Report of the General Council to the Fourth Annual Conferance of the International Working Mens Association

Submitted by libcom on July 25, 2005


First published in English pamphlet, Report Of the Fourth Annual Congress Of the International Working Men's Association, held at Basle, in Switzerland, London [1869], and in German pamphlet in Basle in September 1869


The delegates of the different sections will give you detailed reports on the progress of our Association in their respective countries. The report of your General Council will mainly relate to the guerrilla fights between capital and labour -- we mean the strikes which during the last year have perturbed the continent of Europe, and were said to have sprung neither from the misery of the labourer nor from the despotism of the capitalist, but from the secret intrigues of our Association.

A few weeks after the meeting of our last Congress, a memorable strike on the part of the ribbon-weavers and silk-dyers occurred in Basle, a place which to our days has conserved much of the features of a mediaeval town with its local traditions, its narrow prejudices, its purse-proud patricians, and its patriarchal rule of the employer over the employed. Still, a few years ago a Basle manufacturer boasted to an English secretary of embassy, that

"the position of the master and the man was on a better footing here than in England", that "in Switzerland the operative who leaves a good master for better wages would be despised by his own fellow-workmen", and that "our advantage lies principally in the length of the working time and the moderation of the wages".

You see, patriarchalism, as modified by modern influences comes to this -- that the master is good, and that his wages are bad, that the labourer feels like a mediaeval vassal, and is exploited like a modern wages-slave.

That patriarchalism may further be appreciated from an official Swiss inquiry into the factory employment of children and the state of the primary public schools. It was ascertained that

"the Basle school atmosphere is the worst in the world, that while in the free air carbonic acid forms only 4 parts of 10,000, and in closed rooms should not exceed 10 parts, it rose in Basle common schools to 20-81 parts in the forenoon, and to 53-94 in the afternoon". [1]

Thereupon a member of the Basle Great Council, Mr. Thurneysei, coolly replied,

"Don't allow yourselves to be frightened. The parents have passed through schoolrooms as bad as the present ones, and yet they have escaped with their skins safe". [2]

It will now be understood that an economical revolt on the part of the Basle workmen could not but mark an epoch in the social history of Switzerland. Nothing more characteristic than the starting-point of the movement. There existed an old custom for the ribbon-weavers to have a few hours' holiday on Michaelmas. [3] The weavers claiming this small privilege at the usual time in the factory of Messrs. Dubary and Sons, one of the masters declared, in a harsh voice and with imperious gesticulation,

"Whoever leaves the factory will be dismissed at once and for ever". [4]

Finding their protestations in vain, 104 out of 172 weavers left the workshop without, however, believing in their definite dismissal, since master and men were bound by written contract to give a fourteen days' notice to quit. On their return the next morning they found the factory surrounded by gendarmes, keeping off the yesterday's rebels, with whom all their comrades now made common cause. [5] Being thus suddenly thrown out of work, the weavers with their families were simultaneously ejected from the cottages they rented from their employers, who, into the bargain, sent circular letters round to the shopkeepers [6] to debar the houseless ones from all credit for victuals. [7] The struggle thus begun lasted from the 9th of November, 1868, to the spring of 1869. The limits of our report do not allow us to enter upon its details. It suffices to state that it originated in a capricious and spiteful act of capitalist despotism, in a cruel lock-out, which led to strikes, from time to time interrupted by compromises, again and again broken on the part of the masters, and that it culminated in the vain attempt of the Basle "High and Honourable State Council" to intimidate the working people by military measures and a quasi state of siege.

During their sedition the workmen were supported by the International Working Men's Association. But that was not all. [8] That society the masters said had first smuggled the modern spirit of rebellion into the good old [9] town of Basle. To again expel that mischievous intruder from Basle became, therefore, their great preoccupation. Hard they tried, though in vain, to enforce the withdrawal from it as a condition of peace, upon their subjects. Getting generally worsted in their war with the International they vented their spleen in strange pranks. Owning some industrial branch establishments at Lörrach, in Baden, [10] these republicans induced the grand-ducal official [11] to suppress the International section at that place, a measure which, however, was soon after rescinded by the Baden Government. The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, a paper of world-wide circulation, presuming to report on the Basle events in an impartial spirit, the angry worthies threatened it in foolish letters with the withdrawal of their subscriptions. [12] To London they expressly sent a messenger on the fantastic errand of ascertaining the dimensions of the International general "treasury-box". Orthodox Christians as they are, if they had lived at the time of nascent Christianity, they would, above all things, have spied into St. Paul's banking accounts at Rome.

