Monday, September 30, 2019

“All People Are Brothers [and Sisters].”

On September 22nd 1845 Julian Harney founded the Society of Fraternal Democrats at a gathering held to celebrate the French Republic's constitution of 1792. This organisation could be considered as a precursor of the First International. The society drew representatives from the Chartists and revolutionary refugees from Europe. The society ceased its activities in 1853.

Three years before the publication of the Communist Manifesto in which Marx and Engels stated that “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got.”, Julian Harney in anticipation of declared:
There is no foot of land, either in Britain or in the colonies, that you, the working class, can call your own…”

Harney delivered another speech as follows:
The cause of the people in all countries is the same – the cause of labour, enslaved and plundered labour... The men who create every necessary, comfort, and luxury, are steeped in misery. Working men of all nations, are not your grievances, your wrongs, the same? Is not your good cause, then, one and the same also? We may differ as to the means, or different circumstances may render different means necessary, but the great end – the veritable emancipation of the human race – must be the one aim and end of all."

The Fraternal Democrats in the manifesto of their aims it explained:
All men are brethren. We denounce all political and hereditary inequalities and distinctions of castes…We believe the earth, with all its natural productions, to be the common property of all…We believe that the present state of society, which permits its idlers and schemers to monopolise the fruits of the earth and, the production of industry, and compels the working class to labour for inadequate rewards, and even condemns them to social slavery, destitution, and degradation, to be essentially unjust…We condemn national hatreds which have hitherto divided mankind…Convinced that national prejudices have been, at all ages, taken advantage of by the people’s oppressors to set them tearing the throats of each other when they should have been working together for their common good, this society repudiates the term ‘foreigner.’ We recognise our fellow-men, without regard to country, as members of one family, the human race, and citizens of one commonwealth, the world.”

Julian Harney explained at another meeting arranged by the Fraternal Democrats:
Nationality has in other times been a necessity. The nationality saved mankind from universal and irredeemable slavery In our own day, too, the invoking of the spirit of nationality in some countries is indispensable to re-kindle life in those countries. …. I consider Poland and Italy to be two instances where the spirit of nationality may be invoked with beneficial results. I would, however, suggest to the Poles and Italians that mere freedom from the Russian and Austrian domination is not all that is necessary. We must have no King Czartoryski. We must have no kingdom of Italy such as the Italian deputies solicited of the Holy Alliance in 1815. We must have a sovereignty of the people in both countries, the education of the people, and at least the progressive social advance of the people, ever progressing until the workers own no masters but themselves, and enjoy the fruits of their labour. In other countries, such as England and France, there is no need to rekindle national feeling; on the contrary, the efforts of the good men in both countries should be directed to the abolition of the remaining prejudices which a barbarous cultivation of the spirit of nationality in days gone by called to existence. I appeal to the oppressed classes, of every land to unite with each other for the common cause. ‘Divide and conquer’ has been the motto of the oppressors. ‘Unite and triumph’ should be our counter-motto. Whatever national differences divide Poles, Russians, Prussians, Hungarians, and Italians, these national differences have not prevented the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian despots uniting together to maintain their tyranny; why, then, cannot countries unite for obtainment of their liberty? The cause of the people in all countries is the same—the cause of Labour, enslaved, and plundered…In each country the tyranny of the few and the slavery of the many are variously developed, but the principle in all is the same. In all countries the men who grow the wheat live on potatoes. The men who rear the cattle do not taste flesh-food. The men who cultivate the vine have only the dregs of its noble juice. The men who make clothing are in rags. The men who build the houses live in hovels. The men who create every necessary comfort and luxury are steeped in misery Working men of all nations, are not your grievances your wrongs, the same? Is not your good cause, then the same also? We may differ as to the means, or different circumstances may render different means necessary but the great end—the veritable emancipation of the human race—must be the one end and aim of all.”

In 1848 when British intervention against France looked likely, the Fraternal Democrats issued a manifesto which stated:
"Workingmen of Great Britain and Ireland, ask yourselves the question: why should you arm and fight for the preservation of institutions in the privileges of which you have no share...why should you arm and fight for the protection of property which you can only regard as the accumulated plunder of the fruits of your labour? Let the privileged and the property owners fight their own battles."

Harney insisted upon talking and writing about ends, about what was to replace the system that the Chartists wanted to sweep away: "justice to all...the abolition of classes... an order of things in which all shall labour and all enjoy...the welfare of the whole community..."

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