By 1864 Marx had largely compiled the basic notes for Capital and a legacy had eased his personal situation. He returned, after an interval of twelve years, to active politics. The International Working Men's Association had just been founded and, in drafting the Inaugural Address and Provisional Rules, he adopted an usually cautious tone in order to woo trade-union opinion. Before long, he was at grips with the anarchist disciples of Proudhon and, a few years later, with the romantic Bakunin.
In addition to documents connected with the First International this volume contains letters, addresses and essays in which Marx used the principal European events and issues of the period - German unification, the Franco-Prussian War, the Paris Commune and Ireland - as grindstones to sharpen his theory of scientific communism.