The First Socialist Schism
Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men’s Association
Translated by Robert M. Homsi, Jesse Cohn, Cian Lawless, Nestor McNab, and Bas Moreel
Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016. [X], 604 pp.
ISBN 978-1-62963-042-7 · USD 38.95 (Paperback) · USD 8.95 (e-Book)
Order at PM Press
Product sheet from PM Press
Google Books Preview (layout different from print version)
THE FIRST SOCIALIST SCHISM chronicles the conflicts in the International Working Men’s Association (the First International, 1864–1876/77), which represents an important milestone in the history of political ideas and socialist theory. In defending their autonomy, federations in the International became aware of what separated them from the social democratic movement that relied on the establishment of national labor parties and the conquest of political power. The split that followed, between centralist party politics and the federalist grassroots movement, was a decisive moment in the history of political ideas. The separate movements in the International — which later developed into social democracy, communism, and anarchism — found their greatest advocates in Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx. But the significance of this alleged clash of titans is largely a modern invention. It was not the rivalry between two arch-enemies or a personal vendetta based on mutual resentment that made the conflict between Bakunin and Marx so important but rather the schism between parliamentary party politics aiming to conquer political power and social-revolutionary concepts.
Instead of focusing exclusively on what Marx and Bakunin said, many other contributions to this debate are examined, making this the first reconstruction of a dispute that gripped the entire organization. This book also sets new standards when it comes to source material, taking into account documents from numerous archives and libraries that have previously gone unnoticed or were completely unknown.
* * *
Reviews / Commentary:
- Ian Downey (goodreads.com, 11 Jan 2017):
Fantastic book, one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s scholarly, yes (with 182 pages of bibliography, notes, and index); it’s largely a sourcebook, a series of huge verbatim block quotes, sometimes several pages long, excerpted from the original historical documents, written by the principle characters, strung along together into a narrative.
But it reads like fascinating page-turner of a novel, almost a gossipy soap-opera. I could not stop reading it, and now that it’s over, I miss it. I almost want to read it all over again.
Of course, that’s not the point of the book at all – just the opposite. Wolfgang Eckhardt’s central thesis is that the split in the International Workingmen’s Association was not simply a personal conflict between two titanic personalities, Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, but a complex political struggle among many different factions, vying over serious questions of internal organization and policy, including, most importantly, the question of whether to form national political parties and participate in democratic, parliamentary elections (Marx said yes, Bakunin said no; but there were many complex shades and nuances to this question, and many positions taken by different federations and individuals within the IWMA).
But along the way, the story gets so juicy that you can’t helped being sucked into the drama of it all. Long story short, there are some pretty shady aspects of both sides. Both were scheming, in a fairly machiavellian way, against each other. And there were third parties, like the notorious Becker, who were playing both sides off of each other for their own purposes. In addition, nationalistic feelings and ethnic tensions entered into the conflict – and Bakunin notoriously resorted to anti-Semitism. But there’s no question that the vast majority of bad behavior here is on the side of Marx, Engels, and the partisans of the General Council, who committed one act of slimy dishonesty after another... until the whole thing blew up in their faces.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is as philosophically enriching as it is addictive to read.
- Marcin Anglart (›Syndikalisten‹, December 2016):
It may seem tedious to return once again to the 1800s for a study of the
personalities, feuds and organizational experiments that shaped the young
labor movement. But when a book like Wolfgang Eckhardt’s The First Socialist
Schism appears, the historian in us awakes inevitably.
The book is not only an extremely thorough description of the infamous
years of the First International, but also an important reminder of the
heated debates around organizational principles. Despite the subtitle,
it outlines a broad movement beyond the big names; a
movement that, with much energy and autonomy, took on the task of organizing a
resistance against both state repression and increasing capitalist
Eckhardt delivers a book packed with excerpts from congressional records,
mail correspondence and newspaper articles – of the book’s roughly 600 pages,
the bibliography and the footnotes make up almost 200. Besides providing all these
details, the author also manages to visualize the drama and political games
surrounding the International in a gripping way, making it difficult to
put the book down.
Somewhat roughly hewn, there are two tendencies butting against each other,
the authoritarian fraction of Marx and Engels on the one hand, and the libertarian
fraction with high-profile figures like Bakunin and Guillaume. The former
aims to centralize more power in the London-based General Council and
advocates mandatory participation in parliamentary elections, while the
latter advocates a more autonomous and federalist orientation with emphasis
on self-organized unions instead of parliamentary politics – a position
that can be named the embryo of what would soon be known as revolutionary
The personal undertones of the conflict are indeed disappointing, but they
were not as central as often believed. Insofar as they had
real effects on the International, it was primarily in the form of Marx’ and Engels’
increasingly paranoid attitude toward Bakunin, who was considered to be
behind everything that did not go the way of the General Council. In their
increasingly frenetic smear attempts they alienated themselves not only
completely from southern European federations, but finally even lost the
support of more neutral groupings, which – not least thanks to the exemplary
mediation by James Guillaume – joined the libertarian wing.
When the International practically split during the dire and burlesque Congress
of the Hague in 1872, it basically led to an implosion of the General
Council, where some disinterested German Social Democrats and small groups
from various other countries had more delegates combined than the federations
representing the libertarian current.
All in all, this is a book which is crowded with facts and which not only
gives an insight into an infected and partly personal conflict, but also
says a lot about the different movements, about organizational principles
and views on autonomy. At the same time it is heartwarming to
soak up some of the energy, solidarity and optimism that pervaded the labor
In conclusion, the words uttered by Rafael Farga Pellicer during the Spanish
Federation’s founding congress exemplify the prevailing spirit well: »We want
justice and therefore we want that the rule of capital, the church and the
state cease to exist in order to build upon their ruins the government of
all – anarchy, the free federation of free associations of workers.«
Translated from the Swedish original: Syndikalisten. Medlemstidning för SAC - Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation, Stockholm, no. 6, December 2016, p. 14
- Fuchow (reddit.com, 2 Nov 2016):
Thanks for sharing, I’m a third of the book through already. Incredibly well documented,
so very refreshing against the hordes of tankies parroting slander ... Some great prognostic moments are
Bakunin’s statements supporting feminism and against intellectual property, and when the Jura section
resolved that cooperative work would be the economic system of the future.
- Swedish Labour Movement’s Archives and Library (Book Tips, 29 Sep 2016):
For those who want to deepen their knowledge regarding the complex schism that arose between
these two giants and their supporters during the International there is now Wolfgang Eckhardt’s impressive book,
translated excellently from German to English. The reader is getting a meticulously detailed account of the
development and the political context surrounding the conflict between Marx and Bakunin, which reached its
climax in 1872. The diligence with which Eckhardt has worked on this project is testified not least by the fact
that a third of the book consists of bibliography, notes and references.
