Second International

The Second International was an organisation of socialist and labour parties, formed on 14 July 1889 at a Paris meeting in which delegations from twenty countries participated. The Second International continued the work of the dissolved First International, though excluding the powerful anarcho-syndicalist movement and trade unions. In 1922 the Second International began to reorganise into the Labour and Socialist International.


Among the Second International's famous actions were its 1889 declaration of 1 May as International Workers' Day and its 1910 declaration of the International Women's Day, first celebrated on 19 March and then on 8 March after the main day of the women's marches in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. It initiated the international campaign for the eight-hour working day.
The International's permanent executive and information body was the International Socialist Bureau 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 Lenin was a member from 1905.
The Second International became ineffective 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. The Secretary General of the ISB, Camille Huysmans, moved the ISB from German-occupied Brussels to The Hague in December 1914 and attempted to coordinate socialist parties from the warring states to at least July 1916. French Section of the Workers' International leader Jean Jaurès's assassination, a few days before the beginning of the war, symbolised the failure of the antimilitarist doctrine of the Second International. At the Zimmerwald Conference in 1915, anti-war socialists attempted to maintain international unity against the social patriotism of the social democratic leaders.
In July 1920 at Geneva, the last congress of the Second International was held, following its functional collapse during the war. However, some European socialist parties refused to join the reorganised International and decided instead to form the International Working Union of Socialist Parties , heavily influenced by Austromarxism. In 1923, IWUSP and the Second International merged to form the social democratic Labour and Socialist International which 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 organised in 1919 by revolutionary socialists after the October Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union. It was officially called the Communist International and lasted until 1943 when it was dissolved by then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Latin America

In Latin America, the International had two affiliates, namely the Socialist Party of Argentina and the Socialist Party of Uruguay.

The exclusion of 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 they represented minority rights, but also led the German Marxists into demonstrating dictatorial intolerance which was a factor in preventing the British labour movement from following the Marxist direction indicated by such leaders as Henry Hyndman.

Congresses and Conferences of the Second International

First CongressParis14–19 July 1889
Second CongressBrussels3–7 August 1891
Third CongressZurich9–13 August 1893
Fourth CongressLondon26–31 July 1896
Fifth CongressParis23–27 September 1900
Sixth CongressAmsterdam14–20 August 1904The "Grand Old Man of India", Dadabhai Naoroji, attended the Congress and pleaded the cause of India's freedom
Seventh CongressStuttgart18–24 August 1907
Eighth CongressCopenhagen28 August–3 September 1910
Extraordinary Ninth CongressBasel24–25 November 1912

After World War I, there were three Socialist Conferences in Switzerland. These were as a bridge to the creation of the Labour and Socialist International.
Berne Conference of 1919Bern3–8 February 1919
International Socialist Conference, Lucerne, 1919Lucerne1–9 August 1919
International Socialist Congress, Geneva, 1920Geneva31 July–4 August 1920Scheduled for Feb 1920, it was actually convened on 31 July. Sidney Webb as committee chairman drafted a resolution entitled 'Political System of Socialism,' that distanced the Second International from Lenin-style dictatorship, but emphasized it was "ever more urgent that Labour should assume power in society." It also moved the Secretariat from Brussels to London and set the "next congress of the Second International in 1922"

Related international gatherings

Conference of Socialist Parties of Neutral CountriesCopenhagen17–18 January 1915
Conference of Central European Socialist PartiesVienna12–13 April 1915
First Conference of the Zimmerwald MovementZimmerwald5–8 September 1915
Second Conference of the Zimmerwald MovementKienthal24–30 April 1916
Third Conference of the Zimmerwald MovementStockholm5–12 September 1917
First Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist PartiesLondon14 February 1915
Second Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist PartiesLondon28–29 August 1917
Third Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist PartiesLondon20–24 February 1918
Fourth Conference of Inter-Allied Socialist PartiesLondon15 September 1918