Principles, Goals & Statutes

of the

International Workers Association

as adopted at first Congress, Berlin 1922, and amended at the following Congresses: Madrid 1931, Paris 1935, Paris 1938, Toulouse 1951, Puteaux 1953, Marseilles 1956 and Toulouse 1958. Reaffirmed at the Congresses in Montpellier 1971 and Paris 1976 and 1979.

I. Introduction

The age-old battle between the exploiters and the exploited has taken on a forbidding dimension. Omnipotent capital once again raises its monstrous head. Despite the internal struggles that tear apart the managerial and bourgeois classes, these forces have created a powerful relationship that enables them to throw themselves with more strength and unity against the proletariat and chain it to the capital's triumphant chariot.
Capitalism is organizing and is moving from the defensive position it found itself in to an offensive strategy of attacking the working class on all fronts. This offensive has its origins in specific causes: in the confusion of ideas and principles in the ranks of the workers' movement, in the lack of clarity and agreement on the present and future goals of the working class, and in the division of the working class into innumerable factions; in short, in the weakness and disorganization of the workers' movement.
There can be only one answer to this relentless international attack by every kind of exploiter: the immediate organization of a proletarian army into a fighting structure that gathers to its breast all the revolutionary workers of all countries; forming with them a granite block against which every capitalist maneuver will be smashed and eventually overwhelmed due to our crushing weight.
This movement for emancipation cannot accept the line of action urged by those currents of the workers' movement that aspire to a harmony between capital and labor; desiring an international peace with capitalism and incorporation into the bourgeois state. Neither can it accept those currents that propagate the principles of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is contrary to the goal for a society based upon the greatest possible liberty and well-being for all, which after all is the goal of all conscientious workers.
Against the offensive of capital and politicians of all hues, all the revolutionary workers of the world must build a real International Association of Workers, in which, each member will know that the emancipation of the working class will only be possible when the workers themselves, in their capacities as producers, manage to prepare themselves in their economic organizations to take possession of the land and the factories and enable themselves to administer them jointly, in such a way that they will be able to continue production and social life.
Considering this perspective and this goal before it, the duty of the workers is to participate in all actions that lead towards a revolutionary transformation of society, always striving to move towards our final goals. We must make our strength felt through this participation, always striving to give our movement, through propaganda and organization, the necessary means to supplant our adversaries. Similarly, wherever possible, we must realize our social system through the means of model and example, and our organizations must exert, to the limits of their possibilities, the greatest possible influence on other tendencies in order that they may be incorporated into our struggle, which is the common struggle against all statist and capitalist adversaries, always keeping in mind the circumstances of place and time, but remaining faithful to the goals of the movement for workers' emancipation.

II. The Principles of Revolutionary Unionism

  1. Revolutionary unionism, basing itself on the class struggle, aims to unite all workers in combative economic organizations, that fight to free themselves from the double yoke of capital and the state. Its goal is the reorganization of social life on the basis of libertarian communism via the revolutionary action of the working class. Since only the economic organizations of the proletariat are capable of achieving this objective, revolutionary unionism addresses itself to workers in their capacity as producers, creators of social wealth, to take root and develop amongst them, in opposition to the modern workers' parties, which it declares are incapable of the economic reorganization of society.

  2. Revolutionary unionism is the staunch enemy of all social and economic monopoly, and aims at its abolition by the establishment of economic communities and administrative organs run by the workers in the fields and factories, forming a system of free councils without subordination to any authority or political party, bar none. As an alternative to the politics of states and parties, revolutionary unionism posits the economic reorganization of production, replacing the rule of man over man with the simple administration of things. Consequently, the goal of revolutionary unionism is not the conquest of political power, but the abolition of all state functions in the life of society. Revolutionary unionism considers that along with the disappearance of a property owning caste, must come the disappearance of central ruling caste; and that no form of statism, however camouflaged, can ever be an instrument for human liberation, but that on the contrary, it will always be the creator of new monopolies and new privileges.

  3. Revolutionary unionism has a two-fold function: to carry on the day-today revolutionary struggle for the economic, social and intellectual advancement of the working class within the limits of present-day society, and to educate the masses so that they will be ready to independently manage the processes of production and distribution when the time comes to take possession of all the elements of social life. Revolutionary unionism does not accept the idea that the organization of a social system based exclusively on the producing class can be ordered by simple governmental decrees and maintains that it can only be obtained through the common action of all manual and intellectual workers, in every branch of industry, by self-management of the workers, such that every group, factory or branch of industry is an autonomous member of the greater economic organism and systematically runs the production and distribution processes according to the interests of the community, on an agreed upon plan and on the basis of mutual accord.

