112 Karl Marx
The Russian Bakunin (although I have known him since 1843, 1 shall here ignore everything not absolutely necessary for the understanding of what follows) met Marx in London a shortly after the foundation of the International. There the latter took him into the Association, for which Bakunin promised to work to the best of his ability. Bakunin went to Italy and received there from Marx the Provisional Rules and Address to the Working Classes,b answered 'very enthusiastically" and did nothing. After some years, during which nothing was heard from him, he turned up again in Switzerland. There he joined, not the International, but the League de la paix et de la liberte 149 After the congress of this Peace League (Geneva, 1867) Bakunin got on to its Executive Committee, but found opponents there, who not only denied him any "dictatorial" influence, but watched him closely as being "suspect as a Russian". Shortly after the Brussels Congress of the International (September 1868) the Peace League held its congress at Berne. Here Bakunin acted the FIREBRAND and - be it remarked en passant - denounced the occidental bourgeoisie in the tone in which Muscovite optimists are accustomed to attack Western civilisation - to palliate their own barbarism. He proposed a number of resolutions, which, absurd in themselves, were intended to instil fear into the bourgeois cretins and allow Monsieur Bakunin to leave the Peace League and enter the International with eclat. It suffices to note that the programme proposed by Bakunin to the Berne c Congress 150 contains
a On November 3, 1864.-Ed.
b Address and Provisional Rules of the Working Men's International Association, London, 1864- Ed.
c The manuscript mistakenly has "Lausanne".- Ed.
such absurdities as the "equality of classes", "abolition of the right of inheritance as the first step of the social revolution", -etc.-empty
babblings a , a garland of ostensibly horrifying hollow fancies, in short an insipid improvisation, calculated purely to make a certain
short-lived effect. Bakunin's friends in Paris (where a Russian b has a seat on the editorial board of the Revue Positiviste) and in London proclaim to the world Bakunin's resignation from the Peace League as un evenement c and declare his grotesque programme-that olla podrida d of outworn platitudes- wonderfully awe-inspiring and original.
Bakunin meanwhile had joined the Branche Romande of the
International (in Geneva). It took him years to decide upon this
step. But it did not take days for Monsieur Bakunin to decide to
transform the International and turn it into an instrument of his
Behind the back of the London General Council-which was
informed only when everything was apparently already arranged
he founded the so-called Alliance des Democrates Socialistes. 151 The programme of this society e was none other than that proposed by Bakunin at the Berne Peace Congress. The society thereby
proclaimed itself from the outset as a propaganda society of the
specifically Bakuninist cult, and Bakunin himself, one of the most
ignorant men in the field of social theory, suddenly appeared here as the founder of a sect. The theoretical programme of this Alliance
was however pure farce. The serious aspect of the affair lay in its
practical organisation. This society was to be international, with its
Central Committee in Geneva, that is, under Bakunin's personal
direction. At the same time it was to be an "integral" part of the
International Working Men's Association. Its BRANCHES were to be represented at the "next congress" of the International (in Basle)
and were at the same time to hold their own congress in separate
sittings, side by side with the other, etc., etc.
The human material which at first stood at Bakunin's disposal
consisted of the majority at that time of the Comiti Federal
a See Deuxieme Congres de to Paix et de la Liberte convoque pour le 22 septembre 1868 a Berne. Programme, Berne , and "Discours de M. Bakounine" in Discours Prononces au Congres de la Paix et de la Liberte a Berne (1868). Par M. M. Mroczkowski
et Bakounine, Geneva, 1869, pp. 5-23.-Ed.
b G. N. Vyrubov. - Ed.
c. An event.-Ed.
d Hotch-potch.- Ed.
e Programme et Riglement de I'Alliance internationale de to Democratie Socialiste,
Geneva [18681 (see this volume, pp. 207-09).-Ed.
114 Karl Marx
Romand of the International in Geneva. J. Ph.Becker, whose propagandist zeal at times runs away with his head, was pushed forward to the front of the stage. In Italy and Spain Bakunin had a few allies.