Translated from the Swedish original: http://www.arbark.se/2016/09/boktips-september-2016/
- Albin Planinc (ilmanifesto.info, 16 Sep 2016):
For those who want to start from the beginning, there is an e-book just available that
reconstructs with care and diligence the clash between “authoritarians” (Marx) and anarchists (Bakunin)
in the First International: “The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working
Men’s Association” by Wolfgang Eckhardt. Marx does not make a very good figure ... and Bakunin seem to
play an almost marginal role. It was not only a personal conflict (Marx believed the International to
be his domain, and he feared that Bakunin would rob it) but a collective clash between two different
conceptions of political action in the labour movement. For those who have uncritically adopted the
communists’ sacred vision about the conflict and about anarchism, it is an excellent opportunity to go
into greater depth and re-evaluate, also considering today’s situation and the future prospects of the left.
Translated from the Italian original: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/ilmanifesto/il_lessico_dellanarchismo/oldest/
- Robert Graham (Anarchism Weblog, 8 Sep 2016):
Wolfgang Eckhardt’s comprehensive account of the split in the International Workingmen’s Association (the “First International” – IWMA) between the advocates of working class political parties (Marx and his followers) and the anti-authoritarian revolutionary socialists (anarchists), entitled The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men’s Association, has finally been published by PM Press. Although more narrowly focused than my book, ‘We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It’: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement, Eckhardt’s book meticulously documents how Marx and his relatively small coterie of supporters tried to turn the International from a pluralist association of workers’ organizations with differing views regarding social change into a monolithic organization committed to the formation of national “working class” political parties whose ultimate object was the conquest of state power. Instead, Marx only succeeded in splitting the International, with the majority of its members and sections re-establishing the International along anti-authoritarian lines, and the Marxist rump soon expiring, with its seat of power being nominally transferred to New York.
- Cetian (reddit.com, 24 Aug 2016):
Since I am dropping a ~600 page book on you, I thought I’d preface it with why I think it is relevant. This is basically a brand new and thoroughly researched work exploring the dealings of the First International, from an anarchist perspective. Admittedly, it is for those that enjoy historical detail, but really, if you’re not closely familiar with this particular part of socialist history, it is a quite mind blowing exposition of the ideas, personalities and practices of those early socialist organisations. I cannot recommend it enough for those with an interest in what men with beards did and said some 150 years ago. Some things of note:
- Marx, Engels, and their associates, were obsessed with parliamentary politics. I’ve sometimes heard arguments about the “dictatorship of the proletariat” or formation of “political parties” in Marx’s writings being interpreted in a pretty much anarchist fashion, because there were few systems of parliamentary politics around in Marx’s days (so he didn’t mean it that way, it is said). Well, you don’t need this book to know that Marx indeed championed parliamentary politics, but it really drives home how engaged he was in parliamentarism (even after the Paris commune), and what lengths he was prepared to go to, in order to enforce this view on the entire labor movement of his day.
- Holy shit were Marx & friends paranoid about Bakunin. Bad weather? Must be Bakunin’s fault! And the amount of slander, baseless accusations, scheming, and straight up lies is mind boggling. It’s basically like a season of Game of Thrones.
- Much of the politics of the First International was simply scheming by the General Council, which was pushing an authoritarian line at any cost, abusing its position, inventing mandates, moving conferences and congresses – doing everything to ensure a majority of delegates. The London conference and the Hague congress of course stick out as particularly shocking examples, but so was the less well known split of the Romance Federation, for instance.
- There are some really interesting discussions concerning anarchist organisation, federalism and autonomy in there, put into real practical context. What could a congress of federations legitimately decide on? Turns out these early anarchist workers (especially the Spanish sections) had already started to develop a critique of democracy (as we know it) in favor of what can best be describe as autonomy.
- I’ve already for some time appreciated James Guillaume as an often underestimated and forgotten early anarchist. In this book, he really shines through as the perhaps most convincing, balanced and best exponent of anarchist ideas of that time.
* * *
Table of contents:
- Bakunin, Marx, and Johann Philipp Becker
The International in Geneva and in the Jura Region
- The Alliance ‘request’ by Johann Philipp Becker (November 1868)
- The Alliance joins the International (February–July 1869)
- Becker’s position paper on the question of organisation (July 1869)
The Basel Congress of the International
- The International in Jura (February–May 1869)
Marx’s ‘communications’ concerning Bakunin
- Bakunin’s manuscript ‘To the Citizen Editors of the Réveil’ (October 1869)
- Bakunin’s first strategy: attack not Marx but his associates
The Romance Federation split
- Bakunin’s defence by Eugène Hins (January 1870)
- The ‘Confidential Communication’ to German social democrats (March 1870)
Fixing the International’s course
- La Chaux-de-Fonds Congress (April 1870)
- Marx’s third ‘communication’ regarding Bakunin (April 1870)
- The General Council’s decision (June 1870)
- The international response and the International’s next congress (April–August 1870)
The London Conference
- Bakunin’s second strategy: cautious criticism of Marx
- Paul Robin, the congress question, and the disbanding of the Geneva Alliance section (summer 1871)
- Marx and pluralism within the International
The Sonvillier Circular
- The London Conference’s decision on the Swiss conflict (resolutions nos. 16 and 17)
- The Nechaev trial (resolution no. 14 of the London Conference)
- Constitution of the working class into a political party (resolution no. 9 of the London Conference)
The International in Italy
- Reaction of the Belgian Federation of the International (November–December 1871)
- Engels’ article about the Sonvillier Circular and the declarations in support of the London Conference from Saxony and Geneva
The International in Spain
- Reaction of the International in Italy (until January 1872)
- Engels’ letter to Theodor Cuno in Milan of 24 January 1872
- Bakunin’s Italian manuscripts (end of 1871 to beginning of 1872)
Lafargue’s activities in Spain
- The International in Madrid and the founding congress of the Spanish Federation in Barcelona (1869–1870)
- Slow reaction of the Spanish International to the Sonvillier Circular (November 1871–early 1872)
- Paul Lafargue goes to Spain
The Belgian rules project and the Fictitious Splits
- Lafargue and the Emancipación’s contact with the Republican Party (January to March 1872)
- The Saragossa Congress (4–11 April 1872) and Lafargue’s reports in the Liberté
- Bakunin’s letters to Mora and Lorenzo (April–May 1872)
Convening the Congress of The Hague
The factional divide in the Spanish International
- Fictitious Splits in the International by Marx and Engels
- Bakunin’s third strategy: open criticism of Marx
- Debate over the Belgian rules project and the second Belgian federal congress (14 July 1872)
- Cafiero’s reckoning with Engels (12–19 June 1872)
The eve of the Congress of The Hague
- The Alianza fracas
- Engels’ attacks against the Alianza (July–August 1872)
- The Spanish delegate elections and the New Madrid Federation before the Congress of The Hague
The Congress of The Hague: the mandate commission and the commission to investigate the Alliance
- The opposition
- Delegate mandates from the United States and Germany
- The French and General Council delegate mandates
The revisions to the Rules, the transfer of the General Council and the ‘Minority Declaration’
- The verification of the mandates
- The voting procedure and the commission to investigate the Alliance
- The story behind Bakunin’s translation of Capital
The Congresses of St. Imier, Brussels, and Córdoba
- The debate concerning the transfer of the General Council and resolution no. 9 of the London Conference
- Constitution of the minority and the final meeting of the Congress of The Hague
The Geneva Congresses and the disastrous New York General Council
- The downfall of the Congress of The Hague’s majority
- The Brussels Congress (December 1872)
- The Córdoba Congress (December 1872)
- Bakunin and the Congress of The Hague
Politics and historical narratives
- Reactions in Belgium, Spain, and Italy
- The split of the English International
- The congress of the federations (1–6 September 1873)
- The General Council’s congress (8–13 September 1873)
- The pamphlet ‘L’Alliance’
- The Mémoire of the Jura Federation
* * *
Convening the Congress of The Hague
(Sample from chapter 13)
Just like they had in the run-up to the London Conference, Marx and Engels laid the
groundwork for the general congress of 1872 well in advance, so things would go
their way. This included selecting a favourable location for the congress, which Marx
and Engels had been discussing with their confidants since the beginning of 1872.
