Sunday, 14 May 2017

Early Syndicalism discussed in Wakefield

YESTERDAY, the Wakefield Socialist History Group debated syndicalism at the start of the last century.   The speakers included Robin Stocks who has written 'The Hidden Heroes of Easter Week'; the Huddersfield historian Alan Brooks; and Robin Stocks who spoke about the South Wales' miner and syndicalist, Noah Ablett.
The title of the meeting at the Red Shed was 'SYNDICALISM & the GREAT UNREST'.
Alan Stewart, the convenor of the event, drew our attention to Bob Holton's book 'British Syndicalism' (1979), which described the developments before and after World War I asRobin Stocks,  a form of proto-syndicalism. 
In the introduction for the meeting  it was stated:
'The early years of British syndicalism saw, Holton (1976) suggests. a "slow and unspectacular advance."  He says there were three "currents of revolutionary  industrial feeling" at this stage.
The first, centred around the writings of Daniel de Leon, the American socialist.  Though sometimes marred by a certain "sectarian rigidity" his works -brought back to Britain by seamen and other workers- were lively and accessible (Challinor 1977).
'His ideas were welcomed in particular by dissidents in the Social Democratic Federation who felt the SDF had lost momentum and was neglecting industrial struggles.  In 1903 a GS Yates of Leith led a de Leonist breakaway.  The Socialist Labour Party was formed. It in turn spawned the British Advocates of Industrial Unionism (1906).
'Now de Leon had been involved in the establishment of the American IWW (Wobblies) in 1905.  Yet Holton (1976) notes that there were problems with applying the "dual unionism" strategy to British conditions.'
There did not appear to be much reference to or attempt to discuss the founding conference of the 'Leeds Soviet'  a hundred years ago this month, which was considered in detail by Chris Draper on this Blog in January this year:
'HISTORY's most remarkable social experiment began one hundred years ago. As the Russian war effort disintegrated, autocratic Czarism was abolished and a revolutionary SOVIET system substituted.  Soviets were collectives of workers and soldiers organised to end the war and radically democratise Russia.  In March 1917 (February in the old Russian calendar) the PETROGRAD SOVIET led the revolution and despatched a four-man delegation to England to encourage British workers to follow their lead.  On 3 June 1917, over a thousand workers’ representatives met at LEEDS COLISEUM, Cookridge Street to emulate their Russian comrades and organise a British network of ”extra-parliamentary Soviets with sovereign powers”. 

1 comment:

alan said...

many thanks for this..will circulate ta!