaration of war, but we have reason for believing that the number was very much reduced. **

* Levasseur, Histoire des classes ouvriéres. Book 6, chap. VI.

**At the complementary elections of July 2d of that year, those associations which still existed, published a very moderate manifesto, designed to oppose abstention; it closed thus: "Whom shall we choose? Before all, the men of rank who wish to maintain the Republic. What have we to gain from revolutions? Nothing. What have we to gain by the maintenance of order and of the Republic? Everything. Come then to us; observe carefully our candidates, and then: To the ballot! It is the only weapon of honest citizens and laborers." powerfully aided in the formation, in the development and the formidable success of this execrable society.

Nearly all were wrecked upon rocks signaled in advance by men of good sense, to whose wise counsels and sad but verified predictions they refused to listen.

We do not wish, neither are we able, to examine here one by one, all the obstacles which rendered, truly not impossible, but very difficult the success of these associations; yet there is one main thing which we thing useful to notice in this preface to the history of the International, because this obstacle belongs to the passions which have most

"A committee of initiative of the workingmen's associations."

This placard, which persuaded the electors to apply "to one of the delegates, 10, Rue Mayran," was printed by the new printing house (a workingmen's association), Rue des Jeuneurs, 14, at G. Masquin and Comp.

Another placard, printed by L'Association générale typographique, Rue du Faubourg, Saint-Denis, gave a "list of the Republican candidates of the workingmen's associations, of the employés of industry, of commerce, and of administration." This list contained only five names, placed in the following order:

MM. Cohadon, founder and manager of the coöperative Society of Masons; Mamy (Jules), manufacturer; Mumeaux, founder and manager of the coöperative society of spectacle-makers; Dreux, founder and manager of the coöperative society of locksmiths; Pioche (Joseph), director of the coöperative society for the consummation of the union of agricultural and industrial factories; founder and president of the council of inspection of the coöperative society for the production of cabinet ware and furniture.

Below these names were two lines which merit notice as a sign of the moderate ideas of these candidates and their patrons. "To attain this end -- just cooperation of labor and capital." It would be interesting to know just how many votes were given to the representatives of the coöperative associations; but the journals have not told us this.

When an association is established, not with the purely negative aim, to propagate hatred and war, but with a positive aim, to produce and sell its products, it is not sufficient to have working arms, it is necessary that there should be a head to direct their efforts: the work must be divided among the workers; the work, when finished must be examined in order to see that it is well done; tools must be bought, and materials, without any mistake as to quality or price; it is necessary to employ those who will make products of a nature satisfactory to the consumers; as soon as they are fabricated, markets must be found for them; one must know how to sell them to men who can honor their signature, if one is forced as is generally the case, to accept in payment, not cash, but notes to mature in longer or shorter time. It is necessary, then, that he or they of the associates who are to play this role of direction and control, possess a mass of information perfectly useless to those who only furnish to the society the work of their hands. These directors, or, to call them by the name that the notion of equality and some little jealousy among the associates consented to give them, these managers who should have more instruction, more intelligence, more taste, more delicacy of mind, more subtlety of character than their comrades, under penalty of misfortune to the society and of ruin to each of the associates, shall they only be,

as regards rights of all kinds and daily renumeration and share of the profits, the equals of those men to whom they should be superior in almost everything? At most times this question would have been resolutely answered in the affirmative; but as the force of circumstances is superior to all the decisions of a society, whatever it be, the associations have found it almost an impossibility to find capable managers under such circumstances, and when it has not been internal want of discipline which has killed them, they have perished by being badly directed and badly administered. When, on the contrary, they consented to give to the chiefs they had elected the right of commanding and of directing with sufficient liberty; when, at the same time, they have accorded to them pecuniary advantages a little in relation to the degree of intelligence and of knowledge of all kinds which they were obliged to possess, they became so quickly the object of such lively jealousy, that the exercise of their functions was soon rendered impossible.

