Categories
Reviews

Juan Dal Maso, La Izquierda Diário

A propósito de Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation, editado e introducido por Marcello Musto.
Este libro, publicado en inglés este año por Palgrave Macmillan, recoge una selección de textos de Marx sobre la temática de la alienación.

El tema parece particularmente pertinente en un contexto en que la precarización de las condiciones de vida así como la generalización del teletrabajo durante la pandemia volvieron a poner en discusión los efectos que el proceso de producción (en sentido amplio, no solo industrial) tiene sobre la vida de la clase trabajadora en sus múltiples aspectos, empezando por la afectación del tiempo libre. El fenómeno de la “great resignation” o “Big Quit”, es decir la renuncia masiva en trabajos mal pagos y que no garantizan condiciones básicas de seguridad e higiene, en Estados Unidos, es parte también de este panorama, al que se suma la oleada de huelgas conocida como Striketober, y otros procesos de lucha de la clase trabajadora en todo el mundo.

El libro está organizado en dos partes. La primera está conformada por el estudio introductorio de Marcello Musto, titulado “Alienation Redux: Marxian perspectives”. Este texto presenta las características principales del tratamiento de la cuestión de la alienación en Marx, con sus cambios respectivos a medida en que avanza su trayectoria teórica, así como discute las diversas lecturas de la cuestión en otras tradiciones y diversas vertientes del marxismo del siglo XX.

La segunda parte del libro se compone de un conjunto de escritos de Marx, organizados en tres secciones. La sección “Early Political and Philosophical Writings” contiene textos de 1844 a 1856, que incluyen pasajes de los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844, La Sagrada Familia y La ideología alemana, entre otros. Sigue una sección con textos de los Grundrisse y su manuscrito sobre crítica de la economía política de 1861-63, así como de Teorías de la Plusvalía. La última sección se compone de textos preparatorios de El capital y pasajes de El capital mismo, incluyendo fragmentos de los manuscritos de 1863-65 y del capítulo VI Inédito.

A través de esta selección de textos, puede lograrse una idea clara del tratamiento de la problemática de la alienación y su lugar en el pensamiento de Marx. En este artículo, repasaremos los principales argumentos planteados por Musto en la Introducción.

En el principio, Hegel
El primer tratamiento sistemático de la cuestión de la alienación aparece en Hegel, especialmente en su Fenomenología del espíritu. En el caso de Hegel, la cuestión estaba relacionada con una teoría idealista del espíritu que se objetivizaba en la realidad, dando lugar a una separación entre sujeto y objeto que luego era superada a través de la conquista de la identidad entre ambos. Pero también tenía ciertos ribetes materialistas, destacando la importancia del trabajo como forma de objetivación de la actividad humana. Sin embargo, al no tener una concepción suficientemente clara de la especificidad del trabajo bajo el capitalismo, Hegel identificó alienación y objetivación (es decir la actividad que produce o modifica los objetos materiales distintos del sujeto y de las ideas).

Ludwig Feuerbach retomó la categoría para hacer referencia al fenómeno religioso y explicar sus bases materialistas. Marx utilizó poco el término en los trabajos publicados durante su vida y en general fue ignorado por el marxismo hasta la aparición de Historia y consciencia de clase de Lukács.

Redescubrimientos y distorsiones
En su célebre obra de 1923, Lukács retomó el argumento de la alienación, utilizando el término “reificación”, con el que explicaba el hecho de que la actividad productiva se presenta al trabajador como algo objetivo e independiente de su voluntad. Esta visión se inclinaba, por influencia de Hegel, a asimilar alienación con objetivación y no es casual que la idea del proletariado como “sujeto-objeto idéntico de la historia” fuera central para Lukács, dada la tendencia a conceder al tema una portada filosófica más amplia que la que podía desprenderse de las obras de Marx publicadas hasta ese momento. Más apegado al marxismo clásico y lejos de la teoría del sujeto-objeto idéntico, Isaak Ilich Rubin puso en el centro de su explicación de la teoría marxista del valor la cuestión del fetichismo de la mercancía, no como un problema de la consciencia sino como un proceso social necesario de la economía capitalista, relacionado con el carácter privado de la producción para el mercado. Pero su obra Ensayos sobre teoría marxista del valor se mantuvo mayormente desconocida fuera de la URSS hasta los años ´70, en que fue traducida al inglés.

La publicación en 1932 de los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844 de Marx fue el evento que dio impulso a los debates sobre el concepto de alienación tanto para quienes investigaban el pensamiento de Marx como entre diversas tendencias de la filosofía y las ciencias sociales, así como en ciertos sectores militantes, junto con las relecturas en clave humanista del pensamiento de Marx.

En los Manuscritos, Marx definía la alienación en términos de un proceso por el cual el producto del trabajo se volvía un objeto externo para el trabajador, pero también como un poder que se le volvía en contra como algo extraño y hostil y señalaba cuatro aspectos de la alienación del trabajador en la sociedad burguesa: 1) Respecto del producto de su trabajo. 2) Respecto de su actividad laboral, que percibe como algo dirigido contra él. 3) Respecto de su ser genérico (de su propio cuerpo y facultades físicas y espirituales). 4) Respecto de los demás seres humanos.

Mientras para Hegel la alienación era algo inherente a la objetivación, Marx la concebía como una característica específica del trabajo bajo el capitalismo. Por esta razón, tampoco resultaba consistente releer los Manuscritos en clave de una crítica de la alienación humana en general, independientemente de la cuestión de clase. Aclaremos de paso que en Hegel había una concepción de autoproducción del ser humano por el trabajo, que se hace patente en su célebre dialéctica del amo y el esclavo, cuestión que estaba relacionada con sus lecturas de la economía política británica y que Marx reivindicaba en sus Manuscritos. Pero Marx señalaba a su vez que estos aspectos acertados del pensamiento de Hegel sobre la cuestión del trabajo quedaban subordinados a una concepción en la que el análisis de la alienación se centraba especialmente en la alienación del pensamiento abstracto que se resolvía en una superación de la objetividad, por lo cual consideraba más adecuada la solución de Feuerbach hacia el materialismo, aunque este tuviese una lectura de Hegel poco sofisticada.

Musto sintetiza bien los alcances y limitaciones de este texto de Marx:

Subrayar la importancia del concepto de alienación en los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844 para una mejor comprensión del desarrollo de Marx no puede suponer correr un velo de silencio sobre los enormes límites de este texto juvenil. Su autor apenas había comenzado a asimilar los conceptos básicos de la economía política, y su concepción del comunismo no era más que una síntesis confusa de los estudios filosóficos que había realizado hasta entonces. Por muy cautivadores que sean, sobre todo por la forma en que combinan ideas filosóficas de Hegel y Feuerbach con una crítica de la teoría económica clásica y una denuncia de la alienación de la clase obrera, los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844 son sólo una primera aproximación, como se desprende de su vaguedad y eclecticismo. Arrojan una luz importante sobre el curso que tomó Marx, pero una enorme distancia los separa todavía de los temas y el argumento no sólo de la edición terminada de 1867 del Libro Primero de El Capital, sino también de sus manuscritos preparatorios, uno de ellos publicado, que redactó desde finales de la década de 1850. A diferencia de los análisis que, o bien hacen hincapié en un “joven Marx” distintivo, o bien intentan forzar una ruptura teórica en su obra, las lecturas más incisivas del concepto de alienación en los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844 han sabido tratarlos como una etapa interesante, pero solo inicial, en la trayectoria crítica de Marx. Si no hubiera continuado sus investigaciones, sino que se hubiera quedado con los conceptos de los manuscritos de París, probablemente habría sido degradado a ocupar un lugar junto a Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) y Feuerbach en las secciones de los manuales de filosofía dedicadas a la izquierda hegeliana [1].

Posteriormente, Musto reconstruye y discute otras concepciones de la alienación características del siglo XX, entre las que destaca la de Heidegger, con su idea del “estado de caída” ligado a la pérdida de autenticidad del ser en la experiencia del mundo, muy alejada de la cuestión tal como fuera tratada por Marx. En Marcuse, Musto señala una identificación de alienación y objetivación así como un desplazamiento de la cuestión de la liberación del trabajo a la de la líbido; mientras en Adorno y Horkheimer la alienación aparece como un extrañamiento relacionado con el control social y la manipulación de la cultura de masas. Otra lectura como la de Erich Fromm, influenciado por el psicoanálisis, retomó la cuestión de la alienación como algo característico de la experiencia subjetiva individual, mientras las relecturas existencialistas y neohegelianas de la cuestión, desde Sartre a Jean Hippolyte, la presentaron como algo característico de la experiencia de la autoconsciencia humana a lo largo de toda la historia.

Las lecturas existencialistas, así como otras como la de Hannah Arendt, tomaban solamente la cuestión de la “auto-alienación” o alienación del individuo respecto de los demás seres humanos, sin tomar en cuenta los demás aspectos señalados por Marx en su crítica inicial de la economía capitalista.

Entre las posiciones marxistas de los años de la segunda posguerra que discutieron sobre los Manuscritos, Musto destaca tres: 1) quienes los consideran un texto de transición sin mayor importancia; 2) quienes dividen al “Joven Marx” del “Marx Maduro”, tomando partido por uno u otro, desde lecturas que contraponen los Manuscritos con El capital; 3) quienes ven una continuidad en toda la trayectoria teórica de Marx, otorgándole una especie de unidad monográfica a través de la cuestión de la alienación.

Musto señala la unilateralidad de estas tres posiciones, afirmando la importancia de pisar terreno firme en cuanto a la interpretación de la obra de Marx, a partir de constatar cómo se modifica la cuestión de la alienación en relación con su comprensión de la economía capitalista y la consiguiente elaboración de la crítica de la economía política, diferenciándola asimismo de otras posiciones que surgieron en los años ‘60, como las de Guy Debord, Jean Baudrillard o desde el lado conservador la sociología norteamericana.

Entre la desalienación y la autonomía
La cuestión de la alienación ha estado presente en importantes debates del marxismo durante el siglo XX. En este caso me interesa comentar dos en los que Musto no se detiene especialmente, pero pueden considerarse contenidos en el recorrido que traza. Un caso importante de apropiación de la temática de la alienación fue el de los comunistas disidentes en los países del Este. Buscaron apoyarse en las lecturas de los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos y más en general en la crítica de Marx a la alienación y el fetichismo de la mercancía, para hacer una crítica del estalinismo en diversos niveles, especialmente contra el sistema de gobierno basado en la burocracia y la vigilancia policial, el productivismo y los métodos “despóticos” en las fábricas y la promoción de una concepción acrítica de la realidad. Casos como los de Karel Kosik con su Dialéctica de lo concreto, Mihailo Markovic con su Dialéctica de la praxis o Gajo Petrovic con su Marxismo contra stalinismo son representativos de este tipo de lecturas, con sus diferencias y puntos de contacto. Caído el estalinismo, podría parecer que son reflexiones anacrónicas o demasiado específicas, pero creo que verlo de esa forma sería un error. Cualquier discusión sobre cómo tiene que ser el socialismo implica un balance y una crítica del estalinismo y allí, además del legado teórico, programático y político de Trotsky y la Oposición de Izquierda, también pueden hacer su aporte quienes tuvieron que enfrentar al estalinismo desde una “vuelta a Marx” que se les aparecía en ese momento como la única alternativa cercana, ante la falta de continuidad de las tradiciones oposicionistas producto de la represión.

La otra gran vertiente relacionada con el rechazo de la alienación, pero sin utilizar el concepto de la misma forma que los marxismos humanistas, es la del operaismo primero y el autonomismo después, que sigue teniendo peso en los debates actuales. Cercana en sus orígenes a las lecturas de Galvano Della Volpe, esta tradición fue siempre reactiva a las lecturas hegelianizantes del marxismo. Pero también sostenía una concepción distinta de la del marxismo clásico sobre la relación entre lucha de clases y avance tecnológico. Para el operaismo, como sintetizaba Mario Tronti en Obreros y Capital, el desarrollo capitalista era consecuencia de la lucha de la clase obrera. Esta visión relativizaba de manera sutil el carácter “extraño y hostil” del proceso de producción para el trabajador y hacía hincapié en el desarrollo de la conflictividad fabril contra el comando capitalista del trabajo. Posteriormente, Antonio Negri, influenciado por el postestructuralismo y las teorías del “capitalismo cognitivo” hizo una relectura de estos temas, amplificando la noción de general intellect planteada por Marx en su fragmento sobre las máquinas (del que se incluyen pasajes en esta compilación) a una potencia que se despliega como trabajo afectivo, comunicativo y cognitivo. Contradictoriamente, esta posición termina en una reivindicación de la progresividad del desarrollo capitalista menos crítica que la de Marx, ya que este señalaba la contradicción entre los avances de la ciencia y la técnica y el modo de producción capitalista, como expresión de la contradicción de clase caracterizada por la extracción de plusvalor y la imposibilidad de liberar a la fuerza de trabajo sin cambiar el sistema por medios revolucionarios. Volvamos a Marx, para ver cómo pensó este problema.

