Programme of the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy

17 April 1869

1. The Alliance declares itself atheist; it wants the abolition of religions, the substitution of science for faith and human justice for divine justice.

2. It wants above all the definitive and complete abolition of classes and the political, economic, and social equalisation of individuals of both sexes, and in order to achieve this goal, it first and foremost demands the abolition of the right of inheritance,[1] so that in future enjoyment is equal to the production of each, and that, in conformity with the decision taken at the last workers’ Congress in Brussels, the land, the instruments of labour, like all other capital, becoming the collective property of the entire society, can only be used by workers, that is to say by agricultural and industrial associations.

3. It wants for all children of both sexes, from birth onwards, equality of the means of development, that is to say, maintenance, education and training at all levels of science, industry and the arts, convinced that this equality, at first only economic and social, will result in bringing ever increasing natural equality of individuals, by eliminating all artificial inequalities, historical products of a social organisation as false as it is iniquitous.

4. Enemy of all despotism, recognising no other political form than the republican form, and completely rejecting any reactionary alliance, it also rejects any political action which does not have as its immediate and direct aim the triumph of the cause of the workers against capital.

5. It recognises that all existing political and authoritarian states, increasingly reduced to the mere administrative functions of public services in their respective countries, will have to disappear into the universal union of free associations, both agricultural and industrial.

6. As the social question can only find its definitive and real solution on the basis of the international or universal solidarity of the workers of all countries, the Alliance rejects any policy based on so-called patriotism and on rivalry between nations.

7. It wants the Universal Association of all local associations through Liberty.

End Notes

[1] This sentence originally read: “It wants above all the political, economic, and social equalisation of classes and individuals of both sexes, commencing with abolition of the right of inheritance”. This change was the result of Bakunin sending the Alliance programme to the International’s General Council seeking affiliation. Marx responded by noting its “equalisation of classes” clause “literally interpreted” would mean “harmony of capital and labour” as “persistently preached by the bourgeois socialists” for it was “not the logically impossible ‘equalisation of classes’, but the historically necessary, superseding ‘abolition of classes’” which “forms the great aim of the International Working Men’s Association.” He added: “Considering, however, the context in which that phrase ‘equalisation of classes’ occurs, it seems to be a mere slip of the pen, and the General Council feels confident that you will be anxious to remove from your program an expression which offers such a dangerous misunderstanding.” (Marx-Engels Collected Works 21: 46) The Alliance changed its Programme and successfully affiliated. This did not stop Marx – and subsequent Marxists – from quoting the original sentence (out of context from the rest of the programme) to attack Bakunin as little more than a liberal. (Translator)