Works of Karl Marx 1870

On “These Voluntary Chains”


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides;
Written: by Marx in “Obituary for Robert Shaw,” January 8, 1870;
First Published: in The General Council of the First International 1864-72: Minutes, Progress Publishers, 1962-;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

It is principally due to his constant efforts that the Trades Unions have rallied around us. But this work itself made him plenty of implacable foes. The English Trades Unions, all of local origin, all primitively founded with the exclusive purpose of maintaining wages, etc., were completely more or less afflicted by the narrowness that characterised the medieval workshop. There was a little conservative party that wanted at all cost to preserve the basic framework of unionism. But since the International’s inception, Shaw made it his life’s aim to break these voluntary chains and transform the unions into organised centres of the proletarian revolution.