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"Arise Ye Wretched of the Earth": The First International in a Global Perspective

"Arise Ye Wretched of the Earth": The First International in a Global Perspective

Fabrice Bensimon
Quentin Deluermoz
Jeanne Moisand
Volume: 29
Copyright Date: 2018
Published by: Brill
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  • Book Info
    "Arise Ye Wretched of the Earth": The First International in a Global Perspective
    Book Description:

    "Arise Ye Wretched of the Earth" provides a fresh account of the International Working Men's Association. Founded in London in 1864, the First International gathered trade unions, associations, co-operatives, and individual workers across Europe and the Americas.

    eISBN: 978-90-04-33546-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Fabrice Bensimon, Quentin Deluermoz and Jeanne Moisand

    In November 1964, a Centenary conference of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) was organised in Paris under the aegis of the cnrs and the Commission internationale des mouvements sociaux et des structures sociales (International Commission for social movements and structures). The organisers, including Ernest Labrousse, had stressed the need for a comprehensive survey, and the conference lasted three days and brought together some 90 participants, including Jean Maitron, Arthur Lehning, Jean Dhondt, Asa Briggs and Marc Vuilleumier. The participants appeared in national delegations – a practice which would probably seem rather curious nowadays. At the same time, this retrospective...

  2. PART 1 Organisation and Debates

    • CHAPTER 2 The IWMA and Its Precursors in London, c. 1830–1860
      (pp. 21-38)
      Fabrice Bensimon

      The discussion of the origins of the International Working Men's Association (iwma) is as old as the Association itself. Right from its beginnings, the founding members defined what they saw as its origins. Since then, and in particular with the development of a scientific study of the iwma in the twentieth century, several questions have been raised. The first is the militant origins in the various steps to the founding of the association on 28 September 1864. Who were these activists? Did the scheme of an international association of workers originate long before, or just recently? Was it a linear...

    • CHAPTER 3 Little Local Difficulties? The General Council of the IWMA as an Arena for British Radical Politics
      (pp. 39-53)
      Detlev Mares

      On 11 December 1869, the Swiss Internationalist journal L’Égalité leveled grave charges against the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma): “Even if the Council in London administers the particular affairs of Great Britain perfectly […], it certainly neglects issues that are of extreme importance from a general perspective of the International.”¹ The anonymous author of the article took particular exception to the General Council’s recent statements on the Fenian question, which concerned the amnesty for Irish revolutionaries in British gaols and at the time was hotly debated in British radical circles.² For the author of L’Égalité, the...

    • CHAPTER 4 The IWMA and Industrial Conflict in England and France
      (pp. 54-65)
      Iorwerth Prothero

      The International Working Men's Association (IWMA) was established by groups in London and Paris as a radical association expressing a familiar radical internationalism and asserting both the importance of peace, international harmony and national liberation to working people and the importance of working people in achieving these goals. In the former city it continued an ongoing phenomenon of radical associations embracing both Londoners and foreigners,¹ and operated as one of several overlapping openly radical associations, whereas the different political regime in France led the group in Paris to operate much more cautiously and avoid such overt politics (see figure 4.1)....

    • CHAPTER 5 Transnational Solidarity in the Making Labour Strikes, Money Flows, and the First International, 1864–1872
      (pp. 66-88)
      Nicolas Delalande

      The International Working Men’s Association (iwma) was established during a period marked by an increase in the globalization of trade, information and political cultures.¹ It was one of the first international organizations (along with the Alliance israélite universelle and the International Committee of the Red Cross, among other examples from the early 1860s) to establish cross-border relations of solidarity among subaltern groups.² The promoters of the movement wanted to move beyond sentimental calls for brotherhood in order to establish real, effective solidarity between workers in different countries.³ To do so, the organization planned to pool resources and workforces, thereby blocking...

