Communist League

The Communist League was a secret society founded in London in 1847 revolutionary socialist organization with international appeal. It emerged from the hitherto existing, founded by Wilhelm Weitling League of the Just. The name was changed under the influence of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Wilhelm Wolff. The League of Communists existed until 1852. Considered as the nucleus of the later socialist and communist parties of the world and as a forerunner of the 1864 also inspired by Marx and Engels International Workers Association (IWA ), which is now referred to as the " First International " of the labor movement.

History of the Federal

Prehistory and early phase

The pre-existing League of the Just was in 1836, emerged in Paris, at the initiative of the emigrated to France journeyman tailor Wilhelm Weitling in existence since 1834 Secret Society Federation of outlaws. Under Weitlings leadership of the hitherto somewhat dominated by petty-bourgeois intellectuals Federation had received an early revolutionary socialist and proletarian orientation.

The renaming of the League of the Just in the Communist League was the result of two conferences in 1847. Here, the same year the federal government joined Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels brought their ideas together with Wilhelm Wolff. So they initiated a new direction for the federal government. They designed a self-contained program for the federal government and stressed in his internationalist character. Dating from Marx motto Proletarians of all countries, unite! was the defining motto.

At the second congress of the Federation from November 29 to December 8, 1847, representatives from some 30 local groups from France, the Netherlands, the states of the German Confederation, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Marx and Engels were commissioned to prepare the Manifesto of the Communist Party. They put it in February 1848 prior to publication. The Communist Manifesto called essentially the workers on the international class struggle against the ruling bourgeoisie under capitalism. The aim was to establish a classless ( communist ) society. Later Marx has the basic idea of differentiated elaborated the capital with political economy in his major work. This view was in the future gradually basis of communism.

Most of the approximately 500 members of the Communist League were because of their political stance of the German states emigrated or reported journeymen. They had fled abroad because of the repressive political conditions during the period of the Restoration 1815-1848. The remaining or returning in the German principalities League members tried to establish a regional workers' associations. In other countries, there were similar efforts. They were initially a total of only marginal phenomena due to the small number of their supporters and because of political persecution and oppression. With the beginning of the bourgeois revolutions of 1848, especially in France and the German states, the feed was slightly larger.

The federal government during the bourgeois revolutions of 1848/49

1848, the headquarters of the Federal was moved several times within a few months, first from London for a short time in the Belgian Brussels, and after the beginning of the February Revolution in France, after Paris. There, Marx and Engels also took over the leadership of the federal formally. After the spread of the revolution to Germany ( March Revolution ) headquarters was moved to the then Prussian city of Cologne in April 1848. There Karl Marx founded the Neue Rheinische Zeitung ( NRhZ ), in addition to other well Friedrich Engels collaborated. Marx became involved in the Cologne Workers' Association.

With their critical articles and commentaries on the revolutionary events Marx and Engels tried in vain to draw shaped by the ideas of liberalism and calls for a nation-state unit of the German bourgeois revolution into a socialist direction. For example, they strongly criticized the efforts of a moderate majority in the National Assembly in Frankfurt, the so-called " Half " to establish the German nation-state to be established as a constitutional monarchy with liberal reforms. Marx and Engels favored the other hand, the proclamation of a republic following the example of France. In the Frankfurt National Assembly Wilhelm Wolff was a representative of the Federation in the Group of Thunder Mountain, the radical democratic left. In April 1849 attempted Marx and Engels, who are active in different groups of workers and democratic societies members of the Federation to first gather in the Rhineland to it prepare a German Workers' Congress.

With the failure of the adopted in the Frankfurt National Assembly Constitution following the rejection of a German imperial crown by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, the end of April 1849 (see Kaiser deputation ) disbanded the National Assembly in the Frankfurt St. Paul's Church. The remaining, mostly on the political left belonging to MPs, dodged into the so-called Rump Parliament to Stuttgart. The forward rush of events with the radically democratic motivated Constitution campaign on the one hand and the onset against her massive counter-revolution by especially Prussian military on the other hand, defeated the project of Marx and Engels, as there were now other priorities for the left revolutionary movement.

Many members of the Federation in the German states took part in the in the Maiaufständen of 1849 once again escalating civil war battles to enforce the democratic gains of the revolution, especially in Saxony ( May uprising in Dresden ), the Bavarian Palatinate ( Pfälzischer uprising ) and in Baden (see Baden Revolution ), where a short time only existing Baden Republic was proclaimed on June 1, 1849. The NRhZ asked her appearance one already on 19 May 1849, when the uprisings in the Prussian Rhine provinces ( Iserlohn and Elberfeld uprising ) were depressed. Engels took part still active fighting on the side of the revolutionaries in defending the Republic of Baden. As with taking the federal fortress of Rastatt by Prussian troops the Baden revolution was put down on 23 July 1849 and the March Revolution was a total failure.

Many members of the Communist League had to emigrate abroad again because of this defeat. Marx and Engels went to London. There, the federal government was reorganized into a new central authority. At this time also joined Wilhelm Liebknecht, later co-founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany ( SPD), the League of Communists. Liebknecht was forced by his involvement in the Baden revolution to emigrate, which also led him through Switzerland to London. There he approached, under the influence of Marx and Engels Marxist positions, where later the SPD of the 19th century and its predecessor parties have been paid from 1869.

1850, the tasks of the Federation have been re- stated after the experience of the March Revolution. Marx and Engels reckoned not with a new revolution after addition of a new phase of political reaction, an economic recovery had slowed down the revolutionary energies of the left. Members of the Federation remained in the German states continued to labor organizations worked and gained influence founded on September 3, 1848 at the initiative of the typesetter Stephan Born General German Workers' Brotherhood. This was the first national labor union of Germany, initiated the development of trade unions.

Decline and dissolution

Some members of the central authority, which gathered around Karl Schapper and August Willich, could not share the resignation seeming conclusion of Marx / Engels. This means that the federal government had split into two opposing camps. In September 1850, Marx and Engels were excluded from the faction Schapper / Willich from the federal government. They were in breach with the establishment of its own central authority in Cologne against the statutes. In addition, the other members threw them " semi- scholarly political musings " before.

In March 1851 fell some documents of the Federation of the German states into the hands of state authorities. In the subsequent wave of arrests, the federal government was significantly weakened. Leading members of the Federation were sentenced to long prison terms in the autumn of 1852 in the so-called Cologne Communist trial. After this heavy defeat of the Confederation was disbanded in November at the request of Karl Marx. He stated " ... the continuation of the Federal on the continent for no longer appropriate. "

Congresses of the Communist League

Further development

Only in the 1860s there was a new upsurge of the workers 'movement, was started in Europe as a party-political organization of the workers' movement. The corresponding, yet comprehensive a very broad spectrum of organizations and socialist parties formed with the International Workingmen's Association founded in 1864 a new attempt to unite the labor movement internationally.