Engels sent Liebknecht a written request ‘to find a form that will make it possible for
you to be represented at the next congress’.1 Liebknecht responded on 5 January 1872:
Everything necessary will be done concerning the congress. Will it take place at
the usual time, or earlier for once? And where? The latter is a vital question. […]
In any case, you need to make sure that if the congress does not take place in
Germany, it is somewhere close to the German border. Then, the German element
will definitely be strongly represented and will obviously take our side.2
After the first protests against the General Council’s leadership grab, Liebknecht
wrote again: ‘Just make sure that the next congress is within reach for us and we
will soon defeat this federalism – it doesn’t seem dangerous to me.’3 On the other
hand, Lafargue suggested to Engels on 17 May 1872:
The next Congress must be held in England; the Bakunists would be done for
there before they ever appeared. You could use as the pretext the persecutions
and the need to be in touch with the trade-unions to make them join the
International. You could circulate a note to the federations asking for their views
beforehand. Manchester would be the best place, the French being less numerous
there [than in London].4
The Local Committee (Comité Cantonal) of the International’s Geneva sections,
where Johann Philipp Becker was a member, suggested Geneva as the congress
location in a letter to the General Council dated 9 April 1872.5 After the letter was
mentioned at the General Council meeting on 4 May 1872, the Communard and
General Council member Frédéric Cournet suggested that the congress be convened
as soon as possible, ‘so as to stop the complaints that were made relative to
the non-holding of the Congresses [1870/1871]’ – no decision was made, though.6
Engels replied to Becker in Geneva on 9 May 1872 that the congress location had
not yet been chosen, and continued: ‘In the meantime, we must know, if we are to
be able to make a final decision, what the situation is like there [in Geneva] and
whether it will be possible for you to be assured of a compact and reliable majority of
the Swiss delegates.’7 Becker wrote an enthusiastic reply to London on 20 May 1872:
I entirely agree that the Congress must be held in a place where we are sure of a
large majority. But I believe, so far as I can judge of the circumstances, that this
will nowhere be more the case than in Geneva, since we are sure in advance of
the 30 sections here, and consequently of just as many delegates. In the rest of
Romance Switzerland we can get together at least as many representatives as the
so-called Jura Federation. It is true that the latter, if it has enough money, might
conceivably invent sections, Italy could send exclusively opponents, Spain and
France also partly, but at any rate only in very limited numbers. If we reckon 10
Jurassians, 10 Frenchmen, 6 Italians and 4 Spaniards as opponents, that will be
all; if it comes to the worst the Belgians will hold the balance and the English
should all be on our side. Then with Germany we can thus be sure of an imposing
majority if, besides those directly delegated, we get as large a number of societies
as possible to send me mandates for Germans living here and elsewhere in
Switzerland, omitting the names, which I could fill in as required.8
Despite these tempting prospects, the General Council passed Marx’s motion
on 11 June 1872 to convene the congress in Holland on the first Monday of
September. A week later, the General Council selected The Hague as the location
of the congress and put the revision of the Rules on the agenda as the sole item.9
It is easy to see why Marx suggested The Hague as the location. England was disqualified
because of tactical reasons, Engels explained two and a half weeks later:
It would be inexpedient to convene it in England from the very start, for although
it would be quite safe from police interference here, it would nevertheless be
subjected to attacks by our enemies. The General Council, they would say, is
convening the Congress in England because only there does it possess an artificial
In Switzerland, where almost all of the International’s congresses had taken place,
the General Council would have been – as Becker put it – ‘sure of an imposing
majority’. However, it would also have been easier to reach than The Hague for
the opposition’s delegates from Southern Europe. On the other hand, to get to
The Hague 21 General Council members only had to cross the Channel. The
Hague is ‘easily reached’, Engels cynically argued to the General Council, ‘and
he thought that was a great advantage’.11 What’s more, as difficult as it would be
to send delegates from the International’s southern federations to The Hague,
Bakunin’s participation there was virtually impossible, because to get to Holland
he would have to travel through France or Germany, where there were warrants
out for him.
The critics and supporters of the General Council in Switzerland still assumed
in June 1872 that the congress would take place in Geneva or somewhere
else in Switzerland. The Geneva Local Committee reaffirmed their offer to host
the congress to the General Council on 19 May 1872.12 In the Jura, the congress
was eagerly awaited as it was expected to solve many problems. In view of the
continuing conflict in Switzerland, the Jura Federation’s Bulletin wished the following
on 1 May 1872: ‘Ah, just let the day of the General Congress come! And
when we meet one another there face to face, all shall see the light, and the liars
shall be put on the spot.’13
According to the Rules, only those who had paid their membership dues
could take part in the congress. As the Jura Federation had not paid since its
inception in November 1871, it made up for its arrears in a letter dated 1 June
1872: for 1871 dues were paid for 140 members (seven sections) and for 1872 for
294 members (eleven sections).14 The General Council was at first unsure as to
how to deal with the fact that their opponents in Jura had paid their dues in such
an exemplary fashion:
Citizen Engels said he was in favour of accepting the contribution for 1871 but
of rejecting the contribution for 1872. He proposed that that should be done.
Citizen Marx said there was only one section that had not been acknowledged,
that was [the Geneva Communards’ section of propaganda]. The Jurassian
section was dissentient but it was a section – it had not been excluded.
Citizen Serraillier said he would accept the money but reject the men.
