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(en) Britain, What is anarcho-syndicalism? - An introduction to revolutionary, working class organising by Brighton Solidarity Federation

Date Sat, 21 Nov 2009 22:25:38 -0500

Anarchism is a revolutionary political current that declares "freedom without socialism is
privilege and injustice and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality."
Syndicalism is the workers’ movement. Deriving from the French word for Trade Unionism
(Syndicalisme), it seeks to unite workers on an economic basis to fight for their
interests. ---- Anarcho-syndicalism is anarchism applied to the workers’ movement. From
small educational groups to mass revolutionary unions, libertarian organisation grows and
is controlled from the bottom up. ---- "Anarcho-syndicalism unites the political and the
economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation" ----Anarcho-
syndicalists seek to organise with other militant workers who agree with their
revolutionary aims and principles. Initially, this takes the form of local groups and
industrial networks, but as these grow in size and influence they can begin to take on
union functions such as advising fellow workers and initiating direct action like
work-to-rules, strikes and occupations.

The role of anarcho-syndicalist networks and unions is not to try and recruit every
worker, but to advocate and organise mass meetings of all workers involved in each
struggle so that the workers involved retain control. Within these mass meetings
anarcho-syndicalists argue for the principles of solidarity, direct action and

In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to Trade Unionism, which seeks to
represent workers on an economic basis, and the so-called ‘Workers Parties’ which seek to
represent workers on a political basis. Instead, anarcho-syndicalism unites the political
and the economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation.

By organising this way, workers learn to act for themselves, exercising their power
without being led by union officials or political vanguards, calling into question the way
society is organised and prefiguring the world we want to create, without bosses or
rulers: libertarian communism.

"The history of political parties and trade union bureaucracy
is a history of sell-outs and betrayal"

Anarcho-syndicalist aims and principles

Anarcho-syndicalists aim to promote solidarity in our workplaces and outside them,
encouraging workers to organise independently of government, bosses and bureaucrats to
fight for our own interests as a class. Our ultimate goal is a stateless, classless
society based on the principle of 'from each according to ability, to each according to
need' – a system of free councils made up of recallable delegates from workplaces and
communities. This is libertarian communism.

We see such a society based on our needs being created out of working class struggles to
assert our needs in the here and now. Our activity is therefore aimed at promoting,
assisting and developing such class struggles locally and internationally, which both
benefits us now and brings us closer to the society we want to create. We do this
according to the following three principles:

* Solidarity. As individuals we are relatively powerless in the face of bosses,
bureaucrats and the state, but when we act collectively the tables are turned.
* Direct action. We do not make appeals to political or economic representatives to
act on our behalf, but organise to get the things we want for ourselves.
* Self-organisation. Workers should control their own struggles through mass
meetings, both learning how to act without bosses or leaders and ensuring they can't be
sold out or demobilised from above.

What do anarcho-syndicalists do?

Anarcho-syndicalists are engaged in a wide range of workplace and community struggles,
some very immediate and others more long term. These include:

* Workplace organising – on issues from pay to working hours to working practices and
* Community organising – from public services to housing to the environment.
* Strike and occupation solidarity – staffing picket lines, raising funds and
bringing in supplies.
* Worker support – organising demonstrations, pickets and direct action in support of
individual victimised workers.
* Networking with other militant workers – for example through the National Shop
Stewards Network and the Education Workers’ Network.
* Organising public meetings – on the economy, war, climate change and other issues
that affect the working class.
* Producing and distributing propaganda – from regular free-sheets and magazines to
one-off leaflets, spreading the ideas of solidarity, direct action and self-organisation.

Like what you read? Get in touch!

This leaflet is produced by Brighton Solidarity Federation, a local group of the UK
Solidarity Federation, which is affiliated to the International Workers’ Association
(IWA), with affiliates and contacts across five continents.

brightonsolfed [AT] googlemail.com
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