The force of circumstances furnished in the presence of this great question of ruling, three or four solutions, almost all equally disagreeable to the workingmen who were united in the hope of arriving speedily at freedom without having thenceforth any superiors. In most cases, want of discipline among the associates and incapacity of the managers brought about, more or less rapidly, ruin; in other cases, a small number of associates became able, thanks to the retiring or lassitude of the others, to transform themselves into veritable patrons and conduct more or less ably an enterprise upon conditions almost resembling those of the mills founded and directed by the bourgeoisie. Sometimes a manager, at the same time incapable and dishonest, precipitated the final crisis by disappearing some fine night with the remains of the joint capital. Finally we even see some of these republics transformed absolutely by a stroke of authority into absolute monarchies. Thus the association of chair makers, founded in 1848 with some four hundred members, and reconstituted in 1849 after numerous internal rendings, with only twenty associates, still suffered numerous vicissitudes during several years. At last, a little after the 2nd of December, the manager, M Antoine, possessed himself of absolute authority: "Well! yes," said he to German, M. Huber, who visited France and England in order to study cooperation, "yes I have made my little coup d'état as well as another. And why should I not have made it, since they turn out so well, these coups d'état? That we must do in all things, as other Frenchmen do to us, is a good and powerful command." Let us add that a long time before the hero by whom he regulated his conduct had led France as far as Reishoffen and Sedan, the dictator of the chair-makers was compelled to disappear, and that his disappearance was accompanied by circumstances little edifying.

In a country much less favorable to coups d'état, in England, M. Huber found also some managers who had known how to impress their power upon their former equals: the history of one of them is most interesting, and we shall be pardoned if we give up to him a few lines.

There were, a long time ago, in London (this authentic history begins like a fairy tale), seven brothers, all gigantic, named Musto, who were all machinists. The eldest, William, a good speaker and distinguished agitator, placed himself one day at the head of a strike, into which he very naturally drew his six brothers. After a certain time, one of them, John, seeing all the family resources wasted, firmly decided not to re-demand work from his "patrons," but, understanding on the other side the absolute necessity of returning to business, proposed to others to associate themselves and to work on their own account. He had read some numbers of the "Christian Socialist;" he had been taught by some friends already embarked in the coöperative movement, and some philanthropists of Lincoln's Inn, what had given to him, thanks to his natural penetration, a sufficient idea of the aim and means of the societies then new. With his brothers, except the orator William, and two or three of their companions, by realizing their last resources and contracting a little loan, they collected a hundred pounds sterling, and formed a workshop. But the affair did not progress; each one wished to command, and no one was willing to obey; customers did not appear, credit vanished. Then John Musto addressed his associates: "How can you expect," said he to them, "that people will trade with you, when they do not know who has the charge of affairs? People, you know, have to do business with some one person. Moreover, they always find us quarreling and arguing instead of working. It cannot go on so, and, for my part, I will not consent to it any longer. Do you wish me to tell you what is the matter? There is not one among you capable of directing affairs, and how can you expect to do it all together? Now I can direct, and you know it very well, and if you do not give me full liberty, all will be over between us. I will make my way all alone." Thus the brave John Musto made his coup d'état, and he laughingly told M. Huber that, by way of peroration to this eloquent speech, he showed a pair of muscular fists.

Some time after, the coöperative society engaged the associations protected by it, to respond in writing to various important questions submitted to them. It asked of them, among other things, to what cause each association attributed essentially its success, and what recommendation their experience would consider most important for future associations. The associate mechanics of London responded: "Place the control in the hands of a small number." It is to be believed that this time John Musto had no need, in determining this answer, of the eloquence of his famous fists.

Let us add that this society, established in 1852, with 2,500 francs, in part borrowed, possessed, in 1854 more than 70,000 francs. It is true that it disappeared in 1857; but it succumbed to a crisis which carried away, at the same time, a great number of individual enterprises, and its fall proves nothing either against the principle of association, or against the necessity of intelligent control entrusted to one man or a very small number.