Alienación y explotación capitalista
En El capital y sus manuscritos preparatorios, así como en el capítulo VI inédito, Marx desarrolla la noción de alienación mucho más ligada a una teoría más clara de la explotación capitalista y la extracción de plusvalor.

Señala Musto:

Hasta fines de la década de 1850, no hubo más referencias a la teoría de la alienación en las obras de Marx. Después de la derrota de las revoluciones de 1848, se vio forzado a exiliarse en Londres, donde una vez instalado, concentró todas sus energías en el estudio de la economía política y, aparte de algunos muy breves trabajos de temas históricos, no publicó otro libro. Cuando comenzó a escribir sobre economía otra vez, de todos modos, en sus Elementos fundamentales para la crítica de la Economía Política (1857-58), más conocidos como los Grundrisse, más de una vez utilizó el término “alienación”. Este texto retomó en varios aspectos los análisis de los Manuscritos económico-filosóficos de 1844, aunque cerca de una década de estudio en la Biblioteca del Museo Británico le permitieron hacerlos considerablemente más profundos [2].

En los Grundrisse, Marx relaciona directamente la cuestión de la alienación con la del intercambio de mercancías, así como en el capítulo VI inédito de El capital hace referencia al proceso de personificación de las cosas y cosificación de las personas. Pero avanza más aún planteando que el capital subordina a su propio interés no solo la actividad inmediata del trabajador sino también el proceso de cooperación en la producción, los avances científicos y tecnológicos aplicados a la producción y la mejora y desarrollo de la maquinaria. Estas cuestiones entran también en juego cuando Marx define en El Capital el fenómeno del fetichismo de la mercancía.

Marx explica el fetichismo de la mercancía como un proceso necesario de la producción capitalista:

Ese carácter fetichista del mundo de las mercancías se origina, como el análisis precedente lo ha demostrado, en la peculiar índole social del trabajo que produce mercancías. Si los objetos para el uso se convierten en mercancías, ello se debe únicamente a que son productos de trabajos privados ejercidos independientemente los unos de los otros. El complejo de estos trabajos privados es lo que constituye el trabajo social global. Como los productores no entran en contacto social hasta que intercambian los productos de su trabajo, los atributos específicamente sociales de esos trabajos privados no se manifiestan sino en el marco de dicho intercambio. O en otras palabras: de hecho, los trabajos privados no alcanzan realidad como partes del trabajo social en su conjunto, sino por medio de las relaciones que el intercambio establece entre los productos del trabajo y, a través de los mismos, entre los productores. A éstos, por ende, las relaciones sociales entre sus trabajos privados se les ponen de manifiesto como lo que son, vale decir, no como relaciones directamente sociales trabadas entre las personas mismas, en sus trabajos, sino por el contrario como relaciones propias de cosas entre las personas y relaciones sociales entre las cosas. Es sólo en su intercambio donde los productos del trabajo adquieren una objetividad de valor, socialmente uniforme, separada de su objetividad de uso, sensorialmente diversa. Tal escisión del producto laboral en cosa útil y cosa de valor sólo se efectiviza, en la práctica, cuando el intercambio ya ha alcanzado la extensión y relevancia suficientes como para que se produzcan cosas útiles destinadas al intercambio, con lo cual, pues, ya en su producción misma se tiene en cuenta el carácter de valor de las cosas. A partir de ese momento los trabajos privados de los productores adoptan de manera efectiva un doble carácter social. Por una parte, en cuanto trabajos útiles determinados, tienen que satisfacer una necesidad social determinada y con ello probar su eficacia como partes del trabajo global, del sistema natural caracterizado por la división social del trabajo. De otra parte, sólo satisfacen las variadas necesidades de sus propios productores, en la medida en que todo trabajo privado particular, dotado de utilidad, es pasible de intercambio por otra clase de trabajo privado útil, y por tanto le es equivalente. La igualdad de trabajos toto coelo [totalmente] diversos sólo puede consistir en una abstracción de su desigualdad real, en la reducción al carácter común que poseen en cuanto gasto de fuerza humana de trabajo, trabajo abstractamente humano. El cerebro de los productores privados refleja ese doble carácter social de sus trabajos privados solamente en las formas que se manifiestan en el movimiento práctico, en el intercambio de productos: el carácter socialmente útil de sus trabajos privados, pues, sólo lo refleja bajo la forma de que el producto del trabajo tiene que ser útil, y precisamente serlo para otros; el carácter social de la igualdad entre los diversos trabajos, sólo bajo la forma del carácter de valor que es común a esas cosas materialmente diferentes, los productos del trabajo.

La figura del fetichismo de la mercancía recoge los temas tratados por Marx en sus anteriores escritos sobre la alienación, pero los complejiza. En los Manuscritos, el eje estaba puesto en el proceso por el cual el trabajo, los productos del trabajo y las demás personas se volvían frente al trabajador como algo extraño y hostil, con lo cual Marx hacía hincapié en la crítica de la deshumanización impuesta por la propiedad privada. En El capital, Marx mantiene esta idea de que el proceso de trabajo y sus productos se aparecen al trabajador como algo ajeno e independiente de su voluntad, así como su relación con las otras personas se establece a través de la relación mercantil, pero vinculada más concretamente con la cuestión de la explotación. La separación de la clase trabajadora respecto de los medios de producción, que se le aparecen como algo ajeno, es el prerrequisito de la extracción de plusvalor, dado que los trabajadores “libres” deben vender su fuerza de trabajo a los capitalistas y en ese proceso producen el valor necesario para pagar sus propios salarios y el plusvalor que está en la base de la ganancia capitalista.

Volvamos al argumento de Musto:

Dos elementos en esta definición marcan una clara línea divisoria entre la concepción de la alienación de Marx y la sostenida por la mayor parte de los autores sobre los que hemos estado discutiendo. Primero, Marx concibe el fetichismo no como un problema individual sino como un fenómeno social, no como un asunto de la mente sino como un poder real, una forma particular de dominación, que se establece en la economía capitalista como resultado de la transformación de los objetos en sujetos. Por esta razón, sus análisis de la alienación no se limitan al malestar de los hombres y las mujeres individuales, sino que se extienden a todos los procesos sociales y las actividades productivas que le subyacen. Segundo, para Marx el fetichismo se manifiesta en una precisa realidad histórica de la producción, la realidad del trabajo asalariado; no es parte de la relación entre las personas y las cosas como tal, sino más bien de la relación entre los seres humanos y una forma particular de objetividad: la forma-mercancía [3].

Tanto en los Grundrisse como en El capital, Marx ya tiene una visión mucho más compleja del capitalismo y por lo tanto una comprensión materialista mucho más clara del fenómeno de la alienación. Se hace más compleja su visión de la sociedad y del cambio revolucionario. De allí que, en El capital, Marx señale que el capitalismo se apropia de conquistas de la ciencia, la técnica y la organización del trabajo para su propio beneficio, pero al mismo tiempo crea condiciones para el comunismo, tales como la cooperación en el proceso de trabajo, el desarrollo y aplicación de tecnologías, la apropiación de las fuerzas de la naturaleza útiles para la producción, la creación de maquinaria que solamente puede emplearse en común por varios trabajadores, la economización de los medios de producción y la tendencia a crear un mercado mundial.

Por qué es necesario el comunismo
Este libro es una buena contribución para introducirse al tema de la alienación en Marx y también para lograr una comprensión clara de los alcances y límites que tiene en su tratamiento.

Musto debate contra quienes le quitan importancia a la cuestión, así como contra quienes dicen que es el tema principal de la teoría de Marx y señala que la reflexión sobre el problema se vuelve mucho más clara y sólida en la medida en que Marx tiene una mejor comprensión del funcionamiento del capitalismo.

Pero al mismo tiempo, pone esa argumentación en función de explicar el pensamiento político revolucionario de Marx. La alienación no es un problema del ser humano en general, ni de la consciencia individual ni de toda forma de objetivación en abstracto. Por eso, el enfoque de Marx muestra el proceso contradictorio entre la creación de condiciones para la construcción de una sociedad comunista en base al desarrollo de las fuerzas productivas y la orientación de la producción y reproducción hacia la extracción de plusvalor y realización de la ganancia capitalista.

El capitalismo crea las condiciones necesarias para la lucha por el comunismo, pero no más que eso. Debe ser subvertido a través de la revolución socialista, venciendo la resistencia de las clases explotadoras y opresoras, para establecer un régimen social basado en la cooperación, la propiedad colectiva y la búsqueda de las más amplias libertades para las personas.

Categories
Journal Articles

The History and Legacy of the International Working Men’s Association

The Birth of Internationalism
On 28 September 1864, St. Martin’s Hall, in the heart of London, was packed to overflowing with some two thousand workers. They had come to attend a meeting called by English trade union leaders and a small group of companions from the Continent. This meeting gave birth to the prototype of all the main organizations of the workers’ movement: the International Working Men’s Association. Quickly, the International aroused passions all over Europe. It made class solidarity a shared ideal and inspired large numbers of women and men to struggle for the most radical of goals: changing the world. Thanks to its activity, workers were able to gain a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of the capitalist mode of production, to become more aware of their own strength, and to develop new, more advanced forms of struggle for their rights.
When it was founded, the central driving force of the International was British trade unionism, the leaders of which were mainly interested in economic questions. They fought to improve the workers’ conditions, but without calling capitalism into question. Hence, they conceived the International primarily as an instrument to prevent the import of manpower from abroad in the event of strikes. Then there were the mutualists, long dominant in France. In keeping with the theories of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), they opposed any working-class involvement in politics, and the strike as a weapon of struggle. The third group in importance were the communists, opposing the existing system of production and espousing the necessity of political action to overthrow it. At its founding, the ranks of the International also included numbers of workers inspired by utopian theories, and exiles having vaguely democratic ideas and cross-class conception who considered the International as an instrument for the issuing of general appeals for the liberation of oppressed peoples.
Securing the cohabitation of all these currents in the International, around a programme so distant from the approaches with which each had started out, was Karl Marx’s (1818–1883) great political accomplishment. His political talents enabled him to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable (Collins & Abramsky, 1965, p. 34). It was Marx who gave a clear purpose to the International, and who achieved a non-exclusionary, yet firmly working class-based, political programme that won it mass support beyond sectarianism. The political soul of its General Council was always Marx: he drafted all its main resolutions and prepared almost all its congress reports.
Nevertheless, despite the impression created by the Soviet Union’s propaganda and by the majority of the ideologically driven scholars who wrote on the International, this organization was much more than a single individual, even one as brilliant as Marx. The International was a vast social and political movement for the emancipation of the working classes; not, as it has often been written, the ‘creation of Marx’. It was made possible first of all by the labour movement’s struggles in the 1860s. One of its basic rules – and the fundamental distinction from previous labor organizations – was ‘that the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves’ (Engels & Marx, 2014, p. 265). The orthodox, dogmatic view of Marx’s role in the International, according to which he mechanically applied to the stage of history a political theory already forged in the confines of his study, is totally divorced from the historical reality. Marx was essential to the International, but also the International had a very positive impact on Marx (see Musto, 2018, pp. 171-239). Being directly involved in workers’ struggles, Marx was stimulated to develop and sometimes revise his ideas, to put old certainties up for discussion and ask himself new questions.

