The International Workingmen’s Association. Wilhelm Eichhoff 1869

2. Difficulties in the Initial Period of the Association

New movements are not created overnight even if they are called upon to fill a pressing need of the times. To begin with, it is essential to steer clear of reefs on which new organisations have foundered so often before or which have, at the very least, diverted them from their original and true goal, for representatives of declining forms of the movement join the new one to make it a vehicle of the old. This was the case here, too. The Italian members of the provisional Central Council were followers of Mazzini. They laid before the Central Council a draft of the Inaugural Address and the Provisional Rules[396] drawn up by Mazzini himself. In his address, Mazzini repeated his old political programme garnished with a bit of socialist phraseology. He thundered against the class struggle. His Rules were formulated in a strictly centralised manner fit for secret political societies. From the start they would have destroyed the very basis of an international working men’s association which was not conceived to create a movement but only to unite and weld together the already existing and dispersed class movement of various countries.

Mazzini’s name was in high repute at the time among the English workers, notably since Garibaldi’s triumphant visit to London. [397] Mazzini was therefore fairly confident that he would be able to take charge of the International Working Men’s Association. But he had reckoned without his host. Karl Marx, who had been elected to the provisional Central Council at the meeting in St. Martin’s Hall, submitted his drafts of the Inaugural Address and Provisional Rules in opposition to Mazzini’s. Both of his drafts were unanimously adopted and published, and the Provisional Rules later won final acceptance at the Geneva Congress in 1866.

It was therefore a German who gave the International Working Men’s Association its definite tendency and organisational principles. And we might also note that the Central Council in London has repeatedly been confirmed in its functions.