John Musto, in his memorable speech to his associates, pronounced a profound saying, upon which we cannot reflect too much, because it sufficiently explains, on the one hand, the small success of most all the associations; and, on the other, the immense number of adhesions received in a few years by the International. I will make my way all alone. This is precisely what constituted the power of most of the manufactories, mills, banking and commercial houses conducted by the bourgeoisie. It was because the same force of circumstances placed at their head only those men sufficiently instructed and intelligent to make their way all alone, as the men who thought themselves strong enough to make their way all alone did not care to share the profits to which they had the right to pretend with a crowd of associates, who would aid them, it is true, by means of their small capital, but who, by want of intelligence, by ignorance, or even by most fatal jealousy, would fetter all their operations and constrain all their movements. When a man is capable of becoming the real and true head of a great exploit, which he can direct in all freedom, and of which he can receive the profits, either entirely, or at least in a very large proportion, can he be contented in exercising in an association a power uncertain, precarious, insufficient, and without being recompensed for his trouble except by receiving a part of the profits scarcely superior to that of the least of the associate workingmen? For this, one must be a hero, a saint. Now, heroes and saints are rare in all times and in all countries.

On the other hand, there is an immense multitude of workers who, not feeling these exceptional faculties, know in the depths of their hearts that they are wholly incapable of making their way all alone, and who have seen perish, moreover, one by one, most of the associations upon which they had counted for the realization of their long cherished hopes; this multitude, we can believe, were very ready to rally about men who promised to lead them, promptly, by ways apparently less arduous, to the satisfaction of their long awakened desires, their eternally unappeased appetites.


Long before the first of the societies, of which we have just related the history, was founded, there were created associations of an entirely different character, which have played a great role in the economic world. We speak of coalitions. The cooperative society is a permanent association which has for its aim, production, after that, the division, of the fruits of common labor: the coalition is an association generally temporary, formed in view of war, sometimes offensive sometimes defensive, between labor and capital. During the early days of our great revolution, coalitions were, in Paris, on of the greatest anxieties of government, and the constituent Assembly did not hesitate to repulse them by law, for it feared to see renewed, under this new form, the corporations it had just suppressed*

The penal code was possessed of the same mind, and forbade the coalition, that is to say the design however pacific it might have been, whether of the workmen to refuse their labor on the conditions offered by the employers, or of the employers to diminish the salaries of their workmen. But this law, seeming to take equally the part of both sides, was very easily eluded by the masters who, few in number, could readily write and have an understanding, while the workmen, by reason of their large numbers, could not come to an agreement without noisy and tumultuous reunions which themselves seemed to draw down the intervention of justice.

Few years passed under the Restoration, in which the tribunals did not judge one or more cases of coalition: the number of affairs of this kind increased considerably under the monarchy of July, not that the laws were more rigorous for the workmen on strikes, but because the elevation of the price of everything, and the increase of public fortune, rendered more necessary than under the preceding régime, advancement of salaries, to which the employers cared very little to assent. We can form with the ccollection of L'Atelier a complete list of condemnations to which this kind of crime has given rise since 1840. The number is frightful. These processes, to be regretted from a natural point of view, were from a political point of view inconvenient in the first degree. Every time that an affair of this kind made a little noise, the government press raised its voice against the workingmen, the organs of the governmental opposition maintained generally a discreet silence, and the cause of the "laborer" was only sustained by the radical sheets Le National and La Réforme. Then the workingmen, who for the most part even then held themselves aloof from any political tendency, passed with arms and baggage,--with arms especially,--into the ranks of the revolutionary party. Thus the government made many enemies, whom it met in the street, gun in hand, on the 24th of February.

* The history of these coalitions will be found in the book already quoted of M. Levasseur, Book I, Ch. II.

The provisional government did not pass a law for abolishing the articles of the code which forbade coalitions: it contended itself with not applying them. During the year following, we see that they had entirely fallen into disuse.

