International Workingmen’s Association 1865

Report of the Sub-Committee on the Questions of a Congress and Conference as Amended and Passed by the Central Council at a Summoned Meeting on the 25th of July, 1865

Source: MECW, Volume 20, p. 375;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, 2nd Russian Edition, Vol. 16, 1960.

In view of the enquiries coming into the Central Council about the time of the Congress of the International, it was decided on June 13, 1865 to refer the question to the Standing Committee. The Committee’s report reflected the viewpoint of Marx who field that it was too early to convoke the congress in 1865 and suggested holding a preliminary conference in London. The programme for the London Conference, included in this report in amended form, was reproduced in two leaflets issued by the Central Council in August and September 1865 and was also printed in The Bee-Hive Newspaper, No. 200, August 12, 1865. The announcement of the conference was published in The Workman’s Advocate, Nos. 130-33, September 2, 9, 16 and 23, 1865. The preparations were also discussed at the Council’s subsequent meetings.

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

In consequence of the urgent representations of our French and Swiss correspondents who call upon the Central Council to take some steps in fulfilment of the pledge given at the time of the foundation of the Association that a congress would be held in Brussels in the present year to discuss questions of general interest to the proletarians of Europe, your Committee have taken the whole subject into their consideration and submit to you the following series of proposals:

1. That it is not possible to assemble a congress in Brussels or London at the present time. In lieu thereof we propose a conference which shall assemble in London on Monday, September 25th.

2. That the following declaration be published in the Continental and British journals which are favourable to our cause:

“The Central Council of the International Working Men’s Association announce that they have resolved on postponing the convocation of a general congress of working men at Brussels or elsewhere for three reasons:

“1st. Because they have felt the advisability of having a preliminary conference with a few delegates from their principal branches on the Continent touching [on] the programme which ought to be laid before the said congress.

“2nd. Because in Britain the reform movement, the general elections and the industrial exhibition and in France the strikes have absorbed the energies and attention of the working classes to such an extent as to have retarded the maturity of the Association.

“3rd, Because during the present year the Belgian Parliament has passed an alien act... of such a character as to put an end to the project the Association had entertained of holding a congress, or to any they might have entertained of having a conference in the capital of Belgium.”

3. The conference is to be constituted in this wise: two delegates from every central administration are to be invited, also two from Lyons. The cost of the travelling expenses of the delegates will be borne by their constituents. Their costs in London will be defrayed by the Central Council.

4. As to the ways and means of defraying these costs, the Committee have received the generous offer from Citizen Jung that he will board and lodge the delegates from Switzerland. For the rest the Committee recommend:

Ist. That the members of the Central Council renew their annual subscriptions in the month of September previous to the assembling of the conference.

2nd. That the General Secretary [Cremer] be instructed to appeal to the secretaries of the societies who have already joined the Association to exert themselves to sell cards of membership to their individual members for the sake of meeting the outlay of the conference.

3rd. That the members of the Central Council be recommended to take cards on sale, paying to the Council the amount of the same in ready money recouping the immediate outlay from the produce of the sales.

5. The Committee propose that the Central Council should adopt and submit to the conference a certain programme which was amended and passed in the following form by the Central Council:

1) Questions relating to the Congress.

2) Questions relating to the organisation of the Association.

3) Combination of effort by means of the Association in the different national struggles between capital and labour.

4) Trades’ unions, their past, present, and future.

5) Co-operative labour.

6) Direct and indirect taxation.

7) Reduction of the number of the hours of labour.

8) Female and children labour.

9) The Muscovite invasion of Europe and the re-establishment of an independent and integral Poland.

10) Standing armies, their effects upon the interests of the productive classes.

6. Preliminary sittings of the delegates to be held with Committee, the definitive sittings with the Central Council.

7. On the 28th of September a soirée will be held for the three following objects: Ist, to commemorate the founding of the Association; 2nd, to do honour to the Continental delegates; and 3rd, to celebrate the triumph of federalism and free labour in America.

The soirée to consist of a tea, speaking, conversation, and dancing.