The General Council in London was fully informed. However, it let Bakunin proceed undisturbed up to the moment when he found it necessary to send the General Council, through J. Ph. Becker, the Rules (and programme) of the Alliance des Democrates Socialistes for approval. The General Council answered with a thoroughly reasoned resolution -wholly "judicial" and "objective" in tone, but full of irony in its "considerations"which concluded as follows:
1. The General Council does not admit the Alliance as a branch of the International.
2. All the paragraphs of the Rules of the Alliance referring to its relations with the International are declared null and void.
The considerations for this resolution demonstrated clearly and forcefully that the Alliance was nothing but an instrument to
disorganise the International a.
The blow was unexpected. Bakunin had already turned the Egalite, central organ of the French-speaking members of the International in Switzerland, into his own organ, and had, in addition, started at Locle a little private journal of his own, the Progres. The Progres is playing this role up to the present day under the editorship of a fanatical adherent of Bakunin, a certain Guillaume.
After several weeks' reflection the Central Committee of the Alliance finally sent its answer to the General Council, over the signature of Perron, a Genevese. In its eagerness to serve the good cause, the Alliance was ready to sacrifice its independent organisation, but on one condition - namely, that the General Council declaree its recognition of the Alliance's "radical" principles.
The General Council replied: It was not its function to sit in judgment on the theoretic value of the programmes of its various sections. It had only to see that those programmes contained nothing directly contradictory to the letter and spirit of the Rules. It must therefore insist upon the absurd phrase about the Egalite des classes being struck from the programme of the Alliance and replaced by the abolition des classes (which was done). For the rest, the Alliance could enter the International after dissolving its own independent international organisation, and supplying the General
A See this volume, pp. 34-36.-Ed.
Confidential Communication 115
Council with a list of all its BRANCHES a (which, nota bene, was not done).
The incident was therewith closed. Nominally, the Alliance
dissolved itself; actually, it remained in existence, under the
leadership of Bakunin, who at the same time controlled the
Genevese Comite Romand Federal of the International.
To its former press organs were added the Federacion of
Barcelona and, after the Basle Congress, the Naples Eguaglianza.
Bakunin now attempted to reach his goal-the transformation
of the International into his personal instrument-by other means.
Through our Romance Committee at Geneva he proposed to the
General Council the inclusion of the "inheritance question" in the
agenda of the Basle Congress. b The General Council agreed, in
order to be able to deal a direct blow to Bakunin. Bakunin's plan
was this: the Basle Congress, in accepting the "principles" (?) put
forward by Bakunin at Berne, will show the world that it is not Bakunin who has come over to the International, but the
International that has gone over to Bakunin. Obvious result, the
London General Council (of whose hostility to the warming up of
the vieillerie Saint-Simoniste c Bakunin was fully aware) would have to resign and the Basle Congress would transfer the General Council to Geneva, that is, the International would come under the
the dictatorship of Bakunin.
Bakunin set a complete conspiracy going to secure a majority at the Basle Congress. Even false mandates were not lacking, such as Monsieur Guillaume's mandate for Locle, etc. Bakunin himself
begged mandates from Naples and Lyons. Every kind of slander
against the General Council was spread abroad. Some were told
element bourgeois dominated the Council, others that it was the
seat of communisme autoritaire, etc.
The results of the Basle Congress are well known. Bakunin's
proposals were not accepted and the General Council remained in
The annoyance which followed this failure-perhaps Bakunin
had based all kinds of private speculations on the assumption of
success-found expression in the irritable comments of the Egalite
and Progres These papers meanwhile were assuming more and
more the posture of official oracles. Now one, how another Swiss
the section of the International was excommunicated because, contrary
a. See this volume, pp. 45-46.-Ed.
b. See "The International Working Men's Association. Council Meeting. Tuesday, April 13 ", The Bee-Hive, No. 392, April 17, 1869.-Ed.
c. Saint-Simonian old rubbish.-Ed.