The Organizational Structure of the International
During its lifetime and in subsequent decades, the International was depicted as a vast, financially powerful organization. The size of its membership was always overestimated, whether because of imperfect knowledge or because some of its leaders exaggerated the real situation or because opponents were looking for a pretext to justify a brutal crackdown.
In reality, the membership figures were much lower. It has always been difficult to arrive at even approximate estimates, and that was true for its own leaders and those who studied it most closely. But the present state of research allows the hypothesis that, at its peak in 1871–1872, the tally reached more than 150,000: 50,000 in Britain, more than 30,000 in both France and Belgium, 6,000 in Switzerland, about 30,000 in Spain, 25,000 in Italy, more than 10,000 in Germany (but mostly members of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party), plus a few thousand each in a number of other European countries, 4,000 in the United States, and a few hundred in both Russia and Argentina.
In those times, when there was a dearth of effective working-class organizations apart from the English trade unions and the General Association of German Workers, such figures were certainly sizeable. It should also be borne in mind that, throughout its existence, the International was recognized as a legal organization only in Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States. In other countries where it had a solid presence (France, Spain, Italy), it was on the margins of legality for a number of years, and its members were subject to persecution. To join the International meant breaking the law in the 39 states of the German Confederation, and the few members in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were forced to operate in clandestine forms. On the other hand, the Association had a remarkable capacity to weld its components into a cohesive whole. Within a couple of years from its birth, it had succeeded in federating hundreds of workers’ societies. From the end of 1868, thanks to propaganda conducted by followers of Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876), other societies were added in Spain, and after the Paris Commune sections sprang up also in Italy, Holland, Denmark, and Portugal. The development of the International was doubtless uneven: while it was growing in some countries, it was elsewhere remaining level or falling back under the blows of repression. Yet a strong sense of belonging prevailed among those who joined the International for even a short time. When the cycle of struggles in which they had taken part came to an end, and adversity and personal hardship forced them to take a distance, they retained the bonds of class solidarity and responded as best they could to the call for a rally, the words of a poster or the unfurling of the red flag of struggle, in the name of an organization that had sustained them in their hour of need (see Braunthal, 1966, p. 116).
Members of the International, however, comprised only a small part of the total workforce. In Paris they never numbered more than 10,000, and in other capital cities such as Rome, Vienna, or Berlin they were rare birds indeed. Another aspect is the character of the workers who joined the International: it was supposed to be the organization of wage-labourers, but very few actually became members. The main influx came from construction workers in England, textile workers in Belgium, and various types of artisans in France and Switzerland.
In Britain, with the sole exception of steelworkers, the International always had a sparse presence among the industrial proletariat (see Collins & Abramsky, 1965, p. 70; D’Hondt, 1968, p. 475) and nowhere did the latter ever form a majority. The other great limitation was the failure to draw in unskilled labour (see Collins & Abramsky, 1965, p. 289). The great majority of members of the International came from tailoring, clothing, shoemaking and cabinet-making – that is, from sectors of the working class that were then the best organized and the most class-conscious. Moreover, the International remained an organization of employed workers; the jobless never became part of it.
From an organizational point of view, despite the considerable autonomy granted to federations and local sections, the International always retained a locus of political leadership. Its General Council was the body that worked out a unifying synthesis of the various tendencies and issued guidelines for the organization as a whole. From October 1864 until August 1872, it met with great regularity, as many as 385 times. Its members debated a wide range of issues, such as: working conditions, the effects of new machinery, support for strikes, the role and importance of trade unions, the Irish question, various foreign policy matters, and, of course, how to build the society of the future. The General Council was also responsible for drafting the documents of the International: circulars, letters, and resolutions for current purposes; special manifestos, addresses, and appeals in particular circumstances (see Haupt, 1978, p. 78).

The Politics of the International
The lack of synchrony between the key organizational junctures and the main political events in the life of the International makes it difficult to reconstruct its history in chronological sequence. In terms of organization, the principal stages were: 1) the birth of the International (1864–1866), from its foundation to the First Congress; 2) the period of expansion (1866–1870); 3) the revolutionary surge and the repression following the Paris Commune (1871–1872); and 4) the split and crisis (1872–1877). In terms of its theoretical development, however, the principal stages were: 1) the initial debate among its various components and the laying of its own foundations (1864–1865); 2) the struggle for hegemony between collectivists and mutualists (1866–1869); and 3) the clash between centralists and autonomists (1870–1877).
In September 1866, the city of Geneva hosted the first congress of the International, with 60 delegates from Britain, France, Germany, and Switzerland. By then the Association could point to a very favourable balance-sheet of the two years since its foundation, having rallied to its banner more than one hundred trade unions and political organizations. Those taking part in the congress essentially divided into two blocs. The first, consisting of the British delegates, the few Germans and a majority of the Swiss, followed the directives of the General Council drawn up by Marx (who was not present in Geneva). The second, comprising the French delegates and some of the French-speaking Swiss, was made up of mutualists. At that time, in fact, moderate positions were prevalent in the International, and the mutualists, led by the Parisian Henri Tolain (1828–97), envisaged a society in which the worker would be at once producer, capitalist, and consumer. They regarded the granting of free credit as a decisive measure for the transformation of society; considered women’s labour to be objectionable from both an ethical and a social point of view; and opposed any interference by the state in work relations (including legislation to reduce the working day to eight hours) on the grounds that it would threaten the private relationship between workers and employers and strengthen the system currently in force. Basing themselves on resolutions prepared by Marx, the General Council leaders succeeded in marginalizing the numerically strong contingent of mutualists at the congress, and obtained votes in favour of state intervention.
From late 1866 on, strikes intensified in many countries and formed the core of a new and important wave of mobilizations. The first major struggle to be won with the International’s support was the Parisian bronze workers’ strike of the winter of 1867. Also successful in their outcome were the ironworkers’ strike of Marchienne, in Belgium, the long dispute in the Provençal mineral basin, and Geneva building workers’ strike. The scenario was the same in each of these events: workers in other countries raised funds in support of the strikers and agreed not to accept work that would have turned them into industrial mercenaries; as a result, the bosses were forced to compromise on many of the strikers’ demands. These advances were greatly favoured by the diffusion of newspapers that either sympathized with the ideas of the International, or were veritable organs of the General Council. They contributed to the development of class consciousness and the rapid circulation of news concerning the activity of the International.
Thus, for all the difficulties bound up with the diversity of nationalities, languages and political cultures, the International managed to achieve unity and coordination across a wide range of organizations and spontaneous struggles. Its greatest merit was to demonstrate the absolute need for class solidarity and international cooperation, moving decisively beyond the partial character of the initial objectives and strategies.
From 1867 on, strengthened by success in achieving these goals, by increased membership and by a more efficient organization, the International made advances all over Continental Europe. It was its breakthrough year in France in particular, where the bronze workers’ strike had the same knock-on effect that the London tailors’ strike had produced in England. But Britain was still the country where the International had its greatest presence. In the course of 1867, the affiliation of another dozen organizations took the membership to a good 50,000 – an impressive figure if we bear in mind that it was reached in just two years, and that the total unionized workforce was then roughly 800,000 (see Collins, 1968, p. 34).
This was the backdrop to the Lausanne congress of September 1867, where the International assembled with a new strength that had come from continuing broad-based expansion. There were 64 delegates from 6 countries (with one each from Belgium and Italy) attending this event and many of its most relevant debates were focused on Proudhonian themes (such as the cooperative movement and alternative uses of credit) dear to the strongly represented mutualists.
Right from the earliest days of the International, Proudhon’s ideas were hegemonic in France, French-speaking Switzerland, Wallonia, and the city of Brussels. His disciples, particularly Tolain and Ernest Édouard Fribourg *1834-1903), succeeded in making a mark with their positions on the founding meeting in 1864, the London Conference of 1865, and the Geneva and Lausanne Congresses. For four years the mutualists were the most moderate wing of the International. The British trade unions, which constituted the majority, did not share Marx’s anticapitalism, but nor did they have the same pull on the policies of the organization that the followers of Proudhon were able to exercise. Basing themselves on the theories of the French anarchist, the mutualists argued that the economic emancipation of the workers would be achieved through the founding of producer cooperatives and a central People’s Bank. Resolutely hostile to state intervention in any field, they opposed socialization of the land and the means of production as well as any use of the strike weapon. In 1868, for example, there were still many sections of the International that attached a negative, anti-economic value to this method of struggle. The Report of the Liège Section on Strikes was emblematic in this regard: ‘The strike is a struggle. It therefore increases the bubbling of hatred between the people and the bourgeoisie, separating ever further two classes that should merge and unite with each other’ (Maréchal, 1962, p. 268). The distance from the positions and theses of the General Council could scarcely have been greater.
The Brussels Congress, held in September 1868, with the participation of 99 delegates from France, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Spain (one delegate), and Belgium (55 in total) , finally clipped the wings of the mutualists. The highpoint came when the assembly approved César De Paepe’s (1841–1890) proposal on the socialization of the means of production – a decisive step forward in defining the economic basis of socialism, no longer simply in the writings of particular intellectuals but in the programme of a great transnational organization. As regards the mines and transport, the congress declared:

1. That the quarries, collieries, and other mines, as well as the railways, ought in a normal state of society to belong to the community represented by the state, a state itself subject to the laws of justice.
2. That the quarries, collieries, and other mines, and Railways, be let by the state, not to companies of capitalists as at present, but to companies of working men bound by contract to guarantee to society the rational and scientific working of the railways, etc., at a price as nearly as possible approximate to the working expense. The same contract ought to reserve to the state the right to verify the accounts of the companies, so as to present the possibility of any reconstitution of monopolies. A second contract ought to guarantee the mutual right of each member of the companies in respect to his fellow workmen.
As to landed property, it was agreed that:

the economical development of modern society will create the social necessity of converting arable land into the common property of society, and of letting the soil on behalf of the state to agricultural companies under conditions analogous to those stated in regard to mines and railways.

And similar considerations were applied to the canals, roads and telegraphs: ‘Considering that the roads and other means of communication require a common social direction, the Congress thinks they ought to remain the common property of society’. Finally, some interesting points were made about the environment:

Considering that the abandonment of forests to private individuals causes the destruction of woods necessary for the conservation of springs, and, as a matter of course, of the good qualities of the soil, as well as the health and lives of the population, the Congress thinks that the forests ought to remain the property of society (see Marx, 2014c, p. 92).

In Brussels, then, the International made its first clear pronouncement on the socialization of the means of production by state authorities. This marked an important victory for the General Council and the first appearance of socialist principles in the political programme of a major workers’ organization.
In addition, the congress again discussed the question of war. A motion presented by Becker, which Marx later summarized in the published resolutions of the congress, stated:

The workers alone have an evident logical interest in finally abolishing all war, both economic and political, individual and national, because in the end they always have to pay with their blood and their labour for the settling of accounts between the belligerents, regardless of whether they are on the winning or losing side (Burgelin, Langfeldt, & Molnár, 1962a, p. 403).

The workers were called upon to treat every war ‘as a civil war’ (Burgelin, Langfeldt, & Molnár, 1962a, p. 403). De Paepe also suggested the use of the general strike (see De Paepe, 2014, pp. 230–1) – a proposal that Marx dismissed as ‘nonsense’ (Marx, 1988b, p. 101), but which actually tended to develop a class consciousness capable of going beyond merely economic struggles.
If the collectivist turn of the International began at the Brussels Congress, it was the Basel Congress held the next year that consolidated it and eradicated Proudhonism even in its French homeland. This time there were 78 delegates at the congress, drawn not only from France, Switzerland, Germany, Britain and Belgium, but also, a clear sign of expansion, from Spain, Italy, and Austria, plus a representative from the National Labor Union in the United States.
The resolutions of the Brussels Congress on landed property were reaffirmed, with 54 votes in favour, 4 against, and 13 abstentions. Eleven of the French delegates – including Eugène Varlin (1838–1871), later a prominent figure in the Paris Commune – even approved a new text which declared ‘that society has the right to abolish individual ownership of the land and to make it part of the community’ (Burgelin, Langfeldt, & Molnár, 1962b, p. 74); 10 abstained and 4 (including Tolain) voted against. After Basel, the International in France was no longer mutualist.
The Basel Congress was also of interest because Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876) took part in the proceedings as a delegate. Having failed to win the leadership of the League for Peace and Freedom, he had founded the International Alliance for Socialist Democracy in September 1868 in Geneva, and in December this had applied to join the International. The General Council initially turned down the request, on the grounds that the International Alliance for Socialist Democracy continued to be affiliated to another, parallel transnational structure, and that one of its objectives – ‘the equalization of classes’ (Bakunin, 1973, p. 174) – was radically different from a central pillar of the International, the abolition of classes. Shortly afterwards, however, the Alliance modified its programme and agreed to wind up its network of sections, many of which existed only in Bakunin’s imagination anyway (see Carr, 1961, p. 392). On 28 July 1869, the 104-member Geneva section was accordingly admitted to the International. Marx knew Bakunin well enough, but he had underestimated the consequences of this step. For the influence of the famous Russian revolutionary rapidly increased in a number of Swiss, Spanish, and French sections (as it did in Italian ones after the Paris Commune), and at the Basel Congress, thanks to his charisma and forceful style of argument, he already managed to affect the outcome of its deliberations. The vote on the right of inheritance, for example, was the first occasion on which the delegates rejected a proposal of the General Council (Marx, 2014b, pp. 163–165). Having finally defeated the mutualists and laid the spectre of Proudhon to rest, Marx now had to confront a much tougher rival, who formed a new tendency – collectivist anarchism – and sought to win control of the organization.

