In 1872 a grouping made up of various organisations, claiming to be part of the First International and even declaring an alternative “General Council”, had to be denounced by the General Council publicly to clarify matters.
Some weeks ago a pamphlet was published under the title “Universal Federalist Council of the International Working Men’s Association and of the Republican Socialist Societies adhering.” This pamphlet pretends nothing less than to inaugurate a coup d’état within the International. It announces the formation of a second General Council, and it denounces both the organization of the International, and the administration of its General Council. Now, who are the members of this new self-constituted Council, and the authors of these denunciations? Among the names affixed to the document we find, firstly, that of Citizen John Weston, a member of the General Council, and its former treasurer, who, in a letter to the Council, declares his name to have been made use of without his authority. Secondly, six delegates from the Universal Republican League, a society entirely foreign to the International. Thirdly, two delegates from an “International Republican Federalist Section,” which section is totally unknown to the International. Fourthly, two delegates from the Land and Labour League, which society does not form any part of the International. Fifthly, two self-styled delegates of the German Arbeiter-Bildungs-Verein, but, in fact, delegates of a few Germans who were excluded from that society on account of their openly avowed hostility to the International. Lastly, four delegates of two French societies counting together less than a score of members, and which the General Council had declined to admit as branches; amongst these we find M. Vésinier, excluded from the International by a committee appointed by the Brussels Congress in 1868, and M. Landeck, whom the hasty flight of Louis Bonaparte’s prefect of police, on the 4th of September, 1870, liberated from the engagement he had voluntarily taken towards that officer, and “scrupulously kept, not to occupy himself any more, in France, either with politics or with the International” (see the published report of the third trial of the International at Paris) and who only lately was expelled from the Society of the Communard Refugees in London.
It must be evident, even to the signatories of this document, that a conclave of such entire strangers to the International has exactly as much right to meddle with its organization and to constitute itself its General Council, as the General Council of the International has to interfere with the organization, and to declare itself the Board of Directors of the Great Northern Railway.
No wonder that these men are utterly ignorant of the history and organization of the International. How should they be expected to know that according to our rules the General Council has to render its accounts to the General Congresses, and not to them? or that, when in 1870 the breaking out of the war prevented the Congress meeting an unanimous vote of all federations empowered the General Council to continue in office until political circumstances should permit the convocation of a public Congress? As to the fund collected by the General Council in favour of the refugees, the sum total received has, from time to time, been acknowledged in the published reports of the Council meetings, and our treasurer, Citizen Jung, 4, Charles-street, Northampton-square, Clerkenwell, holds the receipts for every farthing expended, which receipts, as well as the accounts, can be inspected any day by any of the donors. Such an inspection will show not only that the Council has devoted a great portion of its time to this object, quite foreign to its regular functions, but also that itself, as a body, and its individual members, have contributed to the refugee fund within the limits of their means.
Since the growth and power of the International have become what they are, the only way in which rival and hostile societies can attempt to attack it with any chance of success is to usurp its name in order to undermine its strength. This has been so well understood by the whole press-gang of the Governments, and of the ruling classes, that the same papers, from police press to so-called democratic and republican, which carefully suppress every official declaration of the General Council, always hasten to keep all Europe well-informed of insignificant and ridiculous manifestations like that of this “Universal Federalist Council.”
The General Council:
R. Applegarth, A. Arnaud, M. Barry, M. J. Boon, F. Bradnick, C. H. Buttery, E. Delahaye, Eugène Dupont, J. G. Eccarius, W. Hales, Hurliman, Jules Johannard, C. Keen, Harriet Law, F. Lessner, Lochner, C. Longuet, Marguerittes, C. Martin, Zévy Maurice, H. Mayo, G. Milner, T. Mottershead, Pfänder, J. Rozwadowski, V. Regis, J. Roach, Rühl, G. Ranvier, Sadler, G. Sexton, Cowell Stepney, A. Taylor, W. Townshend, E. Vaillant, J. Weston, De Wolfers, F. J. Yarrow.
Leo Frankel, for Austria and Hungary; A. Herman, Belgium; F. Cournet, Denmark; A. Serraillier, France; Karl Marx, Germany and Russia; C. Rochat, Holland; J. P. McDonnell, Ireland; F. Engels, Italy and Spain; Walery Wróblewski, Poland; Hermann Jung, Switzerland; Le Moussu, for French Branches of United States.
C. Murray, Chairman, H. Jung, Treasurer, John Hales, Gen. Sec.
33, Rathbone-place, London, W. May 20th, 1872
(MECW, vol. 23, pp. 157-9)