The International Workingmen's Association, 1872
Written: in French in October-November 1872;
Translated: by Richard Dixon and Alex Miller, 1976, Progress Publishers;
Transcribed: by email@example.com, June 1996.
At its sitting of September 5, the Congress, on the proposal of Citizen Engels speaking on behalf of the General Council, nominated a commission of five members to draw up a report on the activities of the secret society founded by Citizen Bakunin and known as The Alliance, and to propose that the Congress vote the measures necessary to put a stop to these activities if they were contrary to the principles and aims of the International Working Men's Association.
As members of this commission, the Congress nominated citizens Vichard, Cuno, Walter, Splingard (the latter having been nominated at the express request of the delegates who felt themselves implicated by the accusation brought by the General Council, and also at the request of the Belgian delegates), and Citizen Potel.
This commission assembled on the same evening to undertake the task assigned to it.
On assembling, it immediately defined its obligations as follows:
Chairman—Citizen T. Cuno, delegate for Stuttgart.
Secretaries—citizens Lucain and Walter, delegates for France.
Members—citizens Paul Vichard, delegate for France, and Roch Splingard, delegate for Bassin de Charleroi (Belgium).
Thus constituted, the sitting commenced. It was decided to listen to the accused separately and to all those who felt that they must throw light on the activities of the society in question.
On behalf of the General Council, Citizen Engels delivered the following report.
After reading his report, Citizen Engels requested the commission to insert in its minutes that Citizen Guillaume, during the sitting of the Congress, when the nomination of the commission was being requested, denied the accusation of belonging to the society known as the secret Alliance. [Bottom of page is here torn off and other side is blank.]
After its first sitting, having acquainted itself with the above-mentioned rules, recognised by all members of the commission as having been written in the hand of Citizen Bakunin, and then with the letter addressed by this citizen to Citizen X [Mora] and naming citizens Guillaume and Schwitzguébel as belonging to the society, the commission became convinced of the existence of a secret society with an aim, shameful and consequently inacceptable, in flagrant opposition to the Rules of the International Working Men's Association.
It therefore only remained to investigate two matters:
1. If the citizens who had belonged to this society at its inception and who had been simultaneously members of the Association, still belonged to it.
2. Who these citizens were, in order to inform all the members of the Association about their belonging to the two societies.>
After this, the sitting of the commission was closed and deferred until the following day, September 6.
Citizen Lafargue, called as witness, testified as follows:
The existence of a secret society within the Association was revealed to me after its introduction into Spain.
It was initially formed as a section of the International Working Men's Association and with Citizen Fanelli as its chairman.
This citizen soon afterwards initiated citizens Mora and Lorenzo and, on June 9, 1872, citizens Morago, Cordova y Lopez received from Switzerland cards confirming their status as brethren.
In reply to Citizen Cuno, Lafargue stated that the existence of the Alliance in Spain had been subsequent to the Basle Congress; that it had always been eminently secret; that it had been introduced into Spain after the foundation of the International Working Men's Association; that, after requesting the General Council to recognise it as a section formed by members of the Alliance, they had continued to keep their organisation secret.
He added that Mora had demanded, at the Congress of Saragossa, the dissolution of the Alliance, but it was not dissolved at that time.
However, on August 4, 1872, Morago, Marselau and other members of the Alliance declared on behalf of the Spanish Federal Council that the Alliance had been dissolved.
Citizen Splingard asked Lafargue whether it was he who had disclosed the existence of the Alliance in Spain.
Lafargue replied that he had considered it his duty to inform members of the International about the existence of a society with Rules different from those of the Association and whose members' still belonged to the International.
It was then that Morago had obtained from the Madrid Federation, or rather from its Federal Council, of which a majority of five members openly belonged to the Alliance, the expulsion of Citizen Lafargue and his friends from the council.
Citizen Cuno asked Lafargue if he had known anything about the letter from Citizen Bakunin inserted below.
Lafargue replied that he had known about this letter after it had been sent, but he could not remember the exact date.
After Citizen Lafargue, Citizen Schwitzguébel gave evidence.
He made the following statement.
In reply to the chairman [answers to 5 questions put by the chairman and written in Schwitzguébel's hand on 6 separate sheets of paper]:
1st question: Do you believe that there is a secret society called The Alliance?
I declare that, in my opinion, those who demanded an inquiry into the Alliance did so because they felt that the Alliance under accusation would have been, or still is (for those who claimed its existence) harmful to the International. Now I hold that an international Congress cannot judge its members when they are accused, except for acts affecting the Association. I request to be shown how and in what way I could have harmed the International.
I do not admit that the International, its Council or its congresses, have been elevated into legal institutions to open inquiries into secret societies.
2nd question: Do you believe that this secret society -- the secret Alliance—still exists?
In conformity with my statement on the 1st question, it would be entirely pointless for me to answer the 2nd question.
3rd question, put to Schwitzguébel by the commission: Do you consider Bakunin capable of telling lies?
I know Bakunin. I have a very high opinion of him. I think that, like all men, he happens to make mistakes, but I am profoundly convinced that he would never commit a mistake deliberately or out of disloyalty.
