International Workingmen’s Association 1871

Trade Unions Held Aloof


Source: Marx and Engels on the Trade Unions, Edited by Kenneth Lapides;
Written: Marx, in minutes of General Council, August 8 1871;
First Published: in The General Council of the First International 1864-72: Minutes, Progress Publishers, 1962-;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

Citizen Marx agreed with the idea that the Council should do all that lay in its power — but it always did that in every labour struggle that was brought under its notice. The misfortune was that the trade unions and labour organisations held aloof from the International until they were in trouble, and then only did they come for assistance. They could take all preventative measures beforehand if they were in connection with it. If the engineers and joiners had belonged to the International, they could have sent information over to Belgium before the strike commenced. The International must not be blamed for failures when the circumstances were not brought before it. He hoped in future societies would think of the International in a time of peace. Withholding themselves from it was not only injurious to others, but dangerous to themselves.