Citizen Marx said the Council could not accept the money for one year and
refuse it for the other. The way would be to accept all but that of the one section.15
This motion was passed unanimously. Jung, the corresponding secretary for
Switzerland in the General Council, noted this resolution on the Jura Federation’s
letter (‘the sum of 37.20 fr. has been received, 6.20 fr. in contributions refused
from the Propaganda and Revolutionary Action Section in Geneva’) and asked
Marx the next day whether the Federal Committee of the Jura Federation should
be informed – along with the confirmation of payment – that the congress would
be convened in Holland: ‘While acknowledging the receipt of the money should
I do well to inform Schwitzguébel of our decision concerning the Congress or
would it be better to say nothing to him about it.’16 Marx must have advised
against informing Schwitzguébel as Jung only told the Swiss sections about the
decision weeks later.17
Even the General Council’s supporters were shocked when The Hague
was finally announced as the location of the congress: Perret, secretary of the
Romance Federation’s Committee in Geneva, wrote a resentful letter to Jung.18
But the General Council’s subcommittee merely confirmed the status quo after
Perret’s letter of complaint was mentioned:
Citizen Engels took a count of delegates who wanted to be at the Congress. The
outcome of the count, which was bound to be approximate, made him conclude
in favour of The Hague.
Citizen Serraillier was in agreement with Citizen Engels; he took up the
idea that at The Hague the success of the General Council would be general
and not local, as people would inevitably have said if the Council had chosen
Switzerland for the gathering. Here [in The Hague] the war was international
and not national.
Citizen Marx nonetheless sounded the dangers that The Hague presented.
Citizen Engels proposed that, things being as they were, the status quo had
to be accepted.19
Theodor Remy in Zurich also voiced his criticism in a letter to Jung:
Why, it has been asked, should we not be convened in London, or at Inverness,
or at John O’Groat’s?20 The Federal Council [General Council] had the right.
But why, in the present circumstances, select The Hague? Do you know what
they will say? They will say that in view of the great distance and the enormous
expense it would be very difficult for the enemies of the General Council to be
represented in sufficient numbers, whereas the General Council would probably
be there en masse, with its supporters from German Switzerland, from Geneva,
etc., and could arrange everything in its own way, almost in family.21
The protest from the Jura Federation’s Federal Committee, signed by its corresponding
secretary Schwitzguébel, was tame by comparison:
It being in the interests of every federation and of the Association as a whole to
see as many delegates as possible taking part in the Congress, common sense
indicates that the place of the Congress should be as far as possible a central
point, within reach of all the federations, or at least of the majority of them.
But The Hague does not fulfil these conditions. It is on the contrary far
from central, and the choice of this city would make it impossible for some of
the federations to send delegates in view of the enormous expenses they would
have to bear.
The country which appeared to us naturally indicated as the seat of the
Congress is Switzerland, by its central situation as by the relative freedom enjoyed
there. We are therefore asking you, in the most formal manner and with
the assurance that after a further examination of the question you will be unable
to do otherwise than to share our opinion, to come back on your decision and to
choose some town in Switzerland as the seat of the Congress.
We appeal to your feeling of equity; it cannot be your intention to close,
indirectly, the doors of the Congress to the delegates of certain federations; you
will not wish the General Congress, at which so many grave questions must find
their solution, to see its moral authority weakened by this fact; you will wish, on
the contrary, to give public proof of the loyalty with which you accept debate by
satisfying our claim, the more so as it comes from a federation which disagrees
with you on several points.22
Of course, Marx and Engels weren’t about to change their mind – ‘you should
have read Schwitzguébel’s hypocritical letter’, an amused Engels wrote about
the aforementioned letter: ‘If nothing else had shown me that we were pursuing
the right tactics, this would.’23 After Schwitzguébel’s letter was mentioned in the
General Council’s subcommittee, Marx said ‘that three Congresses had already
been held in Switzerland, that Holland had already been proposed by the Belgians
in 1870,24 that Holland was the centre for England, Belgium, Germany and the
North of France and that there was no need to come round to the first decision
of the Council’.25 In his reply to the Jura Federation, Jung wrote that the General
Council’s decision to stick with The Hague
was reached after due consideration of all the arguments contained in your letter,
and that this choice was dictated by the following considerations:
The Congress could not be held in Switzerland, since that is the place of
origin and focal point of the disputes; the Congress is always influenced to some
extent by the place in which it is held; in order to add more weight to its decisions
and enhance the wisdoms of its debates, the local character must be avoided,
for which it was necessary to choose a place remote from the main centre of
You can scarcely be ignorant of the fact that three of the last four congresses
were held in Switzerland, and that at Basle the Belgian delegates were
most insistent that the next Congress should be held either at Verviers or in
In spite of the relative freedom which she enjoys, Switzerland can hardly
claim the right to monopolise congresses.27
In a riposte in the Bulletin, Guillaume explained:
the fact that three congresses have already been held in Switzerland is not
an argument against sticking to it for a fourth. This does not constitute a monopoly
in favour of Switzerland; it is simply the result of its geographical position and
its relatively liberal institutions. If one demands that the congress be convened
in Switzerland, this is not in the interest of Switzerland; it is in the interest of the
federations of other countries. Would one ever say that if the lamp was set in the
middle of the table three nights in a row, this act constitutes a privilege for the
spot on which it was set, and that therefore, in the spirit of equality, it must be
set at one end of the table on the fourth night? Would readers who have need for
lamp-light at the other end not complain at this alleged act of justice, and would
they not rightly say that true justice would be to leave the lamp in the middle of
the table for all to enjoy its light equally?
The General Congress ought to restore unity in the International: it ought
to be the tribunal before which all the serious disagreements that separate and
paralyze us would be considered. Held in The Hague, however, the congress will
not be an instrument of unification; as a tribunal, it probably shall not provide
the necessary guarantees of impartiality, and we greatly fear that instead of the
peace for which we wholeheartedly appeal, the Congress of The Hague shall give
us war. Whatever the case may be, it is the General Council that would have it
so; let the responsibility for this fall upon it alone.28
Boycott or participation?
Bakunin probably first heard that the general congress would be held in The
Hague on 6 July 1872 and apparently informed Guillaume immediately.29 During
their correspondence between 8 and 9 July, they appear to have agreed to
meet in Neuchâtel, where Bakunin travelled on 13 July.30 On the following day,
Bakunin met with his political allies in Jura (Guillaume, Auguste Spichiger and
Schwitzguébel) for a lengthy discussion, which must have resulted in a concrete
plan of action: ‘all well – / Projects fixed’, Bakunin noted in his diary on 14 July
1872.31 In the days that followed, Bakunin informed various people by mail about
what was agreed upon. On 16 July, he wrote Gambuzzi in Naples:
As for myself, I am in the process of organising our struggle against London. – You
have already received our mammoth Bulletin32 containing our initial responses
to the infamous circular. Now London has struck a powerful new blow. It has
designated The Hague in Holland as the meeting place for the next Congress.