  4. Revolutionary unionism is opposed to all organizational tendencies inspired by the centralism of state and church, because these can only serve to prolong the survival of the state and authority and to systematically stifle the spirit of initiative and the independence of thought. Centralism is an artificial organization that subjects the so-called lower classes to those who claim to be superior, and that leaves in the hands of the few the affairs of the whole community -- the individual being turned into a robot with controlled gestures and movements. In the centralized organization, society's good is subordinated to the interests of the few, variety is replaced by uniformity and personal responsibility is replaced by rigid discipline. Consequently, revolutionary unionism bases its social vision on a broad federalist organization; i.e., an organization organized from the bottom up, the uniting of all forces in the defense of common ideas and interests.

  5. Revolutionary unionism rejects all parliamentary activity and all collaboration with legislative bodies; because it knows that even the freest voting system cannot bring about the disappearance of the clear contradictions at the core of present-day society and because the parliamentary system has only one goal: to lend a pretense of legitimacy to the reign of falsehood and social injustice.

  6. Revolutionary unionism rejects all political and national frontiers, which are arbitrarily created, and declares that so-called nationalism is just the religion of the modern state, behind which is concealed the material interests of the propertied classes. Revolutionary unionism recognizes only economic differences, whether regional or national, and in the spirit of solidarity claims the right to self-determination for all economic groups .

  7. For the identical reason, revolutionary unionism fights against militarism and war. Revolutionary unionism advocates anti-war propaganda and the replacement of standing armies, which are only the instruments of counterrevolution at the service of capitalism, by workers' militias, which, during the revolution, will be controlled by the workers' unions; it demands, as well, the boycott and embargo of all raw materials and products necessary to war, with the exception of a country where the workers are in the midst of a social revolution, in which case we should help them defend the revolution. Finally, revolutionary unionism advocates the preventive and revolutionary general strike as a means of opposing war and militarism.

  8. Revolutionary unionism asserts itself to be a supporter of the method of direct action, and aids and encourages all struggles that are not in contradiction to its own goals. Its methods of struggle are: strikes, boycotts, sabotage, etc. Direct action reaches its deepest expression in the general strike, which should also be the prelude to the social revolution from the point of view of revolutionary unionism.

  9. While revolutionary unionism is opposed to all organized violence regardless of the kind of government, it realizes that there will be extremely violent clashes during the decisive struggles between the capitalism of today and the free communism of tomorrow. Consequently, it recognizes as valid that violence that may be used as a means of defense against the violent methods used by the ruling classes during the struggles that lead up to the revolutionary populace expropriating the lands and means of production. As this expropriation can only be carried out and brought to a successful conclusion by the direct intervention of the workers' revolutionary economic organizations, defense of the revolution must also be the task of these economic organizations and not of a military or quasi-military body developing independently of them.

  10. Only in the economic and revolutionary organizations of the working class are there forces capable of bring about its liberation and the necessary creative energy for the reorganization of society on the basis of libertarian communism.

III. Name of the International Organization

The international bond of struggle and solidarity that unites the revolutionary unionist organizations of the world is called the International Workers' Association (I.W.A.).

IV. Goals & Objectives of the I.W.A.

The IWA has the following aims:
a) To organize and press for revolutionary struggle in all countries with the aim of destroying once and for all the present political and economic regimes and to establish libertarian communism.

b) To give the economic unionist organizations a national and industrial base and, where that already exists, to strengthen those organizations which are determined to fight for the destruction of capitalism and the state.

c) To prevent the infiltration of any political parties into the economic unionist organizations and to resolutely fight every attempt by political parties to control unions.

d) Where circumstances demand it, to establish through a course of action that is not contradiction with a), b) and c), provisional alliances with other proletarian, union and revolutionary organizations, with the objective of planning and carrying out common international actions in the interest of the working class. Such alliances must never be with political parties, i.e., with organizations that accept the state as system of social organization.

e) To unmask and fight the arbitrary violence of all governments against revolutionaries dedicated to the cause of the social revolution.

f) To examine all problems of concern to the world proletariat in order to strengthen and develop movements, in one country or several, which help to defend the rights and new conquests of the working class or to organize the revolution for emancipation itself.

g) To undertake actions of mutual aid in the event of important economic struggles or critical struggles against the overt or covert enemies of the working class.

h) To give moral and material help to the working class movements in each country in which the leadership of the struggle is in the hands of the national economic organization of the proletariat.

The International intervenes in the union affairs of a country only when its affiliated organization in that country requests it or when the affiliate violates the general principles of the International.

