Syndicalism is a type of movement which aims to degrade capitalist societies through action by the working class on the industrial front. For syndicalists, labor unions are the potential means both of overcoming capitalism and of running society in the interests of the majority. Industry and government in a syndicalist society would be run by labour union federations.


This emphasis on "industrial" organization was a distinguishing feature of syndicalism when it began to be identified as a distinct current at the beginning of the 20th century. Most socialist organisations of that period emphasised the importance of "political" action through party organizations as a means of bringing about socialism. Although all syndicalists emphasize industrial organization, not all reject political action altogether. For example, De Leonists and some other Industrial Unionists advocate parallel organisation both politically and industrially.

"Syndicalisme" is a French word meaning "trade unionism". This milder version of syndicalism was overshadowed by revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism in the early 20th century, which was most powerful in Spain, but also appeared in other parts of the world, as in the US-centered Industrial Workers of the World.

In a model syndicalist community, the local syndicate communicates with other syndicates through the "Bourse de Travail" (labour exchange), which manages and transfers commodities.

Syndicalism is one of the three most common ideologies of egalitarian, pre-managed economic and labour structure, together with socialism and communism. It states, on an ethical basis, that all participants in an organized trade internally share equal ownership of its production and therefore deserve equal earnings and benefits within that trade, regardless of position or duty. By contrast, socialism emphasises distributing output among trades as required by each trade, not necessarily considering how trades organize internally. Syndicalism is compatible with privatism, unlike communism. Communism rejects government-sanctioned private ownership and private earnings in favor of making all property legally public, and therefore directly and solely managed by the people themselves. In Syndicalism, unions are the basis for the future society rather than simply means of attaining that society.

Syndicalists often form alliances with other workers' movements, including socialism, communism, and anarchism.

Prominent syndicalists

French syndicalists

* Fernand Pelloutier leader of the French "Bourses du Travail" (Labour Exchange)
* Emile Pouget Co-leader of the "Confédération Générale du Travail" ("CGT", founded in 1895)
* Hubert Lagardelle writer
* "See also Charter of Amiens (1906)"

cottish syndicalists

* John Maclean, political activist and writer

Welsh syndicalists

* Sam Mainwaring, orator & originator of the term 'anarcho-syndicalist'

German syndicalists

* Rudolf Rocker

Italian syndicalists

*Alceste de Ambris
*Michele Bianchi
*Enrico Leone
*Arturo Labriola
*Agostino Lanzillo
*Robert Michels - Although he was German, he moved to Italy and became a revolutionary syndicalist.
*Angelo Oliviero Olivetti
*Sergio Panunzio

panish syndicalists

*Francisco Ascaso
*Buenaventura Durruti
*Ángel Pestaña

American syndicalists

*Bill Haywood
*Daniel De Leon
*Ralph Chaplin
*Noam Chomsky
*Sam Dolgoff

wedish syndicalists

*Joe Hill

ee also

*International Workers Association
*Democratic socialism
*De Leonism
*International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam (1907)
*Trade unionism
*Council communism
*Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, the "Wobblies")

External links

* []
* [ Rudolf Rocker] , a major proponent of anarcho-syndicalism
* [ Libertarian Communist Library Archive]
* [ General Strikes] , maps with locations where strikes have occurred; includes resource links


*"Anarcho-Syndicalism", Rudolf Rocker, London, 1989.
*"Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870)", J. Salwyn Schapiro, McGraw-Hill Book Co., NY, l949.
*"Revolutionary Unionism: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow," Dan Jakopovich, New Politics, Vol. XI.,No.3.
*"The Anarchists," James Joll, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1980.
*"The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian Fascism," David D. Robert, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC, 1979.
*Lenny Flank (ed), "IWW: A Documentary History", Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9791813-5-1

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  • syndicalism — 1907, from Fr. syndicalisme movement to transfer ownership of means of production and distribution to industrial workers, from syndical of a labor union, from syndic chief representative (see SYNDIC (Cf. syndic)) …   Etymology dictionary

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  • syndicalism — syndicalist, adj., n. syndicalistic, adj. /sin di keuh liz euhm/, n. 1. a form or development of trade unionism, originating in France, that aims at the possession of the means of production and distribution, and ultimately at the control of… …   Universalium

  • Syndicalism —    The syndicalist movement represented a form of revolutionary trade unionism. Strongly influenced by anarchism, but also by Marxism, syndicalism was a significant political presence in France (the Fédération des Bourses du Travail and the… …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

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