The International Workingmen's Association
Written: by Engels on March 15, 1865;
First published: in the Berliner Reform, No. 67, March 19, 1865;
Translated: by Barrie Selman;
Transcribed: by email@example.com, April 1996.
Into his postscript to the statement of resignation of Herren Rüstow and Herwegh (No. 31 of the Social-Demokrat) Herr von Schweitzer incorporates an article dispatched from London to the Neue Frankfurter Zeitung as proof of "how inconsistent and utterly unprincipled the conduct of Herren Marx and Engels is". He attempts to falsify the facts. Hence the following factual information.
On November 11, 1864 Herr v. Schweitzer informed me by letter of the foundation of the Social-Demokrat, organ of the General Association of German Workers and stated at the time, among other things:
"We have approached 6-8 proven members of the Party, or at least men standing close to it, in order to gain their collaboration and there seems to be virtually no doubt that these gentlemen will give their consent. Only we consider it incomparably more important that you, the founder of the German Workers' Party" (these words are underlined by Herr v. Schweitzer himself) "and its first champion, honour us with your participation. We cherish the hope that after the great loss that has befallen it, you will stand by the side of an association that may, if only indirectly, be traced back to your own activity, in its hour of dire struggle."
Along with this letter of invitation was enclosed a prospectus, "printed as a manuscript". Far from "Lassalle's words dominating", or "Lassalle's name being inscribed on the banner", as Herr v. Schweitzer now Iyingly informs the Neue Frankfurter Zeitung, Lassalle is neither quoted nor even mentioned in it. The prospectus contained only three points: "Solidarity of the peoples' interests", "the whole of mighty Germany -- a free people's state", "abolition of the rule of capital". With. express reference to this prospectus Engels and I agreed to contribute.
On November 19, 1864 Herr v. Schweitzer wrote to me:
"If you should have any remarks to make regarding the issuing of the prospectus, this should be done by return."
I made no remarks.
Herr v. Schweitzer went on to ask whether,
"we" (the editorial board) "may expect an article from you now and then and whether we might also be permitted to announce this to our readers".
Engels and I demanded to know first in what company we were to figure publicly. Herr v. Schweitzer then enumerated them, adding:
"If you should take exception to one or the other of these gentlemen we hope that this will be outweighed by the consideration that no very strict solidarity exists between the contributors to a newspaper."
On November 28 Herr v. Schweitzer wrote:
"The consent of yourself and Engels has produced the happiest sentiments in the Party insofar as it knows about it."
The two first sample issues already contained a good deal of dubious material. I remonstrated. And, among other things, I expressed my indignation that from a private letter which I had written to Countess Hatzfeldt on receiving the news of Lassalle's death, a few words of condolence had been torn out, published without my consent with my signature and disgracefully abused in order to "ring in and out" a servile panegyric of Lassalle. He replied on December 30:
"Dear Sir, Have patience with us -- matters will gradually improve, our position is very difficult. All good things take their time, and so l hope that you will be reassured and wait a while."
This already on December 30, 1864, when I still only had the first sample issues in my hand!
At the beginning of January 1865, after the confiscation of one of the first issues of the Social-Demokrat, I congratulated Herr v. Schweitzer on this event, adding that he must publicly break with the Ministry.
On the news of Proudhon's death he requested an article on Proudhon. I met his wish by return of post, but took this opportunity of characterising now in his own newspaper "even the semblance of compromise with the powers that be" as a contravention of "simple moral sense", and Proudhon's flirtation with Louis Bonaparte after the coup d'état as "baseness". At the same time Engels sent him a translation of an Old Danish peasant ballad in order, in a marginal note, to impress on the readers of the Social-Demokrat the necessity of struggle against the rural squirearchy.
But during the same month of January, I again had to protest against Herr v. Schweitzer's "tactics". He replied on February 4:
"As regards our tactics, I beg you to consider how difficult our position is. We must definitely seek to gain strength first,etc."
At the end of January an insinuation by the Paris correspondent of the Social-Demokrat prompted Engels and myself to make a statement saying, among other things, that we were glad to find our view confirmed that "the Paris proletariat is as irreconcilably opposed as ever to Bonapartism in both its forms, the Tuileries form and the form of the Palais-Royal, and never for a moment considered the plan of selling its historical honour as the vanguard of the revolution for a mess of pottage". The statement concluded with the words: "We recommend, this example to the German workers."
In the meantime, in No. 21 of the Social-Demokrat, the Paris correspondent had corrected his earlier allegation' and deprived our statement of its immediate pretext. We therefore accepted Herr v. Schweitzer's refusal to print it. But at the same time I wrote to him r that "we would express our opinion in detail elsewhere about the relationship of the workers to the Prussian Government". Finally I made one last attempt to demonstrate to him the wretchedness of his "tactics", however honestly they might be meant, with a practical example, the coalition question. He replied on February 15:
"If you wish to enlighten me, as in your last letter, on theoretical (!) questions, I would gratefully accept such instruction on your part. But as regards the practical questions of immediate tactics I beg you to consider that in order to assess these things one must be in the centre of the movement. You are therefore doing us an injustice if you express your dissatisfaction with our tactics anywhere and anyhow. You should only do this if you were absolutely familiar with conditions. Do not forget either that the General Association of [German] Workers is a consolidated body and remains to a certain extent bound to its traditions. Things in concreto always drag around some kind of weight about their feet."
To this ultimatum from Schweitzer Engels and I replied with our public statement of resignation.
London, March 15, 1865