Tuesday, 14 September 2010

What is Anarcho-Syndicalism?

The common objectives of social movements described as "anarcho-syndicalist", "revolutionary syndicalist" and "industrial syndicalist" is to overthrow capitalism through revolutionary class struggle based on the workplace in order to construct a social order devoid of economic, social and political oppression.

Many socialists believe in political action via parliament and the state to institute socialism , anarcho-syndicalists however reject this approach and concentrate on the revolutionary potential of working class economic organisations e.g. industrial unions, rank and file bodies etc. The emancipation of the working class can thus only be achieved not through political means, but by direct action, culminating in the social general strike and the setting up of workers control of the economy and society.

Anarcho-syndicalists place a major emphasis on decentralisation and horizontal organisation and demonstrate a fundamental opposition to the state compared with syndicalist movements outside of the syndicalist milieu.    Syndicalists have been derided by Marxists who slavishly adhere to Leninist orthodoxy. Vide Lenin's "Preface to the pamphlet by Lunacharsky on the attitude of the party towards trade unions (1907)" & "On the Syndicalist and Anarchist deviation in our Party (1921)".

Marxists paint a stereotypical picture of syndicalism as "amorphous", "petty bourgeois", "atheoretical" and "neglectful of politics and the state". This couldn't be further from the truth. Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalism has developed a sustained analysis of class struggle. Historically, it has articulated a cohesive structure of aims and methodology. Furthermore, Anarcho-Syndicalism is overtly political and recognises the importance of challenging state structures and the power of capital. Syndicalism has achieved mass support among factory workers, miners and craftsmen.

In the UK there has been a multiplicity of syndicalist movements e.g. Industrial Syndicalist Education League, British Advocates of Industrial Unionism, Industrial Union of Direct-Actionists, Industrial Workers of Great Britain, Syndicalist Workers Federation, Direct Action Movement etc.

Within the National Shop Stewards Network, Anarcho-Syndicalists are addressing the central issue of revolutionary class struggle and breaking the link between the Unions and the Labour Party.


bammy said...

TONIGHT it was a bit like 'One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' at tonight's National Shop Stewards (NSSN) Fringe meeting: when Ronnie 'M' hovered round the Friend's Meeting House before flying off. He perched at the back of the room long enough to hear Barry Woodling proclaim himself a northern syndicalist and urge the meeting to get the unions to break with the Labour Party. Barry calls on us all to become anarcho-syndicalists, but surely it is Ronnie 'M', not Barry, who is the leading light of anarcho-syndicalism for Ronnie is a distinguished affiliate to the Solidarity Federation. And the Solidarity Federation is affiliated to the official and worldly International Worker's Association (IWA). A couple of years ago Ronnie 'M', at an Anarchist Bookfair in London put his name down on the NSSN list describing himself as a Unison shop steward but, except for his attendance at the Friends tonight and a flying visit to last Sunday's lobby at G-Mex has apparently played no part in the NSSN ever since. And sure enough when we looked the Cuckoo had laid its eggs: half a dozen copies of the paste-and-cut Catalyst [newspaper of the Solidarity Federation]. But if this is the best anarcho-syndicalism has to offer in Manchester – a creature that says nowt but just lays addled eggs like Catalyst and fails to participate in the debate - what hope can there be for Barry's ideas of a syndicalist utopia.

Anonymous said...

bammy's comments are somewhat harsh and uncomradely.

I've met Ronnie from Manchester SF on several occasions and have always found him to be a valued and knowledgable comrade. I've been in several meetings, most recently the Third Revolution talk at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair, where he participated in the discussion and made interesting contributions.

As for Catalyst, it may not be the spark that lights the tinder of revolution, but it's far from a cut and paste job. I know for a fact all the articles are written by members of SolFed locals around the country.

SolFed, at the moment, are certainly one of the more interesting and working-class anarchist groups knocking about.