International Working Men’s Association 1866
Source: Minutes of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association, 1864-1886, Progress Publishers, 1964, translated from the French;
Published: in Le Courrier Français, June 10, 1866;
Transcribed: for marxists.org by Andy Blunden.
The appeal was discussed at the General Council meeting, June 5, 1866.
Students of Paris,
We heard the warm appeal which you addressed to your Italian and German brothers. Our hearts throbbed with joy. We had been told that the brilliant student youth who were always ready to uphold a just cause were no more. But that is not so! They are very much alive! More ardent than ever, they are marching along the paths of the Revolution.
In the face of the universal blindness which the governments are exploiting to set the peoples at each other’s throats, you found the courage to utter words of peace and concord, and we say to you:
Yes, we curse war just as you do, for it is we who have to bear the whole burden of it, we who are mowed down by the thousand in the battlefields.
Mankind has suffered long enough; it has submitted too long to the brutalising tyranny of force, and it is high time it banished all superstition from its heart and mind, high time it straightened its back and emphatically demanded justice.
Students and young people of all countries,
We, the disinherited, who carry a heavy yoke, we who produce the riches but do not enjoy them, appeal to your hearts.
Medical students, you know our suffering better than anyone else, you see us in hospitals, which are the only reward for a life full of toil and hardships.
Law students, you know of the shackles with which the law in all countries hampers our organisation.
Students of philosophy, whom science has freed from all superstition, recall the efforts you had to exert in order to achieve that result. Can we who toil without respite achieve as much?
Young people who like us have to earn your living, you know the back-breaking toil our crust of bread costs us!
We want, like you, to hold our congress. It will meet at Geneva on September 13 next. We want to come together to study pauperism, that ugly ulcer that is taking such a heavy toll of us; we want to find a remedy for it and to use that remedy at all costs.
And so from the depths of our misery we say to you who are young, in whom age has not yet cooled noble aspirations, and who, furthermore, are the hope of the future: join us, you will see our toil-hardened hands; come and cement our alliance. You will share your knowledge with us, and we, for our part, shall initiate you into the mysteries of labour. We shall come to know and love each other still better.
The poor have no country, in all lands they suffer from the same evils, and they therefore realise that the barriers put up by the powers that be the more thoroughly to enslave the people must fall. It is the poor, above all the poor, who will realise the dream of the gentle Anacharsis de Cloots, the orator of the human race, who will bring into being the great federation of the peoples. So come, young people, and help us accomplish this lofty task of the nineteenth century.
Then the social revolution which we are awaiting, and invoking with all our energy, will come about. Then man will not only become master of his person but also of his labour, for privileges will have disappeared, and parasites will be no more. The working people will then be the only ones to be held in esteem, peace and happiness will come to reign on earth, and the unity of the human race will be established finally.
Dupont, musical instrument maker; Marco, fan-maker; John Hales, weaver; James Dutton, cartwright; Jung, watch-maker; W. Hopkin [should read: H. Williams], cabinet-maker; Shaw interior decorator, Buckley, mechanic; Carter, perfumer; Eccarius, tailor; J. Weston, carpenter; Lessner, tailor; Le Lubez, commercial traveller; François Garow, cabinet-maker; Besson, mechanic; Mauries, tailor; Lassassie, hair-dresser, etc.
N. B. At the request of those who have drawn up this appeal, the Central Council of the International Working Men’s Association, with headquarters at 18, Bouverie Street, Fleet Street, London, undertakes to receive membership applications. It will make a list of them and publish it in the Commonwealth, its official organ. Europe will thus be able to judge the frame of mind and the aspirations of the working class.
The Central Council asks all to whom this appeal is addressed, all members of the International Association, and all newspapers which claim to represent democratic opinion, to acquaint the public with this appeal in every possible way. Besides, it will have it translated into all the relevant languages, and will instruct all its secretaries to circulate it to the corresponding members.
This appeal, the first of its kind, will lay the foundations for the cordial understanding which the International Working Men’s Association is striving to achieve and which it will achieve.