    • CHAPTER 6 The IWMA, Workers and the Machinery Question (1864–1874)
      (pp. 89-106)
      François Jarrige

      In October 1864, soon after British and French workers declared their wish to create an international labour association with sections in all European countries, temporary statutes and a statement of principles were adopted. In this “inaugural address,” written by Karl Marx, several paradoxes stood out from the start: the organized labour movement, in spite of the waves of repression which had followed the failed 1848 revolutions, was being slowly revived, strikes were on the increase and the cooperative movement was spreading. However, “the misery of the working masses has not diminished,” even as Europe was experiencing “an unheard of development...

    • CHAPTER 7 The IWMA and the Commune A Reassessment
      (pp. 107-126)
      Quentin Deluermoz

      This excerpt, from a circular sent by the French Foreign Affairs minister, Jules Favre, to Western embassies, may illustrate the dual questioning this contribution raises.

      First of all, it revives the problem put forward to politicians, exiles and historians from 1871 onward: what was the real significance of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) in the Commune events?

      Secondly, it also suggests that this interrogation is not new and has been previously researched: the circular, and the extract here considered, are systematically referred to by most of the studies on the Commune and on the iwma. Consequently, we may ask...

  3. PART 2 Global Causes and Local Branches

    • CHAPTER 8 Global Values Locally Transformed The IWMA in the German States 1864–1872/76
      (pp. 129-143)
      Jürgen Schmidt

      As in other parts of “the Continent”, the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) was in no way a mass movement in the German states in the 1860s. Indeed, starting with its very organizational model, it seemed that, at first glance, the German labour movement was in danger of reverting to its pre-1848 beginnings when secret societies set the tone. In February 1865, in a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, Karl Marx suggested to build – according to the French model – local “societies” as starting points for agitation, “no matter how many members are on site”. Due to (Prussian) association laws,...

    • CHAPTER 9 The IWMA in Belgium (1865–1875)
      (pp. 144-164)
      Jean Puissant

      From the first histories of socialism in Belgium, written initially by militants then by professional historians from the 1950s, the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) has been presented as a founding moment, or at least as an important one, in the evolution towards the creation of the Belgium labour party, Parti ouvrier belge (pob) in 1885, and later on that of its successors – the Belgium socialist party, psb-bsp in 1945 and the current socialist parties, the French-speaking ps and the Dutch-speaking sp/ao. One hundred years after the creation of the pob, in 1985, most of the socialist federations still...

    • CHAPTER 10 The First International in Switzerland A Few Observations
      (pp. 165-180)
      Marc Vuilleumier

      Considering the circumscribed nature of this study, we will limit ourselves to a few points.¹ The early presence of the International in Switzerland and, from its beginnings, the extent of its exchanges with other countries are due to the networks of personal relations which interlinked some of its first protagonists. The case of Johann Philipp Becker is known,² that of doctor Pierre Coullery less so, partly a consequence of the depreciative comments James Guillaume voiced about him; though Guillaume himself was rather ill-informed about Coullery’s formative years.³ A former representative of this movement that in Switzerland, around the year 1850,...

    • CHAPTER 11 For Independent Poland and the Emancipation of the Working Class The Poles in the IWMA, 1864–1876
      (pp. 181-192)
      Krzysztof Marchlewicz

      The Polish question left a clear mark in the formation of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma). If the previous stages of the development of the European labour movement were the activities of the Fraternal Democrats in the 1840s, then the foundation of the International Committee (1855), from which in turn the International Association (1855–59) had stemmed, it is difficult not to notice the presence of many Polish emigrants in their ranks. All of these organisations quite frequently engaged themselves in the pro-Polish manifestations in the countries of Western Europe, and the press associated with them widely informed about...

    • CHAPTER 12 Russians in the IWMA The Background
      (pp. 193-206)
      Woodford McClellan

      In September 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin advised members of the Federal Assembly, and provincial governors, to study the works of three conservative Russian philosophers. Mirabile dictu, changes in national reading habits and academic curricula got underway overnight. One of the philosophers was the Christian existentialist Nikolai Berdyaev, whose 1919 work on conservative values Putin singled out, but of interest to us here is the 1946 pamphlet Dusha Rossii (The Soul of Russia), in which Berdyaev pronounced Russians “maximalists” by nature.