Their clumsily savage proceedings brought down upon them some ironical lessons of worldly wisdom on the part of the Geneva capitalist organs. [13] Yet, a few months later, the uncouth Basle vestrymen might have returned the compliment with usurious interest to the Geneva men of the world.

In the month of March there broke out in Geneva a buildings' trade strike, and a compositors' strike, both bodies being affiliated to the International. The builders' strike was provoked by the masters setting aside a convention solemnly entered upon with their workmen a year ago. The compositors' strike was but the winding-up of a ten years' quarrel which the men had during all that time in vain tried to settle by five consecutive commissions. As in Basle, the masters transformed at once their private feuds with their men into a state crusade against the International Working Men's Association. [14]

The Geneva State Council dispatched policemen to receive at the railway stations, and sequestrate from all contact with the strikers, such foreign workmen as the masters might contrive to inveigle from abroad. It allowed the "Jeunesse Dorée", the hopeful loafers of "La Jeune Suisse", [15] armed with revolvers, to assault, in the streets and places of public resort, workmen and workwomen. It launched its own police ruffians on the working people on different occasions, and signally on the 24th May, when it enacted at Geneva, on a small scale, the Paris scenes which Raspail has branded as "Les orgies infernales des casse-têtes". When the Geneva workmen passed in public meeting an address to the State Council, calling upon it to inquire into these infernal police orgies, [16] the State Council replied by a sneering rebuke. [17] It evidently wanted, at the behest of its capitalist superiors, [18] to madden the Geneva people into an émeute, to stamp that émeute out by the armed force, to sweep the International from the Swiss soil, and to subject the workmen to a Decembrist regime. This scheme was baffled by the energetic action and moderating influence of our Geneva federal Committee. The masters had at last to give way.

And now listen to some of the invectives of the Geneva capitalists and their press-gang against the International. In public meeting they passed an address to the State Council, where the following phrase occurs:

"The International Committee at Geneva ruins the Canton of Geneva by decrees sent from London and Paris; it wants here to suppress all industry and all labour." [19]

One of their journals stated

"That the leaders of the International were secret agents of the Emperor [20] who, at the opportune moment, were very likely to turn out public accusers against this little Switzerland of ours". [21]

And this on the part of the men who had just shown themselves so eager to transplant at a moment's notice the Decembrist regime to the Swiss soil, on the part of financial magnates, the real rulers of Geneva and other Swiss towns, whom all Europe knows to have long since been converted from citizens of the Swiss republic into mere feudatories of the French Crédit Mobilier and other international swindling associations.

The massacres by which the Belgian Government did answer in April last to the strikes of the puddlers at Seraing and the coal-miners of Borinage, have been fully exposed in the address of the General Council to the workmen of Europe and the United States. [22] We considered this address the more urgent since, with that constitutional model government, such working men's massacres are not an accident, but an institution. The horrid military drama was succeeded by a judicial farce. In the proceedings against our Belgian General Committee at Brussels, whose domiciles were brutally broken in by the police, and many of whose members were placed under secret arrest, the judge of instruction finds the letter of a workman, asking for 500 "Internationales", and he at once jumps to the conclusion that 500 fighting-men were to be dispatched to the scene of action. The 500 "Internationales" were 500 copies of the Internationale, the weekly organ of our Brussels Committee.

