International Workingmen’s Association 1868

On the Dissolution of the Lassallean Workers’ Association
(Postscript) [33]

Source: MECW Volume 21, p. 24;
Written: by Frederick Engels at the beginning of October 1868;
First published: in Demokratisches Wochenblatt, October 10, 1868.

In the article which appeared under the above heading (in the previous issue), the following note should be added at the end of the quotation from the pamphlet by Engels on universal suffrage:

At that time the “President of Mankind”, Bernhard Becker, bequeathed by Lassalle to the Association, [34] was heaping the vilest insults on “the Marx Party”, i. e. Marx, Engels and Liebknecht.* Now, in his obscene screed Enthülltungen über das tragische Lebensende Ferdinand Lassalle’s, which lays bare his own piteous soul and is only of interest because of the suppressed documents it reproduces, the very same Becker bowdlerises Engels in the following way:

“Yet, why is there no agitation for unconditional freedom of association and assembly and freedom of the press? Why do the workers not seek to remove the fetters placed on them in the period of reaction?” (p. 133) “...Only by further development of the democratic basis can Lassalleanism he renewed and led over into pure socialism. To this end it is necessary among other things that the interests of the Junkers or wealthy landowners should no longer be spared but that socialist theory should be supplemented and completed by applying it to the great mass of agricultural labourers who in Prussia outnumber by far the population of the towns.” (p. 134.)

It can be seen that the author of the pamphlet (F. Engels) may, be content with its effect on his opponents.

* This pretty business is now being continued by Countess Hatzfeldt, the “mother of the Fosrsterling-Mende caricature of the General Association of German Workers.[35]

33 Engels wrote this postscript on the advice of Marx who, in his letter to Engels of September 25, 1868 drew his attention to Becker’s pamphlet Enthüllungen über das tragische Lebensende Ferdinand Lassalle’s. Schleiz, 1868.

34 In his will Lassalle recommended Bernhard Becker as his heir to the post of President of the General Association of German Workers. On the title page of his Enthüllungen über das tragische Lebensende Ferdinand Lassalle’s. (Schleiz, 1868), Becker calls himself “hei by Lassalle’s will”.

At a meeting of the Association’s Hamburg branch on March 22, 1865, Becker slandered the International Working ‘Men’s Association and also Marx, Engels and Liebknecht (see Der Social-Demokrat, No. 39, supplement, March 26, 1865). Marx exposed this slander in his article ... The President of Mankind” present edition, Vol. 20). The Berlin branch, expressing the growing discontent of the rank-and-file members of the General Association with Becker, resolved to expel him and recommended other organisations to follow suit. Similar meetings were field in many other branches. in June 1865 Becker was compelled provisionally to delegate his presidential powers to his deputy Fritzsche and he completely renounced them the following November.

35 Under the influence of Sophie von Hatzfeldt a small group of Lassalleans split away, front the General Association of German Workers and in 1867 formed the Lassallean General Association of German Workers. This Association, whose president was first Försterling and later Mende, had little impact on the workers and in 1872 virtually, ceased to exist.