MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Independent Labour Party

A reformist organisation founded by the leaders of the "new trade unions" in 1893 during the active strike movement and the mounting drive for independence of the British working class from the bourgeois parties. The membership of the I.L.P. consisted of the 'new trade unionists" and members of some of the old trade unions, as well as intellectuals and petty bourgeois holding Fabian views. The leaders of the Party were James Keir Hardie and Ramsay MacDonald. From the day it was founded the I.L.P. devoted its chief attention to parliamentary forms of struggle and parliamentary deals with the Liberal Party. On the outbreak of the WWI the I.L.P. issued a manifesto against the war, but shortly afterwards adopted a social-chauvinist stand.


Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany

A party formed in April 1917 at a congress in Gotha amid an atmosphere of revolutionary enthusiasm stimulated by the February revolution in Russia. The German Social-Democratic Party was losing the confidence of many of its own leftist members.

Centrist leaders of the German Social Democracy made an attempt to form the so-called "independent" party. The Independents preached unity with the social-chauvinists and renounced class struggle. The bulk of the party was made up of the Kautskian organisation Arheitsgemeinschaft – which was the "Labour Group" in the Reichstag.

For a time the Spartacus group was associated with the party of "Independents" as an affiliated group, which preserved its organisational and political independence, and continued its illegal work and struggle to free the Social-Democratic workers from the influence of the Centrist leaders. In 1918 the Spartacus League left the Independent Social-Democratic Party and formed the core of the newly founded Communist Party of Germany.

At its congress in Halle in October 1920 a split occurred in the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany. In December 1920 many of the "Independents" joined the Communist Party of Germany. The Rights formed a separate party and adopted the old name of Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany. This party existed up to 1922, when it rejoined the German Social Democratic Party.


All-India Federation Of Organisations Of Democratic Rights

It was formed in 1982 in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. It included the Association For Democratic Rights, Punjab, The Organisation For Protection Of Democratic Rights, Andhra Pradesh, The Lokshahi Hakk Sanghatana Maharashtra and The Gantatrik Adhikar Suraksha Samiti, Orissa. Its main aim was to strive for the correct practice in the democratic Rights movement. It stresses on the right to struggle as a fundamental right, and not just obtained from the constitution. It has brought out all-India fact-finding reports. These include a report on the Punjab problem, the movement against the Baliapal base, the attacks on Christians, causes of drought, etc. In Andhra Pradesh, programmes were taken up consistently against police encounters by the O.P./D.R. These were particularly against Naxalite encounters. In Punjab, A.F.D.R. brought about reports against the Khalistani and state terror.


Indian National Congress

Known as the Congress Party and abbreviated INC. The INC was founded in 1885 with the objective of obtaining a greater share in government for educated Indians, the Indian National Congress was initially not opposed to British rule.

In its time as the nation's leader in the freedom struggle, it produced the nation's greatest leaders. Before the Gandhi Era came leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (later leader of the Muslim League and instrumental in the creation of Pakistan), all starting with the first legendary icon of Indians: Dadabhai Naoroji, the president of the sister Indian National Association and later the first Indian Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. The Congress was transformed into a mass movement by Surendranath Banerjea and Sir Henry Cotton during the partition of Bengal in 1905 and the resultant Swadesi Movement. Gandhi came back from South Africa in 1915 and with the help of the pro-British group led by Ghokhale became the President of The Congress and formed an alliance with the Khilafat Movement. In protest a number of leaders went out of Congress. Khilafat movement ended up in a disaster and The Congress was split. A number of leaders Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, Motilal Nehru, went out of The Congress to set up the Swaraj Party.

With the rise of Mahatma Gandhi's popularity and his Satyagraha art of revolution came Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (the nation's first Prime Minister), Dr. Rajendra Prasad (the nation's first President), Khan Mohammad Abbas Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari, Jivatram Kripalani and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. With the already existing nationalistic feeling combined with Gandhi's popularity the Congress became a forceful mass organization in the country, bringing together millions of people by specifically working against caste differences, untouchability, poverty, and religious and ethnic boundaries. Although predominantly Hindu, it had members from virtually every religion, ethnic group, economic class and linguistic group. In 1939, Subhas Chandra Bose, the elected president in both 1938 and 1939 was expelled from the Congress for his socialist views and The Congress was reduced to a pro-Business group financed by the business houses of Birla and Bajaj. At the time of the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary organization in India, but the Congress disassociated itself from the Quit India movement within a few days. The Indian National Congress could not claim to be the true representative of the Indian people as other parties were there as well particularly the Hindu Mahasabha, Azad Hind Sarkar, Forward Bloc.

After the First World War the party became associated with Mahatma Gandhi, who remained its unofficial, spiritual leader and mass icon even as younger men and women became party president. The party was in many ways an umbrella organization, sheltering within itself radical socialists, traditionalists and even Hindu and Muslim conservatives, but all the socialists (including the Congress Socialist Party, Krishak Praja Party, Swarajya Party members) were expelled along with Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939 by Gandhi.

