Red Letter
Daily Left Theory. 15 Minutes or Less. Refreshes at Midnight.
Provisional Rules of the First International (1864)
by Karl Marx
Estimated Reading Time: 2 min


What may rightly seem like an opening statement preceding organizational rules (which we have not included because they are things like "8. Every section has the right to appoint its own secretary corresponding directly with the General Council." Google it if you want to read them) contains some clear statements of clear ideas of what would go on to become some of the core tenets of Marxism. We're going to explore some of these issues in the coming readings (like developing a class conscious of its position and power that leads to revolutionary action), but also note that Karl was not an academic removed from political struggle: Communism is not simply an analytic exercise, but a political project of liberation. Enjoy the easy reading day.

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 man of labor 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 Working Men's 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 men, 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.

Provisional Rules of the First International (1864)
Communism Is How We Forcibly Break Apart the Organized Power of the Capitalist Class
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