4th question—to Schwitzguébel. If Bakunin named you as belonging to the secret Alliance, would you accept his statement about you?
My relations with Bakunin have been of a close nature. I do not hesitate to declare that these relations have contributed strongly to the development of my revolutionary-socialist views and to the action which must inevitably result from them. I do not know in what sense Bakunin has interpreted these relations.
5th question—to Schwitzguébel. Bakunin recommends you in one letter as belonging, with Guillaume, to the secret Alliance. What is your answer to this?
I was accepted into the Alliance when it was being formed in Geneva as a public section of the International. I was introduced by Citizen Duval, a member of the Congress, when I was present at the first Romance Congress which was held in Geneva on January 37 1869, to Citizen Bakunin, with whom I discussed the Alliance's programme. I accepted this programme. Since then, I have merely received a card confirming my admittance. As it was a public matter, I in no way concealed the Alliance or the card, and I reported all these things to the members of the International in the Jura valley.
I know that Bakunin has kept up the habit, in his correspondence, of using the term "allié" [member of Alliance] when referring to men who have not rejected the Alliance programme.
After this statement, Citizen Splingard asked Schwitzguébel if he was still a member of the secret Alliance, since Bakunin had named him in his letters as a member.
Schwitzguébel replied: "That he would not question the word of a friend whom he respected." (Textually) [Unlike Schwitzguébel's other answers the transcript of the last one is finished in the secretary's handwriting.—Ed.]
Citizen Schwitzguébel's statement being finished, the commission called Citizen Guillaume.
He categorically declared that he had never taken part in the public Alliance, but when asked if he had been, or still was, a member of the secret Alliance, he refused to make any statement on the matter, saying that he was opposed to all interrogation on principle.
Citizen Lucain pointed out to him that he had accepted the nomination of the commission and had voted for its members, and consequently he had no right to repudiate its action.
Citizen Splingard observed to him that Schwitzguébel had just been answering questions and had agreed to join the commission in order to learn what was going to happen in it, and that he had been nominated by him, Guillaume.
Guillaume refused to reply and left the hall.
Citizen Cuno asked him if he admitted that there was in Spain a secret society within the International.
Marselau replied that the Alliance was secret, but that it had been dissolved at the Congress of Saragossa, and he referred to Citizen Mora as having demanded its dissolution.
Asked by the chairman if any sections other than the one at Cadiz had demanded the dissolution of the secret Alliance, he replied: "Not at the Congress, but at private meetings most of the members present had demanded its dissolution."
Asked if he had warned the General Council about the dissolution of the secret Alliance, he replied that he had forgotten owing to negligence, but that in any case it had been difficult for him, since he had been in prison.
Citizen Splingard asked Marselau if he had been in contact with Switzerland.
Marselau: No, not personally, but I think my friends were.
Chairman: Did the Alliance exist in Spain before the International?
Marselau: I have heard as much, and I know that this was so at Cadiz.
Its foundation at Seville dates back to May 28, 1871.
Asked by the chairman if he had been in possession of the secret Alliance's Rules, Marselau replied:
"I was sent the Alliance's Rules printed at Geneva in the month of January 1871." He had been shown the secret Alliance's manuscript programme in March or April 1872.
Asked by the chairman if the Alliance still existed, Marselan replied that he has been told by one of his friends that it had been dissolved. Incidentally, he had not known that there existed in Spain other sections like the one to which he had belonged. Moreover, he had, like his friends, hitherto believed that this was the International's programme.
Citizen Vichard asked: How could it come about, if the Alliance no longer existed, that Lafargue and his friends were expelled from the Madrid Federation?
Marselau: It is the federation, and I did not know that there were so many of the Alliance's members in it. [Here follows a note in red pencil: "It must be made perfectly clear in the summing-up that there are 3 kinds of initiates into the Alliance." The next page (p. 13) of the manuscript is missing.—Ed.]
Splingard tried hard to find out from Marselau if the secret Alliance still existed in Spain and, in view of Marselau's silence, he announced his regret that he had agreed to take part in the commission, since those who had nominated him had no confidence in him.
The chairman asked him if he knew that the Alliance had not been dissolved.
Citizen Marx replied that he was convinced that the secret Alliance was still active within the International, but in such cases written proof was always lacking and it was only by accumulating a mass of different evidence that one could arrive at an understanding of the truth.
He affirmed that he knew from a reliable source that Citizen Morago, alone among all the Spaniards, was a first grade member of the Alliance.
He showed a letter from Citizen Cafiero, who had complained only shortly before the Congress [The words "its date" are written in red pencil in the margin.—Ed.] about the existence of the Alliance in Italy, but the week before the Congress, having paid a visit to Citizen Bakunin, he had left the latter with quite different ideas, since he had teamed up with members of the Alliance in order to attack the General Council.
Citizen Marx then read from a letter, addressed to a Russian publisher, in which those belonging to a Russian secret society, of which Bakunin was a member, threatened this publisher that they would give him serious attention if he again demanded the return of a sum of 300 rubles which he had given to Citizen Bakunin in advance payment for a translation.
