Sixty Years in the Social-Democratic Movement
After the Commune, grave times arose for the International. The English press, which governed public opinion, calumniated and abused us. Things went so far that we could no more get a room for our meetings in London. When we were going to celebrate the first anniversary of the Commune, on March 18th, 1872, we found the engaged room closed. This induced me to rent a house, where the General Council held its meetings. The English press is, at the root, neither better nor worse than the German press. In later years especially this has shown itself. Thus the English journals either left out the favourable news of the progress of the German Social-Democracy, or misrepresented them. They glorified the Czar, Bismarck, and Crispi instead. Neither are the English middle classes any better than the German. They are more cunning and more crafty. Thus they do not oppose the Labour movement, but they try to corrupt it with all the means at their disposal.
The International was fought more and more fiercely from the outside. Most of the Governments took proceedings against its followers. In France even a special law was passed against it. In the English trade unions, too, they worked against it, and the intrigues of Michael Bakunin began within the organisation. The situation of Marx was not an enviable one about this time. He was overworked with addresses and other documents for the International. The manifestoes, addresses, and other documents, which have been published by the International, all originate from Marx. Added to this were the heavy claims laid upon him by the Communards that fled to London, and an extremely large correspondence. Marx satisfied all these claims without any material recompense, and besides he had to fight the fiercest struggle for existence. The costs of the household became more and more considerable, especially after the Commune. One could always find a number of French refugees at Marx’s house, who were received and entertained. Mrs. Marx had to pass through some difficult times just then. Very often she came to my wife and to me to ask our advice, and to discuss with us this or that household care. But all this could not prevent her from taking a lively and sincere interest in the proletarian movement.
The difference with Bakunin was to be gone into at the Hague Congress. Bakunin promised to appear there. This induced Marx to go also to the Hague, in order to settle the fight with him. The Congress at the Hague was the only one that Marx attended personally. He stayed in London, leaving to others to shine at the Congresses. When he at last resolved to go to this Congress, it was only to put an end to Bakunin’s intrigues, once for all. Frederick Engels, Mrs. Marx, and her children seized this opportunity of going to the Hague as well.
The Congress took place early in September, 1872. There were present 72 delegates, among them, from Germany: Bernhard Becker, Karl and Hugo Freidländer, Dr. Kugelmann, Ad. Heppner, Rittinghausen, Schumacher (Solingen), Heinrich Scheu, and Josef Dietzgen.
Michael Bakunin did not keep his promise; he kept aloof from the Congress. Instead, two of his creatures were present, who played a dull part. The Congress had to settle, chiefly, two questions—firstly, the transfer of the seat of the General Council, and, secondly, the exclusion of Bakunin from the International. To the first question Frederick Engels spoke, who wanted the seat of the General Council to be at New York. This proposal was accepted. The exclusion of Bakunin was arrived at in a secret session. Even the opponents of Marx condemned the intrigues of Bakunin, and voted for his exclusion. Whoever wants to learn more of this affair may read “The Plot Against the International,” translated from the French by Kokosky (Braunschweig, 1874). New edition, “Vorwaerts” Library, Berlin. During his stay at Brussels, Marx was regularly besieged by journalists from all civilised countries. Everyone wanted to see him and to hear his opinion on the aims and objects of the International.
In the same year the “British Federation of the International Workingmen’s Association” held its Congress at Nottingham, and in 1873 at Manchester. I attended both of these Congresses as the delegate of the Communist Labour Club, London. The Hague Congress of the year 1872 was the last event of the old International. The individual federations dissolved themselves in order to make room for larger national organisations.
The International had fulfilled a considerable part of its task. Socialism had been established, economically and philosophically, by the head of the International, Karl Marx, and it was the first organisation that had carried these doctrines to all quarters of the civilised world, where they came to be acknowledged, more or less quickly, according to the temporary economic and intellectual conditions.
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