The St. Imier Congress, 1872

A General Congress of the International was held at the Hague in 1872. but instead of dealing with the concerns of the anti-authoritarian, federalist Sections, Marx and his supporters had Bakunin and James Guillaume, one of the most active members of the Jura Federation, expelled from the International on trumped up charges. And then had the seat of the International transferred to New York rather than risk losing control of the organization. The anti-authoritarians responded by holding their own Congress at St. Imier in Switzerland, where they reconstituted the International along anti-authoritarian lines. Ironically, despite Marx and Engel’s claims that the anti-authoritarians wanted to replace the organization of the International with anarchy and chaos, or worse, the personal dictatorship of Bakunin, the anti-authoritarian international outlived by several years the one transferred at Marx and Engel’s instigation to New York, where it soon expired. Needless to say, Bakunin never assumed
personal control of the anti-authoritarian International, from which he withdrew in 1873, and it had no difficulty continuing on without him.

 “As we see it, the worker will never be able to free himself of the age-old oppression,
unless he replaces that insatiable, demoralizing body [the state] with a free federation of
all producer groups on a footing of solidarity and equality. Consequently, by leaving the details of positive organization to be worked out by the Social Revolution, we intend to organize and marshal resistance on a broad scale. We regard the strike as a precious weapon in the struggle, but we have no illusions about its economic results. We embrace it as a product of the antagonism between labor and capital, the necessary consequence of which is to make workers more and more alive to the gulf that exists between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, to bolster the toilers’ organization, and, by dint of ordinary economic struggles, to prepare the proletariat for the great and final revolutionary contest which, destroying all privilege and all class difference, will bestow upon the worker a right to the enjoyment of the gross product of his labors and thereby the means of developing his full intellectual , material and moral powers in a collective setting.”


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