The International and the Paris Commune
The period from late Sixties to early Seventies was rich in social conflicts. Many workers who took part in protest actions decided to make contact with the International, whose reputation was spreading ever wider, and despite its limited resources the General Council never failed to respond with appeals for solidarity to its European sections and the organization of fund-raising.
Across Europe, the Association continued to increase the number of its members and to develop an efficient organizational structure. During this period, Bakunin’s ideas began to spread in a number of cities, especially in Southern Europe. More symbolically significant still, at least for the hopes it initially awakened, was its new mooring on the other side of the Atlantic, where immigrants who had arrived in recent years began to establish the first sections of the International in the United States. However, the organization suffered from two handicaps at birth that it would never overcome. Despite repeated exhortations from the General Council in London, it was unable either to cut across the nationalist character of its various affiliated groups or to draw in workers born in the ‘New World’. When the German, French, and Czech sections founded the Central Committee of the International for North America, in December 1870, it was unique in the history of the International in having only ‘foreign-born’ members. The most striking aspect of this anomaly was that the International in the United States never disposed of an English-language press organ. At the beginning of the 1870s, the International reached a total of 50 sections with a combined membership of 4,000, but this was still only a tiny proportion of the American industrial workforce of more than two million.
With this general background, the International made provisions for its fifth congress in September 1870. This was originally scheduled to be held in Paris, but repressive operations by the French government made the General Council opt instead for Mainz. Marx probably also thought that the greater number of German delegates close to his positions would help to stem the advance of the Bakuninists. But then the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, on 19 July 1870, left no choice but to call off the congress.
The conflict at the heart of Europe meant that the top priority now was to help the workers’ movement express an independent position, far from the nationalist rhetoric of the time. In his First Address on the Franco–Prussian War, Marx called upon the French workers to drive out Charles Louis Bonaparte (1808–1873) and to obliterate the empire he had established eighteen years earlier. The German workers, for their part, were supposed to prevent the defeat of Bonaparte from turning into an attack on the French people:

in contrast to old society, with its economical miseries and its political delirium, a new society is springing up, whose international rule will be Peace, because its national ruler will be everywhere the same – Labour! The pioneer of that new society is the International Working Men’s Association (Marx, 2014a, p. 239).

Although Bakunin had urged the workers to turn patriotic war into revolutionary war (see Lehning, 1977, p. xvi.), the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association in London initially opted for silence (see Musto, 2014, pp. 30–36). It charged Marx with the task of writing a text in the name of the International, but he delayed its publication for complicated, deeply held reasons. Well aware of the real relationship of forces on the ground as well as the weaknesses of the Paris Commune, born in March 1871, he knew that it was doomed to defeat. He had even tried to warn the French working class back in September 1870, in his Second Address on the Franco–Prussian War:

Any attempt at upsetting the new government in the present crisis, when the enemy is almost knocking at the doors of Paris, would be a desperate folly. The French workmen […] must not allow themselves to be swayed by the national souvenirs of 1792 […]. They have not to recapitulate the past, but to build up the future. Let them calmly and resolutely improve the opportunities of republican liberty, for the work of their own class organization. It will gift them with fresh herculean powers for the regeneration of France, and our common task – the emancipation of labour. Upon their energies and wisdom hinges the fate of the republic (Marx, 1986, p. 269).

A fervid declaration hailing the victory of the Paris Commune would have risked creating false expectations among workers throughout Europe, eventually becoming a source of demoralization and distrust. Marx therefore decided to postpone delivery and stayed away from meetings of the General Council for several weeks. His grim forebodings soon proved all too well founded, and on 28 May, little more than two months after its proclamation, the Paris Commune was drowned in blood. Two days later, he reappeared at the General Council with a manuscript entitled The Civil War in France. It was read and unanimously approved, then published over the names of all the Council members. The document had a huge impact over the next few weeks, greater than any other document of the workers’ movement in the nineteenth century.
Despite Marx’s passionate defense, and despite the claims both of reactionary opponents and of dogmatic Marxists eager to glorify the International, it is out of the question that the General Council actually pushed for the Parisian insurrection.
After the defeat of the Paris Commune, the International was at the eye of the storm, held to blame for every act against the established order. ‘When the great conflagration took place at Chicago’, Marx mused with bitter irony, ‘the telegraph round the world announced it as the infernal deed of the International; and it is really wonderful that to its demoniacal agency has not been attributed the hurricane ravaging the West Indies’ (Institute of Marxism-Leninism, 1967, p. 461). Governments all over Europe sharpened their instruments of repression, fearing that other uprisings might follow the one in Paris. Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877) immediately outlawed the International and asked the British prime minister, William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), to follow his example; it was the first diplomatic exchange relating to a workers’ organization. Pope Pius IX (1792–1878) exerted similar pressure on the Swiss government, arguing that it would a serious mistake to continue tolerating ‘that International sect which would like to treat the whole of Europe as it treated Paris. Those gentlemen […] are to be feared, because they work on behalf of the eternal enemies of God and mankind’ (Institute of Marxism-Leninism, 1968, p. 460). Giuseppe Mazzini – who for a time had looked to the International with hope – had similar views and considered that principles of the International had become those of ‘denial of God, […] the fatherland, […] and all individual property’ (Mazzini, 1978, pp. 499–501).
Criticism of the Paris Commune even spread to sections of the workers’ movement. Following the publication of The Civil War in France, both the trade union leader George Odger (1813–1877) and the old Chartist Benjamin Lucraft (1809–1897) resigned from the International, bending under the pressure of the hostile press campaign. However, no trade union withdrew its support for the organization – which suggests once again that the failure of the International to grow in Britain was due mainly to political apathy in the working class (Collins & Abramsky, 1965, p. 222).
Despite the bloody denouement in Paris and the wave of calumny and government repression elsewhere in Europe, the International grew stronger and more widely known in the wake of the Commune. For capitalists and the middle classes it represented a great threat to the established order, whereas for workers it fuelled hopes for a world without injustice, exploitation and alienation. The labour movement had an enormous vitality and that was apparent everywhere. Newspapers linked to the International increased in both number and overall sales. The insurrection of Paris fortified the workers’ movement, impelling it to adopt more radical positions and to intensify its militancy. Once again, France showed that revolution was possible, clarifying its goal to be building a society different from that of capitalism, but also that, to achieve this, the workers would have to create durable and well-organized forms of political association. The next step to take then, as stated by Marx, was understanding that ‘the economic movement [of the working class] and its political action are indissolubly united’ (Marx & Engels, 2014b, p. 285). That led the International to push (at the London Conference of 1871) for the foundation of a key instrument of the modern workers’ movement: the political party.
The most important decision taken at the conference, for which it would be remembered later, was the approval of Édouard Vaillant’s (1840–1915) Resolution IX. The leader of the Blanquists – whose residual forces had joined the International after the end of the Commune – proposed that the organization should be transformed into a centralized, disciplined party, under the leadership of the General Council. Despite some differences, particularly over the Blanquist position that a tightly organized nucleus of militants was sufficient for the revolution, Marx did not hesitate to form an alliance with Vaillant’s group: not only to strengthen the opposition to Bakuninite anarchism within the International, but above all to create a broader consensus for the changes deemed necessary in the new phase of the class struggle. The resolution passed in London therefore stated:

that against this collective power of the propertied classes the working class cannot act, as a class, except by constituting itself into a political party, distinct from, and opposed to, all old parties formed by the propertied classes; that this constitution of the working class into a political party is indispensable in order to ensure the triumph of the social revolution and its ultimate end – the abolition of classes; and that the combination of forces which the working class has already effected by its economic struggles ought at the same time to serve as a lever for its struggles against the political power of landlords and capitalists.

Centralists vs. Autonomists: The Crisis of the International
Whereas the Geneva Congress of 1866 established the importance of trade unions, the London Conference of 1871 shifted the focus to the political party. For Marx, the self-emancipation of the working class required a long and arduous process – the polar opposite of the theories and practices in Sergei Nechaev’s (1847–1882) Catechism of a Revolutionary, whose advocacy of secret societies was condemned by the delegates in London (see Burgelin, Langfeldt, & Molnár, 1962b, p. 237; Marx, 1988a, p. 23) but enthusiastically supported by Bakunin.
Marx was probably surprised when signs of restlessness and even rebellion against the political line of the General Council began to appear in many countries. In a number of federations, the decisions taken in London were judged an unacceptable encroachment on local political autonomy. The opposition to the General Council was varied in character and sometimes had mainly personal motives; a strange alchemy held it together and made leadership of the International very difficult.
The final battle came at the Fifth Congress of the International that took place in The Hague, in September 1872, and that was attended by 65 delegates from a total of 14 countries. The most important decision taken at The Hague was to incorporate Resolution IX of the 1871 London Conference into the statutes of the Association, as a new article 7a. Whereas the Provisional Statutes of 1864 had stated that ‘the economic emancipation of the working class is the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means’ (Engels & Marx, 2014, p. 265), this insertion mirrored the new relationship of forces within the organization. Political struggle was now the necessary instrument for the transformation of society since: ‘the lords of land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their economic monopolies, and for the enslavement of labour. The conquest of political power has therefore become the great duty of the working class’ (Engels & Marx, 2014, p. 268).
The International was now very different from how it had been at the time of its foundation: the radical-democratic components had walked out after being increasingly marginalized; the mutualists had been defeated and many converted; reformists no longer constituted the bulk of the organization (except in Britain); and anticapitalism had become the political line of the whole Association, as well as of recently formed tendencies such as the anarcho-collectivists. Moreover, although the years of the International had witnessed a degree of economic prosperity that in some cases made conditions less parlous, the workers understood that real change would come not through such palliatives but only through the end of human exploitation. They were also basing their struggles more and more on their own material needs, rather than the initiatives of particular groups to which they belonged.
The wider picture, too, was radically different. The unification of Germany in 1871 confirmed the onset of a new age in which the nation-state would be the central form of political, legal, and territorial identity; this placed a question mark over any supranational body that financed itself from membership dues in each individual country and required its members to surrender a sizeable share of their political leadership. At the same time, the growing differences between national movements and organizations made it extremely difficult for the General Council to produce a political synthesis capable of satisfying the demands of all. It is true that, right from the beginning, the International had been an agglomeration of trade unions and political associations far from easy to reconcile with one another, and that these had represented sensibilities and political tendencies more than organizations properly so called. By 1872, however, the various components of the Association – and workers’ struggles, more generally – had become much more clearly defined and structured. The legalization of the British trade unions had officially made them part of national political life; the Belgian Federation of the International was a ramified organization, with a central leadership capable of making significant, and autonomous, contributions to theory; Germany had two workers’ parties, the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany and the General Association of German Workers, each with representation in parliament; the French workers, from Lyons to Paris, had already tried ‘storming the heavens’; and the Spanish Federation had expanded to the point where it was on the verge of becoming a mass organization. Similar changes had occurred in other countries.
The initial configuration of the International had thus become outmoded, just as its original mission had come to an end. The task was no longer to prepare for and organize Europe-wide support for strikes, nor to call congresses on the usefulness of trade unions or the need to socialize the land and the means of production. Such themes were now part of the collective heritage of the organization as a whole. After the Paris Commune, the real challenge for the workers’ movement was a revolutionary one: how to organize in such a way as to end the capitalist mode of production and to overthrow the institutions of the bourgeois world. It was no longer a question of how to reform the existing society, but how to build a new one (see Jacques Freymond, 1962, p. x). For this new advance in the class struggle, Marx thought it indispensable to build working-class political parties in each country.
It was therefore decided that the General Council of the organization had to be transferred to New York and this resolution represented the end of the International.

Internationalism after the International
In later decades, the workers’ movement adopted a consistent socialist programme, expanded throughout Europe and then the rest of the world, and built new structures of supranational coordination. Apart from the continuity of names (the Second International from 1889–1916, the Third International from 1919–1943, or the Socialist International created in 1951), the various ‘Internationals’ of socialist politics have referred – although in very different ways – to the legacy of the so-called ‘First’ International. Thus, its revolutionary message proved extraordinarily fertile, producing results over time much greater than those achieved during its existence.
The International was the locus of some of the most famous debates of labour movement, such as that on Communism and Anarchy. The congresses of the International were also the place where, for the first time, a major transnational organization came to decisions about crucial issues, which had been discussed before its foundation, that subsequently became strategic points in the political program of socialist movements across the world. Among these are: the indispensable function of trade unions; the socialization of land and means of productions; the importance of participating in elections, and doing this through independent parties of the working class; and the conception of war as an inevitable product of the capitalist system.
An abyss separates the hopes of those times from the mistrust so characteristic of our own, the anti-systemic spirit and solidarity of the age of the International from the ideological subordination and individualism of a world reshaped by neoliberal competition and privatization.
The world of labor has suffered an epochal defeat, and the Left is still in the midst of deep crisis (see Musto, 2017). After decades of neoliberal policies, we have returned to an exploitative system, similar from many points of view to that of the nineteenth century. Labor market ‘reforms’ — a term now shed of its original progressive mean¬ing — have introduced more and more ‘flexibility’ with each passing year, creating deeper inequalities. Other major political and economic shifts have succeeded one another after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Among them, there have been the social changes generated by globalization, the ecological disasters produced by the present mode of production, the growing gulf between the wealthy exploitative few and the huge impoverished majority, one of the biggest economic crises of capitalism (the one erupted in 2008) in history, the blustery winds of war, racism and chauvinism, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a context such as this, class solidarity is all the more indispensable. It was Marx himself who emphasized that the confrontation between workers — including between local and migrant workers (who are moreover discriminated) — is an essential element of the domination of the ruling classes. New ways of organizing social conflict, political parties, and trade unions must certainly be invented, as we cannot reproduce schemes used 150 years ago. But the old lesson of the International that workers are defeated if they do not organize a common front of the exploited is still valid. Without that, our only horizon is a war between the poor and unbridled competition between individuals.
The barbarism of today’s world order imposes upon the contemporary workers’ movement the urgent need to reorganize itself on the basis of two key characteristics of the International: the multiplicity of its structure and radicalism in objectives. The aims of the organization founded in London in 1864 are today more timely than ever. To rise to the challenges of the present, however, the new International cannot evade the twin requirements of pluralism and anticapitalism.

