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Wolfgang Eckhardt


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Wolfgang Eckhardt, who works for the Library of the Free in Berlin, has been actively researching anarchism since the 1990s. His publications include the German-language Bakunin Ausgewählte Schriften (Selected Works) series, of which six volumes have been published so far under his editorship (1995–2011).

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The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men's Association
Author: Wolfgang Eckhardt    
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-042-7
Published: 08/01/2016
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 624
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism/Politics-Socialism/History-Europe
$38.95

The First Socialist Schism chronicles the conflicts in the International Working Men’s Association (the First International, 1864–1877), which represents an important milestone in the history of political ideas and socialist theory. In defending their autonomy, federations in the International became aware of what separated them from the social democratic movement that relied on the establishment of national labor parties and the conquest of political power. This can be seen as a decisive moment in the history of political ideas: the split between centralist party politics and the federalist grassroots movement. The separate movements in the International—which would later develop into social democracy, communism, and anarchism—found their greatest advocates in Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx. However, the significance of this alleged clash of titans is largely a modern invention. It was not the rivalry between two arch-enemies or a personal vendetta based on mutual resentment that made the conflict between Bakunin and Marx so important but rather that it heralded the first socialist schism between parliamentary party politics aiming to conquer political power and social-revolutionary concepts.

Instead of focusing exclusively on what Marx and Bakunin said, many other contributions to this debate are examined, making this the first reconstruction of a dispute that gripped the entire organization. This book also provides the first detailed account of the International's Congress of The Hague (September 1872); including the background, the sequence of events, and international reaction. The book sets new standards when it comes to source material, taking into account documents from numerous archives and libraries that have previously gone unnoticed or were completely unknown.

Praise:

“This collection offers a definitive account of the political struggle within the First International. This struggle was, as documents show, a complex and sophisticated theoretical-political process, involving serious analysis and insight. This is arguably the first book to lift the history of the International out of the framework of an analysis that focuses solely on the clash of its two great protagonists.”
—Andrej Grubacic, associate professor and department chair of the Anthropology and Social Change program at the California Institute of Integral Studies and coauthor of Wobblies and Zapatistas

“Wolfgang Eckhardt has been doing outstanding research on Mikhail Bakunin and the First International for years, unearthing precious materials in archives across Europe and documenting them in various German-language publications. His work now being available in English means a tremendous contribution to the international historiography of the anarchist movement and its origins.”
—Gabriel Kuhn, editor of Gustav Landauer: Revolution and Other Writings

“Eckhardt provides an in-depth description of the development and political context of the conflict between Marx and Bakunin. The book sets a new standard, providing a detailed account of the context, background, and effect of the conflict.”
—Jochen Schmück, DadA (Database of German-Language Anarchism)

“Eckhardt’s historiographical and documentary presentation is more thorough and detailed than anything that has been published on this topic in recent years. His valuable contribution to both historiography and political discussion can scarcely be overestimated.”
—Max Henninger, Sozial.Geschichte Online (Social History Online)

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schismThe First Socialist Schism: A Review
by Marcin Anglart
Syndikalisten. Medlemstidning för SAC - Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation, Stockholm, no. 6,
December 2016

" Instead of focusing exclusively on what Marx and Bakunin said, many other contributions to this debate are examined, making this the first reconstruction of a dispute that gripped the entire organization. This book also sets new standards when it comes to source material, taking into account documents from numerous archives and libraries that have previously gone unnoticed or were completely unknown."

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schismAndré Leo: Against Hierarchy – From the First Socialist Schism
by Robert Graham
Robert Grahan’s Anarchism Weblog

" Wolfgang Eckhardt’s comprehensive account of the split in the International Workingmen’s Association (the “First International” – IWMA) between the advocates of working class political parties (Marx and his followers) and the anti-authoritarian revolutionary socialists (anarchists), entitled The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men’s Association, has finally been published by PM Press. Although more narrowly focused than my book, ‘We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It’: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement, Eckhardt’s book meticulously documents how Marx and his relatively small coterie of supporters tried to turn the International from a pluralist association of workers’ organizations with differing views regarding social change into a monolithic organization committed to the formation of national “working class” political parties whose ultimate object was the conquest of state power. Instead, Marx only succeeded in splitting the International, with the majority of its members and sections re-establishing the International along anti-authoritarian lines, and the Marxist rump soon expiring, with its seat of power being nominally transferred to New York. In this excerpt from Chapter 8 of The First Socialist Schism, Eckhardt describes the attempts by the Marxist controlled General Council to disenfranchise the French Communard refugees in Switzerland who were regrouping after narrowly escaping France with their lives. Particularly noteworthy are the passages by André Leo (1824-1900), the French feminist socialist, denouncing the attempts by Marx, the “pontiff” of the IWMA, to turn the International into a hierarchical organization imposing ideological uniformity on its members..."


schismThe First Socialist Schism: A Mention
Swedish Labour Movement’s Archives and Library
29 Sep 2016

For those who want to deepen their knowledge regarding the complex schism that arose between these two giants and their supporters during the International there is now Wolfgang Eckhardt’s impressive book, translated excellently from German to English. The reader is getting a meticulously detailed account of the development and the political context surrounding the conflict between Marx and Bakunin, which reached its climax in 1872. The diligence with which Eckhardt has worked on this project is testified not least by the fact that a third of the book consists of bibliography, notes and references.


Translated from the Swedish original: http://www.arbark.se/2016/09/boktips-september-2016/

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schismThe First Socialist Schism: A Mention
by Albin Planinc
ilmanifesto.info
16 Sep 2016

For those who want to start from the beginning, there is an e-book just available that reconstructs with care and diligence the clash between “authoritarians” (Marx) and anarchists (Bakunin) in the First International: “The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men’s Association” by Wolfgang Eckhardt. Marx does not make a very good figure ... and Bakunin seem to play an almost marginal role. It was not only a personal conflict (Marx believed the International to be his domain, and he feared that Bakunin would rob it) but a collective clash between two different conceptions of political action in the labour movement. For those who have uncritically adopted the communists’ sacred vision about the conflict and about anarchism, it is an excellent opportunity to go into greater depth and re-evaluate, also considering today’s situation and the future prospects of the left.


Translated from the Italian original: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/ilmanifesto/il_lessico_dellanarchismo/oldest/


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