International Workingmen’s Association 1868

Resolution of the General Council on Félix Pyatt’s Provocative Behaviour

Source: MECW Volume 21, p. 7;
Written: by Karl Marx;
Adopted: by the General Council on July 7, 1868;
First published: in French in La Liberté, July 12, 1868.

The public meeting to celebrate the anniversary of the June 1848 insurrection of the Paris workers was held on June 29, 1868 in the Cleveland Hall, London. Such meetings were annually held by the German Workers’ Educational Society in London jointly with other émigré organisations.

The French petty-bourgeois democrat Felix Pyat who attended the meeting, delivered a speech and moved a provocative resolution urging terroristic acts against Napoleon III (the resolution was published in The Bee-Hive, July 4, 1868). The Brussels Espiègle, July 5, 1868, published a report of the meeting which described it as a meeting of the International with Pyat as one of its leaders. This statement was repeated in other newspapers. The General Council held that this could discredit the International in the eyes of the workers and give the Bonapartist government a pretext for the persecution of its members in France and Belgium. Consequently, at its meeting on July 1 the Council resolved, on Marx’s proposal, to disavow Pyat’s behaviour in a resolution to this effect (see also Marx’s letter to Engels of July, 7, 1868).

When the General Council’s resolution against Pyat appeared in the press, a split took place in the French Section in London, of which he was a member. Eugene Dupont, Hermann Jung, Paul Lafargue and other proletarian members of the section expressed their disapproval of Pyat’s adventurous and provocative tactics and withdrew from it. Pyat’s group lost ties with the International but continued to act in its name and repeatedly supported anti-proletarian elements opposing Marx’s line in the General Council. On May, 10, 1870, the General Council officially dissociated itself from this group.

The text of this resolution has been preserved in the Minutes of the General Council meeting of July 7, 1868. It was first published in La Liberté, July 12, 1868 and reproduced in La Cigale, July 19, La Tribune du Peuple, July 26, 1868 (with the end of the resolution denying Pyat’s connections with the International omitted), and in other newspapers.

This resolution was first published in English in The General Council of the First International. 1866-1868, Moscow, 1964.

Resolved. That the General Council of the I.W.A. repudiates all responsibility for the address delivered at the public meeting in Cleveland Hall by Félix Pyat, who is in no way connected with the Association.