Documents of the First International 1870

Record of Karl Marx’s Speech Concerning the “Bee-Hive” Newspaper

From the Minutes of the General Council Meeting of April 26, 1870;
First Published: in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Moscow, 1960;
Source: Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

The Bee-Hive-Newspaper — an English weekly published by the trade unions in London between 1861 and 1876. In November 1864, the paper became the official organ of the International Working Men’s Association, and took to printing the documents of the International and reports on the meetings of the General Council. However, the general reformist trend of the newspaper and its chauvinistic position on the Irish question were in sharp contrast with the revolutionary principles of the International. The editors of the paper often deferred the publication of the International’s documents, sometimes falsified them, and handled reports on the meetings of the General Council in a most arbitrary fashion. At the beginning of 1870, bourgeois radicals and liberals began to exert an even greater Influence on the newspaper and Samuel Morley, a liberal businessman, became its owner. Marx believed it essential to break with the Bee-Hive and to make this break public, since on the Continent the paper was still considered an organ of the International. In his speech printed in this collection Marx gives the reasons for the break. The resolution on the break with the Bee-Hive proposed by Marx was adopted by the General Council early in May 1870.

Cit. Marx proposed that the Council should cut off all connections with the Bee-Hive. He said it had suppressed our resolutions and mutilated our reports and delayed them so that the dates had been falsified, even the mention that certain questions respecting the Irish prisoners were being discussed had been suppressed.

Next to that, the tone of the Bee-Hive was contrary to the Rules and platform of the Association. It preached harmony with the capitalists, and the Association had declared war against the capitalists’ rule.

Besides this, our branches abroad complained that by sending our reports to the Bee-Hive we gave it a moral support and led people to believe that we endorsed its policy. We would be better without its publicity than with it.

On the Irish Coercion Bill[177] it had not said a word against the government.


177. The reference is to the Coercion Bill submitted by Gladstone to the House of Commons on March 17, 1870. Aimed against the national liberation movement, the Bill provided for the suspension of constitutional guarantees in Ireland, the introduction of a state of siege and the granting of extraordinary powers to the English authorities for the struggle against Irish revolutionaries. The Bill was passed by the English Parliament.