International Workingmen’s Association 1865

Draft Report to the Central Council

January 24, 1865 [230]

Source: MECW, Volume 20, p. 328;
Written: by Karl Marx on January 24, 1865;
First published: in Russian, in Generalny Sovet Pervogo Internalsionala. 1864-1866, 1961.

As to the accession of the General Federation of German Working Men’s Societies, it will declare in one way or another the identity of its purposes with those of the International Association, but the adhesion cannot take place directly, through a formal resolution passed by the [representatives] of the General German Association, because such a step would be in contravention to the Prussian laws regulating associations.

From the same reason the Berlin Society of Printers and Composers, which takes the greatest interest in your proceedings, is disabled from adhering to the London society by way of a formal resolution.

However, even the latter society is sure to send a deputy to the Congress to be convoked by the London Committee.[231]

Moreover, you must not forget, that our journal [Der Sozial-Demokrat], the organ of the German Federation of Working Men’s Societies, has been put at the entire disposal of the International Committee.

230 Marx made this report at the Central Council meeting of January 24, 1865 on the basis of Wilhelm Liebknecht’s letter to him of January 21. Marx wrote the draft for the report between the lines of Liebknecht’s letter. In the Minute Book of the General Council, Marx’s speech was recorded in shorter form. When speaking about the affiliation of the General Association of German Workers to the International Working Men’s Association, Marx did not have sufficient information about the sectarian position of the Lassallean leadership of the General Association. Their sectarianism hindered the affiliation no less than the police bans then in force in Prussia and other German states (the Prussian law of 1850 on associations which forbade the workers officially to join any society abroad, and so on).

This document was published in English for the first time in The General Council of the First International. 1864-1866, 1962.

231 The London Conference of the International was held from September 25 to 29, 1865. It was convened on Marx’s insistence, for he considered that the Association’s sections were not yet strong enough to succeed in holding a general congress as stipulated by the Provisional Rules. The conference was attended by 9 delegates from France, Switzerland and Belgium and the Central Council members. A meeting was held in St. Martin’s Hall on September 28, 1865 to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the Association.

The Conference heard the Central Council’s report, its financial statement, and also delegates’ reports on the situation in individual sections. The main point discussed was the agenda and the procedure for convening the forthcoming congress. It was decided to hold it in Geneva in May 1866 (later the Central Council postponed it until early September 1866). Though the Proudhonists demanded that the Polish question should be struck off the agenda of the Congress and that the right of any member of the Association to participate in it be recognised the Conference retained in the agenda the point on the restoration of Poland’s independence and recognised only elected delegates as competent members of the Congress. Other proposals of the Council concerning the programme of the Congress were also approved. The London Conference of 1865 which was prepared and conducted under Marx’s guidance played an important part in the formation and organisational shaping of the International.