War and Revolution, Hopes and Illusions

  • Dick Geary
Part of the Studies in European History book series (SEURH)


Most of the political parties described in the previous chapter had belonged to the International Working Men’s Association, or Second International, founded in Paris in 1889. The mere fact of membership indicated a significant fact about the ideologies of all those parties: they saw themselves as internationalist. The homeland was the proletariat. The enemy was international capital. Workers could have no interest in warfare but were to be the bastion of peace and international harmony in a new social order. Admittedly things were never quite so simple. The congresses of the International were often characterised by sniping between national delegations, especially the French and the Germans. No agreement was ever reached on the precise nature of imperialism or how to combat it. Most importantly of all, the delegates were never able to formulate a concrete strategy to prevent the outbreak of war: some looked to the possibility of a revolutionary general strike, others, especially the Germans, thought such schemes utopian and dangerous. Yet the International did seem to stand for something, did suggest that workers would not necessarily follow national political leaders blindly into another war [2; 10; 16].


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© Dick Geary 1991

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  • Dick Geary

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