A telegram to Paris by a member of the International, ordering a certain quantity of powder, is raked up. [23] After a prolonged research, the dangerous substance is really laid hand on at Brussels. It is powder for killing vermin. Last, not least, the Belgian police flattered itself, in one of its domiciliary visits, to have got at that phantom treasure which haunts the great mind of the continental capitalist, viz.: the International treasure, the main stock of which is safely hoarded at London, but whose offsets travel continually to all the continental seats of the Association. The Belgian official inquirer thought it buried in a certain strong box, hidden in a dark place. He gets at it, opens it forcibly, and there was found -- some pieces of coal. Perhaps, if touched by the hand of the police, the pure International gold turns at once into coal.

Of the strikes that, in December, 1868, infested several French cotton districts, the most important was that at Sotteville-lès-Rouen. The manufacturers of the Department de la Somme had not long ago met at Amiens, in order to consult how they might undersell [24] the English manufacturers in the English market itself. Having made sure that, besides protective duties, the comparative lowness of French wages had till now mainly enabled them to defend France from English cottons, they naturally inferred that a still further lowering of French wages would allow them to invade England with French cottons. The French cotton-workers, they did not doubt, would feel proud at the idea of defraying the expenses of a war of conquest which their masters had so patriotically resolved to wage on the other side of the Channel. Soon after it was bruited about that the cotton manufacturers of Rouen and its environs had, in secret conclave, agreed upon the same line of policy. Then an important reduction of wages was suddenly proclaimed at Sotteville-lés-Rouen, and then for the first time the Normand weavers rose against the encroachments of capital. They acted under the stir of the moment. Neither had they before formed a trades union nor provided for any means of resistance. In their distress they appealed to the International committee at Rouen, which found for them some immediate aid from the workmen of Rouen, the neighbouring districts, and Paris. Towards the end of December, 1868, the General Council was applied to by the Rouen Committee, at a moment of utmost distress throughout the English cotton districts, of unparalleled misery in London, and a general depression in all branches of British [25] industry. This state of things has continued in England to this moment. Despite such highly unfavourable circumstances, the General Council thought that the peculiar character of the Rouen conflict would stir the English workmen to action. This was a great opportunity to show the capitalists that their international industrial warfare, carried on by screwing wages down now in this country, now in that, would be checked at last by the international union of the working classes. To our appeal the English workmen replied at once by a first contribution to Rouen, and the London Trades Council resolved to summon, in unison with the General Council, a metropolitan monster meeting on behalf of their Normand brethren. These proceedings were stopped by the news of the sudden cessation of the Sotteville strike. The miscarriage of that economical revolt was largely compensated for by its moral results. It enlisted the Normand cotton-workers into the revolutionary army of labour, it gave rise to the birth of trades unions at Rouen Elboeuf, Darnetal, and the environs; and it sealed anew the bond of fraternity between the English and French working classes.

During the winter and spring of 1869 the propaganda of our Association in France was paralysed, consequent upon the violent dissolution of our Paris section in 1868, the police chicaneries in the departments, and the absorbing interest of the French general elections.

The elections once over, numerous strikes exploded in the Loire mining districts, at Lyons, and many other places. The economical facts revealed during these struggles between masters and men, struck the public eye like so many dissolving views of the high-coloured fancy pictures of working-class prosperity under the auspices of the Second Empire. The claims of redress on the part of the workmen were of so moderate a character, and so urgent a nature that, after some show of angry resistance, they had to be conceded, one and all. The only strange feature about those strikes was their sudden explosion after a seeming lull, and the rapid succession in which they followed each other. Still, the reason of all this was simple and palpable. Having, during the elections, successfully tried their hands against their public despot, the workmen were naturally led to try them after the elections against their private despots. In one word, the elections had stirred their animal spirits. The governmental press, of course, paid as it is to misstate and misinterpret unpleasant facts, traced these events to a secret mot d'ordre from the London General Council, which, they said, sent their emissaries, from place to place, to teach the otherwise highly satisfied French workmen that it was a bad thing to be overworked, underpaid, and brutally treated. A French police organ, published at London, the "International' -- (see its number of August 3) -- has condescended to reveal to the world the secret motives of our deleterious activity.

