Anarchosyndicalism


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Anarchosyndicalism

 

a trend in the workers’ movement which is politically and ideologically influenced by anarchism.

Anarchosyndicalists disclaim the necessity for political struggle and independent workers’ political parties and reject the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Their goal is a social upheaval, organized by syndicates (trade unions), which would eliminate state and political authority “on the very next day” and create a new society guided by a federation of syndicates directing the production and distribution of goods. Anarchosyndicalists counterpose the tactic of “direct action” (economic strikes, sabotage, boycotts, and so forth) against that of political struggle. The basic method by which they hope to attain their goals is the general economic strike, by means of which trade unions will allegedly be able to liquidate capitalism and take over production without a revolutionary struggle.

Anarchosyndicalism arose at the end of the 19th century in those countries where many cottage and semicottage enterprises existed alongside large industrial enterprises and where the petit bourgeois stratum was strong in the working class—in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Latin American countries. Anarchosyndicalism reached its fullest development at the beginning of the 20th century. This was largely due to the workers’ disenchantment with the reformism of the majority of the socialist parties’ leaders. Anarchosyndicalism penetrated the international trade union movement at that time. On the eve of World War I, anarchosyndicalism became the dominant influence in the French General Confederation of Labor, the American Industrial Workers of the World, the Association of Italian Trade Unions (established in 1912), and the Spanish National Confederation of Labor (established in 1910). Syndicalists were also active in the trade union movements of England, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and a number of other countries. During these years, anarchosyndicalist trends spread to part of the revolutionary wing of the international workers’ movement as well. During World War I, chauvinist elements began to play the leading role in the anarchosyndicalist movement.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution, many revolutionary workers, including several prominent anarcho-syndicalists (G. Monmousseau in France, T. Mann in England, W. Haywood in the USA, and others), joined the progressive trade union movement. A number of syndicalist organizations in France, Latin America, and elsewhere joined the Red International of Labor Unions. Various syndicalist organizations and groups disintegrated in England, Italy, and Japan. The Bolshevik Party and other communist and workers’ parties played a large role in exposing the opportunistic nature of anarchosyndicalism. The Tenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in March 1921 condemned the “workers’ opposition” in the Party, which essentially took anarchosyndicalist positions on a number of questions. In 1922 right-wing leaders of the anarchosyndicalist movement formed the so-called International Association of Workers, which united anarchosyndicalist organizations in Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina, Uruguay, and other countries. The association advanced a new anarchosyndicalist program, a program of “libertarian” (“free”) syndicalism, which envisioned an evolutionary transition from capitalism to “libertarian communism”—that is, “free” from state power and from the dictatorship of the proletariat—through a gradual transfer of production and public functions to the syndicates.

The strength of anarchosyndicalism was sharply undermined after World War II by the growing influence of communist and workers’ parties and the new upsurge of the revolutionary workers’ movement in capitalist countries. At the same time, anarchosyndicalist ideas still have some influence among certain strata of the working class and also among parts of the petit bourgeois intelligentsia of certain countries. Anarchosyndicalist tendencies sometimes appear in various forms in socialist countries as well.

Communists are waging a struggle against anarchosyndicalist views, while simultaneously striving to achieve the unity of action of all workers’ organizations regardless of ideological differences, in the name of strengthening the positions of peace, democracy, and socialism.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Sotsializm i anarkhizm.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 12.
Lenin, V. I. “Pervonachal’nyi proekt rezoliutsii X s”ezda RKP o sindikalistskom i anarkhistskom uklone v nashei partii.” Ibid., vol. 43.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad o edinstve partii i anarkho-sindikalistskom uklone 16 marta.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Zakliuchitel’noe slovo po dokladu ob edinstve partii i anarkho-sindikalistskom uklone 16 marta.” Ibid.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 7th ed., part 1. Moscow, 1954. Pages 530–33.
Lozovskii, A. Anarkho-sindikalizm i kommunizm, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1924.
Iaroslavskii, E. Anarkhizm v Rossii. [Moscow,] 1939.
Kanev, S. N. Kak partiia preodolela anarkho-sindikalistskii uklon. Moscow, 1958.
Foster, W. Z. Ocherki mirovogo prof, dvizheniia. [Moscow,] 1956. (Translated from English.)
Leibzon, B. M. Melkoburzhuaznyi revoliutsionarizm. Moscow, 1967.
Lagardel’, G. Vseobshchaia stachka i sotsializm. Mezhdunarodnaia anketa. Mneniia i dokumenty. St. Petersburg, 1907.
Collinet, M. L’ouvrier français. Espirit du syndicalisme. Paris, 1952.

V. V. ALEKSANDROV

References in periodicals archive ?
Graham Kelsey has illuminated the history of anarchosyndicalism in Aragon, particularly in the pre-civil-war period, while Julian Casanova presents the most thorough inquiry yet into that movement during the conflict itself.
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