“The ‘International’ was founded in order to replace the socialist or semi-socialist sects by a real organisation of the working class for struggle. The original statutes and the Inaugural Address show this at the first glance. On the other hand the internationalists could not have maintained themselves if the course of history had not already smashed up the sectarian system. The development of the system of socialist sects and that of the real workers’ movement always stand in inverse ratio to each other. So long as the sects are (historically) justified the working class is not yet ripe for an independent historic movement. As soon as it has attained this maturity all sects are essentially reactionary. Nevertheless what history has shown everywhere was repeated within the International. The antiquated attempts to re-establish and maintain itself within the newly achieved form. And the history of the International was a ‘continual struggle on the part of the General Council’ against the sects and amateur experiments which attempted to maintain themselves within the International itself against the genuine movement of the working class. This struggle was conducted at the ‘Congresses’, but far more in the private dealings of the General Council with the individual sections. (…) The political movement of the working class has as its object, of course, the conquest of political power for the working class and for this it is naturally necessary that a previous organisation of the working class, itself arising from their economic struggles, should have been developed up to a certain point. On the other hand, however, every movement in which the working class comes out, ‘as a class’ against the ruling classes and attempts to force them by pressure from without is a political movement. For instance, the attempt in a particular factory or even a particular industry to force a shorter working day out of the capitalists by strikes, etc., is a purely economic movement. On the other hand the movement to force an eight-hour day, etc., ‘law’ is a ‘political’ movement. And in this way, out of the separate economic movements of the workers there grows up everywhere a ‘political’ movement, that is to say a movement of the ‘class’, with the object of achieving its interests in a general form, in a form possessing a general social force of compulsion. If these movements presuppose a certain degree of previous organisation they are themselves equally a means for the development of this organisation. Where the working class is not yet far enough advanced in its organisation to undertake a decisive campaign against the collective power, i.e., the political power of the ruling classes, it must at any rate be trained for this by continual agitation against and a hostile attitude towards the policy of the ruling classes. Otherwise it will remain a plaything in their hands, as the September revolution in France showed, and as is also proved up to a certain point by the game Messrs. Gladstone and Co. are bringing off in England even up to the present time (1)” [Karl Marx to A. Bolte, London, November 23, 1871; (in) Karl Marx, ‘Selected Works in Two Volumes. Volume II’, a cura di A. Adoratsky, London, 1942] [(1) For the revolution of September 4, 1870, in France, see ‘The Civil War in France’. By the words “Gladstone’s game” Marx means the influence of the bourgeois party and of the liberals led by Gladstone on the leaders of the trade unions.-Ed.]

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