International Workingmen’s Association 1869
Record of Speech by Karl Marx

On the Influence of Competition In Cotton Industry On the Condition of the Working Men in France

Source: MECW Volume 21, p. 388;
First published: in full in Marx and Engels, Works, 2nd Russian Edition, 1960;

Marx made this speech at the General Council meeting of January 5, 1869 on behalf of the Standing Committee which, at its meeting on January 2 discussed a letter from the Rouen Section requesting help for the locked-out Rouen workers, and put up this question for discussion by the General Council. After Marx’s speech, the General Council adopted a resolution, which voiced its protest at the French manufacturers’ actions and called on the English workers to give assistance to the Rouen workers.

This record by Jung has been preserved in the Minute Book of the General Council. The speech was also summarised briefly in the Bee-Hive, January 16, 1869 report of the General Council meeting.

The full text of Marx’s speech was first published in English in The General Council of the First International. 1868-1870, Moscow, 1966.

From the Minutes of the General Council Meeting of January 5, 1869

It appears that the cotton yarns and goods manufacturers of France are forming an alliance with a view of underselling the English manufacturers in their own markets; the French manufacturers admit that although the English manufacturers have better machinery and larger capitals than the French, they have been enabled to hold their own owing to the low wages paid to the men in France and they hope by lowering the wages still more to be able to produce their goods cheaper than the English manufacturers can.

Mr. Bertel, mayor of Sotteville-lès-Rouen and one of the largest manufacturers of the place, was the first to inaugurate this new crusade against the working classes; he offered a reduction of 3 1/2 pence per day; on the men refusing these terms they were locked out and they have now appealed to the International Working Men’s Association for help.