 

Bibliography
Archer, J. P. W. (1997). The First International in France, 1864–1872. University Press of America.
Bakunin, M. (1973). Programme of the Alliance [International Alliance of Socialist Democracy]. In A. Lehning (Ed.), Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings (pp. 174–175). Jonathan Cape.
Bensimon, F., Deluermoz, Q., & Moisand, J. (2018). “Arise Ye Wretched of the Earth”: The First International in a Global Perspective, Brill.
Braunthal, J. (1966). History of the International. Nelson.
Burgelin, H., Langfeldt, K., & Molnár, M. (Eds.). (1962a). La première Internationale, vol. I [1866–1868]. Droz.
Burgelin, H., Langfeldt, K., & Molnár, M. (Eds.). (1962b). La première Internationale, vol. II [1869–1872]. Droz.
Carr, E. H. (1961). Michael Bakunin. Vintage.
Collins, H. (1968). The International and the British Labour Movement: Origin of the International in England. In Colloque International sur La première Internationale, La Première Internationale: l’institute, l’implantation, le rayonnement (pp.). Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique.
Collins, H., & Abramsky, C. (1965). Karl Marx and the British Labour Movement. MacMillan.
Cordillot, M. (2010). Aux origines du socialisme moderne. La première internationale, la Commune de Paris, l’exil, Éditions de l’Atelier.
Cordillot, M. (Ed.). (2021). La Commune de Paris 1871. Les acteurs, l’événement, les lieux, Les Éditions de l’Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières.
De Paepe, C. (2014). [Strike Against War]. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 230–231). Bloomsbury.
D’Hondt, J. (1968). Rapport de synthèse. In Colloque International sur La première Internationale, La Première Internationale: l’institute, l’implantation, le rayonnement (pp.). Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique.
Engels, F., & Marx, K. (2014). General Rules of the International Working Men’s Association. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 265–268). Bloomsbury.
Freymond, J. (1962). Introduction. In H. Burgelin, K. Langfeldt, & M. Molnár (Eds.), La première Internationale, vol. I [1866–1868] (pp.). Droz.
Gianni, E. (2008). L’internazionale italiana fra libertari ed evoluzionisti: i congressi della Federazione italiana e della Federazione Alta Italia dell’Associazione internazionale dei lavoratori, 1872–1880, Pantarei.
Haupt, G. (1978). L’Internazionale socialista dalla Comune a Lenin. Einaudi.
Haupt, G. (1986). Aspect of International Socialism 1871–1914. Cambridge University Press.
Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U. (Ed.). (1967). The General Council of the First International 1870–1871: Minutes. Progress.
Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U. (Ed.). (1968). The General Council of the First International 1871–1872: Minutes. Progress.
Lehning, A. (1977). Introduction. In Idem. (Ed.), Bakunin – Archiv, vol. VI: Michel Bakounine sur la Guerre Franco–Allemande et la Révolution Sociale en France (1870–1871) (pp. ix–lxvi). Brill.
Léonard, M. (2011). L’émancipation des travailleurs. Une histoire de la Première Internationale. La Fabrique.
Maréchal, C. (1962). Report of the Liège Section. In H. Burgelin, K. Langfeldt, & M. Molnár (Eds.), La première Internationale, vol. I [1866–1868] (pp.). Droz.
Marx, K. (1986). Second Address of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association on the Franco–Prussian War. In K. Marx, & F. Engels, Marx & Engels Collected Works, Volume 22. Marx and Engels 1870–71 (pp. 263–270). Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx, K. (1988a). Declaration of the General Council on Nechayev’s Misuse of the Name of the International Working Men’s Association. In K. Marx, & F. Engels, Marx & Engels Collected Works, Volume 23. Marx and Engels 1871–74 (p. 23). Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx, K. (1988b). Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels, 16 September 1868. In K. Marx, & F. Engels, Marx & Engels Collected Works, Volume 43. Letters 1868–70 (pp. 100–103). Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx, K. (1992). Karl Marx to Domela Nieuwenhuis, 22 February 1881. In K. Marx, & F. Engels, Marx & Engels Collected Works, Volume 46. Letters 1880–83 (pp. 65–67). Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx, K. (2014a). First Address on the Franco–Prussian War. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 236–239). Bloomsbury.
Marx, K. (2014b). On the Right of Inheritance. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 163–165). Bloomsbury.
Marx, K. (2014c). Resolutions of the Brussels Congress (1868). In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 89–93). Bloomsbury.
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2014a). Against Sectarianism. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 287–289). Bloomsbury.
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2014b). On the Political Action of the Working Class and Other Matters. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 283–286). Bloomsbury.
Mazzini, G. (1978). L’Internazionale. In G. M. Bravo (Ed.), La Prima Internazionale: Storia documentaria, vol. II (pp. 499–501). Editori Riuniti.
Musto, M. (2012). Revisiting Marx’s Concept of Alienation. In M. Musto (Ed.), Marx for Today (pp. 92–116). Routledge.
Musto, M. (2014). Introduction. In M. Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (pp. 1–68). Bloomsbury.
Musto, M. (2017). The Post-1989 Radical Left in Europe: Results and Prospects. Socialism and Democracy, 31(2), 1–32.
https://doi.org/10.1080/08854300.2017.1337997
Musto, M. (2018). Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International. Bloomsbury.
Musto, M. (2021). The Experience of the Paris Commune and Marx’s Reflections on Communism. In M. Musto (Ed.), Rethinking Alternatives with Marx: Economy, Ecology and Migration (263–284). Palgrave Macmillan.
Musto, M. (Ed.). (2021). Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation. Palgrave.
Rougerie, J. (2019). Eugène Varlin. Aux origines du mouvement ouvrier, Éditions du Détour.
Rubel, M. (1974). Marx critique du marxisme. Payot.
Schrupp, A. (1999). Nicht Marxistin und auch nicht Anarchistin. Frauen in der Ersten Internationale, Ulrike Helmer Verlag.
Tarcus, H. (2007). Marx en la Argentina. Sus primeros lectores obreros, intelectuales y científicos (1871-1910), Siglo XXI.

Categories
Reviews

Barry Healy, Green Left

Karl Marx died in 1883. In the more than 20 biographies written about him, most depict his final years as spent quietly waiting to die.

Certainly he had enough personal and family health problems to justify retiring into contemplation.

For example, in their authoritative 1933 biography Karl Marx: Man and fighter, Boris Nicolaievsky and Otto Maenchen-Helfen said that after a bout of illness in 1873, “Marx never regained his old capacity for work”.

Marx, they said, “remained the insatiable reader that he had always been; he continued indefatigably making extracts from what he read, he went on collecting material, but he no longer had the capacity to organise it”.

More recent biographies, such as Mary Gabriel’s Love and Capital or Jonathan Sperber’s Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life, while touching lightly on this period, continue in the same vein.

Kevin Anderson’s Marx at the Margins successfully interrogates Marx’s late intellectual trajectory, but leaves out the personal story.

Marcello Musto has stepped in to round out the account in this short, four chapter-long intellectual and personal biography. And what a story it is.

Musto presents Marx’s studies, political interventions, correspondence, personal life, diseases, sorrows, and journeys during his last decade. It is true that Marx did not publish much of consequence during this time, but he never stopped investigating social formations and other subjects.

After his death, mountains of notes were left for Frederich Engels and Eleanor Marx to trawl through. From this material Engels produced the second and third volumes of Capital and the famous segment of the Dialectics of Nature, entitled The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.

All these notes have now become public, via the Marx-Engels Collected Works project, known as MEGA2.

Marx read and took notes on a wide range of disciplines such as agricultural chemistry, physiology and physics. When illnesses fogged his mind he turned to mathematical calculus for relief, resulting in his Mathematical Manuscripts.

He also studied anthropology, collected into his Ethnological Notebooks (from which Engels extracted). He researched ancient history, the history of banking and modern history, which are compiled into the Chronological Extracts.

The Extracts, Musto says, are “an annotated year-by-year timeline of world events from the first century BC on, summarising their causes and salient features”.

All the while, he corresponded with workers’ organisations and leaders around the world. Not bad for an aging, infirm revolutionary.

The German edition of Capital sold out in 1881 and the publisher suggested a revised edition, but Marx never got around to providing it. Musto says Marx was preoccupied by his wife Jenny’s final illness, he wanted to see how the 1880’s British industrial struggles would develop and he had started to study the development of US capitalism and it was leading him into new thinking.

It was Marx’s preparedness to allow new facts to broaden his theories that prevented him from being a rigid dogmatist, Musto believes, something that he believes succeeding generations of Marxists have suffered from.

Marx’s flexibility of thought is probably best illustrated in his response to the 1881 letter from Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich, in which she asked him for his opinion on the Russian peasant village communes. She asked if Russian revolutionaries should organise among the peasants or look to the then-minute Russian working class.

Marx took the question very seriously and drafted multiple answers. He taught himself Russian to research Russian statistics and read Russian novels to understand the culture.

In his answer to Zasulich, Marx states that his analysis of capitalism in Western Europe need not apply to Russia. He says of the peasant form of collective property that “the special study I have made of it … has convinced me that the commune is the fulcrum for social regeneration in Russia.”

Marx drafted a letter to another Russian populist, Nicholai Mikhailovsky, in which he said that “events of striking similarity, taking place in different historical contexts” often lead to totally “disparate results”. This reads like an early formulation of what came to be known as the theory of Combined and Uneven Development, which holds that worldwide events, such as economic depressions or wars, can cause a variety of effects.

Musto gives a detailed account of Marx’s journey to Algeria in early 1882, to repair his health and research common land ownership among Arabs.

He was afflicted by weakness that dogged him his whole time there. He did research some social practices, observed the racist behaviour of the colonial police and wrote some witty letters home about how he had cut his beard and hair because of the heat. He slowly made his way home to Britain, but was shocked by the death of his daughter, Jenny, from cancer. Marx died not long after, quietly at home.

Musto’s combination of personal biography and intellectual appraisal makes for inspiring reading. He argues very well that Marx’s ideas cannot be limited to a simplistic formula, but are living and dynamic.

A disappointment is his brief treatment of Marx’s friendship and correspondence with the zoologist Edwin Ray Lankester. Lankester was a socialist who engaged with Marx in what Musto describes as a “prolific intellectual exchange”.

But little of this interaction is presented, in fact it occupies less than a page. John Bellamy Foster has examined this relationship in his book The Return of Nature.

Bellamy Foster argues that it was vital to the ecological underpinning in Marx’s works. In effect, Marxism should be seen as a philosophy of nature as much as a philosophy of social revolution.

Apart from that one quibble, Musto’s work has much to recommend it. It smashes any attempt to force Marxism into a rigid economic determinism.

Rather, Musto says, Marx looked to “the specificity of historical conditions, the multiple possibilities that the passing of time offered, and the centrality of human intervention in the shaping of reality and the achievement of change”.

