Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


+1 vote
by (53.1k points)
i appreciate the agreement between the answers so far, but i'm hoping that someone who values anarcho-syndicalism will answer the question.
since people who don't are hardly in a position to argue for it.

where, oh where, is anarcho-synidicalist?

4 Answers

+2 votes
You should consider it as you would consider a dinosaur. Anarcho-syndicalism is based on outmoded and unworkable concepts developed in the context of an industrial society. If you are from Vietnam or China, I might recommend it. But even then...

Now, like dinosaurs, anarcho-syndicalism is important to study because we should understand our anarchist history and the ideas of many of our current comrades. And the theory does contain some valuable components such as direct action, wage slavery, and worker self-management, though syndicalists were not the first to cultivate these ideas.

Otherwise, anarcho-syndicalism is just something for dreamers like Noam Chomsky to chew on.
by (1.6k points)
If Anarcho-Syndicalism is a dinosaur, it is a Tyrannosaurus Rex eating up the Rich and Powerful.

Also, the T Rex would be wearing a sweet ass IWW shirt !
Yeah, cause all the Goldman Sachs executives are really hurting right now. That Occupy Wall Street did wonders.

I agree that IWW t-shirts are awesome though.
"If you are from Vietnam or China, I might recommend it" : are you aware that even in Asia, dinosaurs had gone extinct. In fact, according to conventional science and historical beliefs : they have totally disapeared. ;-)

Seriously, don't take me bad, I suppose that there were no bad intention, but it may sounds a bit racist if you don't say it very quick.

By the way, there are autonomous anarchists and other anti-authoritarians in China (I don't know for vietnam), and while we are talking about it, I think that anarcho-syndicalism (as it was historically theorised, of italian, or spanish or american inspiration) wouldn't be very revelent to the actual chinese economic system which is very close to what we might call a giant State capitalism. And so if the economy is very industrialised, there is no "caciques" (for what I know), and officially, no private bosses and owners.

There are interesting things to read about class war in China. These last years, a lot of what the governement calls "Mass incidents" happened all over the country. That is to say giant wild demos and riots, mass wildcat general strikes and many other things totally autonomous from any party or organisation.
+1 vote
Because it's a good case study in how you don't have to be a right-wing free market fanatic to dubiously claim an anarchist identity whilst advocating an ideal of society that is markedly similar to what exists now, insofar as it's based on the subjugation of the individual to economic rationalizations of life, particularly work.  Anarcho-syndicalism illustrates how, to be consistent, anarchism cannot just be about opposition to the state and capitalism; being opposed to hierarchy has implications that extend way beyond a narrowly defined sphere of political economy.

It's also a good point of contrast when considering contemporary anarchist ideas, because of (among other things) its reliance on ideas that were once popular but have long been out of vogue, specifically the labour theory of value and more importantly, essentialist notions of human nature, class struggle, historical development and the myth of progress.  Anarcho-syndicalism was my first exposure to anarchist ideas, and it still provides me with a useful frame of reference when thinking about what I believe and don't believe, and why, partly because it's part of the heritage of contemporary anarchist ideas, and partly because it represents an extreme of the anarchist spectrum - anarchism embedded with workerist identity politics.  

Edited for clarity.
by (6.3k points)
edited by
+1 vote
I presume you're riffing off what that other dude posted about Chomsky, but why should you consider it what? A path of achieving a condition of anarchy? That simply won't do. As already stated, @syndicalism relies on a couple of untenable ideological constructs, like progressivism (almost always tinged with technophilia) and self-management of industrial and agricultural production. Should you consider becoming an @syndicalist? Definitely not. While it may be true that the working class has its most potent potential (counter)power at the point of production, it's also true that virtually all economically essential points of production don't exist in this country any more, which is why the most syndicalist outfit hereabouts (the IWW) focuses on service workers.

The best way to consider @syndicalism is as a historical curiosity.
by (570 points)
+1 vote
Anarcho-Syndicalism is ultimately the idea that radical trade unions should lead the Working Class into The Revolution.

After The Revolution, decentralized worker collectives would lead us into the Utopia that sparkles in our eyes when the sweet whispers of Working Class Power is uttered.

Anarcho-Syndicalism is, as MC Milstein (Cindy Milstein's rapper name) has said, the Best of Liberalism and the Best of Communism.
by (230 points)
so tell me more about this working class of capitalization-worthiness.
what makes someone a member of this group? and what makes that group the one that needs to be led into the revolution? and why radical trade unions? and what determines whether a trade union is radical or not?

i recognize that there are other sites that have information, but i'd like to chat with someone who is alive today and espousing this thinking.
(levity is always appreciated, although in a post like this, i'm not sure where it starts and where it ends...)

and i appreciate your willingness to venture into not-entirely-friendly terrain. i'm sure other people will appreciate that also.
As you could probably tell I don't espouse @syndicalism now, but from what I understood of @syndicalism when I subscribed to it a large part of what determines whether a union is radical or not is whether it's an industrial union or a craft union.  

Where on the one hand craft unions' membership criteria center on your profession (eg. National Union of Teachers) and seek to improve workers conditions, on the other hand industrial unions are structured around federations of unionized workplaces, each individual union including all workers of every occupation in a given workplace (eg. both teachers and janitors), combined with revolutionary aims (the strategy being progressively damaging general strikes).  That's the theory anyway.

I'm also interested in the other questions you pose to Anarcho-Syndicalist, I'd like to hear them addressed in a contemporary context.

(@A-S, correct me if any of that isn't right)