During the INA trials of 1946, the Congress helped to form the INA Defence Committee, which forcefully defended the case of the soldiers of the Azad Hind government. The committee declared the formation of the Congress' defence team for the INA and included famous lawyers of the time, including Bhulabhai Desai, Asaf Ali, and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Members of the Congress initially supported the sailors who led the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny. However they withdrew support at the critical juncture, when the mutiny failed.

Submitted by Harsh Thakore,
February, 2001


Inter-District Organisation of United Social-Democrats

Formed in St. Petersburg in November 1913 with the declared object of working for the unity of the R.S.D.L.P.; i.e. uniting the Bolshevik and Menshevik parties.

During the First World War the members of the Inter-District Organisation occupied a Centrist position; considering the war to be an imperialist war and were against social-chauvinism, but would not completely break with the Mensheviks.

In 1917, the I.D.O., among whose members were Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Joffe, Manuilsky, Volodarsky, Uritsky and Yurenev, declared itself on the side of the Bolshevik party. At the elections to the Petrograd district councils in May-June 1917, the I.D.O. and Bolsheviks formed a bloc. Later, at the Sixth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), the I.D.O. (membership about 4,000), became members of the Bolshevik Party.

The I.D.O. published a journal of its own, Yperyod. One number was put out illegally in 1915, and publication was resumed in 1917, when it came out legally from June to August as the organ of the St. Petersburg Inter-District Committee of the United Social-Democrats (Internationalists). Eight issues were put out. After the Sixth Congress of the Party the editorial board was changed, and No. 9 of the journal appeared as the organ of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.). Publication was discontinued in September 1917 by decision of the Central Committee.


Industrial Workers of the World

The IWW was founded in Chicago in June 1905 at a convention of two hundred socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States (mainly the Western Federation of Miners) who were opposed to the policies of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). An injury to one is an injury to all.

The convention, which took place on June 27, 1905, was then referred to as the “Industrial Congress” or the “Industrial Union Convention”—it would later be known as the First Annual Convention of the IWW. It is considered one of the most important events in the history of industrial unionism and of the American labor movement in general.

The IWW’s early organizers included William D. (“Big Bill”) Haywood, Daniel De Leon, Eugene V. Debs, Thomas J Hagerty, Lucy Parsons, Mary Harris Jones (commonly known as “Mother Jones”), William Trautmann, Vincent Saint John, Ralph Chaplin, and many others.

The IWW’s goal was to promote worker solidarity in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the employing class; its motto was “an injury to one is an injury to all,” which improved upon the 19th century Knights of Labor’s creed, “an injury to one is the concern of all.” In particular, the IWW was organized because of the belief among many unionists, socialists, anarchists and radicals that the AFL not only had failed to effectively organize the U.S. working class, as only about 5% of all workers belonged to unions in 1905, but also was organizing according to narrow craft principles which divided groups of workers. The Wobblies believed that all workers should organize as a class, a philosophy which is still reflected in the Preamble to the current IWW Constitution:

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. ... Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’, we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system.’ It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.

The Wobblies differed from other union movements of the time by its promotion of industrial unionism, as opposed to the craft unionism of the American Federation of Labor. The IWW emphasized rank-and-file organization, as opposed to empowering leaders who would bargain with employers on behalf of workers. This manifested itself in the early IWW’s consistent refusal to sign contracts, which they felt would restrict the only true power that workers possessed: the power to strike. Though never developed in any detail, Wobblies envisioned the general strike as the means by which the wage system would be overthrown and a new economic system ushered in, one which emphasized people over profit, cooperation over competition.

One of the IWW’s most important contributions to the labor movement and broader push towards social justice was that, when founded, it was the only American union (Besides the Knights of Labor) to welcome all workers including women, immigrants, and African Americans into the same organization. Indeed, many of its early members were immigrants, and some, like Carlo Tresca, Joe Hill and Mary Jones, rose to prominence in the leadership. Finns formed a sizeable portion of the immigrant IWW membership. “Conceivably, the number of Finns belonging to the I.W.W. was somewhere between five and ten thousand.” The Finnish-language newspaper of the IWW, Industrialisti, published out of Duluth, Minnesota, was the union’s only daily paper. At its peak, it ran 10,000 copies per issue. Another Finnish-language Wobbly publication was the monthly ,Tie Vapauteen (“Road to Freedom”). Also of note was the Finnish IWW educational institute, the Work People’s College in Duluth, and the Finnish Labour Temple in Port Arthur, Ontario which served as the IWW Canadian administration for several years. One example of the union’s commitment to equality was Local 8, a longshoremen’s branch in Philadelphia, one of the largest ports in the nation in the WWI era. Led by the African American Ben Fletcher, Local 8 had over 5,000 members, the majority of whom were African American, along with more than a thousand immigrants (primarily Lithuanians and Poles), Irish Americans, and numerous others.