116 KARL MARX
to Bakunin's explicit instructions, it had taken part in the political' movement, etc. Finally the rage against the General Council, so, long restrained, broke out openly. The Progres and Egalite derided, attacked, and declared that the General Council was not fulfilling its duties, for example in regard to the quarterly bulletin; that the General Council must give up its direct control over England and have an English Central Committee established alongside it, to deal with English affairs only; that the resolutions of the General Council on the imprisoned Fenians went beyond its functions, since it should not deal with questions of local politics. Moreover, the Progres and Egalite took up the cudgels for Schweitzer and categorically demanded that the General Council declare itself officially and - publiquement a on the Liebknecht-Schweitzer question. The newspaper Le Travail (in Paris), into which Schweitzer's Paris friends smuggled articles in his favour, was praised on that account by the Progres and Egalite the latter calling upon the Travail to make common cause against the General Council.b
The time had now come for action to be taken. What follows is an exact copy of the circular sent by the General Council to the Central Committee of the Romance Federation in Geneva. The document is too long for me to translate into German [original in French].c
The General Council to the Federal Council of Romance Switzerland in Geneva.
At its extraordinary meeting on January 1, 1870, the General Council resolved:
1) We read in the Egalite of December 11, 1869:
"It is certain that the General Council is neglecting extremely important matters.... We remind the General Council of its obligations with Article I of the Regulations: 'The General Council is commissioned to carry the resolutions of the Congress into effect’….We could put enough questions to the General Council for its replies to make up quite a long report. They will come later. Meanwhile, etc. "
The General Council does not know of any article, either in the Rules or in the Regulations, which would oblige it to enter into correspondence or into polemic with the Egalite or to provide replies" to "questions" of any newspaper whatsoever.
The Federal Council of Romance Switzerland alone represents the
a Publicly- Ed.
b Egalite, Nos. 42, 43 and 47, November 6, 13 and December 11, 1869; Le Progres, No. 25, December 4, 1869.-Ed.
c See this volume, pp. 84-9l.-Ed.
‘Confidential Communication 117
branches of Romance Switzerland at the General Council. When the Federal Council addresses requests or reprimands to us through the only legitimate channel, that is to say through its secretary, the General Council will always be ready to reply. But the Romance Federal Council has no right either to abdicate its functions in favour of the Egalite and the Progres, or to let these newspapers usurp its functions. Generally speaking, the General Council's correspondence with the national and local committees cannot be published without greatly prejudicing the Association's general interests.
Consequently, if other organs of the International were to follow the example of the Progres and the Egalite the General Council would be faced with the alternative of either discrediting itself publicly by its, silence or violating its obligations by replying publicly. The Egalite joins the, Progres in inviting Le Travail to demand an explanation from the General Council. That is almost a League of Public Welfare.152
2) Now, assuming that the questions put by the Egalite come from the Romance Federal Council, we shall reply to them, but only on condition that such questions shall not in the future be communicated to us in the same way.
3) Question of a Bulletin.
In the resolutions of the Geneva a Congress, which are inserted in the Regulations, it is laid down that the national committees shall send the General Council documents dealing with the proletarian movement b and that the General Council shall thereupon publish a bulletin in the different languages "as often as its means permit" ("As often as its means permit, the General Council shall publish a report, etc."). c
The General Council's obligation was thus made dependent on conditions that have never been fulfilled. Even the statistical inquiry prescribed by the Rules, ordered by consecutive General Congresses, and demanded yearly by the General Council, has never been made. As far as the means are concerned, the General Council would have long since ceased to exist had it not been for local contributions from England and the personal sacrifices of its members.
a The manuscript mistakenly has "Lausanne".- Ed.
b Congres ouvrier de l'Association Internationale des Travailleurs tenu a Geneve du 3 au 8 septembre 1866, Geneva, 1866, pp. 13 and 26- Ed.
c Rules of the International Working Men's Association, London , p. 6. (The quotation in brackets is given in English in the manuscript.)- Ed.
118 Karl Marx
Thus, the Regulations passed at the Geneva a Congress have remained a dead letter.
As regards the Basle Congress, it did not discuss the fulfilment of an existing regulation. It discussed the possibility of issuing a bulletin in good time and it did not pass any resolution.
For the rest, the General Council believes that the original purpose of such a bulletin is at the moment perfectly fulfilled by the different organs of the International published in the different languages and exchanged among them. It would be absurd to do by costly bulletins what is being done already without any expense. On the other hand, a bulletin which would print what is not contained in the organs of the International would only help our enemies to see behind the scenes.
4) Question of separating the General Council from the Federal
Council for England. I
Long before the foundation of the Egalite, this proposition was periodically made inside the General Council by one or two of its English members. 153 it was always rejected almost unanimously.
