The International Workingmen’s Association. Wilhelm Eichhoff 1869

4. The Rules of the Association [406]

These follow in the final, essentially unchanged, wording as sanctioned by the Geneva Congress (1866):


That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves; that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;

That the economical subjection of the man of labour to the monopoliser of the means of labour, that is the sources of life, lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;

That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;

That all efforts aiming at that great end have hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labour in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries;

That the emancipation of labour is neither a local, nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;

That the present revival of the working classes in the most industrious countries of Europe, while it raises a new hope, gives solemn warning against a relapse into the old errors, and calls for the immediate combination of the still disconnected movements;

For these reasons: –

The first International Working Men’s Congress declares that this International Association and all societies and individuals adhering to it will acknowledge truth, justice, and morality, as the basis of their conduct towards each other, and towards all men, without regard to colour, creed or nationality;

This Congress considers it the duty of a man to claim the rights of a man and citizen, not only for himself, but for every man who does his duty. No rights without duties, no duties without rights[407];

And in this spirit they have drawn up the following Rules of the International Association: –

1. This Association is established to afford a central medium of ,communication and cooperation between Working Men’s Societies existing in different countries, and aiming at the same end, viz., the protection, advancement, and complete emancipation of the working classes.

2. The name of the Society shall be: “The International Working Men’s Association”.

3. The General Council shall consist of working men belonging to the different countries represented in the International Association. It shall from its own members elect the officers necessary for the transaction of business, such as a president, a treasurer, a general secretary, corresponding secretaries for the different countries, &c. The Congress appoints annually the scat of the General Council, elects a number of members, with power to add to their numbers, and appoints time and place for the meeting of the’ next Congress. The delegates assemble at the appointed time and place without any special invitation. The General Council may, in case of need, change the place, but has no power to postpone the time of meeting.

4. On its annual meetings, the General Congress shall receive a public account of the transactions of the General Council. In cases of urgency, it may convoke the General Congress before the regular yearly term.

5. The General Council shall form an international agency between the different cooperating associations, so that the working men in one country be constantly informed of the movements of their class in every other country; that the inquiry into the social state of the different countries of Europe be made simultaneously, and under a common direction; that the questions of general interest mooted in one society be ventilated by all; and that, when immediate practical steps should be needed, as, for instance, in case of international quarrels, the action of the associated societies be simultaneous and uniform. Whenever it seems opportune, the General Council shall take the initiative of proposals to be laid before the different national or local societies. To facilitate the communications, the General Council shall publish periodical reports.

6. Since the success of the working men’s movement in each country cannot be secured but by the power of union and combination, while, on the other hand, the usefulness of the International General Council must greatly depend on the circumstances whether it has to deal with a few national centres of working men’s associations, or with a great number of small and disconnected local societies; the members of the International Association shall use their utmost efforts to combine the disconnected working men’s societies of their respective countries into national bodies, represented by central national organs. It is self-understood, however, that the appliance of this rule will depend upon the peculiar laws of each country, and that, apart from legal obstacles, no independent local society shall be precluded from directly corresponding with the General Council.

7. The various branches and sections shall, at their places of abode, and as far as their influence may extend, take the initiative not only in all matters tending to the general progressive improvement of public life but also in the foundation of productive associations and other. institutions useful to the working class. The General Council shall encourage them in every, possible manner.

8. Each member of the International Association, on removing his domicile from one country to another, will receive the fraternal support of the Associated Working Men.

9. Everybody who acknowledges and defends the principles of the International Working Men’s Association is eligible to become a member. Every branch is responsible for the integrity of the members it admits.

10. Every section or branch has the right to appoint its own corresponding secretary.

11. While united in a perpetual bond of fraternal cooperation, the working men’s societies, joining the International Association, will preserve their existent organisations intact.

12. Everything not provided for in the present Rules will be supplied by special Regulations subject to the revision of every, Congress.