General Rules of the International Workers’ Association

Proletarians of all countries, unite!
There is one goal, the conquest of power!

GENERAL RULES OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS‘ ASSOCIATION

Karl Marx
September 1872

Collected Works, Vols. 20 and 23
Lawrence & Wishart
Reproduced by
The Red Flag

GENERAL RULES OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS‘ ASSOCIATION

The General Rules of the Workers‘ 1st International were drafted by Karl Marx before its founding in September of 1864. After the expulsion of Mikhail Bakunin‘s anarchist faction, Article 7a was added to the Rules at the 5th World Congress of the Workers‘ 1st International at the Hague, the Netherlands, which Marx personally presided over.

Considering,

That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;

That the economical subjection of the worker to the monopolizer of the means of labor — that is, the source of life — lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;

That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;

That all efforts aiming at the great end hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labor in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries;

That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;

That the present revival of the working classes in the most industrious countries of Europe, while it raises a new hope, gives solemn warning against a relapse into the old errors, and calls for the immediate combination of the still disconnected movements;

For these reasons:

The International Workers‘ Association has been founded.

It declares:

That all societies and individuals adhering to it will acknowledge truth, justice, and morality as the basis of their conduct toward each other and toward all humans, without regard to color, creed, or nationality;

That it acknowledges no rights without duties, no duties without rights;

And, in this spirit, the following Rules have been drawn up.

1. This Association is established to afford a central medium of communication and cooperation between workers‘ societies existing in different countries and aiming at the same end; that is to say, the protection, advancement, and complete emancipation of the working classes.

2. The name of the society shall be „The International Workers‘ Association“.

3. There shall annually meet a General Workers‘ Congress, consisting of delegates of the branches of the Association. The Congress will have to proclaim the common aspirations of the working class, take the measures required for the successful working of the International Association, and appoint the General Council of the society.

4. Each Congress appoints the time and place of meeting for the next Congress. The delegates assemble at the appointed time and place, without any special invitation. The General Council may, in case of need, change the place, but has no power to postpone the time of the General Council annually. The Congress appoints the seat and elects the members of the General Council annually. The General Council thus elected shall have power to add to the number of its members.

On its annual meetings, the General Congress shall receive a public account of the annual transactions of the General Council. The latter may, in case of emergency, convoke the General Congress before the regular yearly term.

5. The General Council shall consist of workers from the different countries represented in the International Association. It shall, from its own members, elect the officers necessary for the transaction of business, such as a treasurer, a general secretary, corresponding secretaries for the different countries, and so on.

6. The General Council shall form an international agency between the different and local groups of the Association, so that the workers in one country be consistently informed of the movements of their class in every other country; that an inquiry into the social state of the different countries of Europe be made simultaneously, and under a common direction; that the questions of general interest mooted in one society be ventilated by all; and that when immediate practical steps should be needed — as, for instance, in case of international quarrels — the action of the associated societies be simultaneous and uniform. Whenever it seems opportune, the General Council shall take the initiative of proposals to be laid before the different national or local societies. To facilitate the communications, the General Council shall publish periodical reports.

7. Since the success of the workers‘ movement in each country cannot be secured but by the power of union and combination, while, on the other hand, the usefulness of the International General Council must greatly depend on the circumstance whether it has to deal with a few national centres of workers‘ associations, or with a great number of small and disconnected local societies — the members of the International Association shall use their utmost efforts to combine the disconnected workers‘ societies of their respective countries into national bodies, represented by central national organs. It is self-understood, however, that the appliance of this rule will depend upon the peculiar laws of each country, and that, apart from legal obstacles, no independent local society shall be precluded from corresponding directly with the General Council.

7a. In its struggle against the collective power of the propertied classes, the working class cannot act as a class except by constituting itself into a political party, distinct from, and opposed to all old parties formed by the propertied classes.

This constitution of the working class into a political party is indispensable in order to insure the triumph of the social revolution, and of its ultimate end, the abolition of classes.

The combination of forces which the working class has already effected by its economical struggles ought, at the same time, to serve as a lever for its struggles against the political power of landlords and capitalists.

The lords of land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their economical monopolies, and for the enslavement of labour. The conquest of political power has therefore become the great duty of the working class.

8. Every section has the right to appoint its own secretary corresponding directly with the General Council.

9. Everybody who acknowledges and defends the principles of the International Workers‘ Association is eligible to become a member. Every branch is responsible for the integrity of the members it admits.

10. Each member of the International Association, on removing their domicile from one country to another, will receive the fraternal support of the Associated Workers.

11. While united in a perpetual bond of fraternal cooperation, the workers‘ societies joining the International Association will preserve their existent organizations intact.

12. The present Rules may be revised by each Congress, provided that 2/3 of the delegates present are in favor of such revision.

13. Everything not provided for in the present Rules will be supplied by special Regulations, subject to the revision of every Congress.