Although revolutionary initiative will probably come from France, England alone can serve as the lever for a serious economic Revolution. It is the only country where there are no more peasants and where landed property is concentrated in a few hands. It is the only country where the capitalist form, that is to say, combined labour on a large scale under capitalist masters, now embraces virtually the whole of production. It is the only country where the great majority of the population consists of WAGES-LABOURERS. It is the only country where the class struggle and the organisation of the working class by the TRADES UNIONS have acquired a certain degree of maturity and universality. It is the only country where, because of its domination on the world market, every revolution in economic matters must immediately affect the whole world. If landlordism and capitalism are classical features in England, on the other hand, the material conditions for their destruction are the most mature here. The General Council now being in the happy position of having its hand directly on this great lever of the proletarian revolution, what folly, we might say even what a crime, to let this lever fall into purely English hands!
The English have all the material necessary for the social revolution. What they lack is the spirit of generalisation and revolutionary ardour. It is only the General Council that can provide
a The manuscript mistakenly has "Lausanne".- Ed.
Confidential Communication 119
them with this, that can thus accelerate the truly revolutionary movement in this country, and consequently everywhere. The great results we have already achieved in this respect are attested to by the most intelligent and influential of the newspapers of the ruling classes, as for example, The Pall Mail Gazette, Saturday Review, The Spectator and The Fortnightly Review, to say nothing of the so-called radicals in the COMMONS and the LORDs who, a little while ago, still exerted a great influence on the leaders of the English workers. They accuse us publicly of having poisoned and almost extinguished the English spirit of the working class and of having pushed it into revolutionary socialism.
The only way to bring about this change is to act like the General Council of the International Association. As the General Council we can initiate measures (for example, the founding of the Land and Labour League 154) which later, in the process of their execution, will appear to the public as spontaneous movements of the English working class.
If a Federal Council were formed apart from the General Council, what would be the immediate results? Placed between the General Council of the International and the General Council of TRADES UNIONS, 155 the Federal Council would have no authority whatever. On the other hand, the General Council of the International would lose control of the great lever. If we had preferred the showman's chatter to serious and unostentatious work, we would perhaps have committed the mistake of replying publicly the Egalite's question as to why "the General Council -permits such a burdensome combination of functions".
England cannot be treated simply as a country along with other countries. It must be treated as the metropolis of capital.
5) Question of the General Council Resolutions on the Irish Amnesty. a
If England is the BULWARK of landlordism and European capitalism, the only point where official England can be struck a great blow is Ireland.
In the first place, Ireland is the BULWARK of English landlordism. If it fell in Ireland, it would fall in England. In Ireland this is a hundred times easier because the economic struggle there is concentrated exclusively on landed property, because this struggle is at the same time national, and because the people there are more revolutionary and more exasperated than in England. Landlordism in Ireland is maintained solely by the English army. The moment the forced Union 156 between the two countries ends, a
a See this volume, p. 83.-Ed.
120 Karl Marx
social revolution will immediately break out in Ireland, though in outmoded forms. English landlordism would not only lose a great source of its wealth, but also its greatest moral force, i.e., that of representing the domination of England over Ireland. On the other hand, by maintaining the power of its landlords in Ireland, the English proletariat makes them invulnerable in England itself.
In the second place, the English bourgeoisie has not only exploited Irish poverty to keep down the working class in England by forced immigration of poor Irishmen, but it has also divided the proletariat into two hostile camps. The revolutionary fire of the Celtic worker does not go well with the solid but slow nature of the Anglo-Saxon worker. On the contrary, in all the big industrial centres in England there is profound antagonism between the Irish proletarian and the English proletarian. The average English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers wages and the STANDARD OF LIFE. He feels national and religious antipathies for him. He regards him somewhat like the POOR WHITES of the Southern States of North America regarded black slaves. This antagonism among the proletarians of England is artificially nourished and kept up by the bourgeoisie. It knows that this scission is the true secret of maintaining its power.
Moreover, this antagonism is reproduced on the other side of the Atlantic. The Irish, chased from their native soil by the bulls and the sheep, reassemble in the United States where they constitute a huge, ever-growing section of the population. Their only thought, their only passion, is hatred for England. The English and American governments - that is to say, the classes they represent-play on these feelings in order to perpetuate the international struggle which prevents any serious and sincere alliance between the working classes on both sides of the Atlantic, and, consequently, their common emancipation.