"The strangest feature," it says, "is that the strikes were ordered to break out in such countries where misery is far from making itself felt. These unexpected explosions, occurring so opportunely for certain neighbours of ours, who had first to apprehend war, make many people ask themselves whether these strikes took place on the request of some foreign Machiavelli, who had known how to win the good graces of this all-powerful Association." [26]

At the very moment when this French police print impeached us of embarrassing the French Government by strikes at home, in order to disembarrass Count Bismarck from war abroad, a Prussian paper [27] accused us of embarrassing the Northern German Bund with strikes, in order to crush German industry for the benefit of foreign manufactures.

The relations of the International to the French strikes we shall illustrate by two cases of a typical character. In the one case, the strike of St. Étienne and the following massacre at Ricamarie, the French Government itself will no longer dare to pretend that the International had anything whatever to do with it. In the Lyons case, it was not the International that threw the workmen into strikes, but, on the contrary, it was the strikes that threw the workmen into the International.

The miners of St. Étienne, Rive-de-Giers, and Firminy had calmly, but firmly, requested the managers of the mining companies to reduce the working day, numbering 12 hours hard underground labour, and revise the wages tariff. Failing in their attempt at a conciliatory settlement, they struck on the 11th of June. For them it was of course a vital question to secure the co-operation of the miners that had not yet turned out to combine with them. [28] To prevent this, the managers of the mining companies requested and got from the Prefect of the Loire a forest of bayonets. On the 12th of June, the strikers found the coal pits under strong military guard. To make sure of the zeal of the soldiers thus lent to them by the government, the mining companies paid each soldier a franc daily. The soldiers paid the companies back by catching, on the 16th June, [29] about 60 miners eager to get at a conversation with their brethren in the coal pits. These prisoners were in the afternoon of the same day escorted to St. Étienne by a detachment (150 men), of the fourth regiment of the line. Before these stout warriors set out, an engineer of the Dorian mines distributed them 60 bottles of brandy, telling them at the same time, they ought to have a sharp eye on their prisoners' gang, these miners being savages, barbarians, ticket-of-leave men. What with the brandy, and what with the sermon, a bloody collision was thus prepared for. Followed on their march by a crowd of miners, with their wives and children, surrounded by them on a narrow defile on the heights of the Moncel, Quartier Ricamarie, requested to surrender the prisoners, and on their refusal, attacked by a volley of stones, the soldiers, without any preliminary warning, fired with their chassepots [30] pell-mell into the crowd, killing 15 persons, amongst whom were two women and an infant, and dangerously wounding a considerable number. The tortures of the wounded were horrible. One of the sufferers was a poor girl of 12 years, Jenny Petit, whose name will live immortal in the annals of the working-class martyrology. Struck by two balls from behind, one of which lodged in her leg, while the other passed through her back, broke her arm, and escaped through her right shoulder. "Les chassepots avaient encore fait merveille."

This time, however, the government was not long in finding out that it had committed not only a crime, but a blunder. It was not hailed as the saviour of society by the middle class. The whole municipal council of St. Étienne tendered its resignation in a document, denouncing the scoundrelism of the troops, and insisting upon their removal from the town. [31] The French press rung with cries of horror! Even such conservative prints as the Moniteur universe! opened subscriptions for the victims. [32] The government had to remove the odious regiment from St. Étienne. Under such difficult circumstances, it was a luminous idea to sacrifice on the altar of public indignation a scapegoat always at hand, [33] the International Working Men's Association. At the judicial trial of the so-called rioters, the act of accusation divided them into 10 categories, very ingeniously shading their respective darkness of guilt. The first class, the most deeply tinged, consisted of workmen [34] more particularly suspected to have obeyed some secret mot d'ordre from abroad, given out by the International. The evidence was, of course, overwhelming, as the following short extract from a French paper will show:

"The interrogatory of the witnesses did not allow 'neatly' to establish the participation of the International Association. The witnesses affirm only the presence, at the head of the bands, of some unknown people, wearing white frocks and caps. None of the unknown ones have been arrested, or appear in the dock. To the question: do you believe in the intervention of the International Association? a witness replies: I believe it but without any proofs whatever!" [35]

