Works of Karl Marx 1871

Our Aims Should Be Comprehensive


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides;
Written: Marx, from interview with New York World, July 18, 1871;
First Published: in On the First International: The Karl Marx Library, Volume 3, McGraw-Hill, 1973;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

It is necessary that our aims should be thus comprehensive to include every form of working-class activity. To have made them of a special character would have been to adapt them to the needs of one section — one nation of workmen alone. But how could all men be asked to unite to further the objects of a few? To have done that the Association must have forfeited its title to International. The Association does not dictate the form of political movements; it only requires a pledge as to their end. It is a network of affiliated societies spreading all over the world of labor. In each part of the world some special aspect of the problem presents itself, and the workmen there address themselves to its consideration in their own way. Combinations among workmen cannot be absolutely identical in detail in Newcastle and Barcelona, in London and Berlin. ... But to every movement it accords its sympathy and its aid within the limits assigned by its own laws.

To give an example, one of the commonest forms of the movement for emancipation is that of strikes. Formerly, when a strike took place in one country it was defeated by the importation of workmen from another. The International has nearly stopped all that. It receives information of the intended strike , it spreads that information among its members, who at once see that for them the seat of the struggle must be forbidden ground. The masters are thus left alone to reckon with their men. In most cases the men require no other aid than that. Their own subscriptions or those of the societies to which they are more immediately affiliated supply them with funds, but should the pressure upon them become too heavy and the strike be one of which the Association approves, their necessities are supplied out of the common purse. By these means a strike of the cigar makers of Barcelona was brought to a victorious issue the other day.