Marx's first meeting with Mikhail Bakunin in 1847 was amicable. Sixteen years later, however, he crossed swords with Bakunin, who had by then formed his own anarchist current. The setting was the just-founded International Workingmen's Association (IWA) or First International. At the heart of their differences was whether workers should engage in political action, with Marx in favor and Bakunin opposed. While making a forceful case for its position, the Marx party was never able to get Bakunin or his current to openly debate the question in the International. Their conflict focused, rather, on organizational issues. Marx accused Bakunin, with evidence, of having formed a secret center within the IWA, in violation of its norms. The majority of its affiliates agreed and expelled Bakunin's current in 1872, while adopting Marx's political action course, which contained the seeds of the mass working-class political parties in Europe. Bakunin's current passed into oblivion.
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