Categories
Book chapter

The Experience of the Paris Commune and Marx’s Reflections on Communism

1. The Transformation of Political Power
The bourgeois of France had always come away with everything. Since the revolution of 1789, they had been the only ones to grow rich in periods of prosperity, while the working class had regularly borne the brunt of crises. But the proclamation of the Third Republic would open new horizons and offer an opportunity for a change of course. Napoleon III, having been defeated in battle at Sedan, was taken prisoner by the Prussians on 4 September 1870. In the following January, after a four-month siege of Paris, Otto von Bismarck obtained a French surrender and was able to impose harsh terms in the ensuing armistice. National elections were held and Adolphe Thiers installed at the head of the executive power, with the support of a large Legitimist and Orleanist majority. In the capital, however, where the popular discontent was greater than elsewhere, radical republican and socialist forces swept the board. The prospect of a right-wing government that would leave social injustices intact, heaping the burden of the war on the least well-off and seeking to disarm the city, triggered a new revolution on 18 March. Thiers and his army had little choice but to decamp to Versailles.
To secure democratic legitimacy, the insurgents decided to hold free elections at once. On 26 March, an overwhelming majority of Parisians (190,000 votes against 40,000) approved the motivation for the revolt, and 70 of the 85 elected representatives declared their support for the revolution. The 15 moderate representatives of the parti des maires, a group comprising the former heads of certain arrondissements, immediately resigned and did not participate in the council of the Commune; they were joined shortly afterwards by four Radicals. The remaining 66 members – not always easy to distinguish because of dual political affiliations – represented a wide range of positions. Among them were twenty or so neo-Jacobin republicans (including the renowned Charles Delescluze and Félix Pyat), a dozen followers of Auguste Blanqui, 17 members of the International Working Men’s Association (both mutualist partisans of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and collectivists linked to Karl Marx, often at odds with each other), and a couple of independents. Most leaders of the Commune were workers or recognized representatives of the working class, 14 originating in the National Guard. In fact, it was the central committee of the latter that invested power in the hands of the Commune – the prelude, as it turned out, to a long series of disagreements and conflicts between the two bodies.
On 28 March a large number of citizens gathered in the vicinity of the Hôtel de Ville for festivities celebrating the new assembly, which now officially took the name of the Paris Commune. Although it would survive for no more than 72 days, it was the most important political event in the history of the nineteenth-century workers’ movement, rekindling hope among a population exhausted by months of hardship. Committees and groups sprang up in the popular quarters to lend support to the Commune, and every corner of the metropolis hosted initiatives to express solidarity and to plan the construction of a new world. One of the most widespread sentiments was a desire to share with others. Militants like Louise Michel exemplified the spirit of self-abnegation – Victor Hugo wrote of her that she ‘did what the great mad souls do […] glorified those who are crushed and downtrodden’. But it was not the impetus of a leader or a handful of charismatic figures that gave life to the Commune; its hallmark was its clearly collective dimension. Women and men came together voluntarily to pursue a common project of liberation. Self-government was not seen as a utopia. Self-emancipation was thought of as the essential task.
Two of the first emergency decrees to stem the rampant poverty were a freeze on rent payments and on the selling of items valued below 20 francs in pawn shops. Nine collegial commissions were also supposed to replace the ministries for war, finance, general security, education, subsistence, labour and trade, foreign relations and public service. A little later, a delegate was appointed to head each of these departments.
On 19 April, three days after further elections to fill 31 seats that became almost immediately vacant, the Commune adopted a Declaration to the French People that contained an ‘absolute guarantee of individual liberty, of liberty of conscience, and liberty of labour’ as well as ‘the permanent intervention of citizens in communal affairs’. The conflict between Paris and Versailles, it affirmed, ‘cannot be ended by illusory compromises’; the people had a right and ‘duty to struggle and to conquer!’. Even more significant than this text – a somewhat ambiguous synthesis to avoid tensions among the various political tendencies – were the concrete actions through which the Communards fought for a total transformation of political power. A set of reforms addressed not only the modalities but the very nature of political administration. The Commune provided for the recall of elected representatives and for control over their actions by means of binding mandates (though this was by no means enough to settle the complex issue of political representation). Magistracies and other public offices, also subject to permanent control and possible recall, were not to be arbitrarily assigned, as in the past, but to be decided following an open contest or elections. The clear aim was to prevent the public sphere from becoming the domain of professional politicians. Policy decisions were not left up to small groups of functionaries and technicians, but had to be taken by the people. Armies and police forces would no longer be institutions set apart from the body of society. The separation between state and church was also a sine qua non.
But the vision of political change was not confined to such measures: it went more deeply to the roots. The transfer of power into the hands of the people was needed to drastically reduce bureaucracy. The social sphere should take precedence over the political – as Henri de Saint-Simon had already maintained – so that politics would no longer be a specialized function but become progressively integrated into the activity of civil society. The social body would thus take back functions that had been transferred to the state. To overthrow the existing system of class rule was not sufficient; there had to be an end to class rule as such. All this would have fulfilled the Commune’s vision of the republic as a union of free, truly democratic associations promoting the emancipation of all its components. It would have added up to self-government of the producers.

2. The Commune as Synonym of Revolution and Social Reforms
The Commune held that social reforms were even more crucial than political change. They were the reason for its existence, the barometer of its loyalty to its founding principles, and the key element differentiating it from the previous revolutions in 1789 and 1848. The Commune passed more than one measure with clear class connotations. Deadlines for debt repayments were postponed by three years, without additional interest charges. Evictions for non-payment of rent were suspended, and a decree allowed vacant accommodation to be requisitioned for people without a roof over their heads. There were plans to shorten the working day (from the initial 10 hours to the eight hours envisaged for the future), the widespread practice of imposing specious fines on workers simply as a wage-cutting measure was outlawed on pain of sanctions, and minimum wages were set at a respectable level. As much as possible was done to increase food supplies and to lower prices. Nightwork at bakeries was banned, and a number of municipal meat stores were opened. Social assistance of various kinds was extended to weaker sections of the population – for example, food banks for abandoned women and children – and discussions were held on how to end the discrimination between legitimate and illegitimate children.
All the Communards sincerely believed that education was an essential factor for individual emancipation and any serious social and political change. School attendance was to become free and compulsory for girls and boys alike, with religiously inspired instruction giving way to secular teaching along rational, scientific lines. Specially appointed commissions and the pages of the press featured many compelling arguments for investment in female education. To become a genuine ‘public service’, education had to offer equal opportunities to ‘children of both sexes’. Moreover, ‘distinctions on grounds of race, nationality, religion or social position’ should be prohibited. Early practical initiatives accompanied such advances in theory, and in more than one arrondissement thousands of working-class children entered school buildings for the first time and received classroom material free of charge.
The Commune also adopted measures of a socialist character. It decreed that workshops abandoned by employers who had fled the city, with guarantees of compensation on their return, should be handed over to cooperative associations of workers. Theatres and museums – open for all without charge – were collectivized and placed under the management of the Federation of Parisian Artists, which was presided over by the painter and tireless militant Gustave Courbet. Some three hundred sculptors, architects, lithographers and painters (among them Édouard Manet) participated in this body – an example taken up in the founding of an Artists’ Federation bringing together actors and people from the operatic world.
All these actions and provisions were introduced in the amazing space of just 54 days, in a Paris still reeling from the effects of the Franco-Prussian War. The Commune was able to do its work only between 29 March and 21 May, in the midst of heroic resistance to attacks by the Versaillais that also required a great expenditure of human energy and financial resources. Since the Commune had no means of coercion at its disposal, many of its decrees were not applied uniformly in the vast area of the city. Yet they displayed a remarkable drive to reshape society and pointed the way to possible change.
The Commune was much more than the actions approved by its legislative assembly. It even aspired to redraw urban space, as demonstrated by the decision to demolish the Vendôme Column, considered a monument to barbarism and a reprehensible symbol of war, and to secularize certain places of worship by handing them over for use by the community. If the Commune managed to keep going, it was thanks to an extraordinary level of mass participation and a solid spirit of mutual assistance. In this spurning of authority, the revolutionary clubs that sprang up in nearly every arrondissement played a noteworthy role. There were at least 28 of them, representing one of the most eloquent examples of spontaneous mobilization. Open every evening, they offered citizens the opportunity to meet after work to discuss freely the social and political situation, to check what their representatives had achieved, and to suggest alternative ways of solving day-to-day problems. They were horizontal associations, which favoured the formation and expression of popular sovereignty as well as the creation of genuine spaces of sisterhood and fraternity, where everyone could breathe the intoxicating air of control over their own destiny.
This emancipatory trajectory had no place for national discrimination. Citizenship of the Commune extended to all who strove for its development, and foreigners enjoyed the same social rights as French people. The principle of equality was evident in the prominent role played by the 3,000 foreigners active in the Commune. Leo Frankel, a Hungarian member of the International Working Men’s Association, was not only elected to the Council of the Commune but served as its ‘minister’ of labour – one of its key positions. Similarly, the Poles Jaroslaw Dombrowski and Walery Wroblewski were distinguished generals at the head of the National Guard.
Women, though still without the right to vote or to sit on the council of the Commune, played an essential role in the critique of the social order. In many cases, they transgressed the norms of bourgeois society and asserted a new identity in opposition to the values of the patriarchal family, moving beyond domestic privacy to engage with the public sphere. The Women’s Union for the Defence of Paris and Care for the Wounded, whose origin owed a great deal to the tireless activity of the First International member Elisabeth Dmitrieff, was centrally involved in identifying strategic social battles. Women achieved the closure of licensed brothels, won parity for female and male teachers, coined the slogan ‘equal pay for equal work’, demanded equal rights within marriage and the recognition of free unions, and promoted exclusively female chambers in labour unions. When the military situation worsened in mid-May, with the Versaillais at the gates of Paris, women took up arms and formed a battalion of their own. Many would breathe their last on the barricades. Bourgeois propaganda subjected them to the most vicious attacks, dubbing them les pétroleuses and accusing them of having set the city ablaze during the street battles.
The genuine democracy that the Communards sought to establish was an ambitious and difficult project. Popular sovereignty required the participation of the greatest possible number of citizens. From late March on, Paris witnessed the mushrooming of central commissions, local subcommittees, revolutionary clubs and soldiers’ battalions, which flanked the already complex duopoly of the Council of the Commune and the central committee of the National Guard. The latter had retained military control, often acting as a veritable counter-power to the Council. Although direct involvement of the population was a vital guarantee of democracy, the multiple authorities in play made the decision-making process particularly difficult and meant that the implementation of decrees was a tortuous affair.
The problem of the relationship between central authority and local bodies led to quite a few chaotic, at times paralysing, situations. The delicate balance broke down altogether when, faced with the war emergency, indiscipline within the National Guard and the growing inefficacy of government, Jules Miot proposed the creation of a five-person Committee of Public Safety, along the lines of Maximilien Robespierre’s dictatorial model in 1793. The measure was approved on the first of May, by a majority of 45 to 23. It proved to be a dramatic error, which marked the beginning of the end for a novel political experiment and split the Commune into two opposing blocs. The first of these, made up of neo-Jacobins and Blanquists, leaned towards the concentration of power and, in the end, to the primacy of the political over the social dimension. The second, including a majority of members of the International Working Men’s Association, regarded the social sphere as more significant than the political. They thought that a separation of powers was necessary and insisted that the republic must never call political freedoms into question. Coordinated by Eugène Varlin, this latter bloc sharply rejected the authoritarian drift and did not take part in the elections to the Committee of Public Safety. In its view, the centralization of powers in the hands of a few individuals would flatly contradict the founding postulates of the Commune, since its elected representatives did not possess sovereignty – that belonged to the people – and had no right to cede it to a particular body. On 21 May, when the minority again took part in a session of the Council of the Commune, a new attempt was made to weave unity in its ranks. But it was already too late.
The Paris Commune was brutally crushed by the armies of Versailles. During the Semaine sanglante, the week of blood-letting between 21 and 28 May, a total of 17,000 to 25,000 citizens were slaughtered. The last hostilities took place along the walls of Père Lachaise cemetery. It was one of the bloodiest massacre in the history of France. Only 6,000 managed to escape into exile in England, Belgium and Switzerland. The number of prisoners taken was 43,522. One hundred of these received death sentences, following summary trials before courts martial, and another 13,500 were sent to prison or forced labour, or deported to remote areas such as New Caledonia.
The spectre of the Commune intensified the anti-socialist repression all over Europe. Passing over the unprecedented violence of the Thiers state, the conservative and liberal press accused the Communards of the worst crimes and expressed great relief at the restoration of the ‘natural order’ and bourgeois legality, as well as satisfaction with the triumph of ‘civilization’ over anarchy. Those who had dared to violate the authority and attack the privileges of the ruling class were punished in exemplary fashion. Women were once again treated as inferior beings, and workers, with dirty, calloused hands who had brazenly presumed to govern, were driven back into positions for which they were deemed more suitable.
And yet, the insurrection in Paris gave strength to workers’ struggles and pushed them in more radical directions. The Commune had shown that the aim had to be one of building a society radically different from capitalism and embodied the idea of social-political change and its practical application. It became synonymous with the very concept of revolution, with an ontological experience of the working class.

