Courtesy Reuters

International Socialism: the End of an Era

THE Second International has been ailing ever since the outbreak of the World War; the recent split in the French Unified Socialist Party and the disappearance last spring of the German Social Democratic Party have, it seems safe to say, put an end to its suffering.

The Second International was founded in Paris in 1889 as a loose federation of the many strong socialist parties then in existence. Since the war of 1870 a state of tension had existed between France and Germany; it showed no signs of abating by 1889 and many thought it a threat to peace. The French Government had recently come closer to the Tsarist Government; Germany, Austria and Italy had renewed the Triple Alliance for a second time and were to bind themselves again in 1891; Europe was rapidly becoming an armed camp. The First International had been founded in 1864 as a protest against Russia's treatment of Poland. The Second International remained strongly anti-Russian but, on account of the tense international situation, placed its main emphasis on combating militarism. At its first conference it demanded that standing armies be abolished, that international tribunals of arbitration be set up, that the peoples have a voice in questions of peace or war. It laid down as one of its cardinal principles that its members should never vote military credits or the expenses for colonial expeditions, and held to the motto of the old International -- "not a man, not a cent, rather insurrection than war."

By the turn of the century the loose federation had grown into a strong organization; a permanent Bureau was founded, with headquarters at Brussels, and year by year its power increased. Socialists from then on were urged to increase their parliamentary representation with the aim first of acquiring a nuisance value -- like the Irish members of the House of Commons -- and eventually of gaining control of the legislative assemblies of the world. Many socialists at that time believed that if universal suffrage were everywhere granted,

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