"Since 1849," says M. Levasseur* "coalitions have been numerous, some of them blustering. The tribunals prosecuted each year, with power, seventy-five coalitions of workingmen, eight of employers, and pronounced more than four hundred condemnations. There were often found in these trials the same scenes of violence as under Louis Philippe." However, scarcely were these condemnations granted, or even gave without being asked, pardon to the condemned. It had, to use the very just expression of the ministers in a confidential report, "neither the advantages of a penal legislation enforced with rigor, nor the honor and advantage of a liberal legislation." It was therefore decided to amend the articles 414, 415, 416, of the penal code, by establishing a distinction between simple coalition, which was permitted, and coalition accompanied by violence, by culpable manoeuvres, by blows for the rights and liberty of employers or of workingmen, which was punished severely enough. This law, which was prepared by M. Emile Ollivier, and the discussion of which excited a lively interest in all places, was voted in the session of 1864; the same rules to-day over such matters. Every one remembers the immense strikes which were produced almost immediately, and the violence, deeply to be regretted, to which many of them gave rise. Some months after the passing of the law which authorized coalitions, the International Association of Laborers was founded in London; from that moment most of the important strikes were either prompted or at least aided by it. But before entering into the very heart of our subject by showing the International at work, it remains for us to say a few words about certain societies which were, so to speak, its cradle.

All the facts which we have here related are established in a sure manner by official documents; the history of the associations of production has already been given; it would be easy to continue it by taking the accounts form the journals and public acts. The history of strikes would also be very easy to write, since each of the incidents of the contest between capital and labor has left marked traces, which can be found in the publications of the workingmen and the employers, in the books of the economists, and in the archives of the tribunals. But there is a history which can only be made with great difficulty; it is that of the permanent societies organized by workingmen, either in view of resisting all encroachments of employers, or of taking the offensive, in their turn, and obtaining increase of salary or reductions in the time of labor. We know that in France no association can be formed without he authorization of the government; now, no one of the governments which have succeeded in France could authorize the formation of a society formed to organize war between employers and workingmen. Societies of this kind have, nevertheless, existed for many years; but they have managed it, either by carefully hiding themselves and living in the condition of a secret society, or have disguised their true end by designating themselves societies of mutual aid, of professional instruction, of reading, etc. But the administration ignored, or seemed to ignore, these clandestine reunions. No trial has revealed the existence of the society, which ended either by dissolving or disappearing, or in being merged in a larger society, without having left in any public document any trace whatever of its existence. Formerly, a political trial or a case of coalition permitted one to guess, even to affirm, the existence of one or more of these offensive or defensive leagues; but their members denied it with energy before the tribunal, and the historian may fear, that to his affirmations resting upon an attentive study of the facts, there will be opposed anew these official denials of most interested witnesses. We can only indicate here the general movement of the associations. The printers of Paris were, we believe, the first who were thus united. The aim of their union was primitively, only to defend themselves against all attempts at reduction of salaries. It is useless to add that, very soon, they passed from the defensive to the offensive. Other workingmen of the same class leagued themselves similarly, not only in Paris, but even throughout France. Afterwards these societies, at first isolated, understood the interest which they had in uniting in a mutual understanding and supporting each other. In this manner, the groups, at first not very numerous, and without any tie between them, became gradually enormous and compact masses, whose force seemed at certain times irresistible. They were extended not only among several neighboring professions in the same city, but in neighboring cities, afterwards with analogous groups in the most distant provinces. It only remained to establish a connection with the workingmen situated beyond the frontiers of the country. We will proceed to see what circumstances led the French associations to pass the boundary.




The general conditions of existence for the different classes of society, are, in this century, sufficiently similar in nearly all the nations of Europe, to make us certain that the social and political passions which we find in any one of them will be found almost identically the same in all the others. These passions may express themselves by phenomena a little different in appearance, according to the special temperament of the people, but their general character is everywhere the same, at bottom; before all study of facts, then, we have reason to suppose that in the country whose economic conditions approach most nearly to ours, we shall find in the head and heart of the laboring classes almost the same ideas, prejudices, desire, and hatreds, that we have just verified among the French workingmen. When we observe what is happening, not only in Belgium and Switzerland, but also in England and Germany, we see that this conjecture is just, and that the same causes have produced the same effects north of the British Channel as south, upon the right bank of the Rhine as well as upon the left bank.

Since the first revolution, a certain number of foreigners have played a great part in all our excesses, and, without official commission, have represented their countries in the saturnalia of the demagogues. We will only mention the most celebrated of these representatives of international rashness, the Prussian Anarchisis Clootz, who was called the orator of the human race, and who had the honor of leading the Champ-de-Mars, at the féte of the Federation, a grotespue assembly of the scum of all nations, intrusted with symbolizing the fraternity of the people.