The obvious purpose is to prevent delegates from Italy, Spain, southern France
and the Jura to come in large numbers (the journey of each delegate from
Switzerland alone costs 300 fr., and for those from Italy, it cannot be less than
500 fr.) and to obtain, therefore, a Marxist majority, mostly Germans, who would
crush us if we were foolish enough to go. Therefore, the Federal Committee33
of the Jura Federation has decided to send a protest34 to the General Council,
quite moderate in form, quite strong in content, which will try to impress upon
the General Council that given the extreme importance of the issues which this
Congress will address, it is in the interest of the International that the General
Council should designate a central location, preferably in Switzerland, to which
delegates from all countries could travel with equal ease, and therefore invites
the General Council to choose another site in Switzerland. At the same time,
the Jur[assian] Fed[eral] C[ommittee] shall invite the friendly federations of Italy
and Spain to join its protest and petition. If London refuses after that, we will
invite the Italians and Spaniards to do what the Jura will do, that is to say, not to
send any delegates to the Congress, but instead to send them to the Conference
of free and dissenting sections in Switzerland, in order to assert and to maintain
their independence and to organise their own inner Federation, the Federation
of autonomous federations and sections within the International. Let all your
friends know, and help us on your side by your energetic activity. We have just
received letters from Spain, including one from the regional (national) council of
Spain – the latter an official letter35 – which tell us that all the Spanish sections
and federations will declare for us against London and move against it in solidarity
with us, demanding, as we do so today, the abolition of the General Council.
This is the current state of affairs.36
It’s unclear whether all of the plans Bakunin presented here were agreed upon
in Neuchâtel. It seems indisputable that they planned to protest against the
General Council convening a congress in The Hague – a protest which others in
the International would be invited to join. But Guillaume later denied wanting
to call for a boycott of the congress if The Hague was kept as the location: ‘This
must be B.’s personal idea’, Guillaume wrote about Bakunin’s aforementioned
letter to Gambuzzi, ‘or if we had thought about it even for an instant, we would
have quickly changed our mind.’37 In fact, there is evidence that Bakunin soon
changed his mind and abandoned the idea of boycotting the Congress of The
Hague.38 He must have mentioned this reversal in his various letters to Italy.39 But
unfortunately for Bakunin, the militant members of the International in Italy had
already taken a liking to the idea of boycotting the congress. The Italians didn’t
think highly of the General Council and its manoeuvres in Italy as can be seen
by the fact that most groups ignored Bakunin’s earlier appeal to comply with all
of the formalities involving membership in the International:40 despite the fact
that the International had made great inroads in Italy, hardly any of the sections
were properly registered with the General Council. They did not want to have
anything to do with the authoritarians, who they had long ago rejected politically.
For instance, a text written by Pezza or Cafiero on 20 July 1872 complained:
The authoritarian communism that predominates in the [General] Council is
opposed by the revolutionary tendency of the southern sections, who are instead
for the destruction of all authority and want, in place of the state, a free federation
of free associations of producers. […] But the Council is not content with that;
it has planned a true coup d’état, and in order to succeed in its ambitious goals,
it has fixed the location for the General Congress in The Hague (in Holland),
where as a result of the excessive distance and the too great expense, both Spain
and France, Italy and Switzerland would only find themselves represented in
tiny proportions, and the Council would thus be assured an Anglo-Germanic
majority which would defer to its every wish.41
The General Council and the Congress of The Hague were also central issues
when delegates from 21 Italian sections (including Cafiero [president], Nabruzzi
[vice president], Costa [secretary], Fanelli, Friscia and Ceretti) met in Rimini on 4
August 1872 to form an Italian Federation of the International.42 They had a copy
of the Jura Federation Federal Committee’s letter of protest regarding the selection
of The Hague as the location of the congress.43 Furthermore they received
an official address from Spain, which appealed to them ‘to hold high the banner
of Anarchy and Collectivism and to send many delegates to the Congress of The
Hague’.44 However, they did not accede to the appeal – at the fifth meeting of the
Rimini Conference on 6 August 1872, the delegates discussed the following:
Having heard the reasons for
which the Congress was called in The Hague, and having heard several speeches in
which delegates all spoke against the Grand Council [General Council], a motion
from the floor was unanimously approved and published separately, whereby the
Italian Federation breaks off all solidarity with the Grand Council and proposes
to hold a General Congress in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, on 2 September next […].45
They justified their decision in the corresponding resolution:
[…] that the reaction of the General Council caused enormous resentment
among the Belgian, French, Spanish, Slavic, and Italian revolutionaries and in
part of the Swiss, leading to the proposal to abolish the Council and the reform
of the General Rules;
that the General Council has, not coincidentally, convened the General
Congress in The Hague, a place that is as far as possible from these revolutionary
for these reasons,
the Conference solemnly declares before every working man in the world,
that the Italian Federation of the International Working Men’s Association
henceforth breaks off all solidarity with the London General Council, while
continuing to assert its economic solidarity with all working men, and proposes
that all those sections which do not share the authoritarian principles of the
General Council send their delegates on 2 September 1872 not to The Hague
but to Neuchâtel in Switzerland to open an anti-authoritarian General Congress
on the same day.46
The surprising call for a boycott of the Congress of The Hague was telegraphed to
the Federación in Barcelona.47 An editorial there made a connection between the
boycott call and the location the General Council had selected for the congress:
In view of the serious implications of what has been disclosed in this news –
that Italy, after a delegates’ meeting [in Rimini], has decided not to attend the
Congress of The Hague – we do not know which attitude the federations in our
region will adopt.
At any rate, we can only record our profound disgust at what we see as the
authoritarian and inconvenient actions of the General Council which, it seems,
persists with the idea of holding the universal congress in the far regions of
Holland, in spite of all the observations that have been made. […]
From the moment we first saw this location selected we understood the
serious consequences that could come of it. For that is not the way to serve the
cause of the proletariat – obliging the vast majority to make scarcely possible
sacrifices resulting in insignificant representation [at the congress].
The General Council has fixed the location of the Congress in a place where
it seems sure they will have the majority in their favour.
This is in essence the action of a government.48
The general meeting of the Barcelona Local Federation on 18 August 1872 decided
to send a last appeal to Italy by telegram, ‘that they do send representatives
to the Congress of The Hague so as to hold our banner high. Even though at first
glance it would seem that all efforts are useless in the face of a congress so cleverly
prepared by the General Council for their own purposes’.49 Morago’s newspaper,
the Condenado, noted:
we wholeheartedly ask that our Italian brothers revoke their resolution and
attend the Congress of The Hague. Otherwise, instead of contributing to the
defence of the Association and saving it from the danger it encounters you are
contributing (although in good faith) to the plans of the General Council. Snakes
should not be disregarded, they should be crushed.50
The Italian sections’ boycott call was criticised in the Bulletin as well, which added
that this issue would be addressed at the Jura Federation’s upcoming congress:
On Sunday, the Jura Congress will have to make a decision about the proposal
of the Italian Federation. We do not wish to prejudge its decision; however, if we
may be permitted to express the entirely personal opinion of the editorial board
of the Bulletin, we shall say that in our opinion, our abstention will be slandered,
if we do not go to the Congress of The Hague. The Jura Federation was the first
to demand a congress, a public discussion; they offer us one, at last, – under the
most disadvantageous conditions, it is true, – yet they are offering it to us; we
cannot be seen to reverse ourselves.51
Like the Spanish Federation, the Jura Federation stood by its decision to send
delegates to the Congress of The Hague at its extraordinary congress – held on 18
August 1872 in La Chaux-de-Fonds.52 Guillaume and Schwitzguébel were elected
delegates and given the following imperative mandate:
The delegates of the Jura Federation are given an imperative mandate to present
to the Congress of The Hague the following principles as the basis of the organisation
of the International. […] The federative principle being the basis of the
organisation of the International, the sections federate freely among themselves
and the federations federate freely among themselves with full autonomy, setting
up according to their needs all the organs of correspondence, statistics bureaus,
etc., which they judge to be suitable.
