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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #242 - In 1864, the first working international was born in London (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:46:47 +0300

More than 2,000 people thronged the venue of St. Martin's Hall in London on the evening of Wednesday, 28 September 1864 A meeting of solidarity with Poland, under the yoke of tsarist Russia, brings together the leaders of the trade unions English, but also French, German and Italian workers. English and French mutual trade unionists have their reasons to realize the rhetoric of solidarity by the constitution of the International Workingmen's Association. ---- Workers who are in the gallery that night know and have organized this meeting with a specific project of international working society, they are already planning for several years. The main architect of this merger is George Odger. Shoemaker 50, he is the head of the council that brings together leaders of major unions in London.

The Franco-British couple

International solidarity is a major concern of the British working class. The union organized demonstrations against slavery in the southern United States in 1862 or against the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1863, was on this occasion that George Odger brought a French workers' delegation at the meeting in St. James Hall, 22 July 1863 The bronziers Tolain Henri Joseph and Étienne Perrachon and the weaver Charles Limousin then represent the French workers, who also campaigned for France to support the Polish people. Tolain Perrachon and had already met the English trade unionists when Napoleon III sent a delegation of 200 French workers at the World Exhibition in London in the summer of 1862, hoping to benefit from the example of modern British industry.

The new generation of workers which includes Paris Tolain intends to take advantage of the kindness of the emperor, in a lot of popularity. She struggles to organize the working class by creating cooperatives, mutual funds or presenting candidates for legislative workers 1863 In February 1864, Tolain is behind the Manifesto of 60 claiming "freedom of labor", c that is to say to the workers freedoms (freedom of association, assembly...). The call of the foot of the trade unions falls rather well and these French workers coming to London in 1864 with a proposed international working association.

The weight of the trade unions

For their part, the leaders of the trade unions in international solidarity see a solution to the competition as laid bosses with necessarily less paid and more docile foreign workers. In a written by Odger after the meeting in St. James Hall address the motivations of British trade unionists are evident: "A fraternal union between peoples is absolutely essential to the cause of workers, because we realize that every time we try to improve our social condition by reducing the hours of work, or increasing the price of labor, our bosses threaten us to bring French, Germans, Belgians and others to do our work by accepting lower wages. Unfortunately it happened while our brothers of the continent did not have the intention to do us harm, simply due to the lack of regular and systematic contact between the working classes of all countries. ".

At St. Martin's Hall, the British delegation is composed of leaders of the trade unions: the carpenters William Cremer and Robert Appelgarth, cabinetmaker Benjamin Lucraft, printer Robert Hartwell and naturally Odger itself. They are accompanied by Republican Edward Spencer Beesly, which is not labor but teacher.

The real powers

French side and found Tolain Perrachon accompanied the engineer André Murat, the anti-Bonapartist journalist Henri Lefort (originally the Manifesto of 60 alongside Tolain) and the outlaw Victor Lubez (a French socialist in exile in London, very involved in the organization of the meeting alongside Odger), which acts as an interpreter.

To strengthen the international character of the meeting, and Odger Lubez contacted some exiles in London activists who are supposed to represent the working class of their countries: Major Luigi Wolff, Secretary of Guiseppe Mazzini, for Italy, a Forbes talks about Ireland, while "Doctor" Karl Marx, philosopher (which simply mute presence at the podium) and his friend Johann Georg Eccarius, tailor and former member of the Communist League, Germany. The evening was enlivened with a few songs by a choir of German workers.

Despite the presence of political activists, journalist, philosopher... it is clear that the initiative is working and that its goal is social and economic. This is also what Marx decided to attend as he had promised to refuse such an invitation. He wrote to Engels in November 1864: "this time real powers were present, both on the side of London that side of Paris".