Shortly after the Ricamarie massacres, the dance of economical revolts was opened at Lyons by the silk-winders, most of them females. In their distress they appealed to the International, [36] which, mainly by its members in France and Switzerland, helped them to carry the day. Despite all attempts at police intimidation, they publicly proclaimed their adhesion to our Society, [37] and entered it formally by paying the statutory contributions to the General Council. At Lyons, as before at Rouen, the female workers played a noble and prominent part in the movement. Other Lyons trades have since followed in the track of the silk-winders. Some 10,000 new members were thus gained for us in a few weeks amongst that heroic population which more than thirty years ago inscribed upon its banner the watchword of the modern Proletariat: "Vivre en travaillant ou mourir en combattant!" [38]

Meanwhile the French Government continues its petty tribulations against the International. At Marseilles our members were forbidden meeting for the election of a delegate to Basle. The same paltry trick was played in other towns. But the workmen on the Continent, as elsewhere, begin at last to understand that the surest way to get one's natural rights is to exercise them at one's personal risk.

The Austrian workmen, and especially those of Vienna, although entering their crass [39] movement only after the events of 1866, have at once occupied a vantage-ground. They marched at once under the banners of socialism and the International, which, by their delegates at the recent Eisenach Congress, they have now Joined en masse.

If anywhere, the liberal middle class has exhibited in Austria its selfish instincts, its mental inferiority, and its petty spite against the working class. Their ministry, seeing the empire distracted and threatened by an internecine struggle of races and nationalities, pounces upon the workmen who alone proclaim the fraternity of all races and nationalities. The middle class itself, which has won its new position not by any heroism of its own, but only by the signal disaster of the Austrian army, hardly able as it is, and knows itself to be, to defend its new conquests from the attacks of the dynasty, the aristocracy, and the clerical party, nevertheless wastes its best energies in the mean attempt to debar the working class from the rights of combination, public meeting, free press and free thought. In Austria, as in all other states of continental Europe, the International has supplanted the ci-devant spectre rouge. [40] When, on the 13th of July, a workmen's massacre on a small scale was enacted at Brunn, the cottonopolis of Moravia, the event was traced to the secret instigations of the International, whose agents, however, were unfortunately invested with the rare gift of rendering themselves invisible. [41] When some leaders of the Vienna work-people figured before the judicial bench, the public accuser stigmatised them as tools of the foreigner. Only, to show how conscientiously he had studied the matter, he committed the little error of confounding the middle-class League of Peace and Liberty with the working men's International Association.

If the workmen's movement was thus harassed in Cis-Leithanian Austria, it has been recklessly prosecuted in Hungary. On this point the most reliable reports from Pest and Pressburg have reached the General Council. One example of the treatment of the Hungarian workmen by the public authorities may suffice. Herr von Wenckheim, the Hungarian Home Minister, was just staying at Vienna on public business. [42] Having for months been interdicted from public meetings and even from entertainments destined for the collection of the funds of a sick club, the Pressburg workmen sent at last delegates to Vienna, [43] then and there to lay their grievances before the illustrious Herr von Wenckheim. [44] Puffing and blowing his cigar, the illustrious one received them with the bullying apstrophe, [45] "Are you workmen? Do you work hard? [46] For nothing else you have to care. You do not want public clubs; and if you dabble in politics, we shall know what measures to take against you. I shall do nothing for you. Let the workmen grumble to their heart's content!" To the question of the workmen, whether the good pleasure of the police was still to rule uppermost, the liberal [47] minister replied: "Yes, under my responsibility." After a somewhat prolonged but useless explanation the workmen left the minister telling him, "Since state matters influence the workmen's condition, the workmen must occupy themselves with politics, and they will certainly do so." [48]

In Prussia and the rest of Germany, the past year was distinguished by the formation of trades unions all over the country. At the recent Eisenach Congress the delegates of 150,000 [49], German workmen, from Germany proper, Austria, and Switzerland, have organised a new democratic social party, with a programme literally embodying the leading principles of our Statutes. [50] Debarred by law from forming sections of our Association, they have, nevertheless, formally entered it by resolving [51] to take individual cards of membership from the General Council. At its congress at Barmen, the Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein has also reaffirmed its adhesion to the principles of our Association, but simultaneously declared the Prussian law forbade them joining us. [52]

New branches of our Association have sprung up at Naples, in Spain, and in Holland.