We called to mind, at the close of the preceding chapter, the coalitions and strikes which appeared in France at the beginning of the Restoration, that is to say, as soon as the re-establishment of peace permitted us to return to work. Industrial life was not suspended in England by the contests which imbrued all Europe in blood, during the Revolution and the Empire, far from it; also the activity of industry had there developed the war of labor and capital, and the armies of workers were organized to protect it. The workingmen's societies destined either to resist the pretensions of the employers, or to attack them by dictating laws to them, were already numerous in 1824, when it had been decided, forty years before us, not longer to punish coalition as a crime.

M. le comte de Paris, in his fine work on the workingmen's associations in England, which he published in Paris, in 1869, expresses himself thus; "For forty years the English workingman has enjoyed the liberty of coalition, of disposing of his labor as of his merchandise, as the producer o his products. To-day the army of workingmen enrolled uner the banners of the Trade Unions can rival that of the lager states of the continent, for it is composed of eight hundred thousand volunteers. Even among its adversaries,no one expects its dissolution; for this, it would be necessary to go violently backward, even to the laws which formed the bondage of the working classes. It must then reckon upon a force as numerous and as well organized, and the intetest of all classes would desire to pursuade it to lay down arms, by showing tht it could fijd better employment for its power than in the barren conflicts in which it has been engaged until now."

We share, unqualifiedly, upon this point, the wisely liberal opinions of M. le comte de Paris: but it must be added that the conversion which he is so anxious to bring about is not the most easy. To what a degree are the hearts of one part of the soldiers of this army embittered, what stores of hatred can they treasure up, to what extremities can these men little educated and passionate be driven, it is this that the English forget to-day too easily, though a famous inquest may hae revealed it to the world.

There is, indeed, no one who has not been shaken by terror upon hearing this year of the crimes by which the Commune has signalized its agony. But we must consider that the wretched people who have crowned by such crimes their bloody career, were over excited bor two months and a half by a war without hope, that for more than six weeks the incessant noise and each day nearer approach of the cannonade must have driven even to the most furious madness, the folly which led them into an enterprise as extravagant, as criminal. The English, who seemed too often in their journals to render all France responsible for those fires and murders, ought to remember the crimes with which certain leaders of the workingmen of Sheffield were stained, without any circumstances which could account for their madness. Since they forget so quickly, we are permitted to remind them of them.

There existed in Sheffield, as in all other industrial cities of England, a great number of workingmen's associations, whose chie aim was to sustain strikes, but which, at Sheffield as elsewhere sought to exercise, at the same time, an absolute influence upon their industry, to impose all their wishes upon the employers, to subject all the workingmen to their slightest caprices, and by this to oblige them all, without exception, to be united with them. Whoever refused, was immediately in their eyes an enemy against whom everything was permitted, his resistance must be broken at any price. In order to punish and intimidate those who were refractory, their tools were secretly hidden, and they were subjected to a thousand vexations which only ceased, when, tired of the contest, they decided to submit. As for those who allowed themselves to retire from the society, no punishment was too cruel for them. During the space of fifteen yers, many of these "renegades," in Sheffield, were

However, we must not fall into the error and injustice which we condemn in others. As the immense majority of Parisian workingmen are innocent of all complicity in the crimes of the Commune of Paris, in the same way the majority of the trade unions must not be rendered responsible for the crimes of Sheffield, and we must examine the organization of these societies without prejudices against them.

"The trade-union is preeminently," says M. le comte de Paris, "a permanent treasury for slack seasons. After having generally pad an admission fee, sometimes pretty large, the members pay each week a subscription varying from one penny to one shilling, and even in certain cases, two. A reserve fund is thus formed, which grows rapidly in prosperous years, and which is destined to sustain the members of the society when they are at a stand still, either from lack of work, or in time of a strike. The subscription is equal for every member, and this equality is one of the bases of institution, for it implies an equal aid in case of stoppage of work; in time of a strike, it does not matter whether a workman earns much or little, the unions must keep him from starving.

