This book explores the conflicts that took place in the First International. Social and economic conditions varied greatly in Europe in the 1860s and 1870s. The strategies adopted by the various federations and sections of the International Workers’ Association, or IWA, reflected this diversity. Although Marx and Engels have been seen as the leaders of the International, there were many who rejected their leadership. In September 1873 the six federations of the IWA met together in Geneva and reasserted the principle that political organising should be subordinate to workplace – economic – organization. The great aim of the IWA was for working people to liberate themselves. These federations, the only ones that were active, reversed the decisions of the congress held in The Hague a year earlier. They disregarded edicts of expulsion issued by the New York based General Council, at the instigation of Marx and Engels. Marx and Engels discovered they were generals without an army, isolated and at odds with the bulk of the organized labour movement. René Berthier reviews the historiography of this conflict. This book sheds new light on differences between the emerging Social-democratic and Anarchist traditions, and explores the history of the IWA.
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René Berthier is an active researcher and writer.
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