First International

First International

Also known as the International Workingmen's Association, this was the first organisation to regroup workers internationally, irrespective of their political opinions. Marx and Engels played a leading role in the development of the International, until its demise shortly after the Paris Commune of 1871.

4 - The theory of decadence at the heart of historical materialism

In the first article in this series, published in International Review n118, we saw how the theory of decadence is at the very heart of historical materialism, of Marx and Engels’ analysis of the evolution of modes of production. Equally, we find the same notion at the centre of the programmatic texts of the organisations of the working class. Furthermore, not resting at merely adopting this foundation-stone of marxism, some of these organisations have developed the analysis and/or its political implications. It’s from this dual point of view that we aim here to briefly review the main political expressions of the workers’ movement. In this first part we will begin with the movement in the days of Marx, the Second International, the marxist lefts which came out of it, and the Communist International at the time it was formed. In the second part, which will appear in a future issue, we will examine more closely the analytical framework for the political positions developed by the Third International and then by the left fractions which emerged from it as it began to degenerate, and from which we draw our political and organisational origins.

The Jury of Honour: a weapon for the defence of revolutionary organisations (Part 1)

Introduction (October, 2004)

At the time of its 15th international congress, in April 2003, the ICC excluded from its ranks several elements who had openly behaved like informers and who, under the name of "Internal Fraction of the ICC", had gathered around the individual Jonas (himself excluded from our organization for "behaviour unworthy of a communist militant", see A communique to our readers). With regards to the attitude of Jonas and the members of the "FICCI", which consistied of refusing to defend oneself in front of the Congress of the ICC, our organisation, in accordance with the tradition of the workers' movement, had applied a policy of the defence of proletarian principles: it had proposed to them to call upon a Jury of Honour (which they refused) composed representatives of other organizations of the Communist Left, in order to make clearn the nature of their behaviour and the causes of their exclusion.

Anarchism or communism?

In the last article in this series we looked at the combat waged by the marxist tendency in the International Workingmen's Association against the reformist and "state socialist" ideologies in the workers' movement, particularly in the German party. And yet according to the anarchist or "anti-authoritarian" current led by Mikhail Bakunin, Marx and Engels typified and even inspired the state socialist tendency, were the foremost proponents of that "German socialism" which wanted to replace capitalism not with a free stateless society but with a terrible bureaucratic tyranny of which they themselves would be the guardians. To this day, Bakunin's criticisms of Marx are presented by anarchists and liberals alike as a profound insight into the real nature of marxism, a prophetic explanation of why the theories of Marx led inevitably to the practises of Stalin.

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