“In a confidential circular to members of the International in 1866, Marx wrote that, ‘although the organization of the working class through the trade unions had acquired a certain degree of maturity and universality’, the Labour movement was totally lacking in the spirit of ‘generalization and revolutionary ardour’. It was the task of the General Council, he continued, to ‘supply this deficiency’. Marx was not responsible for the inauguration of the International in 1864, nor did it seem at first that the International  would prove a likely vehicle for Marxism. Engels remained frankly sceptical and advised Marx not to be drawn away from his theoretical work. The initial inspiration of the movement was Mazzinian rather than Socialist. The first General Council comprised 27 Englishmen and 7 foreigners, and the Englishmen nearly all came from trades based on London. The great catalyst of working class political involvement in the 1860’s had been the building strike of 1859 -11 of the 27 Englishmen came from the building trade unions – and the building strike had been almost exclusively a London affair. (…) Marx was impressed both by the organized strength of the trade unions, and by the international enthusiasms of the working-class leaders, a phenomenon particularly apparent since the last years of Chartism. In his capacity as tactful sage and conceptual thinker on the General Council, Marx hoped gradually to wean British proletarian leaders from the narrow horizons of liberalism and inculcate them with ‘a spirit of generalization and revolutionary ardour’. His method, he informed Engels, would be, ‘fortiter in re, suaviter in modo’. So the revolutionary ardour of the Manifesto was muted in the diplomatic phrases of the ‘Inaugural address’, concessions were made to Mazzini, references to Gladstone, if hostile, became guarded and polite. Marx intended to push the International, and especially the British section slowly towards a socialist position. This would be achieved by exploiting the positive features of the political situation to their fullest extent. Thus the authors show how he put all his weight behind agitations for the freedom of Poland and Ireland, since these campaigns relied almost entirely upon working-class support; the risorgimento on the other hand found little or no mention in the pronouncements composed for the International by Marx, since he considered that it was an issue which was in no sense class divisive. Above all the British trade union philosophy would have to comprehend more than the narrow expertise of industrial struggle. Marx told the Geneve Congress that, having started as agencies of scattered guerrilla warfare, the unions must develop into ‘organizing centres of the working class in the broad interests of its complete emancipation. They must aid every social and political movement tending in that direction’. At the beginning at least, Marx’s strategy worked. His intellectual ascendancy assured him a dominating position on the General Council and British delegates supported him at the congresses of the International until the end. Moreover, as he gained the trust of his British supporters, he gradually threw away his early caution, until the prudish phrases of the ‘Inaugural address’ were completely effaced by the unequalled polemic of the ‘Civil war in France’. He succeeded in committing some of the leaders of the ‘Model’ trade unions in favour of nationalization of the land and the eight-hour day. Yet for all their respect for Marx, British trade unionists (for all practical purposes, London trade unionists) remained impervious to Marx’s conception of class war. Applegarth, who, of all the trade unions leaders, was probably closest to Marx, clearly, as the authors state, ‘saw the International not as an instrument of Revolution, but a logical sequel to the successes already achieved by labour in his own country. He told the Basle Congress in 1869, ‘much that I have heard here were settled questions with us 20 years ago…now…we are in want of education and the state must give it free from religion. You want some of your obnoxious laws repealed, and we may help you there’. (…) Marx’s hopes for the International in England were partly based on his memory of the class solidarity of Chartism. Yet the militant class isolationism of Chartism had found its most articulate expression in the North, whilst the International made little or no impression there. Marx’s English associates in the International had nearly all received their political education within the tradition of London radicalism. The problem of Marx’s relationship to the Labour movement of the 1860’s thus resolves itself into the question of the relationship between Marx’s ideas and those of London radicalism. London’s political traditions were quite distinct. In one sense the Achilles heel of Chartism, its primary characteristics were secularism, republicanism and the political demands which had been embodied in the activities of Paine and the London Corresponding Society. The real hero of the London working men in the 1870’s and early 1880’s was Bradlaugh, with whom Marx crossed swords over the Commune. The foundation of the International did coincide with renewed class political engagement. But it was the last and greatest flourish of London radicalism, not the first tentative flowering of London socialism” [Gareth Stedman Jones, London and the Revolutionaries, (in) New Left Review N° 31 May-June 1965]