Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Oct 19 21:26:09 PDT 1998

[this bounced from James Heartfield, submitted from Jim at ... instead of James at ...]

In article <19981016202934.7945.qmail at>, Randy Stone <stonerandy at> writes

>Has anyone studied the conflict between Marx and Bakunin around the
>IWMA? I understand that Marx moved the headquarters to New York City
>get around the anarchists in the IWMA. In other words, rather than let
>Bakuninists take over the IWMA, he shut down the show.

"Marx moved the motion, but it was the General Council of the IWMA which decided to move the seat of the General Council to New York in 1872. The IWMA was dissolved by the General Council in Philadelphia in 1876."

An insight into Bakunin's differences with Marx can be found in Otto Ruhle's book on Marx, in which Ruhle quotes Bakunin's assessment of Marx's circle:

"Himself a Jew, he has round him in London and in France, and above all in Germany, a number of petty, more or less able, intriguing, mobile, specualtive Jews (the sort of Jews you can find all over the place), commercial employees, Bank clearks, men of letters, politicians, the correspondents of newspapers of the most various shades of opinion, in a word, literary go-betweens, one foot in the bank, the other in the socialist movement, while their rump is in German periodical literature ... These Jewish men of letters are adepts in the art of cowardly, odious and perfidious insinuations."

Ruhle, Karl Marx, p 281.

Ruhle himself was something of an anti-semite, but even he baulked at this example of Bakunin's being rather too close to the thinking of the Russian peasantry, and its hatred of 'cosmopolitanism'.

Bakunin's anti-statism was tested most clearly by the Commune, which centralised state power in the hands of the working class - at which point Bakunin forgot all his qualms about the state for fear of putting himself outside of the movement.

On the shift of the International's Headquarters to New York, the Bakuninists were right to suspect that this was a subterfuge on Marx's part to quietly kill it off, rather than see the movement descend into the sectarian squabbling that had overtaken the old Communist league in a similar period of reaction.

-- Jim heartfield

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