      The Russians – a majority – among the Bolsheviks obviously merited the appellative, as did some predecessors. Oddly enough,...

    • CHAPTER 13 The Italians and the IWMA
      (pp. 207-220)
      Carl Levy

      Italians played a significant and multi-dimensional role in the birth, evolution and death of the First International, and indeed in its multifarious afterlives: the International Working Men's Association (iwma) has also served as a milestone or foundation event for histories of Italian anarchism, syndicalism, socialism and communism.¹ The Italian presence was felt simultaneously at the national, international and transnational levels from 1864 onwards. In this chapter I will first present a brief synoptic overview of the history of the iwma (in its varied forms) in Italy and abroad from 1864 to 1881. I will then examine interpretations of aspects of...

    • CHAPTER 14 1871 in Spain Transnational and Local History in the Formation of the FRE-IWMA
      (pp. 221-237)
      Albert Garcia-Balañà

      In May, 1871, during the final days of the Paris Commune, the Spanish parliament held the first great debate concerning the International Working Men’s Association (iwma), which had recently arrived in the country. The debate was opened when a representative from the Republican opposition, Baldomero Lostau, accused the civil governor of the province of Barcelona of “violating the constitutional articles that acknowledged citizens’ rights to assemble and to organize”.¹ Lostau declared himself a member of iwma’s Spanish Regional Federation (Federación Regional Española, fre), whose foundational congress had taken place in Barcelona (Lostau’s electoral district) during the summer of 1870. In...

    • CHAPTER 15 Revolutions, Republics and IWMA in the Spanish Empire (around 1873)
      (pp. 238-252)
      Jeanne Moisand

      In the fall of 1873, Engels published his analysis of “Cantonalist” revolutions which had just burst out in Spain, and were still partially under way. Apart from its role in the ideological struggles of the time, this polemical series of articles (entitled “Bakuninists at work”) raised a central question: how was the development of internationalism in Spain linked to different republican revolutionary movements, which broke out across its empire between 1868 and 1878? Opened by the liberal revolution of September 1868, a revolutionary cycle (the “democratic Sexenium”) led in 1873 to the unexpected establishment of the First Spanish Republic. According...

    • CHAPTER 16 The First International in Latin America
      (pp. 253-269)
      Horacio Tarcus

      For the past half century, the strength and even the existence of the First International in Latin America has remained a moot point for historians. In his 1964 contribution to the Colloque International sur La Première Internationale, Uruguayan historian Carlos Rama attempted to document the existence of International Working Men's Association (iwma) branches in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Havana, Río de Janeiro, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. So weak was the documentary evidence that the Rev. Paul Droulers (s.j.), one of the participants, asked him if “in Latin America, as in other places, the International had not been but a myth.”...

    • CHAPTER 17 Socialism v. Democracy? The IWMA in the USA, 1869–1876
      (pp. 270-281)
      Michel Cordillot

      The history of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) – better known as the First International – in America was at once brief and original. Established in New York City in December 1869, it expanded rapidly to include some 4 000 members and sixty language sections in twenty-five cities; four years later, it was almost extinct.

      This history, often reduced to the minor role played by the Americans after the surprise decision of The Hague Congress to transfer the seat of the General Council to New York City in 1872, prelude to an impending demise, remained largely ignored for the...

    • CHAPTER 18 “Sectarian Secret Wisdom” and Nineteenth-Century Radicalism The IWMA in London and New York
      (pp. 282-296)
      Antony Taylor

      The historiography of the First International Working Men’s Association (iwma) remains relatively fixed, and largely unaffected by the debates around radical continuity between independent radicalism and liberalism in Britain dating from the 1990s. The historiographical parameters of debate around the iwma remain rooted in older ideas regarding the influence of Marx in Great Britain, the relative absence of theory and ideology in British political movements for parliamentary reform, the tendency towards “reformism” that appears particularly marked within the British labour tradition, and the failure or otherwise of perceived continental styles of socialism and political leadership in the United Kingdom.¹ Of...

