On the eve of the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870, the Paris sections of the International issued a manifesto against war which was republished by other sections of the International in Belgium and Germany. In many ways it provided the model for subsequent anarchist proclamations against war, emphasizing that the working class knows no frontiers and that their real enemies are capitalism, imperialism and the state. In Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I included excerpts from the resolution against war at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress in Amsterdam, and the Manifesto against the First World War issued by Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Alexander Schapiro and numerous other anarchists. When anarcho-syndicalists revived the International Workers’ Association (IWA/AIT) in 1922, they passed a resolution against war and militarism, which I posted previously.
MANIFESTO AGAINST WAR ISSUED BY THE PARIS SECTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL
To the Workers of All Countries:
Once more, on the pretext of the European balance of power, of national honour, the peace of the world is threatened by political ambitions.
French, German, Spanish workers: let our voices unite in one cry of protest against war!
Today, societies can have no legitimate basis other than that of production and the equitable distribution of its fruits.
As the specialization of labour increases each day so the need for exchange brings together the common interests of all nations.
War over a question of authority or dynasty can, in the eyes of workers, be nothing but a criminal absurdity.
In answer to the war of those who exempt themselves from the blood-letting, or who find a fresh source for speculation in the misfortunes of the people, we protest…
We Who Want Only Peace, Labour and Liberty
Against the systematic destruction of the human race;
Against the misuse of the people’s wealth, which ought to be used to help agriculture and industrial development;
Against the spilling of blood for the satisfaction of vanity, pride and offended or frustrated monarchist ambitions.
Yes, with all our might, we protest, as men, as citizens, as workers, against war.
War represents the devious means by which governing powers stifle civil liberties.
War represents the destruction of the general wealth that has been produced by our daily labour.
Brothers of GERMANY!
In the name of peace, do not listen to the mercenary or servile voices who would try to deceive you about the true state of mind in FRANCE.
Disregard the senseless provocations, for war between us would be a fratricidal war. Stay calm, in the manner of a strong and courageous people, without any loss of dignity.
Division between us would only bring about the complete triumph of despotism on both sides of the Rhine…
Workers of all countries: whatever may come of our joint efforts, we, members of the International Working Men’s Association, who know no frontiers, we send you as a pledge of indissoluble solidarity, the good wishes and greetings of the workers of FRANCE.
Signed by 197 members of the Paris sections of the International, July 11th, 1870