The AIT was born

The intervention of Professor Beesly in the introduction to the meeting, gave a very anti-colonialist tone and recalls the solidarity with the Polish people, but also all other oppressed peoples in the world, with particular focus on British foreign policy and that of the French empire in Italy, China, Ireland, India,... In this destruction rule of any "patriotic bias", succeeded by reading Odger address to French workers in 1863 and the response Tolain (see below). The intervention of Tolain, whose charisma impresses the audience, is highly acclaimed, even before being led Lubez. A resolution is passed by the entire room to implement the international association project proposed by the French delegation. According to the draft, a central committee in London, consisting of focal points for each region of Europe, would serve to make the connection between locals.

After the speeches on Italy, Germany and Ireland, a committee was elected to implement the resolution. It contains most of the major leaders trade unionists and exiles, including Lubez for France, and Marx Eccarius for Germany, Major Wolff for Italy. The Central Council (later renamed the General Council) of the AIT was born.

But it was not until the strikes of 1867-1868 for the Association to become more important among the workers and, at the same time, lose the goodwill of governments. In bourgeois circles, the meeting of St. Martin's Hall is rather greeted with condescension is hoped that by worrying a little more of public affairs, workers become responsible partners. Instead, this international agreement becomes a revolutionary organization, accused of being behind all the strikes and insurrections.

Renaud (AL Alsace)

At a meeting in St. Martin's Hall, it was Henri Tolain who speaks on behalf of the French workers. It responds to the address of the British workers, reread a few minutes earlier by its author, George Odger. The French delegation, very close to the ideals of Fourier and Proudhon (without necessarily knowing the texts of these authors), calls for international solidarity of workers who will be an effective counterweight to the concentration of capital, which is described as "fruitful auxiliary work".

Brothers and Friends, Yes, you are right, the feeling that unites us, is a certain indication of a better future for the liberation of peoples. It takes more than the Caesars, forehead stained with bloody crown, share them peoples exhausted by the plundering of the great, countries devastated by wild wars. Again Poland is covered with a bloody shroud and we remained helpless spectators. One oppressed people endangers the freedom of other peoples. On behalf of his dignity every free man or anyone who will be his competition is his oppressed brethren. No doubt we will have many obstacles to overcome, there are many who fall wounded in the melee. No matter; to Freedom at the Progress as the earthing is fertilizer. [...]

Workers of all countries that want to be free: your turn to have congress. It is the people who finally returned to the stage, aware of its strength and standing in front of tyranny in the political order, in front of monopoly privilege in the economic order. [...]

Industrial progress, division of labor, free trade, these are the issues that need our attention today, as they will profoundly change the economic conditions of society. Driven by the needs of the time, by force of circumstances, capital focus, organize themselves into powerful financial and industrial associations. If we are not careful, this force will soon reign despotically without counterweight. [...]

Faced with this powerful and scholarly organization while bending, more yield, the isolated man is nothing: he feels every day reduce its freedom of action and independence. Given this organization, individual initiative turns off or discipline for the benefit of the organization. Work is the law of humanity, the source of public wealth, the legitimate basis of individual property. It should be sacred, free. [...]

When the principal, assistant fruitful labor becomes his relentless domineering, reduces the worker to famine, this is called the exchange of services, freedom of transactions. When placed under adverse conditions, industrial reduces the price of labor to restore the equilibrium between him and his rivals is then free competition. As if free trade were to have the result of moving the battlefield. [...]

Free trade, complete with the freedom to work, do not perpetuate the struggle; but, instead, he would develop the skills and genius of each people, finally changing enemies into rivals. Thus, by default vocational science is the privilege of the capital, by the division of labor the worker is no longer a mechanical agent and free trade, without solidarity among workers, generate industrial serfdom more relentless and more fatal to mankind than the one destroyed by our fathers in those great days of the French Revolution. This is not a cry of hatred, no, it is a cry of alarm. We must unite, workers of all countries to oppose an insurmountable barrier to a fatal system that would divide humanity into two classes - an ignorant populace and bloated and plump mandarins.

Save us by solidarity!
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