  4. PART 3 Actors and Ideologies

    • CHAPTER 19 Karl Marx and the IWMA Revisited
      (pp. 299-312)
      Jürgen Herres

      London, May 1870. In a back room in Holborn a meeting of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) took place under dramatic circumstances. English union leaders and European émigrés were present. A number of “press reporters, greedy for news” were present as well, as Karl Marx reported Friedrich Engels in Manchester, since “rumours had been spread in London” that the members of the General Council were to be arrested in the meeting room.¹

      Just before, leading members of the iwma, called simply the International, had been arrested in Paris and other French cities. They were accused...

    • CHAPTER 20 The Construction of Proudhonism within the IWMA
      (pp. 313-331)
      Samuel Hayat

      Historiography has long accepted the view that the first Paris section of the International, between 1864 and 1867, commonly known as the Gravilliers group, from the name of street where they had their premises, was Proudhonian.¹ While in more recent decades, various studies have qualified or even rejected the idea altogether,² it has still retained some currency down to our day in numerous writings which historians and activists have devoted to that historical period.³ Indeed, such a reference to Proudhon by the members of the Paris section of the International Working Men’s Association (iwma) is evidenced in their writings as...

    • CHAPTER 21 Professor Beesly, Positivism and the International The Patriotism Question
      (pp. 332-342)
      Gregory Claeys

      After 1789 the need to define some form of higher loyalty, above “patriotism”, was an obvious focal point for participants in the international movement for democracy and social reform. The “rights of man”, later to emerge as the concept of human rights, initially provided one such nexus of identity, and was often loosely linked to concepts like “universal benevolence” and “humanity”. In Britain, through the Owenites, Chartist groups like the Fraternal Democrats, and various international organisations, a number of strategies spanning various forms of cosmopolitanism and internationalism were mooted in the next half century.¹ After 1848 the romantic nationalism of...

    • CHAPTER 22 Bringing Together Feminism and Socialism in the First International Four Examples
      (pp. 343-354)
      Antje Schrupp

      The International Working Men’s Association (imwa) was a predominantly, if not only, male organization, at least as far as its leading members or its international congresses were concerned. When Karl Marx suggested Engels’ partner Lizzy Burns to join the association, he explicitly asserted that “Ladies are admitted”¹ – so female membership was obviously not to be taken for granted. And indeed, only a few women actually did play an active role in the International², and only male delegates participated at all seven international congresses and conferences.³ This was not as self-evident as it might seem. After all, women had been...

    • CHAPTER 23 Bakunin and the Jura Federation
      (pp. 355-365)
      Marianne Enckell

      In the autumn of 2014, a commemorative plaque was put up in Le Locle, a small town in the Neuchâtel district (Switzerland), on the wall of the Café de la poste, as an homage to Michael Bakunin, who had given a talk there in February 1869. Contrary to what is stated on the plaque, of course, he did not give “a conference on anarchism”:¹ while the word “anarchism” or “anarchy” was indeed present in political philosophy, nothing at the time heralded the anarchist movement or a coherent theory.

      Upon his return to Geneva, he wrote to the Le Locle comrades:...

    • CHAPTER 24 Carlo Cafiero and the International in Italy From Marx to Bakunin
      (pp. 366-378)
      Mathieu Léonard

      The history of internationalism has been written many times, and has come to focus on a few familiar categories and famous fights. In the case of Italy, the most famous of these fights pitched Marx against Bakunin. Thus, in 1909, the German-Italian sociologist Roberto Michels claimed that “Bakuninism” had set the scene for Marxism in Italy. This testified to the prevalence of these interpretative frameworks.¹ A biographical trajectory may prove valuable to avoid repeating these frameworks: history on an individual scale may help us grasp the changing nature of situations and therefore revise some interpretations and open up new paths...

  5. APPENDIX 1: The IWMA – A Brief Chronology
    (pp. 379-386)
  6. Index of Subjects and Organisations
    (pp. 399-402)