The Jura Federation sees as a consequence of the above-mentioned principles
the abolition of the General Council and the suppression of all authority in
The Jura delegates must act in complete solidarity with the Spanish, Italian
and French delegates and all those who protest frankly and broadly against the
authoritarian principle. Consequently, refusal to admit a delegate of these federations
must lead to the immediate withdrawal of the Jura delegates.
Similarly, if the Congress does not accept the organisational bases of the
International set forth above, the delegates will have to withdraw in agreement
with the delegates of the anti-authoritarian federations.53
A ‘Special Instruction’ held out the prospect of an alternative congress: the delegates
critical of the General Council, the confidential additional resolution stated,
would ‘organise amongst themselves the calling of a congress wherever they deem
On the other hand, the boycott call by the Italian sections was rejected:
The Congress decides, as a natural corollary to the above decisions, not to accept
the proposal from the Italian Federation to hold a Congress on 2 September in
Neuchâtel, and it charges the Federal Committee to write the Italian Federation
immediately to urgently advise it to reverse its decision and to send representatives
to The Hague.55
The Jura Federation’s Federal Committee then sent a message to the Italian
Federation calling on them ‘to send their delegates to The Hague so that they
could take part there in the great struggle between authority and federalism that
would decide the future of the International’.56 Furthermore, they reiterated that
‘an anti-authoritarian congress in Switzerland’ would be convened if the delegates
withdrew from the Congress of The Hague.57 Andrea Costa, who had been elected
secretary of the Correspondence Commission (Commissione di corrispondenza)
of the Italian Federation in Rimini, replied to the Jura Federation’s Federal
Committee as follows:
In order to affirm and maintain solemnly the autonomy of the International
societies, the Italian federation unanimously voted at its conference in Rimini a
resolution calling a congress in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and breaking off all links
with the General Council. That decision was so solemn and the delegates who
passed it felt such a need for it, that we could not now reverse it without negating
However, though we cannot be with our brothers from Switzerland and
Spain in order to support the struggle of the revolution against authority at the
coming congress, we shall follow them nonetheless with our hearts, and hope at
the same time that we can come to agreement with them and shake their hands
soon in Switzerland, as we believe that their free proposals will not be welcomed
by the representatives of authority at The Hague.
We wanted to ward off once and for all those dangers to which you called
our attention by means of the circular last November:58 you began it and we
believe we have finished it.
It is not therefore for vain pride, brothers, that we shall not revoke our
proposal, nor send [delegates] to The Hague, but because we believe we would
betray the end which we are vowed to. […]
Lastly, the Grand Council is not the International; and while we broke with
it, we also affirmed once again our economic solidarity with all working men in
the world. And let that be enough for us. When the revolution meets the Bastille
along its path, it will fell it by popular acclaim.59
After a further exchange of letters between Italy and Jura,60 an alternative congress
following the Congress of The Hague was finally agreed upon. Thus, the Italian
Federation was able to stick with its boycott of the Congress of The Hague and
the alternative congress planned for 2 September 1872 (the opening day of the
Congress of The Hague) was postponed until a later date.61
The General Council naturally took a dim view of the vocal criticism from the
opposition forming in Italy, and again avoided the contentious issues in their reaction.
Because of the Italian sections’ lax attitude toward formalities, the General
Council had an easy time of dismissing the Italian Federation’s boycott call.
Engels could not resist delving into the formalities of the issue, either. He wrote
the following in the General Council’s name for Italian newspapers on 23 August
It should be pointed out that of the 21 sections whose delegates have signed this
resolution, there is only one (Naples) which belongs to the International. None
of the other 20 sections has ever fulfilled any of the conditions prescribed by
our General Rules and Regulations for the admission of new sections. An Italian
federation of the Working Men’s Association therefore does not exist. Those who
want to found it, form their own international outside the great Working Men’s
Possibly provoked by the conference’s address to Bakunin,63 Engels used a letter
to concoct a conspiracy theory about the Rimini Conference’s boycott call of
the Congress of The Hague: ‘Bakunin, whose style is detectable throughout the
document, realising that the game was up, has beaten a retreat all along the line
and, with his followers, is leaving the International.’64 According to Guillaume,
Bakunin was really ‘just as surprised and dissatisfied as ourselves when he read
the Rimini resolution’.65 Bakunin wrote Gambuzzi in Naples on 31 August 1872:
We all deplore one of these resolutions [of the Rimini Conference], just one, that
which decided not to send delegates to the Congress of The Hague. The Italians
would have had to act in concert with the Spanish and the Jurassians, both having
decided to send their [delegates] to The Hague, but with clearly determined
imperative [mandates] commanding them to withdraw from the Congress in
a concerted fashion as soon as the [majority] declared itself in favour of the
Marxian direction on whatever question might be. The presence of the Italian
delegates would have added a great power to this collective [protest], while their
absence gives our adversaries one more argument against us. But in the end,
what’s done is done; what has been so solemnly resolved by the federation of a
great country cannot be rescinded or altered without drawing immense ridicule.
– Thus it remains to you to accept the fait accompli, trying to take advantage of
it if possible while striving to contain its disastrous effects.66
Costa reinforced the decision made in Rimini in a statement dated 16 August 1872
and printed in the Plebe, the only newspaper in Italy which still supported the
General Council. He wrote that the resolutions of Rimini had expressed a mood that
was one of absolute independence and full autonomy. And to those who accuse
us of running after foreign theories let this be a guarantee, that we, though we do
not follow the old traditions of our land where they negate the modern sentiment
of the peoples, neither do we allow ourselves to become slaves to the first arrival
from beyond the Alps.
The International (and our adversaries should know this once and for all)
is not Karl Marx or Mikhail Bakunin; it has no idols of any sort to whom we
doff our hats; it is not a sect and does not have any dogmas, but follows the progressive
development of human thought and, where individuals halt, it walks on
because the great soul of the century agitates and moves it […]. It cultivates great
men with love, it admires them, it venerates them; but if any kindness towards
one of these should cost it a single line of its programme, it would not do it.67
* * *
1 Engels to Liebknecht, 2 January 1872, Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 288.
2 W. Opitz (ed.), ‘Unveröffentlichte Briefe aus der Entstehungsperiode der Schrift von Friedrich Engels ‘Zur Wohnungsfrage’’, Marx-Engels-Jahrbuch 4 (1981), p. 397.
3 Liebknecht to Engels, 16 January 1872, ibid., p. 398. Engels responded on 18
January 1872: ‘Up to now we intend to convene the congress at the regular time. It
is still early to decide on the place, but it almost certainly will not be Switzerland,
or Germany for that matter’ (Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, pp. 296–97).
