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The Communist League was the first Marxist international organization. It was founded originally as the League of the Just by German workers in Paris in 1836. This was initially a utopian socialist and Christian communist grouping devoted to the ideas of Gracchus Babeuf. It became an international organization, which Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Johann Eccarius later joined.
The motto of the League of the Just (Bund der Gerechten) was "All Men are Brothers" and its goals were "the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, based on the ideals of love of one's neighbor, equality and justice".. The League of the Just was itself a splinter group from the League of Outlaws (Bund der Geaechteten) created in Paris in 1834 by Theodore Schuster, Wilhelm Weitling and others German emigrants, mostly journeymen. Schuster was inspired by the works of Philippe Buonarroti. The latter league had a pyramidal structure inspired by the secret society of the Republican Carbonari, and shared ideas with Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier's utopic socialism. Their aim was to establish a "Social Republic" in the German states which would respect "freedom", "equality" and "civic virtue".
The League of the Just participated in the Blanquist uprising of May 1839 in Paris. Hereafter expelled from France, the League of the Just moved to London where they founded a front group, the Educational Society for German Working-men, in 1840. While Weitling moved to Switzerland, Bauer and Schapper escaped to London.
The League of Outlaws numbered approximately 100 in Paris and 80 in Frankfurt, but by 1847 its successor the League of the Just numbered about 1,000, including members in Latin America.
Wilhelm Weitling's 1842 book, Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom, which criticized private property and bourgeois society, was one of the bases of the League of Just's social theory.
The Communist League was created in London in June 1847 out of a merger of the League of the Just and of the fifteen-man Communist Correspondence Committee of Bruxelles, headed by Karl Marx. The birth conference was attended by Friedrich Engels, who convinced the League to change its motto to Karl Marx's phrase, Working Men of All Countries, Unite!. At the same conference, the organization was renamed the Communist League and was restructured significantly. In particular, Marx did away with all "superstitious authoritarianism," as he called the rituals pertaining to secret societies. The conference itself was counted as the first congress of the new League.
The Communist League held a second congress, also in London, in November and December 1847. Both Marx and Engels attended, and they were mandated to draw up a manifesto for the organization. This became The Communist Manifesto.
The League was not able to function effectively during the 1848 revolution, despite temporarily abandoning its clandestine nature. The Workers' Brotherhood was established in Germany by members of the League, and became the most significant revolutionary organization there. During the revolution Marx edited the radical journal the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Engels fought in the Baden campaign against the Prussians (June and July 1849) as the aide-de-camp of August Willich.
The Communist League reassembled in late 1849, and by 1850 they were publishing the Neue Rheinische Zeitung Revue journal, but by the end of the year, publication had ceased amid disputes between the leading members of the group. In 1852, the organization was ended formally.
In 1850, the German master spy Wilhelm Stieber broke into Marx's house and stole the register of the League's members, which he sent to France and several German states. This caused the imprisonment of several members.
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