Ireland is the only pretext the English Government has for retaining a big standing army, which, if need be, As has happened before, can be used against the English workers after having done its military training in Ireland.
Lastly, England today is seeing a repetition of what happened on a monstrous scale in ancient Rome. Any people that oppresses another people forges its own chains.
Thus, the position of the International Association with regard to the Irish question is very clear. Its first concern is to advance the social revolution in England. To this end a great blow must be struck in Ireland.
Confidential Communication 121
The General Council's resolutions on the Irish amnesty a serve only as an introduction to other resolutions 157 which will affirm that, quite apart from international justice, it is a precondition to the emancipation of the English working class to transform the present forced Union – i.e., the enslavement of Ireland - into equal and free confederation if possible, into complete separation if need be.
For the rest, the doctrines of the Egalite and the Progres on the CONNEXION, or rather, the NON-CONNEXION, between the social movement and the political movement have never, as far as we know, been recognised by any of our Congresses. They run counter to our Rules. The Rules say:
"That the economical emancipation of the working classes is the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means." b
The words "as a means" c were omitted in the French translation d made in 1864 by the Paris Committee. When questioned by the General Council, the Paris Committee excused itself by the difficulties of its political situation.
There are other mutilations of the authentic text of the Rules. Thus, the first clause of the preamble to the Rules reads:
"The struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means ... a struggle ... for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule." e
The Paris translation has "equal rights and duties", that is it reproduced the general phrase which may be found virtually in all democratic manifestoes of the last hundred years and which means different things in the mouth of different classes, but leaves out the concrete demand: "the abolition of classes".
Further, in the second clause of, the preamble to the Rules we read: "That the economical subjection of the man of labour to the monopoliser of the means of labour, that is, the sources of life, etc. "
The Paris translation substitutes the word "capital" for "the means of labour, that is, the sources of life", an expression which includes the land as well as the other means of labour.
a See this volume, pp. 3-4 and 83.-Ed.
b Here and below quotations from the Provisional Rules are given in English in the manuscript (see present edition, Vol. 20, p. 14).-Ed.
c Marx uses the English phrase and gives the French equivalent "comme moyen" in brackets.-Ed.
d Congres ouvrier. Association Internationale des Travailleurs. Reglement Provisoire [Paris, 1864], p. I.-Ed.
e See present edition, Vol. 20, p. 14.-Ed.
122 Karl Marx
The original authentic text was restored in the French translation published in Brussels in 1866. a
6) Liebknecht-Schweitzer Question.
The Egalite writes:
"Both these groups belong to the International". That is incorrect. The Eisenachers' group (which the Progres and the Egalite would like to turn into Citizen Liebknecht's group) belongs to the International. Schweitzer's group does not belong to it.
Schweitzer himself explained at length in his newspaper, the Social-Demokrat, why the Lassallean organisation could not join the International without destroying itself.b Without realising it, he was speaking the truth. His artificial sectarian organisation is opposed to the real organisation of the working class.
The Progres and the Egalite have summoned the General Council to state publicly its "opinion" on the personal differences between Liebknecht and Schweitzer. Since Citizen J. Ph. Becker (who is slandered as much as Liebknecht in Schweitzer's paper c) is a member of the Egaliti's editorial board, it seems most strange that its editors are not better informed about the facts. They should have known that Liebknecht, in the Demokratisches Wochenblatt, publicly invited Schweitzer to accept the General Council as arbiter of their differences d and that Schweitzer no less publicly refused to acknowledge the authority of the General Council e.
The General Council has employed all possible means to put an end to this scandal. It instructed its Secretary for Germany f to correspond with Schweitzer; this has been done, but all attempts by the Council have broken down in the face of Schweitzer's firm resolution to preserve at all cost his autocratic power together with the sectarian organisation.
