Showing posts with label syndicalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syndicalism. Show all posts

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Folded Arms

The old “folded arms” theory of  syndicalism is the belief workers could topple capitalism without violence and merely by folding their arms and stopping work. This theory sprung forth in the period just after the Paris Commune when the workers were still  recuperating from the slaughter. It was also a response to the growing accommodation that the workers parties developed with the status quo. Syndicalism represented an extreme reaction against reformist, parliamentary socialism which can be viewed as the father of syndicalism.The restiveness of the working class is constantly working out new forms of struggle under changing circumstances that invariably lead towards the question of some sort of workers control over production.

 Those who call for a politicalised socialist trade union should understand that a union needs to recruit all workers to be able to put up resistance to the bosses. Can it possibly wait for all the workers to become socialists before inviting them to organise themselves or before admitting them into the organisation.   Any fusion  between the socialist  and union movement ends either by rendering the union helpless and  powerless to obtain improvements or result in the socialist party committing its socialist principles to empty paper promises of reform.  Socialists must work  for socialist ends and not engage in the horse-trading of the labour market although, naturally, socialists within the unions will strive to ensure that they remain open to all workers of whatever opinion or party on the sole condition that there is solidarity in the struggle against the employers. They will argue against the unions becoming the tools of the politicians. Socialists are minded that the workers’ organisation is not the end but just one of the means, however important, of preparing the way for the achievement of socialism. It is the system and not our remuneration or  the “boss” which must be changed.  Socialism is not achieved  through public (state) ownership or workshop committees or trade union representation on this or that management board, but through a fundamental change in class relations. It is necessary to have a clear understanding as to what differentiates syndicalist theory from the orthodox socialist doctrine.

The essence of syndicalism is social revolution by means of the trade unions while the essence of socialism is the revolution by voting.  The syndicalists recognises but one “field” of working class activity — the economic; only one kind of social question — the economic. To solve these economic questions it uses, in all cases, direct action tactics alone. It forces the state to pass laws in the same manner as it forces a private employer to raise wages, or to better working conditions — by strikes and other forms of industrial action. And not only does syndicalism feel perfectly sure of its ability to force the state and private employers to grant concessions by its direct action tactics, but it also intends to overthrow the whole capitalist edifice by the supreme, ultimate application of direct action, i.e., the general strike. It makes absolutely no provision for the conquest of the political power by the political party via the ballot box. Syndicalism bases the whole workers movement upon economic action, not political actions. It sees in the immediate struggle of the unions a preparation for the revolutionary strike that will overthrow capitalism; and it organises the working class in a way that provides the means of assuming control of society by building in its organisation the structure that will function as the administration of the new society on the day of the revolution. Even the Left SPD Marxist Karl Kautsky, in an article in the International Socialist Review, April 1901, said:
“The trade unions...will constitute the most energetic factors in surmounting the present mode of production and they will be pillars on which the edifice of the socialist commonwealth will be erected.”

Some in the history of the socialist movement such as the De Leonists have sought a hybrid theory of syndicalism insisting it needs a guardian and helper — a political “shield.” and tries to force the guardianship on the unwilling syndicalists  but in doing so creates a situation where two movements cannot exist in harmony as they are intent upon trying to absorb each other.  The two movements become competitors for the undivided support of the working class.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tom Bell - Industrial Unionist

What they said before they became Moscow's men and followed the Moscow line.

British Advocates of Industrial Unionism
Glasgow Branch


The above body has come into existence to advocate the principles of Industrial Unionism, i.e., an economic organisation embracing all wage-workers, irrespective of the trade or craft to which they belong, and having for its object the taking and holding “of all the means of production for the entire working class.” ...

...What we aim at is an Industrial Union broad enough to take all wage-workers into its ranks, thus making an injury to one the concern of all. As the old handicraft form, of production has been brushed aside in the march of economic development to make way for the modern machine industry with its sub-division of labour and complexity of form, so craft unionism, which is a reflex of the former, must make way for an industrial organisation of the workers to suit modern conditions....

...The Industrial Unionist stands firmly on the bed-rock of the class struggle, and; declares, that so long as the means of production are in the hands of a numerically small class, the workers will be forced to sell their labour-power to them for a bare subsistence wage. Consequently, between these two classes a struggle must go on until the toilers come together on the political as well as on the industrial field and take over for themselves that which, being the result of their labour, justly belongs to them...

....Industrial Unionism in recognising that there never can been anything in common between the employing class and the working class, instils into the workers’ mind a sense of class solidarity on the economic field and promotes unity on the political field. With these two separate though complementary movements, the political to destroy the capitalist political State, and the Industrial to back up the political and form the Parliament of Industry in place of the defunct class State,— the workers could forthwith lock-out the employing class and accomplish their freedom...

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