From the “Sixty” to the International


One of the tasks of this phase of the exploration here is to fill in some of the details about the period of transition, during which the anarchist movement began to take on collectivism in the realms of production and property as one of its key principles. Given all of the historical attention given to the First International, that might seem like a fairly simple project, but the truth is that the currents that it is necessary to trace on the mutualist/proudhonist side of things often just appear in the accounts of the International as the opposition to the protagonists of revolutionary history, and their ideas hardly appear at all, except in the distorting mirror of partisan conflict. So it has been nice to begin to work through E. E. Fribourg’s work, L’Association Internationale des Travailleurs, which is, in its own way, as one-sided as many of the other accounts, but which specifically attempts to tell the story of the International from the point of view of the French workers of the “Sixty.” I’ll be translating Fribourg’s book gradually, so that people can see what the history of the International looks like when it starts from roughly the point at which Proudhon’s career ended. And I’ve made a start at that, with a draft translation of the 1866 “Report of the French Delegates to the Geneva Congress,” the statement presented by a group, including Tolain, Varlin, Malon, and Fribourg himself, which outlined the initial position of the French (more or less “mutualist”) workers. The influence of Proudhon is obvious, in both good and bad ways.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2620 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.