International Workingmen’s Association 1866
Record of Speech by Karl Marx

On Mazzini’s Attitude to The International Working Men’s Association

From the Minutes of the Central Council Meeting;
Source: MECW, Volume 20, p. 401;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, 2nd Russian Edition, 1960.

Marx’s speech in the Central Council on March 13, 1866 testifies to his battle with the bourgeois democrats who tried to misrepresent the genuinely proletarian class nature of the International. Louis Wolff, a follower of Mazzini, withdrew from the Council in the spring of 1865 (he was later exposed as a police agent). On March 6, 1866 he came to the Council meeting – Marx was not present – and made a speech criticising the letter to L'Echo de Verviers. He alleged that the letter had wrongly described Mazzini’s attitude to the International and its programme documents. In this way, he wanted to make the Council recognise that these documents were based on Mazzini’s principles. Influenced by reformist-minded British members, the Council passed a resolution in which it virtually apologised to Mazzini and Wolff himself for “harsh words” used about them in the letter. On March 10, the corresponding secretaries Dupont, Jung, Longuet and Bobczynski met in conference at Marx’s place and decided that. Marx would protest against the March 6 resolution at the next Council meeting. At its meeting on March 13, after Marx’s speech supported by some members of the Council, the latter cancelled this resolution, and this was recorded in the minutes of the Council meeting of March 27.

MARCH 13, 1866

Citizen Marx made a speech in reference to the proceedings at the previous meeting. He said it was not true, as Major Wolff had stated, that Mazzini had written our Statutes. He, Marx, wrote them after discussion in Committee. Several draughts were discussed, Wolff’s draught among the rest.[303]wo points they were quite distinguished from each other. Marx spoke of capital oppressing labour. Wolff wanted centralisation and understood by Working Men’s Associations only benefit societies. Mazzini’s statutes were printed at the time of the conference in Naples.

It could hardly be true that Mazzini had seen Marx’s Address before it was printed as it was in Marx’s pocket, unless Mazzini saw it after it had been put in Le Lubez’s hands and before it had been taken to the Bee-Hive.

Again Mazzini wrote to Brussels, to Fontaine, a letter which was to be communicated to the Belgian societies, in which he warned them against Marx’s Socialist views. This was stated by De Paepe at the conference.[304]

Major Wolff was not a member of the Council. Major Wolff ought to have sent a letter informing the Council that he intended to prefer his complaint. He [Marx] protested against the proceedings at the last meeting in the name of himself and the other Continental secretaries. He desired a note of this to be taken as it might be brought before the Congress at Geneva.


Notes from MECW

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

303 About Marx’s work on the Inaugural Address and Provisional Rules of the International Association, see Note 1.

The Statutes submitted by Louis Wolff on October 8, 1864, at the first sitting of the committee elected to work out the International’s programme documents, had been written by Mazzini for an association of Italian workers’ societies which he planned to set up. Written from the bourgeois-democratic standpoint, this draft was used as a basis for the Fraternal Bond between the Italian Workmen’s Associations published in Il Giornale delle Associazioni Operate in July 1864 and adopted at a congress of Italian workers in Naples at the end of October 1864.

304 This statement by De Paepe was not recorded in the minutes of the London Conference of the International.