The Second International (1889–1916), the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated. It continued the work of the dissolved First International, though excluding the still-powerful anarcho-syndicalist movement and unions, and existed until 1916.
Among the Second International's famous actions were its 1889 declaration of May 1, May Day, as International Workers' Day and its 1910 declaration of the International Women's Day, first celebrated on March 19 and then on March 8 after the main day of the women's marches in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. It initiated the international campaign for the 8-hour working day.
The International's permanent executive and information body was the International Socialist Bureau (ISB), based in Brussels and formed after the International's Paris Congress of 1900. Emile Vandervelde and Camille Huysmans of the Belgian Labour Party were its chair and secretary. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a member from 1905.
The Second International dissolved in 1916 during World War I, because the separate national parties that composed the international did not maintain a unified front against the war, instead generally supporting their respective nations' role. French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) leader Jean Jaurès's assassination, a few days before the beginning of the war, symbolized the failure of the antimilitarist doctrine of the Second International. In 1915, at the Zimmerwald Conference, anti-war socialists attempted to maintain international unity against the social patriotism of the social democratic leaders.
In 1920, the defunct Second International was reorganized. However, some European socialist parties refused to join the reorganized international, and decided instead to form the International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP) ("Second and a half International" or "Two-and-a-half International"), heavily influenced by Austromarxism. In 1923, IWUSP and the Second International merged to form the social democratic Labour and Socialist International. This international continued to exist until 1940. After World War II, a new Socialist International was formed to continue the policies of the Labour and Socialist International, and it continues to this day.
Another successor was the Third International organized in 1919 under the soon-to-be Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was officially called the Communist International (Comintern) and lasted until 1943 when it was dissolved by then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
The exclusion of anarchists
Anarchists tended to be excluded from the Second International, nevertheless "anarchism had in fact dominated the London Congress of the Second International". This exclusion received the criticism from anti-authoritarian socialists present at the meetings. It has been argued that at some point the Second International turned "into a battleground over the issue of libertarian versus authoritarian socialism. Not only did they effectively present themselves as champions of minority rights; they also provoked the German Marxists into demonstrating a dictatorial intolerance which was a factor in preventing the British labor movement from following the Marxist direction indicated by such leaders as H. M. Hyndman".
Congresses and Conferences of the Second International
- Source: Julius Braunthal, History of the International: Volume 3, 1943-1968. London: Victor Gollancz, 1980; pg. 562.
|First Congress||Paris||14–19 July 1889|
|Second Congress||Brussels||3–7 August 1891|
|Third Congress||Zurich||9–13 August 1893|
|Fourth Congress||London||26–31 July 1896|
|Fifth Congress||Paris||23–27 September 1900|
|Sixth Congress||Amsterdam||14–20 August 1904||The 'Grand Old Man of India', Dadabhai Naoroji, attended the Congress and pleaded the cause of India's freedom|
|Seventh Congress||Stuttgart||18–24 August 1907|
|Eighth Congress||Copenhagen||28 Aug.-3 Sept. 1910|
|Extraordinary Ninth Congress||Basel||24–25 November 1912|
After the First World War there were three Socialist Conferences in Switzerland. These were as a bridge to the creation of the Labour and Socialist International
|Berne Conference of 1919||Bern||3–8 February 1919|
|International Socialist Conference, Lucerne, 1919||Lucerne||1–9 August 1919|
|International Socialist Congress, Geneva, 1920||Geneva||31 July-4 Aug. 1920|
Related international gatherings
- Source: Julius Braunthal, History of the International: Volume 3, 1943-1968. London: Victor Gollancz, 1980; pp. 562-563.
|Conference of Socialist Parties of Neutral Countries||Copenhagen||17–18 January 1915|
|Conference of Central European Socialist Parties||Vienna||12–13 April 1915|
|First Conference of the Zimmerwald Movement||Zimmerwald||5–8 September 1915|
|Second Conference of the Zimmerwald Movement||Kienthal||24–30 April 1916|
|Third Conference of the Zimmerwald Movement||Stockholm||5–12 September 1917|
|First Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist Parties||London||14 February 1915|
|Second Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist Parties||London||28–29 August 1917|
|Third Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist Parties||London||20–24 February 1918|
|Fourth Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist Parties||London||15 September 1918|
- First International
- Socialist International
- International Working Union of Socialist Parties ("Second and a half international"/"Two-and-a-half International")
- Third International (Comintern)
- Vienna Socialist Conference of 1915
- Neutral Socialist Conferences during the First World War
- Inter-Allied Socialist Conferences of World War I
- Fourth International and Trotskyist internationals
- Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO, the French section of the Second International)
- Fifth International
- International Anarchist Congresses
- International Socialist Women's Conferences
- International Federation of Socialist Young People's Organizations