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3 Karl Marx [FIRST ADDRESS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING MEN'S ASSOCIATION ON THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR1 ] TO THE MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING MEN'S ASSOCIATION IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES In the Inaugural Address of the International Working Men's Association, of November, 1864, we said:—"If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfil that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon national prejudices and squandering in piratical wars the people's blood and treasure?" a We defined the foreign policy aimed at by the International in these words: "Vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the laws paramount of the intercourse of nations."b No wonder that Louis Bonaparte, who usurped his power by exploiting the war of classes in France, and perpetuated0 it by periodical wars abroad, should from the first have treated the International as a dangerous foe. On the eve of the plebiscite he ordered a raid on the members of the Administrative Committees of the International Working Men's Association throughout France, at Paris, Lyons, Rouen, Marseilles, Brest, etc., on the pretext that the International was a secret society dabbling in a complot for his assassination, a pretext soon after exposed in its full absurdity by his own judges.2 What was the real crime of the French branches of the International? They told the French people publicly and emphatically that voting the plebiscite was voting despotism at home and war abroad.d It has been, in fact, their work that in all the great towns, in all the industrial centres a See present edition, Vol. 20, pp. 12-13.— Ed. b Ibid., p. 13.— Ed. c The German edition of 1870 has "maintained" and that of 1891 "prolonged", instead of "perpetuated".— Ed. d Manifeste antiplébiscitaire des Sections parisiennes fédérées del' Internationale et de la Chambre fédérale des Sociétés ouvrières, Paris [1870].— Ed. 4 Karl Marx of France, the working class rose like one man to reject the plebiscite. Unfortunately the balance was turned by the heavy ignorance of the rural districts. The Stock Exchanges, the Cabinets, the ruling classes and the press of Europe celebrated the plebiscite as a signal victory of the French Emperor. over the French working class; and it was the signal for the assassination, not of an individual, but of nations. The war plot of July, 1870, is but an amended edition of the coup d'état of December, 1851.3 At first view the thing seemed so absurd that France would not believe in its real good earnest. It rather believed the deputy denouncing the ministerial war talk as a mere stock-jobbing trick.3 When, on July 15th, war was at last officially announced to the Corps Législatif? the whole opposition refused to vote the preliminary subsidies, even Thiers branded it as "detestable"0 ; all the independent journals of Paris condemned it, and, wonderful to relate, the provincial press joined in almost unanimously. Meanwhile, the Paris members of the International had again set to work. In the Réveil of July 12th they published their manifesto "to the workmen of all nations", from which we extract the following few passages: "Once more," they say, "on the pretext of the European equilibrium, of national honour, the peace of the world is menaced by political ambitions. French, German, Spanish workmen! Let our voices unite in one cry of reprobation against war!... War for a question of preponderance or a dynasty, can, in the eyes of workmen, be nothing but a criminal absurdity. In answer to the warlike proclamations of those who exempt themselves from the impost of blood, and find in public misfortunes a source of fresh speculations, we protest, we who want peace, labour and liberty!... Brothers of Germany! Our division would only result in the complete triumph of despotism on both sides of the Rhine.... Workmen of all countries! Whatever may for the present become of our common efforts, we, the members of the International Working Men's Association, who know of no frontiers, we send you as a pledge of indissoluble solidarity the good wishes and the salutations of the workmen of France." This manifesto of our Paris section was followed by numerous similar French addresses, of which we can here only quote the declaration...


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