3. The International After the Paris Commune
Although Mikhail Bakunin had urged the workers to turn patriotic war into revolutionary war, the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association in London initially opted for silence. It charged Karl Marx with the task of writing a text in the name of the International, but he delayed its publication for complicated, deeply held reasons. Well aware of the real relationship of forces on the ground as well as the weaknesses of the Commune, he knew that it was doomed to defeat. He had even tried to warn the French working class back in September 1870, in his Second Address on the Franco–Prussian War:
Any attempt at upsetting the new government in the present crisis, when the enemy is almost knocking at the doors of Paris, would be a desperate folly. The French workmen […] must not allow themselves to be swayed by the national souvenirs of 1792 […]. They have not to recapitulate the past, but to build up the future. Let them calmly and resolutely improve the opportunities of republican liberty, for the work of their own class organization. It will gift them with fresh herculean powers for the regeneration of France, and our common task – the emancipation of labour. Upon their energies and wisdom hinges the fate of the republic.
A fervid declaration hailing the victory of the Commune would have risked creating false expectations among workers throughout Europe, eventually becoming a source of demoralization and distrust. Marx therefore decided to postpone delivery and stayed away from meetings of the General Council for several weeks. His grim forebodings soon proved all too well founded, and on 28 May, little more than two months after its proclamation, the Paris Commune was drowned in blood. Two days later, he reappeared at the General Council with a manuscript entitled The Civil War in France. It was read and unanimously approved, then published over the names of all the Council members. The document had a huge impact over the next few weeks, greater than any other document of the workers’ movement in the nineteenth century. Three English editions in quick succession won acclaim among the workers and caused uproar in bourgeois circles. It was also translated fully or partly into a dozen other languages, appearing in newspapers, magazines and booklets in various European countries and the United States.
Despite Marx’s passionate defense, and despite the claims both of reactionary opponents and of dogmatic Marxists eager to glorify the International, it is out of the question that the General Council actually pushed for the Parisian insurrection. Marx himself pointed out that ‘the majority of the Commune was in no sense socialist, nor could it have been’.
After the defeat of the Paris Commune, the International was at the eye of the storm, held to blame for every act against the established order. ‘When the great conflagration took place at Chicago’, Marx mused with bitter irony, ‘the telegraph round the world announced it as the infernal deed of the International; and it is really wonderful that to its demoniacal agency has not been attributed the hurricane ravaging the West Indies’.
Marx had to spend whole days answering press slanders about the International and himself: ‘at this moment’, he wrote, [he was] ‘the best calumniated and the most menaced man of London’. Meanwhile, governments all over Europe sharpened their instruments of repression, fearing that other uprisings might follow the one in Paris. Thiers immediately outlawed the International and asked the British prime minister, William Ewart Gladstone, to follow his example; it was the first diplomatic exchange relating to a workers’ organization. Pope Pius IX exerted similar pressure on the Swiss government, arguing that it would a serious mistake to continue tolerating ‘that International sect which would like to treat the whole of Europe as it treated Paris. Those gentlemen […] are to be feared, because they work on behalf of the eternal enemies of God and mankind’. Giuseppe Mazzini – who for a time had looked to the International with hope – had similar views and considered that principles of the International had become those of ‘denial of God, […] the fatherland, […] and all individual property’.
Criticism of the Paris Commune even spread to sections of the workers’ movement. Following the publication of The Civil War in France, both the trade union leader George Odger and the old Chartist Benjamin Lucraft resigned from the International, bending under the pressure of the hostile press campaign. However, no trade union withdrew its support for the organization – which suggests once again that the failure of the International to grow in Britain was due mainly to political apathy in the working class.
Despite the bloody denouement in Paris and the wave of calumny and government repression elsewhere in Europe, the International grew stronger and more widely known in the wake of the Commune. For the capitalists and the middle classes it represented a threat to the established order, but for the workers it fuelled hopes in a world without exploitation and injustice. Insurrectionary Paris fortified the workers’ movement, impelling it to adopt more radical positions and to intensify its militancy. The experience showed that revolution was possible, that the goal could and should be to build a society utterly different from the capitalist order, but also that, in order to achieve this, the workers would have to create durable and well-organized forms of political association.
This enormous vitality was apparent everywhere. Newspapers linked to the International – such as L’Égalité in Geneva, Der Volksstaat in Leipzig, La Emancipación in Madrid, Il Gazzettino Rosa in Milan, Socialisten in Copenhagen, and La Réforme Sociale in Rouen – increased in both number and overall sales. Finally, and most significantly, the International continued to expand in Belgium and Spain – where the level of workers’ involvement had already been considerable before the Paris Commune –, opened new sections in Portugal and Denmark, and experienced a real breakthrough in Italy. Many Mazzinians, disappointed with the positions taken by their erstwhile leader, joined forces with the organization and Giuseppe Garibaldi, although he had only a vague idea of the International, declared: ‘The International is the sun of the future!’.

4. The Civil War in France and Marx’s Reflections on Communism
In a letter to Wilhelm Liebknecht, Marx complained of ‘too great honesty’ of the Parisian revolutionaries. In trying to avoid ‘the appearance of having usurped power’, they had ‘lost precious moments’ by organizing the election of the Commune. Their ‘folly’ had been ‘not wanting to start a civil war – as if Thiers had not already started it by his attempt at forcibly disarming Paris’. He made similar points to his friend Ludwig Kugelmann a week later: ‘The right moment was missed because of conscientious scruples […] Second mistake: The Central Committee surrendered power too soon, to make way for the Commune. Again from a too honourable scrupulousness’.
At any event, alongside critical observations on the course of events in France, Marx never failed to highlight the exceptional combative spirit and political ability of the Communards. He continued:
What resilience, what historical initiative, what a capacity for sacrifice in these Parisians! After six months of hunger and ruin, caused rather by internal treachery than by the external enemy, they rise, beneath Prussian bayonets, as if there had never been a war between France and Germany and the enemy were not still at the gates of Paris! History has no like example of a like greatness.
Marx understood that, whatever the outcome of the revolution, the Commune had opened a new chapter in the history of the workers’ movement:
The present rising in Paris – even if it be crushed by the wolves, swine and vile curs of the old society – is the most glorious deed of our Party since the June Insurrection in Paris. Compare these Parisians, storming the heavens, with the slaves to heaven of the German-Prussian Holy Roman Empire, with its posthumous masquerades reeking of the barracks, the Church, the cabbage Junkers and above all, of the philistines.
Marx continued these reflections a few days later in another letter to Kugelmann. Whereas his close friend had wrongly compared the fighting in Paris to ‘petty-bourgeois demonstrations’ like those of 13 June 1849 in Paris, Marx again exalted the courage of the Communards: ‘World history’, he wrote, ‘would indeed be very easy to make if the struggle were taken up only on condition of infallibly favourable chances’. His thinking here shows just how remote he was from the kind of fatalist determinism that his critics attributed to him:
[History] would, on the other hand, be of a very mystical nature if ‘accidents’ played no part. These accidents themselves fall naturally into the general course of development and are compensated again by other accidents. But acceleration and delay are very dependent upon such ‘accidents’, which include the ‘accident’ of the character of those who first stand at the head of the movement.
The circumstance that worked against the Commune was the presence of the Prussians on French soil, allied with the ‘bourgeois riff-raff of Versailles’. Bolstered by their understanding with the Germans, the Versaillais ‘presented the Parisians with the alternative of taking up the fight or succumbing without a struggle’. In the latter case, ‘the demoralization of the working class would have been a far greater misfortune than the fall of any number of “leaders”’. Marx concluded: ‘The struggle of the working class against the capitalist class and its state has entered upon a new phase with the struggle in Paris. Whatever the immediate results may be, a new point of departure of world-historic importance has been gained’.
A fervid declaration hailing the victory of the Paris Commune would have risked creating false expectations among workers throughout Europe, eventually becoming a source of demoralization and distrust. Marx therefore decided to postpone delivery and stayed away from meetings of the General Council for several weeks. His grim forebodings soon proved all too well founded, and on 28 May, little more than two months after its proclamation, the Paris Commune was drowned in blood. Two days later, he reappeared at the General Council with a manuscript entitled The Civil War in France. It was read and unanimously approved, then published over the names of all the Council members.
The document had a huge impact over the next few weeks, greater than any other document of the workers’ movement in the 19th century. Speaking of the Paris Commune, Marx wrote:
The few but important functions which would still remain for a central government were not to be suppressed, as has been intentionally misstated, but were to be discharged by Communal and thereafter responsible agents. The unity of the nation was not to be broken, but, on the contrary, to be organized by Communal Constitution, and to become a reality by the destruction of the state power which claimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it was but a parasitic excresence. While the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions were to be wrested from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society.
The Paris Commune had been an altogether novel political experiment:
It was essentially a working-class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labour. Except on this last condition, the Communal Constitution would have been an impossibility and a delusion. The political rule of the producer cannot coexist with the perpetuation of his social slavery. The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule. With labour emancipated, every man becomes a working man, and productive labour ceases to be a class attribute.
For Marx, the new phase of class struggle that opened with the Paris Commune could be successful – and therefore produce radical changes – only through the realization of a clearly anticapitalist programme:
the Commune intended to abolish […] class property which makes the labour of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land, and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labour, into mere instruments of free and associated labour. […] If co-operative production is not to remain a sham and a snare; if it is to supersede the capitalist system; if united co-operative societies are to regulate national production upon common plan, thus taking it under their own control, and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical convulsions which are the fatality of capitalist production – what else, gentlemen, would it be but communism, ‘possible’ communism? The working class did not expect miracles from the Commune. They have no ready-made utopias to introduce by decree of the people. They know that in order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending by its own economical agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to realize, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant.
In communist society, along with transformative changes in the economy, the role of the state and the function of politics would also have to be redefined. In The Civil War in France, Marx was at pains to explain that, after the conquest of power, the working class would have to fight to ‘uproot the economical foundations upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule’. Once ‘labour was emancipated, every man would become a working man, and productive labour [would] cease to be a class attribute’. The well-known statement that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes’ was meant to signify, as Marx and Engels clarified in the booklet Fictitious Splits in the International, that ‘the functions of government [should] become simple administrative functions’. And in a concise formulation in his Conspectus on Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy, Marx insisted that ‘the distribution of general functions [should] become a routine matter which entails no domination’. This would, as far as possible, avoid the danger that the exercise of political duties generated new dynamics of domination and subjugation.
Marx believed that, with the development of modern society, ‘state power [had] assumed more and more the character of the national power of capital over labour, of a public force organized for social enslavement, of an engine of class despotism’. In communism, by contrast, the workers would have to prevent the state from becoming an obstacle to full emancipation. It would be necessary to ‘amputate’ ‘the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power, [to wrest] its legitimate functions from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society itself, and restore [them] to the responsible agents of society’. In the Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx observed that ‘freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it’, and shrewdly added that ‘forms of state are more free or less free to the extent that they restrict the ‘freedom of the state’’.
In the same text, Marx underlined the demand that, in communist society, public policies should prioritize the ‘collective satisfaction of needs’. Spending on schools, healthcare and other common goods would ‘grow considerably in comparison with present-day society and grow in proportion as the new society develop[ed]’. Education would assume front-rank importance and – as he had pointed out in The Civil War in France, referring to the model adopted by the Communards in 1871 – ‘all the educational institutions [would be] opened to the people gratuitously and […] cleared of all interference of Church and State’. Only in this way would culture be ‘made accessible to all’ and ‘science itself freed from the fetters which class prejudice and governmental force had imposed upon it’.
Unlike liberal society, where ‘equal right’ leaves existing inequalities intact, in communist society ‘right would have to be unequal rather than equal’. A change in this direction would recognize, and protect, individuals on the basis of their specific needs and the greater or lesser hardship of their conditions, since ‘they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal’. Furthermore, it would be possible to determine each person’s fair share of services and the available wealth. The society that aimed to follow the principle ‘From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’ had before it this intricate road fraught with difficulties. However, the final outcome was not guaranteed by some ‘magnificent progressive destiny’ (in the words of Leopardi), nor was it irreversible.
Marx attached a fundamental value to individual freedom, and his communism was radically different from the levelling of classes envisaged by his various predecessors or pursued by many of his epigones. In the Urtext, however, he pointed to the ‘folly of those socialists (especially French socialists)’ who, considering ‘socialism to be the realization of [bourgeois] ideas, […] purport[ed] to demonstrate that exchange and exchange value, etc., were originally […] a system of the freedom and equality of all, but [later] perverted by money [and] capital’. In the Grundrisse, he labelled it an ‘absurdity’ to regard ‘free competition as the ultimate development of human freedom’; it was tantamount to a belief that ‘the rule of the bourgeoisie is the terminal point of world history’, which he mockingly described as ‘an agreeable thought for the parvenus of the day before yesterday’.
In the same way, Marx contested the liberal ideology according to which ‘the negation of free competition [was] equivalent to the negation of individual freedom and of social production based upon individual freedom’. In bourgeois society, the only possible ‘free development’ was ‘on the limited basis of the domination of capital’. But that ‘type of individual freedom’ was, at the same time, ‘the most sweeping abolition of all individual freedom and the complete subjugation of individuality to social conditions which assume the form of objective powers, indeed of overpowering objects […] independent of the individuals relating to one another’.
The alternative to capitalist alienation was achievable only if the subaltern classes became aware of their condition as new slaves and embarked on a struggle to radically transform the world in which they were exploited. Their mobilization and active participation in this process could not stop, however, on the day after the conquest of power. The Paris Commune had been a remarkable revolutionary example to follow. Social mobilization would have to continue after the revolution, in order to avert any drift toward the kind of state socialism that Marx always opposed with the utmost tenacity and conviction.
In 1868, in a significant letter to the president of the General Association of German Workers, Marx explained that in Germany, ‘where the worker is regulated bureaucratically from childhood onwards, where he believes in authority, in those set over him, the main thing is to teach him to walk by himself’. He never changed this conviction throughout his life and it is not by chance that the first point of his draft of the Statutes of the International Working Men’s Association states: ‘The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves’. And they add immediately afterwards that the struggle for working-class emancipation ‘means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties’.