The IWW was condemned by politicians and the press, who saw them as a threat to the market systems as well as an effort to monopolize labor at a time when efforts to monopolize industries were being fought as anti-market. Factory owners would employ means both non-violent (sending in Salvation Army bands to drown out speakers) and violent to disrupt their meetings. Members were often arrested and sometimes killed for making public speeches, but this persecution only inspired further militancy.

Political action or direct action?

Like many leftist organizations of the era, the IWW soon split over policy. In 1908 a group led by Daniel DeLeon argued that political action through DeLeon’s Socialist Labor Party was the best way to attain the IWW’s goals. The other faction, led by Vincent Saint John, William Trautmann, and Big Bill Haywood, believed that direct action in the form of strikes, propaganda, and boycotts was more likely to accomplish sustainable gains for working people; they were opposed to arbitration and to political affiliation. Haywood’s faction prevailed, and De Leon and his supporters left the organization.


The IWW first attracted attention in Goldfield, Nevada in 1906 and during the strike of the Pressed Steel Car Company at McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania in 1909. Further fame was gained later that year, when they took their stand on free speech. The town of Spokane, Washington had outlawed street meetings, and arrested Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a Wobbly organizer, for breaking this ordinance. The response was simple but effective: when a fellow member was arrested for speaking, large numbers of people descended on the location and invited the authorities to arrest all of them, until it became too expensive for the town. In Spokane, over 500 people went to jail and four people died. The tactic of fighting for free speech to popularize the cause and preserve the right to organize openly was used effectively in Fresno, Aberdeen, and other locations. In San Diego, although there was no particular organizing campaign at stake, vigilantes supported by local officials and powerful businessmen mounted a particularly brutal counter-offensive.

By 1912 the organization had around 50,000 members, concentrated in the Northwest, among dock workers, agricultural workers in the central states, and in textile and mining areas. The IWW was involved in over 150 strikes, including those in the Lawrence textile strike (1912), the Paterson silk strike (1913) and the Mesabi range (1916). They were also involved in what came to be known as the Wheatland Hop Riot August 3, 1913.

Between 1915 and 1917, the IWW’s Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO) organized hundreds of thousands of migratory farm workers throughout the midwest and western United States, often signing up and organizing members in the field, in railyards and in hobo jungles. During this time, the IWW became synonymous with the hobo; migratory farmworkers could scarcely afford any other means of transportation to get to the next jobsite. Railroad boxcars, called “side door coaches” by the hobos, were frequently plastered with silent agitators from the IWW. Workers often won better working conditions by using direct action at the point of production, and striking “on the job” (consciously and collectively slowing their work). As a result of Wobbly organizing, conditions for migratory farm workers improved enormously.

Building on the success of the AWO, the IWW’s Lumber Workers Industrial Union (LWIU) used similar tactics to organize lumberjacks and other timber workers, both in the Deep South and the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, between 1917 and 1924. The IWW lumber strike of 1917 led to the eight-hour day and vastly improved working conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Even though mid-century historians would give credit to the US Government and “forward thinking lumber magnates” for agreeing to such reforms, an IWW strike forced these concessions

From 1913 through the mid-1930s, the IWW’s Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union, proved a force to be reckoned with and competed with AFL unions for ascendance in the industry. Given the union’s commitment to international solidarity, its efforts and success in the field come as no surprise. As mentioned above, Local 8 was led by Ben Fletcher, who organized predominantly African-American longshoremen on the Philadelphia and Baltimore waterfronts, but other leaders included the Swiss immigrant Waler Nef, Jack Walsh, E.F. Doree, and the Spanish sailor Manuel Rey. The IWW also had a presence among waterfront workers in Boston, New York City, New Orleans, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Eureka, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver as well as in ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and other nations. IWW members played a role in the 1934 San Francisco general strike and the other organizing efforts by rank-and-filers within the International Longshoremen’s Association up and down the West Coast.

Wobblies also played a role in the sit-down strikes and other organizing efforts by the United Auto Workers in the 1930s, particularly in Detroit, though they never established a strong union presence there.

Where the IWW did win strikes, such as at Lawrence, they often found it hard to hold onto their gains. The IWW of 1912 disdained collective bargaining agreements and preached instead the need for constant struggle against the boss on the shop floor. It proved difficult, however, to maintain that sort of revolutionary elán against employers; In Lawrence, the IWW lost nearly all of its membership in the years after the strike, as the employers wore down their employees’ resistance and eliminated many of the strongest union supporters.

