Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International

The second part of the nineteenth century was pivotal for world history. The colonial structure of the world that had been formed by that time and division of labor became global. The world economy of that period was characterized by the situation when the production of finished goods was concentrated in colonialist countries, and colonies were used to provide raw materials and natural resources. The industrial revolution led to a major change in the social and economic structures of society. The creation of new industries and the rapid increase in the number of wage laborers gave rise to the labor movements and led to the emergence of new organizations whose purpose was to protect the interests of the working class. The growing strength of workers’ movements in the following years and their struggle for rights had a significant impact on the course of history. The goal of this paper is to discuss the development of the labor movements during the time of the First and Second International and to study how it affected the relationships between workers and capitalists.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

The first part of the nineteenth century saw several short-lived rebellions of workers. Those events took place primarily in the United Kingdom that was the leading industrial nation of that time. The invention of the steam engine and technological progress created new working places in developing industries, and many peasants experienced the transition to coal miners or workers of the newly created factories. At the same time, manual laborers found themselves in competition with machines, because of the rapid process of mechanization during that period.

The workers were unsatisfied with working conditions and concerned with the rate of technological progress that led to the replacement of hand-workers with new machines. All of these uprisings were put down by the government forces and did not lead to any concessions to the labor movements1. The labor unrest of these years is characterized by the spontaneous nature of protests and lack of coordination. The government reaction to workers’ movements became even crueler after the Revolution of 1848 that spread across Europe, putting the monarchical order in danger2. Thus, in the years preceding the formation of the First International, the labor movements were not connected and did not have any strategy they could use against capitalists.

As the new working class was growing, the idea of shared interests and class identity became more popular among laborers. The International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) which is referred to as The First International is an organization that aimed to unite the working-class people from different countries in the struggle for their rights. This organization was formed in 1864 in London and had its first congress in Geneva two years later. It included representatives from 13 European nations and The United States, which made it the first transnational labor organization3. The First International aimed to unite a variety of political groups that had different and sometimes confronting visions and goals. The creation of IWA was the first attempt to bring together communists, socialists, anarchists, and labor union members across nations to consolidate their power in the class struggle4. Thus, despite the disagreements inherent to the ideologies of its members, the growing labor movements of Europe and the US joined together, bringing the struggle for workers’ rights at an international level.

The organization was made up of multiple political groups, each of which had its agenda and persuaded its interests. Marxists and anarchists, who were the main two parties of the IWA, did not agree on their attitude towards the strategy of the organization. The disagreement and tension among the different parties participating in the First International were present from the start and kept growing throughout its existence. Trade unions and workers’ political parties used different strategies in the struggle, and it resulted in the lack of consolidation among them5.In addition to that, the growing conflict between Marxists and anarchists undermined the very idea of class solidarity6. The failure to coordinate different forces in the struggle for workers’ rights limited the ability of the labor movements to support the immediate interests of laborers. As a result, the formation of the First International did not have an immediate positive effect on the condition of workers around the world.

At the same time, the debates over different aspects of the struggle for workers’ rights led to further development of the ideas behind this process and the theoretical basis of the argument. Although the lack of consolidation, eventually, led to the split of the organization in two in 1872, the First International created a new platform for political and philosophical discussions about the future of labor movements7. This allowed to define strategies for the future and led to the further spread of the ideas among the population8. Although workers could not feel the benefits of it at the time, The First International influenced the development of the labor movements and its formation contributed to their further strengthening in the following years.

The figure of Karl Marx is central to the development of labor movements during the period of the First International. Marx played a big role in the formation of the organization and was elected to the General Council at the very beginning of its work9. As a member of the General Council, he struggled against anarchists, although he was successful, he did not save the First International from its eventual decline10. Marx’s political activity in the IWA contributed to the growth of the workers’ movement and his involvement in the political argument of that time help socialists further develop their doctrine.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

Karl Marx dedicated his work to study the nature of capitalist society and the relationship between the working class and the owners of means of production. The theoretical framework that Karl Marx created in Capital made a big impact on the development of socialist ideas, creating the fundament of the new ideology, which now is referred to as Marxism11. His theories have been used by many left-wing politicians and activists around the world. Marx’s thoughts about economics, society, and politics made a significant contribution to social science.

The decline of the First International led to a necessity of creating a new organization that would take its place. The Second International was formed in July 1889 in Paris. Despite the criticism of such measures from some political groups, the anarchists were excluded from the organization leading to the socialists becoming the main driving force of the organization. Thus, the political course of the First International was mostly based on Marxist ideology12. The fact that the organization was built around one political doctrine helped avoid the internal conflict and allowed to development of general principals and strategies.