At Barcelona a Spanish, and at Amsterdam a Dutch organ of our Association is now being issued. [53]

The laurels plucked by the Belgian Government on the glorious battlefields of Seraing and Frameries seem really to have roused the angry jealousy of the Great Powers. No wonder, then, that England also had this year to boast a workman's massacre of its own. The Welsh coal-miners, at Leeswood Great Pit, near Mold, in Denbighshire, had received sudden notice of a reduction of wages by the manager of those works, whom, long since, they had reason to consider a most incorrigible petty oppressor. Consequently, they collected aid from the neighbouring collieries, and, besides assaulting him, attacked his house, and carried all his furniture to the railway station, these wretched men fancying in their childish ignorance thus to get rid of him for good and all. Proceedings were of course taken against the rioters; but one of them was rescued by a mob of 1,000 men, and conveyed out of the town. [54] On the 28th May, two of the ringleaders were to be taken before the magistrates of Mold by policemen under the escort of a detachment of the 4th Regiment of the line, "The King's Own". A crowd of miners, trying to rescue the prisoners, and, on the resistance of the police and the soldiers, showering stones at them, the soldiers -- without any previous warning -- returned the shower of stones by a shower of bullets from their breechloaders (Snider fusils). [55] Five persons, two of them females, [56] were killed, and a great many wounded. So far there is much analogy between the Mold and the Ricamarie massacres, but here it ceases. In France, the soldiers were only responsible to their commander. In England, they had to pass through a coroner's jury inquest; but this coroner was a deaf and daft of fool, who had to receive the witnesses' evidence through an ear trumpet, and the Welsh jury, who backed him, were a narrowly prejudiced class jury. They declared the massacre "Justifiable Homicide". [57]

In France, the rioters were sentenced from 3 to 18 months' imprisonment, and soon after, amnestied. In England, they were condemned to 10 years' penal servitude! In France,. the whole press resounded with cries of indignation against the troops. In England, the press was all smiles for the soldiers, and all frowns for their victims! Still, the English workmen have gained much by losing a great and dangerous illusion. Till now they fancied to have their lives protected by the formality of the Riot Act, and the subordination of the military to the civil authorities. They know now, from the official declaration of Mr. Bruce, the liberal Home Minister, in the House of Commons -- firstly, that without going through the premonitory process of reading the Riot Act, any country magistrate, some fox-hunter or parson, has the right to order the troops to fire on what he may please to consider a riotous mob; and, secondly, that the soldier may give fire on his own hook, on the plea of self-defence. [58] The liberal Minister forgot to add that, under these circumstances, every man ought to be armed, at public expense, with a breachloader, in self-defence against the soldier.

The following resolution was passed at the recent General Congress of the English Trades Unions at Birmingham:

"That as local organisations of labour have almost disappeared before organisations of a national character, so we believe the extension of the principle of free trade, which induces between nations such a competition that the interest of the workman is liable to be lost sight of and sacrificed in the fierce international race between capitalists, demands that such organisations should be still further extended and made international. And as the International Working Men's Association endeavours to consolidate and extend the interests of the toiling masses, which are everywhere identical, this Congress heartily recommends that Association to the support of the working men of the United Kingdom, especially of all organised bodies, and strongly urges them to become affiliated to that body, believing that the realisation of its principles would also conclude to lasting peace between the nations of the earth."

During last May, a war between the United States and England seemed imminent. Your General Council, therefore, sent an address to Mr. Sylvis, the President of the American National Labour Union, calling on the United States' working class to command peace where their would-be masters shouted war.