Government repression

The IWW’s efforts were met with violent reactions from all levels of government, from company management and their agents, and groups of citizens functioning as vigilantes. In 1914, Joe Hill (Joel Hägglund) was accused of murder and, despite only circumstantial evidence, was executed by the state of Utah in 1915. On 5 November 1916 at Everett, Washington a group of deputized businessmen led by Sheriff Donald McRae attacked Wobblies on the steamer VERONA, killing at least five union members (six more were never accounted for and probably were lost in Puget Sound). Two members of the police force - one a regular officer and another a deputized citizen from the National Guard Reserve - were killed, probably by “friendly fire".

Many IWW members opposed United States participation in World War I. The organization passed a resolution against the war at its convention in November 1916. This echoed the view, expressed at the IWW’s founding convention, that war represents struggles among capitalists in which the rich become richer, and the working poor all too often die at the hands of other workers.

An IWW newspaper, the Industrial Worker, wrote just before the U.S. declaration of war: “Capitalists of America, we will fight against you, not for you! There is not a power in the world that can make the working class fight if they refuse.” Yet when a declaration of war was passed by the U.S. Congress in April 1917, the IWW’s general secrtary-treasurer Bill Haywood became determined that the organization should adopt a low profile in order to avoid perceived threats to its existence. The printing of anti-war stickers was discontinued, stockpiles of existing anti-war documents were put into storage, and anti-war propagandizing ceased as official union policy. After much debate on the General Executive Board, with Haywood advocating a low profile and GEB member Frank Little championing continued agitation, Ralph Chaplin brokered a compromise agreement. A statement was issued that denounced the war, but IWW members were advised to channel their opposition through the legal mechanisms of conscription. They were advised to register for the draft, marking their claims for exemption “IWW, opposed to war.”

In spite of the IWW moderating its vocal opposition, the mainstream press and the U.S. Government were able to turn public opinion against the IWW. Frank Little, the IWW’s most outspoken war opponent, was lynched in Butte, Montana in August 1917, just four months after war had been declared. Ralph Chaplin created the image of a black cat in a fighting stance, the IWW’s symbol of sabotage.

The government used World War I as an opportunity to crush the IWW. In September 1917, U.S. Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW meeting halls across the country. In 1917, one hundred and sixty-five IWW leaders were arrested for conspiring to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes, under the new Espionage Act; one hundred and one went on trial before Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis in 1918.

They were all convicted—even those who had not been members of the union for years—and given prison terms of up to twenty years. Sentenced to prison by Judge Landis and released on bail, Haywood fled to the Soviet Union where he remained until his death.

In Centralia, Washington on November 11, 1919, IWW member and army veteran Wesley Everest was turned over to the lynch mob by jail guards, had his teeth smashed with a rifle butt, was castrated, lynched three times in three separate locations, and then his corpse was riddled with bullets before it was disposed of in an unmarked grave. The official coroner’s report listed the victim’s cause of death as “suicide.”

Members of the IWW were prosecuted under various State and federal laws and the 1920 Palmer Raids singled out the foreign-born members of the organization. By the mid-1920s membership was already declining due to government repression and it decreased again substantially during a contentious organizational schism in 1924 when the organization split between the “Westerners” and the “Easterners” over a number of issues, including the role of the General Administration (often oversimplified as a struggle between “centralists” and “decentralists”) and attempts by the Communist Party to dominate the organization. By 1930 membership was down to around 10,000.

See the Marxist Internet Archives’ IWW Page

[Partly take from the wikipedia.org IWW page]


Internationale group

Precursor to the Spartacist League, the Internationale group was a sub-group within the German Social-Democratic Labour Party, formed by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin and others at the beginning of the First World War, on the basis of being opposed to the World War. Soon after the group denounced the German Social-Democracy, and formed the Spartacist League.


International Left Opposition

Formed after the Left Opposition was dissolved in the Soviet Union. Following Trotsky's exile to Turkey and his closer contact with other groups in opposition to the CSPU, the International Left Opposition was organized in 1930 as a faction of the Communist International.

After the failed attempt to overthow Stalinism in the Soviet Union, crushed by the mass executions and arrests in the Moscow Trials of 1936-38, the ILO created the Fourth International in 1938.

International Socialist Bureau (I.S.B.)


The permanent executive and information body of the Second International located at Brussels. It was founded by a decision taken at the Paris Congress of the Second International (1900). It consisted of two delegates from each national party, and was to meet four times a year, the Executive Committee of the Belgian Labour Party being charged with its direction between sessions. Vandervelde was its chairman, and Huysmans, its Secretary. Lenin was a member of the Bureau, as a representative of the R.S.D.L.P., from 1905. From June 1914, on Lenin's proposal, M. M. Litvinov was appointed to represent the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee. When the First World War broke out the I.S.B. became a pliable tool in the hands of the social-chauvinists.


International Working Mens Association

See: First International