Liebknecht then replied: ‘If the congress is not possible in Germany, then at least
convene it in a place within reach for us.’ (Liebknecht to Engels, 24 January 1872,
in Opitz [ed.], ‘Unveröffentlichte Briefe’, p. 399).
4 Engels/Lafargue, Correspondence, vol. 3, p. 443.
5 The Geneva Local Council to the General Council, 9 April 1872, IISG, Jung Papers, no. 565.
6 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, pp. 177–78. After the Committee of the
Romance Federation supported the suggestion of the Geneva Local Committee
in a letter in a letter dated 5 May 1872 (RGASPI, fond 21, opis’ 1, delo 328/5), the
General Council merely reiterated on 11 May 1872 ‘that the place of the meeting
of the next Congress had not yet been fixed by the Council’. (The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, p. 188).
7 Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 372.
8 Becker to Engels, 20 May 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, pp. 333–34. For
more about Engels’ reply on 14 June 1872, see Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, pp. 395–96. Perret also supported hosting the congress in Geneva because ‘we
would be sure of a splendid majority’ (Perret to Jung, 7 July 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, p. 364).
9 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, pp. 221, 230, 232.
10 Engels to Cuno, 5 July 1872, in Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 408.
11 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, p. 230.
12 The Geneva Local Council to the General Council, 19 May 1872, IISG, Jung Papers, no. 566.
13 Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 1 May 1872, p. 3.
14 The Committee of the Jura Federation to the General Council, 1 June 1872, RGASPI, fond 21, opis’ 1, delo 394/2.
15 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, p. 220 (meeting on 11 June 1872).
16 Jung to Marx, 12 June 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, p. 340.
17 See Tagwacht, 6 July 1872, p. 1; and Égalité, 7 July 1872, p. 1. The Jura Federation
was only informed on 10 July 1872; see the General Council to the Committee of the Jura Federation, 10 July 1872, in Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 27 July 1872, Supplément, p. 1.
18 ‘you are laying yourselves open to criticism from your enemies and from your
friends’ (Perret to Jung, 7 July 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, p. 364).
The Romance Federal Committee to the General Council, 7 July 1872, ibid.,
pp. 362–63. Perret turned to the Spanish Federal Council for support, and they
backed his demand; see Seco Serrano (ed.), Actas de los Consejos, vol. 1, p. 201
(meeting on 30 July 1872). The secretary of the Federal Council, Francisco Tomás,
addressed a letter to the General Council on 1 August 1872: ‘We are convinced
of the great necessity to hold the next International Congress in an active centre of our Association and at a central point so that the different regional federations
and groups of the International may be represented […]. In the belief that it thus
expresses faithfully the desires not only of the Spanish Regional Federation, but
also of most groups of our beloved Association, we adhere to the just demand of
the Romance Federal Committee’ (The Spanish Federal Council to the General
Council, 1 August 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, pp. 409–10).
19 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, p. 485. Because the General Council was
busy preparing itself for the congress, it delegated the task of dealing with incoming
mail to the subcommittee on 18 June 1872 (ibid., p. 230). For more about the
subcommittee, see above, p. 36, and p. 457, n. 11.
20 Legendary octagonal house in the town of John o’ Groats at the northern tip
of Scotland. The town is named after the Dutchman Jan de Groot, who built
the house in the 15th century after being granted the licence to run the ferry to Orkney – a group of islands to the north.
21 Remy to Jung, 12 August 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, p. 438.
22 The Committee of the Jura Federation to the General Council, 15 July 1872, ibid., pp. 377–78.
23 Engels to Johann Philipp Becker, 5 August 1872, in Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 419.
24 A corresponding letter was read at the General Council meeting on 2 August
1870: ‘Cit. Serraillier read a letter from Belgium in which Amsterdam was proposed as the seat of the Congress.’ (‘Minutes of the General Council September 21, 1869 to March 14, 1871’, p. 814).
25 The General Council: Minutes, vol. 5, p. 488 (meeting on 27 July 1872).
26 The suggestion to hold the general congress in Verviers in 1870 was made at the
last meeting of the Basel Congress on 11 September 1869 by Hubert Bastin, the delegate of the Local Federation of the Vesdre Valley, which had its headquarters in Verviers, Belgium (Report of the Fourth Annual Congress, p. 36). Holland was first suggested in the summer of 1870; see above, n. 24.
27 The General Council to the Committee of the Jura Federation, 28 July 1872, in The Hague Congress, vol. 2, p. 407.
28 Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 1 [to 8] August 1872, p. 3.
29 The General Council’s resolution convening the Congress of The Hague was first printed in Switzerland in the Zurich paper the Tagwacht, 6 July 1872, p. 1. Bakunin was in Zurich at the time and noted in his diary that he sent a letter to Guillaume; see Bakounine, ‘Carnet’, 1872, p. 25.
30 Ibid., p. 26.
32 A reference to the special edition of the Bulletin on 15 June 1872 where responses by various authors to the Fictitious Splits were published, see above, pp. 210–13.
33 Erroneously ‘Conseil fédéral’ (Federal Council) in the manuscript.
34 Dated 15 July 1872, see above, pp. 230–31.
35 The original of this letter has not survived. The minutes of the Spanish Federal
Council’s meeting on 27 June 1872 merely referred to this matter as follows: ‘A letter addressed to the Federal Council of Jura, Switzerland, responding to one that was received and saying that we are willing to maintain with said Council (as with all others) fraternal and supportive relations, was approved.’ (Seco Serrano [ed.], Actas de los Consejos, vol. 1, p. 162).
36 Lehning (ed.), Archives Bakounine, vol. 2, pp. 133–34. Date of the letter is assumed
because of the note ‘Letter to Gambuzzi’ in Bakunin’s diary on 16 July 1872 (Bakounine, ‘Carnet’, 1872, p. 27; see also Nettlau, ‘Michael Bakunin’, vol. 4, p. 267). During this time (15–18 July 1872), Bakunin also wrote Pezza, Ceretti, Nabruzzi, Cafiero and Alerini (Bakounine, ‘Carnet’, 1872, pp. 26–27). However, these letters have not survived.
37 Written comment added personally by Guillaume in Nettlau, ‘Nachträge’, n. 4500.
38 See, for example, Bakunin’s contribution to the Jura Federation’s Congress of La
Chaux-de-Fonds (see below, pp. 238, 288) and his letter to Gambuzzi on 31 August 1872 (see below, p. 241).
39 Bakunin noted in his diary that he wrote Cafiero (23 July and 2 August), Nabruzzi
(29 July and 1 August) and Gambuzzi (1 August); see Bakounine, ‘Carnet’, 1872, pp. 28–29. A letter to Ceretti (Bakunin to Celso Ceretti, 23 July 1872, in Bakounine, Oeuvres complètes) dealt with other issues. All of the other letters are lost.