The sudden death of Mr. Sylvis, that valiant champion of our cause, will justify us in concluding this report, as an homage to his memory, by his reply to our letter: [59]

"Your favour of the 12th instant, with address enclosed, reached me yesterday. I am very happy to receive such kindly words from our fellow-working men across the water: our cause is a common one. It is war between poverty and wealth: labour occupies the same low condition, and capital is the same tyrant in all parts of the world. Therefore I say our cause is a common one. I, in behalf of the working people of the United States, extend to you, and through you to those you represent, and to all the downtrodden and oppressed sons and. daughters of toil in Europe, the right hand of fellowship. Go ahead in the good work you have undertaken, until the most glorious success crowns your efforts. That is our determination. Our late war resulted in the building up of the most infamous monied aristocracy on the face of the earth. This monied power is fast eating up the substance of the people. We have made war upon it, and we mean to win. If we can, we will win through the ballot-box: if not, then we will resort to sterner means. A little blood-letting is sometimes necessary in desperate cases." [60]

By order of the Council,

R. Applegarth, Chairman, Cowell Stetney, Treasurer, J. George Eccarius, General Secretary b

[German pamphlet adds: "London, September 1, 1869. Office: 256, High Holborn, W.C."


BACKGROUND: (From the Collected Works.) Marx drew up this report, on the General Council's instructions, in late August and early September 1869 for the Basle Congress, which was to be held in September. (As can be seen from Dupont's letter to Marx of September 1, 1869, Marx's report was discussed at the General Council meeting on that day. The minutes of this meeting were not recorded in the Minute Book.) Marx did not attend the congtress but took an active part in its preparations. The Minute Book contains records of his speeches in the General Council during the discussion of the following items on the congress agenda: the agrarian question (July 6 1869), the right to inheritance (July 20) and public education (August 10 and 17).

Having discussed the land question for the second time, the Basle Congress decided by a majority vote in favour of abolishing private property in land and turning it into common property, thereby confirming the socialist platform of the International scale, to strengthen the International organizationally and to entend the General Council's powers. At this congress the supporters of Marx's scientific socialism clashed openly for the first time with the followers of Bakunin's anarchism over the abolition of the right of inheritance.

The text of the General Council's report, written by Marx in English, was read in German and French at the congress of September 7, and published in German in Marx's translation as a separate pamphlet, Bericht des Generalraths der Internationalen Arbeiter-Association an den IV, allgemeinen Congress in Basel, Basle, 1869. In English and French it was published together with the Minutes of the Congress sittings.


[1] See Report of the commission inquiring into the state of public schools in Switzerland Quoted from J. Ph. Becker, Die Internationale Arbeiter-Association und die Arbeiterbewegung in Basel im Winter 1868 auf 1869, Genf, 1869, S. 34.

[2] See Report of the commission inquiring into the state of public schools in Switzerland Quoted from J. Ph. Becker, Die Internationale Arbeiter-Association wnd die Arbeiterbewegung in Basel im Winter 1868 auf 1869, Genf, 1869, S. 34.

[3] In the German pamphlet this sentence reads: "According to an old custom the workers in Basle take a quarter of a day off on the last day of the Autumn Fair." The next sentence begins as follows: "When, on November 9, 1868 the weavers claimed..."

[4] See "Bericht über die Arbeiterbewegung in Basel", Der Vorbote, No. 12, December 1868, p. 177.

[5] Instead of "with whom all their comrades now made common cause" the German pamphlet has two separate sentences: "Even the weavers who had not taken a quarter of a day off did not want to go in either. The general slogan was: 'All or none.'"

[6] The German pamphlet has "butchers, bakers, grocers."

[7] J. Ph. Becker, op. cit, p. 5.

[8] This sentence is omitted in the Gertnan pamphlet.

[9] In the German pamphlet the word "lmperial" has been added.

[10] The German pamphlet has "at Lörrach, a saden horder village situated near Basle."

[11] The German has "local magistrate".

[12] Allgemeine Zeitung, Nos. 9 and 13, January 9 and 13, 1869.

[13] The German pamphlet has "the Geneva capitalists".

[14] See L'Égalité. Nos. 10, 11 and 13 March 27, April 3 and 17 1869.