The society is ruled by a council of inspection, an executive council, elected each year by the secret vote of all members, and which comprises in its midst a president, a cashier, and a secretary. The government of the society, the relations with employers, the decisions relative to strikes, the distribution of indemnities, finally, the striking out and admission of members, belong to this council exclusively. To the general assembly are reserved the grand financial affairs, such as the imposition of an extraordinary contribution upon all the members, if, one part of them being on strike, the normal resources of the society do not suffice to sustain them.

"But the most powerful unions, as the united mechanics, the united carpenters and joiners, the masons of the two large societies, the workers in iron of Staffordshire and of the north of England, the weavers of Lancashire, the national association of miners, which numbers 35,000 members, and still many others, have a more complicated organization, and are themselves divided into a great number of branches. Each branch or lodge is composed of workingmen living in the same district, chooses its committee, has its special treasury, which it administers, but of which it must give an annual reckoning to the central council. This is formed of delegates elected for six months by the different branches, proportionally to the number of their members, and of two employees, the secretary and the treasurer, named directly by the suffrage of all the members.

"There are lodges which admit into the union the candidates presented by two members, and which decide in the first resort concerning exclusions, aid, and local strikes. But one can always appeal to the central authority, and the lodge which makes a strike without having obtained the sanction of this authority will not be sustained by the society. Finally, the vote of taxes and the appeal of a lodge against the decision of the council, belongs to the general assembly.

"Although the treasury of slack seasons always plays the principal role in the administration of the unions, a small number only among them, called by way of distinction trade-societies, limit the use of their funds exclusively to the aid of strikes. These societies are generally of little importance. Others offer besides, to their members, certain advantages borrowed from societies of mutual aid, such as a weekly indemnity in case of accident, and almost always in case of sickness, the expenses of burial, amounting to 200 or 300 francs, and often half of this sum for the funerals of their wives. Some insure them against the loss of their tools, and there are three which guarantee a retreat for the old and infirm."

We have endeavored to make known, practically, the organization of the trade-unions, because it resembles, in may points, as we will see later, that of the International. For the same reason we have dwelt upon the coalitions and strikes in England that this society was organized, and which has even to-day its general council. We will say almost nothing of Germany, because, though the Germans have entered into the International, they have contributed much less to its establishment than the French and English workingmen. However, it will suffice to recall the names of Jacobi and Lasalle, to prove that socialism has had its teachers as well in Germany as in France. Moreover, everyone knows that the socialist press is larger and more powerful among our enemies than ourselves to-day. As for those of our readers who desire to know about the more serious practical attempt at social amelioration which has been made on the other side of the Rhine, we would recommend the book of M. Seinguerlet upon the Banks of the people of Germany. They will find there institutions of popular credit, which have made famous the name of M. Shchultze Delitzsch, their founder.

Until these later years, there had been no personal relations between the working classes of the different countries of Europe; when L'Atelier, edited by the workingmen of Paris, wished to make known to its readers the movements of coalitions and strikes in England, it was obliged to give them analyses of the articles which M. Léon Faucher had just published on the subject in the Revue des Deux Mondes. We ought to notice, it is true, a strike of tailors in Paris, which was sustained for an instant by money sent from England. It was in 1840, at the time when the question of the East menaced France with a war against all Europe combined, and the Parisian strikers were spiritedly reproached for having sought aid from the enemies of their country. L'Atelier responded to this reproach. "The letters of advice state that this money comes from their brothers in London; it is honorably acquired by them; it is the offering of the laborer to the laborer, and not the price of an ignoble subsidy, at the idea of which we all revolt."* We have found in the whole collection of this journal, which we know appeared until 1850, no other traces of facts of this kind, and for a long time the coalitions of laborers in each country found neither aid nor even response in neighboring countries.

Two sayings paint vividly the change which has taken place in a few years, in this respect, in the economic relations of different powers.

Léon Faucher said, in 1849, that England could support coalitions because it had commercial liberty.

In the book published twenty years later, by M. le

*1st number of L'Atelier, September, 1840, page 4.


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