V. Conditions of Affiliation

Those who may affiliate with the IWA are:
a) National revolutionary union organizations which do not belong to any other International.
Membership of a second national central organization in the same country can only be accepted by an International Congress on the basis of a report submitted by a Committee appointed by the IWA Secretariat. This Committee will be composed of two members of each of the organizations concerned; i.e., the national organization already affiliated, the other national organization wishing to affiliate and the IWA Secretariat.

b) Minority groups of organized revolutionary unionists within national organizations affiliated to other union internationals, only where the organization affiliated to the IWA, if one exists in that region, accepts their affiliation.

c) Trade, professional or industrial union organizations, independent or affiliated to national organizations not affiliated to the IWA, may affiliate if they accept the Declaration of Principles and Goals of the IWA, with the consent of the IWA affiliate in that country, if such an organization exists.

Trade, professional or industrial union organizations that have left or been excluded from an organization affiliated with the IWA can only be admitted by way of unanimous agreement of a Conference composed of two representatives from each member organization, i.e., two from the organization seceding or excluded, two from the national IWA organization and two from the Secretariat.

d) Any revolutionary propaganda organization that accepts the Declaration of Principles and Goals of the IWA and which works in a country where there is no national organization affiliated to the IWA.

e) Since the IWA is wholly composed of sections, legal or illegal, with a direct connection to their associated countries, only those groups of exiles can be recognized as sections of the IWA that can clearly prove that they authentically represent organizations that operate and work in those countries.

VI. The International Congresses

The International Congresses of the IWA are held, if possible, every two years. [four years?]
Within a sufficient time before the Congress the Secretariat solicits from the sections the themes and topics to be discussed at the Congress. Then the Secretariat draws up an agenda, which, with the motions presented, are sent to the organizations affiliated to the IWA at least six months before the beginning of the Congress.
The agreements and resolutions adopted by the Congresses are binding for all affiliated organizations, except when those organizations, through the resolutions of a national Congress or by referendum, reject the resolutions of an International Congress.

On the request of a minimum of three national affiliated organizations, an international decision can be submitted for revision by general referendum in all sections.
In the International Congresses and referendum each national affiliated organization has one vote, it being recommended that agreement be attempted before a vote is resorted to.

VII. International Migration

Members of an organization affiliated to the IWA, who are current in their dues, but reside in a region other than where they joined, should, no more than one month after their arrival, transfer their membership to the national affiliate of the IWA where they now reside. This transfer must be approved by this regional organization without any initiation fee.
In the case of a massive forced exile the transfer of membership is voluntary if the exile is a member of an organization recognized by the IWA.

VIII. The Secretariat

A Secretariat is elected in order that: the international activities of the IWA be coordinated, to obtain and disseminate accurate information on propaganda and struggle in all countries, to realize the resolutions of the International Congresses in the best possible way and to carry out the work of the IWA. This Secretariat is to be composed of at least three people residing at the place the IWA picks as its headquarters. The General Secretary is elected by the Congress or by international referendum. The other members must be elected by the section or sections designated by the Congress. The members of the Secretariat delegate amongst themselves the tasks and work of the Secretariat. The term of the Secretariat and the Secretary is from one Congress to the next and they may serve at most two terms consecutively.
The location of the Secretariat will be decided at the Congress. If that is not possible, it will be decided by referendum.
The Secretariat must give a written report of its activities during the planning of the Congress. The report must be presented with sufficient time to allow the affiliated sections to be acquainted with it before the Congress takes place.
At the same time a financial and administrative report must be drawn up and sent to the sections.
The Congress nominates a committee that audits the books during the Congress and produces a definitive accounting.

IX. Finances

Each member of an organization affiliated to the IWA must annually pay, as international dues, the sum of one dollar per member or the equivalent sum in international currency, taking into account the rate of exchange between the two countries in question. Dues are charged so that the IWA can develop and strengthen its international activities, so that it can give its written propaganda a secure foundation and so that it can publish its publications regularly; also so that it can participate in all the aspects of the revolutionary unionist movements in the various countries; and so that it can promote the ideas of revolutionary unionism in countries where our ideas and tactics are scarcely represented; and finally so that the IWA can reply immediately and satisfactorily to appeals for solidarity that may be addressed to it.
For those sections in a difficult situation the dues are fixed in agreement with the IWA Secretariat.

Each affiliated section chooses it's own procedure to follow in collecting dues from its members. For those sections that desire it, the IWA has a special stamp for the membership cards of its members.
The affiliated organizations send the dues money stipulated to the IWA quarterly.

X. Publications

The Secretariat publishes:
  1. A publication that should appear as frequently as possible. It is desirable for each periodical edited by the affiliated organizations, or those in sympathy with the IWA, to reserve a special space for information from the IWA for international appeals of solidarity and for general propaganda.

    Propaganda brochures directed especially at areas where our movement has no national section.

  2. All publications, periodical or not, on which the Congresses decide.