Resolution on the Abolition of Standing Armies and General Armament of the People

A resolution of the 1st World Congress of the Socialist 2nd International, held in Paris, France in 1889.

Proletarians of all countries, unite!


1st World Congress
Socialist 2nd International

Reproduced by
The Red Flag

This Resolution was proposed by Édouard Vaillant. It was adopted unanimously. Seven of those attending abstained from voting, but they were recognized as anarchists.


The Paris International Workers‘ Congress:


  • That a standing army or a strong army in the service of the ruling or possessing class is hostile to any democratic or republican form of government, that it is the expression of military, monarchical or oligarchic and capitalist rule and an instrument of reactionary coups and social oppression;

  • That standing armies are the result and the cause of wars of aggression, creating a constant risk of the emergence of international conflicts; and that therefore standing armies and the policy of aggression, of which they are the organs, must give way to a policy of defence and peaceful democracy, an organization of the whole people, which is no longer for plunder and conquest, but trained and armed for the protection of its independence and its freedoms;

  • That the standing army, as history shows, is the incessant cause of wars, and is incapable of defending a country against the overwhelming power of a coalition, but brings about its defeat and abandons the unarmed country to the mercy of the victors; while a well-armed, organized and armed nation will show itself irresistible to a hostile invasion;

  • That the standing army disrupts all civil life, in that it deprives every nation of the blossoming of youth in the 120 period of teaching or study, of the greatest labour and activity, to shut them up in a barrack and to demoralize them;

  • That the standard army renders sterile labour, science and art, and blocks their growth, so that the development of the citizen, the individual and the family is threatened;

  • That, on the contrary, in a truly national army, where the nation is armed — «the people bearing arms» — the citizen can develop their natural talents and abilities in national life and exercise their military function as a necessary attribute of their civil rights;

  • That the standing army is a cause of misery and ruin due to the incessantly growing burdens of war debts, due to the ever higher taxes and loans that they require,

The Congress rejects with indignation the war plans pursued by governments desperately struggling for their existence;

Regards peace as the first and indispensable condition of any emancipation of the worker;

And together with the abolition of standing armies, demands the general arming of the people according to the following principles:

The national army, the armed nation, consists of all citizens fit for active service; they are organized in districts in such a way that every town, district, and area has a battalion or more — depending on the size of the population — made up of citizens who know each other and who, if need be, can in 24 hours be assembled, armed and ready to march. Everyone has their rifle and equipment at home, as in Switzerland, to defend public freedoms and national security.

The Congress further declares that war, the sad product of present economic conditions, will only disappear when the capitalist mode of production has given way to the emancipation of labour and the international triumph of socialism.