 

References
1. This work was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Development Grant (Project n. 430-2020-00985).
2. On the main events leading up to the revolution, see Maurice Choury, Les origenes de la Commune (Paris: Éditions sociales, 1960); Alain Dalotel, Alain Faure, and Jean-Claude Freiermuth, Aux origines de la Commune. Le movement des reunions publiques à Paris, 1868–1870 (Paris: Maspero, 1980); and Pierre Milza, L’année terrible. I: La guerre franco–prussienne (septembre 1870-mars 1871) (Paris: Perrin, 2009).
3. See Jacques Rougerie, Paris libre 1871 (Paris: Seuil, 1971), p. 146; Pierre Milza, L’année terrible. II: La Commune (Paris: Perrin, 2009), pp. 236–44; and also the more recent Claude Latta, ‘Minorité et majorité au sein de la Commune (avril-mai 1871)’, in: Michel Cordillot (ed.), La Commune de Paris 1871. Les acteurs, l’événement, les lieux (Ivry-sur-Seine: Les Éditions de l’Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières, 2021).
4. Victor Hugo, ‘Viro Major’, in: Nic Maclellan (ed.), Louise Michel (New York: Ocean Press, 2004), p. 24.
5. Jacques Rougerie, La Commune de 1871 (Presses Universitaires de France, 1988), pp. 62–3.
6. The Commune of Paris, ‘Declaration to the French People’, in: Robert Tombs, The Paris Commune 1871 (London: Longman, 1999), pp. 218–9.
7. See Rougerie, Paris libre 1871, p. 100.
8. Cited in Hugues Lenoir, ‘La Commune de Paris et l’éducation’, in: Cordillot (ed.), La Commune de Paris 1871, pp. 495-8.
9. See Gonzalo J. Sanchez, Organizing Independence: The Artists Federation of the Paris Commune and its Legacy, 1871–1889 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997); and Hollis Clayson, Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870–1871) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).
10. For a list of the 28 clubs that existed at the time of the Paris Commune see Martin Philip Johnson, The Paradise of Association: Political Culture and Popular Organizations in the Paris Commune of 1871 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), pp. 166–70.
11. See Edith Thomas, Les «Pétroleuses» (Paris: Gallimard, 1963); and Alain Dalotel, ‘La barricade des femmes, 1871’, in: Alain Corbin and Jean-Marie Mayeur (eds.), La barricade (Paris: Éditions la Sorbonne, 1997), pp. 341–55.
12. References on this topic include the classic study of Georges Bourgin, ‘La Commune de Paris et le Comité central (1871)’, Revue historique, vol. 1925, n. 150: 1–66; and the recent Pierre-Henri Zaidman, ‘Le Comité central contre la Commune?’, in: Cordillot, La Commune de Paris 1871, pp. 229–36.
13. Some who went there solidarized with and shared the fate of the Algerian leaders of the anticolonial Mokrani revolt, which had broken out at the same time as the Commune and also been drowned in blood by French troops.
14. On the morrow of its defeat, Eugène Pottier wrote what was destined to become the most celebrated anthem of the workers’ movement: ‘Let us group together and tomorrow / The Internationale / Will be the human race!’.
15. Cf. Henri Lefebvre, La proclamation de la Commune, 26 mars 1871 (Paris: La fabrique éditions, 2018), p. 355.
16. See Arthur Lehning, ‘Introduction’, in: Idem. (ed.), Bakunin – Archiv, vol. VI: Michel Bakounine sur la Guerre Franco–Allemande et la Révolution Sociale en France (1870–1871) (Leiden: Brill, 1977), p. xvi.
17. See Marcello Musto, ‘Introduction’, in: Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 30–6.
18. Karl Marx, Second Address of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association on the Franco–Prussian War, MECW, vol. 22, p. 269.
19. See Georges Haupt, Aspect of International Socialism 1871–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), who warned against ‘the reshaping of the reality of the Commune in order to make it conform to an image transfigured by ideology’, p. 25.
20. Karl Marx to Domela Nieuwenhuis, 22 February 1881, MECW, vol. 46, p. 66.
21. Karl Marx, Report of the General Council to the Fifth Annual Congress of the International, in: Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U. (ed.), The General Council of the First International 1871–1872: Minutes (Moscow: Progress, 1986), p. 461.
22. Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 18 June 1871, MECW, vol. 44, p. 157.
23. Institute of Marxism-Leninism (ed.), The General Council of the First International 1871–1872, p. 460.
24. Giuseppe Mazzini, L’Internazionale, in: Gian Mario Bravo (ed.), La Prima Internazionale: Storia documentaria, vol. II (Roma: Editori Riuniti, 1978), pp. 499–501.
25. Henry Collins and Chimen Abramsky, Karl Marx and the British Labour Movement (London: MacMillan, 1965), p. 222.
26. See Georges Haupt, L’Internazionale socialista dalla Comune a Lenin (Torino: Einaudi, 1978), p. 28.
27. Ibid., pp. 93–5.
28. See Nello Rosselli, Mazzini e Bakunin (Torino: Einaudi, 1927), pp. 323–4.
29. Giuseppe Garibaldi to Giorgio Pallavicino, 14 November 1871, in: Enrico Emilio Ximenes, Epistolario di Giuseppe Garibaldi, vol. I (Milano: Brigola 1885), p. 350.
30. Karl Marx to Wilhelm Liebknecht, 6 April 1871, MECW, vol. 44, p. 193.
31. Marx is referring to the workers’ uprising of June 1848, which was drowned in blood by a conservative republican government.
32. Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 12 April 1871, MECW, vol. 44, pp. 131–2.
33. Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 17 April 1871, MECW, vol. 44, pp. 136–7.
34. See Karl Marx to Léo Frankel and Louis-Eugène Varlin (draft), 13 May 1871, MECW, vol. 44, p. 149: ‘The Prussians won’t hand over the forts to the Versailles people, but after the definitive conclusion of peace (26 May), they will allow the government to invest Paris with its gendarmes. […] Thiers & Co. had […] asked Bismarck to delay payment of the first instalment until the occupation of Paris. Bismarck accepted this condition. Prussia, being herself in urgent need of that money, will therefore provide the Versailles people with every possible facility to hasten the occupation of Paris. So be on your guard!’.
35. Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 17 April 1871, MECW, vol. 44, p. 137.
36. See Marcello Musto, Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 199-220.
37. Three English editions of The Civil War in France in quick succession won acclaim among the workers and caused uproar in bourgeois circles. It was also translated fully or partly into a dozen other languages, appearing in newspapers, magazines and booklets in various European countries and the United States.
38. Karl Marx, ‘On the Paris Commune’, in: Musto, Workers Unite!, pp. 215–6.
39. Ibid., pp. 217–8.
40. Ibid., pp. 218–9.
41. Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, MECW, vol. 22, pp. 334–5.
42. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ‘Fictitious Splits in the International’, MECW, vol. 23, p. 121.
43. Marx, ‘Notes on Bakunin’s Book Statehood and Anarchy’, MECW, vol. 24 p. 519.
44. Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 329.
45. Ibid., pp. 332–3.
46. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, MECW, vol. 24, p. 94.
47. Ibid., p. 85.
48. Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 332.
49. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, p. 87.
50. See Marcello Musto, ‘Communism’, in: Marcello Musto (ed.), The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Interpretations(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), pp. 24–50.
51. Karl Marx, Economic Manuscripts of 1857–58, MECW, vol. 28, p. 180.
52. Karl Marx, ‘Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft of 1857–58) [Second Instalment]’, MECW, vol. 29, p. 40.
1857-58) [Second Instalment]’
53. Ibid.
54. Karl Marx to J. B. von Schweitzer, 13 October 1868, MECW, vol. 43, p. 134.
55. Karl Marx, ‘Provisional Rules of the Association’, MECW, vol. 20, p. 14.

Bibliography
Bourgin, Georges (1925), ‘La Commune de Paris et le Comité central (1871)’, Revue historique, vol. 1925, n. 150: 1–66.
Choury, Maurice (1960), Les origenes de la Commune, Paris: Éditions sociales.
Clayson, Hollis (2002), Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870–1871), Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Collins, Henry, and Abramsky, Chimen (1965), Karl Marx and the British Labour Movement, London: MacMillan.
The Commune of Paris (1999), ‘Declaration to the French People’, in: Robert Tombs, The Paris Commune 1871, London: Longman, pp. 217–19.
Dalotel, Alain (1997), ‘La barricade des femmes, 1871’, in: Alain Corbin and Jean-Marie Mayeur (eds.), La barricade, Paris: Éditions la Sorbonne, pp. 341–55.
Dalotel, Alain, Faure, Alain, and Freiermuth, Jean-Claude (1980), Aux origines de la Commune. Le movement des reunions publiques à Paris, 1868–1870, Paris: Maspero.
Haupt, Georges (1978), L’Internazionale socialista dalla Comune a Lenin, Torino: Einaudi.
(1986), Aspect of International Socialism 1871–1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hugo, Victor (2004), ‘Viro Major’, in: Nic Maclellan (ed.), Louise Michel, New York: Ocean Press, pp. 24–5.
Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U. (ed.) (1968), The General Council of the First International 1871–1872: Minutes, Moscow: Progress.
Johnson, Martin Philip (1996), The Paradise of Association: Political Culture and Popular Organizations in the Paris Commune of 1871, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Latta, Claude (2021), ‘Minorité et majorité au sein de la Commune (avril-mai 1871)’, in: Michel Cordillot (ed.), La Commune de Paris 1871. Les acteurs, l’événement, les lieux, Ivry-sur-Seine: Les Éditions de l’Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières, pp. 941-4.
Lefebvre, Henri (2018), La proclamation de la Commune, 26 mars 1871, Paris: La fabrique éditions.
Lehning, Arthur (1977), ‘Introduction’, in: Idem. (ed.), Bakunin – Archiv, vol. VI: Michel Bakounine sur la Guerre Franco–Allemande et la Révolution Sociale en France (1870–1871), Leiden: Brill, pp. xi–cxvii.
Lenoir, Hugues (2021), ‘La Commune de Paris et l’éducation’, in: Michel Cordillot (ed.), La Commune de Paris 1871. Les acteurs, l’événement, les lieux, Ivry-sur-Seine: Les Éditions de l’Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières, pp. 495-8.
Marx, Karl (1985), ‘Provisional Rules of the Association’, MECW, vol. 20, pp. 14–6.
(1986), The Civil War in France, MECW, vol. 22, pp. 307–59.
(1986), Economic Manuscripts of 1857–58, MECW, vol. 28.
(1986), Second Address of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association on the Franco–Prussian War, MECW, vol. 22, pp. 263–70.
(1987), ‘Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft of 1857–58) [Second Instalment]’, MECW, vol. 29, p. 5–417.
(1989), Critique of the Gotha Programme, MECW, vol. 24, pp. 75–99.
(1989), ‘Notes on Bakunin’s Book Statehood and Anarchy’, MECW, vol. 24 p. 485–526.
(2014), ‘On the Paris Commune’, in: Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later, New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 211–44.
Marx, Karl, and Engels, Friedrich (1988), ‘Fictitious Splits in the International’, MECW, vol. 23, pp. 79–123.
(1988), Letters 1868–70, MECW, vol. 43.
(1989), Letters 1870–73, MECW, vol. 44.
(1992), Letters 1880–83, MECW, vol. 46.
Mazzini, Giuseppe (1978), L’Internazionale, in: Gian Mario Bravo (ed.), La Prima Internazionale: Storia documentaria, vol. II, Roma: Editori Riuniti, pp. 499–501.
Milza, Pierre (2009), L’année terrible. I: La guerre franco–prussienne (septembre 1870–mars 1871), Paris: Perrin.
(2009), L’année terrible. II: La Commune, Paris: Perrin.
Musto, Marcello (2014), ‘Introduction’, in: Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later, New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 1–68.
(2018), Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International, London: Bloomsbury.
(2020), ‘Communism’, in: Marcello Musto (ed.), The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Interpretations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 24–50.
Rosselli, Nello (1927), Mazzini e Bakunin, Torino: Einaudi.
Rougerie, Jacques (1988), La Commune de 1871, Presses Universitaires de France.
(1971), Paris libre 1871, Paris: Seuil.
Sanchez, Gonzalo J. (1997), Organizing Independence: The Artists Federation of the Paris Commune and its Legacy, 1871–1889, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Thomas, Edith (1963), Les «Pétroleuses», Paris: Gallimard.
Zaidman, Pierre-Henri (2021), ‘Le Comité central contre la Commune?’, in: Michel Cordillot (ed.), La Commune de Paris 1871. Les acteurs, l’événement, les lieux, Ivry-sur-Seine: Les Éditions de l’Atelier/Éditions Ouvrières, pp. 229–36.
Ximenes, Enrico Emilio (ed.) (1885), Epistolario di Giuseppe Garibaldi, vol. I, Milano: Brigola.