By David Hanley (auth.)

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Devin shows (1993: 285) mixed results for the decantation process; if the SI succeeded in brokering unity between fractions of French socialism to form a unified party SFIO (Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière) in 1905, it was singularly unable to generate similar unity among the socialists of Britain, Russia or the USA. 1 It is doubtful how far this benefit could have been foreseen by the founders of the SI but it was no less real for that. P/A analysis shows that the founding parties derived benefits from their agent principally in the form of identity functions (symbolic commitment, deepening of identification as a family) but also in the form of learning (about different experiences of and views about socialism).

It probably also achieved a reputation among bourgeois circles as a potential revolutionary threat far beyond its very limited capacity. It is customary to record that the International fell apart through the tensions between its centralist and anarchist wings, led by Marx and Bakunin respectively. This is an oversimplification, but even in its short life the IWMA marked an innovation. It was the first time that organisations from a political family had come together openly on a transnational basis and tried, however uncertainly, to plan actions in common.

Yet the Rokkanian approach is pertinent in that it rests on one feature that is common to all nation states, the cleavage. All the TNP assemble parties from the same family on a transnational basis. These parties owe their identity to a deeply national experience, the cleavage; but they then bring this identity into a transnational arena, the EU. Cleavages and the experience of them cannot be left at home in a cupboard, so to speak; they are part of the fibre of parties. Some scholars mock the notion of party families as unscientific, rather in the way that it was once fashionable to pour scorn on the idea of left and right.

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