The implementation of Marxist principles was influenced by environmental factors and varied in different countries. German socialists believed that in social reform within the existing monarchy. In contrast to that, in Russia, oppressive actions of the tsarist government led to disbelief in compromise with the regime and gave rise to talks about revolution13. Workers’ movements in France were quite liberal and attached less importance to the political questions compared to Germany and Russia. And the course of Laborism in the United Kingdom was characterized by its focus on the practical idea of building labor unions to protect the interests of workers14. As a result, despite the shared values and principles, the labor movement developed differently across the countries.

The growth of the labor movement in the United States is also linked with the spread of the left ideas, but at the same time, the situation there was different from what was happening in Europe. Growing support for socialist ideas and the activity of labor unions strengthened the labor movement. Series of strikes and protests took place during that period, resulting in violent clashes with the police15.In the second part of the nineteenth century, America also witnessed a rise of individualist anarchist and anarcho-communist movements16. Many of them believed that violent methods could be justified to protect the working class from the oppression of their employers. Fighting slavery was also a major theme of their political ideology17. Thus, during this period in American history, the spread of new radical ideas led to protests of workers and sometimes to violence.

World War I was a turning point in the development of labor movements affecting all the major industrial powers of that time. The Second International declined with the beginning of the fighting because the workers’ for the most part supported their nation’s affords and did not unite to create international opposition to the war. In addition to that, the conscription of workers and farmers in the armies led to further weakening of labor activities18. The situation was changing as the war progressed, inflicting significant damage. Working-class people were affected most by the war, which resulted in discontent and public unrest. This new wave of labor unrest led to the Revolution in Russia in 191719. Thus, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the first communist state was created — The Soviet Union and the strength of socialist movements across the world kept growing.

The technological progress of the nineteenth century changed the way of life for people all over the world. The rapid development of the industrial complex increased the number of workers and led to a shift in society. It created a new class of citizens who had to face multiple challenges and problems that had never been seen before. Labors are required to join together to oppose the exploitation and bad working conditions. The consolidation of labor movements in the nineteenth century determent the direction of their development in the following decades. Labor unrest shaped the structure of the economic relationships in the society and was linked to all major political events of the nineteenth and twentieth century. This shift in the balance of power in the interwar period determined world dynamics before the descent to World War II.

Bibliography

Abendroth, Wolfgang. A short history of the European working class. NLB, 1972.

We will write a custom
essays
specifically
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

Reinalda, Bob. Routledge history of international organizations: from 1815 to the present day. Routledge, 2017.

Schmidt, Jürgen. “The German labour movement, 1830s–1840s: early efforts at political transnationalism.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2019): 1-15.

Sexton, Patricia Cayo. The war on labor and the left: Understanding America’s unique conservatism. Routledge, 2018.

Van der Linden, Marcel. Transnational labour history: explorations. Routledge, 2017.

Footnotes

  1. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017), 22.
  2. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017), 24.
  3. Wolfgang Abendroth. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 52.
  4. Bob Reinalda. Routledge history of international organizations: from 1815 to the present day. (Routledge, 2017), 41.
  5. Bob Reinalda. Routledge history of international organizations: from 1815 to the present day. (Routledge, 2017), 47.
  6. Wolfgang Abendroth. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 55.
  7. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017), 30.
  8. Wolfgang Abendroth. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 53.
  9. Wolfgang Abendroth. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 56.
  10. Wolfgang Abendroth. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 56.
  11. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017), 129.
  12. Abendroth, Wolfgang. A short history of the European working class. (NLB, 1972), 55.
  13. Schmidt, Jürgen. “The German labor movement, the 1830s–1840s: early efforts at political transnationalism.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2019): 3.
  14. Bob Reinalda. Routledge history of international organizations: from 1815 to the present day. (Routledge, 2017), 79.
  15. Patricia Cayo Sexton. The war on labor and the left: Understanding America’s unique conservatism. (Routledge, 2018), 67.
  16. Patricia Cayo Sexton. The war on labor and the left: Understanding America’s unique conservatism. (Routledge, 2018), 88.
  17. Patricia Cayo Sexton. The war on labor and the left: Understanding America’s unique conservatism. (Routledge, 2018),69.
  18. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017), 129.
  19. Marcel Van der Linden. Transnational labor history: explorations. (Routledge, 2017),156.
Print Сite this

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2021, July 12). Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/worker-organizations-during-the-1st-and-2nd-international/

Work Cited

"Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International." StudyCorgi, 12 July 2021, studycorgi.com/worker-organizations-during-the-1st-and-2nd-international/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International." July 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/worker-organizations-during-the-1st-and-2nd-international/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International." July 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/worker-organizations-during-the-1st-and-2nd-international/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International." July 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/worker-organizations-during-the-1st-and-2nd-international/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Worker Organizations During the 1st and 2nd International'. 12 July.

Copy to clipboard

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.

Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Susan
Online
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
Yes
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
Yes
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!
Yes