40 See, for example, Bakunin to Rubicone [Nabruzzi] and friends, 23–26 January 1872, in Lehning (ed.), Archives Bakounine, vol. 1, pt. 2, pp. 207–28.
41 ‘Risposta di alcuni internazionali’, Introduzione, p. 396.
42 For more about the lead up to the Conference of Rimini, see P. C. Masini, ‘La preparazione della conferenza di Rimini (1871–1872)’, in L. Faenza (ed.), Anarchismo e socialismo in Italia 1872–1892. Atti del Convegno di studi ‘Marxisti e “riministi”’, Rimini 19–21 ottobre 1972 (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1973), pp. 3–26.
43 Ludovico Nabruzzi to the Fascio operaio, 22 July 1872: ‘I should tell you that I have
received a protest from the Jura Federation against the London Council because the latter has chosen The Hague, an outlying point, as the location for the coming congress. Our Swiss friends invite us too to protest, as will the brothers in Spain, Austria [France?], etc. And I have now replied to them that we shall deal with it at the conference of 4 August.’ (ibid., p. 17).
44 P. C. Masini (ed.), La Federazione Italiana dell’Associazione Internazionale dei Lavoratori. Atti ufficiali 1871–1880. (Atti congressuali; indirizzi, proclami, manifesti) (Milano: Edizioni Avanti, 1964), p. 31. The recommendation to send as many delegates as possible to the Congress of The Hague was already made by
the Saragossa Congress in April 1872 (Estracto de las actas del segundo congreso, p. 112). A response to the official address was sent to the Federación via telegram on 5 August 1872; see Masini (ed.), La Federazione Italiana, p. 35.
45 Ibid., p. 33.
46 Masini (ed.), La Federazione Italiana, pp. 36–37.
47 Andrea Costa to the editors of the Federación, 7 August 1872, in Federación, 11 August 1872, p. 3.
49 ‘Las Asambleas Generales de la Federación Barcelonesa de la Internacional’,
ibid., 25 August 1872, p. 1. See also Costa to Ceretti, 21 August 1872, excerpts in Nettlau, Life of Michael Bakounine, p. 612; Favilla, 25 August 1872, p. 2. For the reply, see Costa to the editors of the Federación, 25 August 1872, in Federación, 7 September 1872, pp. 1–2. See also Costa to Ceretti, 27 August 1872, excerpts in Nettlau, Life of Michael Bakounine, p. 612.
50 Condenado, 22 August 1872, p. 4.
51 Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 15 August to 1 September 1872, p. 6. This statement had already been written and typeset before 18 August 1872 according to an editorial note.
52 The minutes were published in Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 15 August to 1 September 1872, pp. 1–2.
53 The Hague Congress, vol. 1, pp. 324–25.
54 Favilla, 27 August 1872, p. 2 (missing in the Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne,
15 August to 1 September 1872, p. 2). Nettlau: ‘again an indifference with regards to formalities on the part of the young Italian International; because if the additional resolution was meant to be published, then the Bulletin would certainly have done so.’ (Nettlau, Life of Michael Bakounine, p. 612).
55 Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, 15 August to 1 September 1872, p. 1.
56 Ibid., p. 7.
57 Summarised in letters from Costa to Ceretti from 23 to 27 August 1872: excerpts in Nettlau, Life of Michael Bakounine, p. 612.
58 A reference to the Sonvillier Circular.
59 The Italian Correspondence Commission to the Committee of the Jura Federation, 24 August 1872, in Masini (ed.), La Federazione Italiana, pp. 44–46. This letter also repudiated a telegram by Ceretti to the Favilla, which defied the Rimini Conference’s call to boycott of the Congress of The Hague and announced that Italian delegates would be sent to Holland; see details in Nettlau, Life of Michael Bakounine, pp. 612–13. P. C. Masini (ed.), ‘La Prima Internazionale in Italia nelle carte dei fratelli Ceretti’, Movimento operaio e socialista 11 (1965), pp. 54–55.
60 See Guillaume, L’Internationale, vol. 2, p. 318.
61 Favilla, 27 August 1872, p. 2.
62 Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 23, p. 217.
63 ‘To Mikhail Bakunin Rimini, 8 August 1872
The delegates of the Italian Societies of the International meeting at their first Conference in Rimini have entrusted us with sending you, the indomitable champion of the social revolution, their affectionate greetings.
We thus salute you, brother, who have been so greatly wronged in the International.
For the Conference
Carlo Cafiero Andrea Costa’
(Masini [ed.], La Federazione Italiana, p. 42). The last sentence is a reference to
the following passage in Bakunin’s text The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International: ‘Like the Fraticelli of Bohemia in the 14th century, the revolutionary socialists of our time know one another by these words: In the name of the wronged one, hail’ (Lehning [ed.], Archives Bakounine, vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 44; the devil
is meant). The Rimini Conference also sent Garibaldi an official address (for the text, see Masini [ed.], La Federazione Italiana, pp. 34–35).
64 Engels to Glaser de Willebrord, 19 August 1872, in Marx/Engels, Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 424.
65 Guillaume, L’Internationale, vol. 2, p. 319. The economist Tullio Martello (1841–1918; professor at the University of Bologna since 1884) claimed in his book about the First International that the draft of the resolution ‘was written by Bakunin
himself in French; translated then into bad Italian, it was sent to deputy Fanelli for it to be communicated to and approved by the Rimini meeting. […] This was what we were led to believe’ (T. Martello, Storia della Internazionale dalla sua origine al Congresso dell’Aja [Padua, Naples: Fratelli Salmin, Giuseppe Marghieri, 1873],
p. 477). On the other hand, Nabruzzi, a delegate at Rimini, later confirmed that the resolution expressed the general mood of the delegates and was not written by Bakunin (Nabruzzi to Max Nettlau, personal interview , see Nettlau, Bakunin e l’Internazionale in Italia, p. 364).
66 Bakunin to Carlo Gambuzzi, 31 August 1872, pp. 2–3, in Bakounine, Oeuvres complètes.
67 Plebe, 17 August 1872, p. 3.
* * *
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why so many translators?
- Only some of the relevant sources concerning the First International were originally written in English. So, in order to get best quality and the genuine expression of every quotation it was necessary to quote directly from the original sources, i.e. from the French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and German originals. For that reason several translators were involved, specialized in their respective languages.
- Which archival collections were taken into account for the first time, as maintained on the back cover?
- Next to the collections of institutes that have long been open to researchers (such as the IISH in Amsterdam), archives inaccessible until the end of the Cold War were consulted: the former Central Party Archives of the Institutes of Marxism-Leninism located in Berlin and Moscow. Their follow-up institutions Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO) and Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) have given the author unrestricted access to these collections. Thus, the book is able to take numerous documents into account that have gone unnoticed or were completely unknown.
- How to support?
- Independent media and radical historiography have been marginalized long enough, so we’d welcome your support! There are several ways to spread the knowledge about The First Socialist Schism: Get it into your library, share it on social media, write a review ... For details about holding an event / bookstore reading get in touch with email@example.com!