On being questioned by the Chairman, Citizen Morago stated: that he had resigned with his friends from the Alliance because it had exceeded the goal which it had set itself.
The Chairman asked him: Do you think that there is a secret society called the Alliance?
Chairman: On what date did you cease to belong to the Alliance society?
Morago: I don't remember.
Chairman: If Bakunin named you as belonging to the secret Alliance, would you accept his statement about you?
Morago replied: It is not true.
Asked by the Chairman to tell what he knew, Zhukovsky replied:
Bakunin is not well off. A young man came to ask him to translate Capital. He had heard that the proposal had come from a publisher in St. Petersburg who had advanced Bakunin 300 rubles. Citizen Nechayev had come to visit Bakunin in Geneva and had told him that he would arrange the matter with the publisher, who was asking for the work as promised or the return of the money.
Moreover, Zhukovsky declared that he had heard this version from Citizen Bakunin and he had then offered to undertake the translation for the remainder of the sum promised.
He admitted that there were threats, but he said that they came from Nechayev.
He added that he had heard that the publisher.... [breaks off here]
(Written in French)
April 5, 1872
Dear Ally and Comrade,
As our friends at Barcelona have invited me to write to you, I do so with all the more pleasure since I have learned that I also, like my friends, our allies of the Jura Federation, have become, in Spain as much as in other countries, the target for the calumnies of the London General Council. It is indeed a sad thing that in this time of terrible crisis, when the fate of the proletariat of all Europe is being decided for many decades to come, and when all the friends of the proletariat, of humanity and justice, should unite fraternally to make a front against the common enemy, the world of the privileged which has been organised into a state—it is very sad, I say, that men who have, moreover, rendered great services to the International in the past, should be impelled today by evil authoritarian passions, should lower themselves to falsification and the sowing of discord, instead of creating everywhere the free union which alone can create strength.
To give you a fair idea of the line which we are taking, I have only one thing to tell you. Our programme is yours; it is the very one which you proclaimed at your Congress last year, and if you stay faithful to it, you are with us for the simple reason that we are with you. We detest the principle of dictatorship, governmentalism and authority, just as you detest them; we are convinced that all political power is an infallible source of depravity for those who govern, and a cause of servitude for those who are governed.—The state signifies domination, and human nature is so made that all domination becomes exploitation. As enemies of the state in all its manifestations anyway, we certainly do not wish to tolerate it within the International. We regard the London Conference and the resolutions which it passed as an ambitious intrigue and a coup d'état, and that is why we have protested, and shall continue protesting to the end. I am not touching on personal questions, alas! they will take up too much time at the next world Congress, if this Congress takes place, which I strongly doubt myself; for if things continue to proceed as they are doing, there will soon no longer be a single point on the continent of Europe where the delegates of the proletariat will be able to assemble in order to debate in freedom. All eyes are now fixed on Spain, and on the outcome of your Congress. What will come of it? This letter will reach you, if it reaches you at all, after this Congress. Will it find you at the height of revolution or at the height of reaction? All our friends in Italy, France and Switzerland are waiting for news from your country with unbearable anxiety.
You doubtless know that the International and our dear Alliance have progressed enormously in Italy of late. The people, in the country as much as in the towns, are now in an entirely revolutionary situation, that is to say, they are economically desperate; the masses are beginning to organise themselves in a most serious manner and their interests are beginning to become ideas.—Up to now, what was lacking in Italy was not instincts, but organisation and an idea. Both are coming into being, so that Italy, after Spain and with Spain, is perhaps the most revolutionary country at this moment. Italy has what other countries lack: a fervent and energetic youth completely at a loss, with no prospects, with no way out, and which, despite its bourgeois origins, is not morally and intellectually exhausted like the bourgeois youth of other countries. Today, it is throwing itself headlong into revolutionary socialism accepting our entire programme, the programme of the Alliance. Mazzini, our mighty antagonist of genius, is dead, the Mazzini party is completely disorganised, and Garibaldi is letting himself be carried away more and more by that youth which bears his name, but which is going, or rather running, infinitely further ahead of him. I have sent to our friends in Barcelona an Italian address; I shall soon send them others. It is good and it is necessary that the Allies in Spain should enter into direct relations with those in Italy. Are you receiving the Italian socialist newspapers? I recommend above all: the Eguaglianza of Girgenti, Sicily; the Campana of Naples; the Fascio Operoio of Bologna; Il Gazzettino Rosa, above all Il Martello, of Milan—unfortunately the latter has been banned and all the editors imprisoned.
In Switzerland, I recommend to you two Allies: James Guillaume (Switzerland, Neuchâtel, 5, rue de la Place d'Armes) and Adhémar Schwitzguébel, engraver (member and corresponding secretary of the Committee of the Jura Federation), Switzerland, Jura Bernois, Sonvillier, Mr. Adhémar Schwitzguébel, engraver. (Bakunin's address follows.)
Alliance and fraternity,
Please convey my greetings to brother Morago, and ask him to send me his newspaper.
Are you receiving the bulletin of the Jura Federation?
Please burn this letter, as it contains names.