The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men's Association - Wolfgang Eckhardt

Part of the series of biographies of Mikhail Bakunin.

Submitted by Craftwork on August 20, 2016

The First Socialist Schism chronicles the conflicts in the International Working Men’s Association (the First International, 1864–1877), which represents an important milestone in the history of political ideas and socialist theory. In defending their autonomy, federations in the International became aware of what separated them from the social democratic movement that relied on the establishment of national labor parties and the conquest of political power. This can be seen as a decisive moment in the history of political ideas: the split between centralist party politics and the federalist grassroots movement. The separate movements in the International — which would later develop into social democracy, communism, and anarchism — found their greatest advocates in Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx. However, the significance of this alleged clash of titans is largely a modern invention. It was not the rivalry between two arch-enemies or a personal vendetta based on mutual resentment that made the conflict between Bakunin and Marx so important but rather that it heralded the first socialist schism between parliamentary party politics aiming to conquer political power and social-revolutionary concepts.

Instead of focusing exclusively on what Marx and Bakunin said, many other contributions to this debate are examined, making this the first reconstruction of a dispute that gripped the entire organization. This book also provides the first detailed account of the International's Congress of The Hague (September, 1872); including the background, the sequence of events, and international reaction. The book sets new standards when it comes to source material, taking into account documents from numerous archives and libraries that have previously gone unnoticed or were completely unknown.



5 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by ZJW on September 24, 2018

I have now read this book, and thanks Craftwork, for putting it up.

I am mystified by something not mentioned in it. Given the extremely bad blood in the end between the two sides, how is it possible that the supporters of Marx and the supporters of Bakunin got together again at Ghent in 1877, as reported here: ?

Yes, not the IWMA (formally disbanded in Philadephia the year before), I know, but they got together all the same.

(It would be useful, by the way, to see an anarchist account of this 1877 meeting. Is there one?)

Guerre de Classe

5 years 5 months ago

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Submitted by Guerre de Classe on September 24, 2018

The 9th Congress of the IWA in Verviers in 1877 brought together 11 delegations from Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and indirectly from Greece, Egypt and Uruguay. Some resolutions on the socialization of property, the elimination of wage labor and a pact of solidarity were adopted. The representatives of the Federations of Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt and Greece were only able to agree on the condemnation of a tendency to agree with supporters of political parties because "all parties form a reactive mass; it is necessary to fight them all". Thus, there could be no agreement with the 35 delegates from the Marxist and authoritarian socialists who gathered in Ghent at the "World Socialist Congress". The delegates from the Congress of Verviers came but they were in the minority. Most who came were socialists, Statists, and they forced a resolution of the political struggle and the formation of political parties of the proletariat. The Belgian and the Dutch federation left the IWMA and joined the Social-Democracy. From now on the path of the authoritarian socialists (Social Democrats) and the anarchists finally dispersed.

Method of Freedom

5 years 4 months ago

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Submitted by Method of Freedom on September 28, 2018

There is a account of the congress in Social-democracy & Anarchism in the International Workers' Association 1864-1877 by René Berthier(french anarcho syndiicalist) but I don't think there is a pdf of the book online