Interview with Karl Marx
RL And what is the nature of that aid?
Karl Marx: to give an example, one of the commonest forms of the movement for emancipation is that of strikes. Formerly when a strike took place in one country it was defeated by the importation of workmen from another. The International has nearly stopped all that. It receieves information of the intended strike, it spreads that information amongst its members, who at once see that for them the seat of the struggle must be forbidden ground. The masters are thus left alone to reckon with their men. In most cases the men require no other aid than that. Their own subscriptions or those of the societies to which they are more immediately affiliated supply them with funds, but should the pressure upon them become too heavy and the strike be one of which the association approves, their necessities are supplied out of the common purse. By these means a strike of the cigar makers of Barcelon was brought to a victorious issue the other day. It cannot possibly gain by them in a pecuniary point of view, but it may easily lose. Let us some it all up in a word. The working classes remain poor amid the increase of wealth, wretched amid the increase of luxury. Their material privation dwarfs their moral as well as their physical stature. They cannot rely on others for a remedy. It has become then with them an imperative necessity to take their own case in mind. They must revise the relations between themselves and the capitalists and landlords and that means they must transform society. This is the general end of every known workmens organisation – land and labour leagues, trade and friendly societies, cooperative stores and cooperative production are but means toward it. TO establish perfect solidarity between these organisations is the business of the International Association. Its influence is beginning to be felt everywhere. Two papers spread its views in Spain, three in Germany, the same number in Austria and in Holland, six in Belgium and six in Switzerland. And now that I have told you what the International is, you may perhaps be in a position to form your own opinion as to its pretended plots.
August 12, 1871