It is up to the General Council to determine the favourable moment when its public intervention in this quarrel will be more useful than damaging. g
By order of the General Council etc."
a Manifeste de l’Association Internationale des Travailleurs suivi du Reglement provisoire, Bruxelles, 1866, pp. 15-18.-Ed.
b A reference to the leading article in Der Social-Demokrat,.No. 82, July 16, 1869- Ed.
c Der Social-Demokrat, No. 24, Fcbruary 24, 1869- Ed.
d W. Liebknecht, "Erklarung. Leipzig, 18. Februar 1869", Demokratisches Wochenblatt No. 8, February 20, 1869.-Ed.
e Der Social-Demokrat, No. 24, February 24, 1869.-Ed.
f Karl Marx.- Ed.
g In his "Confidential Communication" Marx omitted Point 7 of the circular.- Ed.
Confidential Communication 123
The French Committees (although Bakunin had been actively intriguing in Lyons and Marseilles and had won over a few young hotheads), as well as the Conseil General Belge a (Brussels), have fully endorsed this circular of the General Council.
The copy for Geneva was delayed somewhat (because Jung, Secretary for Switzerland, was very busy). It therefore crossed with an official letter from Perret, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Romance Federation in Geneva, to the General Council. 158
The crisis had broken out in Geneva before the arrival of our letter. Some members of the editorial board of the Egalite had opposed the policy dictated by Bakunin. Bakunin and his followers (including six editors of the Egalite) wanted to force the Geneva Central Committee to dismiss the unruly members. The Geneva. Committee, however, had long grown tired of Bakunin's despotism and saw itself with great displeasure being forced by him into opposition to the other German-Swiss Committees, the General Council, etc. It therefore endorsed the attitude of those members of the Egalite editorial board who opposed Bakunin. Thereupon Bakunin's six followers resigned from the editorial board, hoping
thereby to put an end to the publication of the paper. b
In answer to our letter the Geneva Central Committee declared that the attacks in the Egalite had been made without its approval, that it had never endorsed the policy preached therein and that in future the paper would be edited under the strict supervision of the Committee, etc. 159
Bakunin thereupon retired from Geneva to Ticino. As far as Switzerland is concerned, he now has a say only in the Progres (Locle).
Shortly afterwards Herzen died. Bakunin, who from the time that he decided to set himself up as director of the European workers' movement had denied his old friend and patron Herzen, hastened to sing his praises immediately after his death.c Why? Herzen, though personally wealthy, allowed the pseudo-socialist, Pan-Slavist party in Russia, which was friendly towards him, to pay him 25,000 francs annually for propaganda. By his paean of praise Bakunin directed this stream of money to himself and - malgre sa haine de l'heritage d - thereby entered financially and morally upon the "Herzen heritage" sine beneficio inventarii e
a Belgian General Council.-Ed.
b See L'egalite, Nos. 2 and 3, January 8 and 15, 1870- Ed.
c Marx means Bakunin's tribute to Herzen published in ' the form of letters in La Marseillaise, Nos. 72 and 73, March 2 and 3, 1870, and reprinted in Le Progres,
Nos. 10, 11 and 12, March 5, 12 and 19, 1870- Ed.
d Despite his hatred of inheritance- Ed. Without benefit of inventory.-Ed.
124 Karl Marx
At the same time a COLONY of young Russian REFUGEES settled in Geneva, students whose intentions are really honest and whose sincerity is proved by the adoption of the fight against Pan-Slavism, as the chief point of their programme. a
They publish a paper in Geneva called La Cause du Peuple. ABOUT two weeks ago they applied to London, sending in their Programme and Statutes,c and requesting permission to form a Russian branch. 111 Permission was given.
In a separate letter to Marx they asked him to represent them provisionally on the General Council. That too was done. d At the same time they indicated - and apparently wished to excuse themselves to Marx on this account - that in the immediate future they would have to expose Bakunin publicly, since the man spoke in two entirely different tongues, one in Russia, another in Europe.162
The game of this very dangerous intriguer - at least in the
domain of the International- will soon be played out.
Written on about March 28, 1870 Printed according to the manuscript
First published in Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 2,
No. 15, 1902 Translated from the German and
a "Pervaya russkaya sektsiya. Programme, Narodnoye Dyelo, No. 1, April 15,
b Narodnoye D~wlo.-Ed.
c "Ustav russkoi sektsii", Narodnoye Dyelo, No. 1, April 15, 1870.-Ed.
d See this volume, pp. 110-11-Ed.