[15] The words "the hopeful loafers of La Jeune Suisse'" are omitted in the German pamphlet.

[16] "Adresse au Conseil d'État de la République de Genève. Genève, le 31 mai 1869", L'Égalité, No. 20. June 5, 1869.

[17] E. Morhardt, "Genève, le 2 mai (lisez juin) 1869. Le Chancelier de la République et Canton de Genève", L'Égalité, No. 20. June 5, 1869.

[18] The words "at the behest of its capitalist superiors" are omitted in the German pamphlet.

[19] L'Égalité, No. 11, April 3, 1869.

[20] The German pamphlet has "Emperor Napoleon".

[21] L'Égalité, No. 13, April 17, 1869.

[22] See this volume, pp. 47-52.

[23] The German pamphlet has the verb stiebert coined from Stieber (sleuth, detective) -- an allusion to the Chief of the Prussian police Stieber.

[24] In the German text this word is given in brackets after the German verb unterkaufen.

[25] "British" is omitted in the German pamphlet.

[26] "La Dictature universelle", L'lnternational, No. 2345, August 3, 1868.

[27] The German pamphlet has "a paper of Rhenish-Prussian manufacturers".

[28] The German pamphlet has "the miners who continued to work".

[29] The date is omitted in the German pamphlet.

[30] The words "with their chassepots" are omitted in the Genilan pamphlet.

[31] "Massacres de Saint-Etienne", La Liberte, No. 105, June 27, 1869.

[32] Le Moniseur universel, No. 172, June 21, 1869.

[33] The words "always at hand" are omitted in the German pamphlet.

[34] The German pamphlet has "5 workmen".

[35] "L'Internationalomanie", L'lnternationale, No. 33, August 29, 1869 (italics by Marx in the quotation).

[36] A. Richard, "Aux membres du Conseil general des sections beiges. 6 juillet 18699,, L'Internationale, No. 26, July 11, 1869.

[37] "Dêclaration au Conseil général de Londres. Lyon, 6 juillet 1869", L'lnternationale, No. 26, July 11, 1869.

[38] "Live working or die fighting." In the German pamphlet the French sentence is followed by the German translation of it in brackets.

[39] The word "class" is omitted in the German pamphlet.

[40] Old red spectre (see A. Romieu, Le spectre rouge de 1852, Bruxelles, 1851.

[41] The German pamphlet has: "whose agents were in possession of magic caps".

[42] The German pamphlet has "with thr Hungarian delegation".

[43] In the German pamphlet the following words have been added: "among whom was the well-known agitator Niemtzik".

[44] The German pamphlet has "before the Home Minister".

[45] Instead of "Puffing and blowing his cigar ... with the bullying apostrophe" the german pamphlet has: "It was hard to receive audience from this high gentleman, and when the ministerial room at last opened, the workers were met by the minister in a manner which was quite disrespectful."

[46] In the German pamphlet the following words have been added: "asked the minister puffing his cigar and twisting it his mouth".

[47] The word "liberal" is omitted in the German pamphlet.

[48] See Volksstimme, No. 9, August 8 1869.

[49] The German pamphlet has "more than 150,000".

[50] "Programm und Statuten der social-demokratischen Arbeiter-Partei", Demokratisches Wochenblatt, No. 33, August 14 1869.

[51] The German pamphlet has "they resolved."

[52] This sentence is omitted in the Geman pamphlet.

[53] La Federacion and De Werlrman.

[54] This sentence is omitted in the German pamphlet.

[55] The words in brackets are omitted in the German pamphlet.

[56] The German pamphlet has "and a child."

[57] See "Riot at Mold", The Bee-Hive, No. 400, June 12, 1869.

[58] Marx refers to Bruce's speech in the House of Commons on June 7, 1869, published in The Times, No. 26442, June 8, 1869.

[59] In the German pamphlet the reply is datelined: "Philadelphia, May 26, 1869."

[60] Sylvis' reply of May 26, 1869 to the General Council's letter was published in The Bee-Hive, No. 400, June 12, 1869.