AnarchoSyndicalism : Chapter 6 : The Evolution of Anarcho-Syndicalism
(1873 - 1958) ~ German Father of Anarcho-Syndicalism : Rocker was born in Mainz, Germany, son of a workingman who died when the boy was five years of age. It was an uncle who introduced him to the German SociaI Democratic movement, but he was soon disappointed by the rigidities of German socialism. (From : Irving Horowitz Bio.)
• "...our present economic system, leading to a mighty accumulation of social wealth in the hands of privileged minorities and to a constant repression of the great masses of the people..." (From : "Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Rudolph Ro....)
• "The urge for social justice can only develop properly and be effective when it grows out of man's sense of freedom and responsibility, and is based upon it." (From : "Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Rudolph Ro....)
• "...economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression. The exploitation of man by man and the domination of man over man are inseparable, and each is the condition of the other." (From : "Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism," by Rudolph Ro....)
The modern Anarcho-Syndicalist movement in Europe, with the single exception of Spain where from the days of the First International Anarcho-Syndicalism has always been the dominant tendency in the labor movement, owes its origin to the rise of revolutionary Syndicalism in France, with its field of influence in the C.G.T. This movement developed quite spontaneously within the French working class as a reaction against political Socialism, the cleavages in which for a long time permitted no unified trade union movement. After the fall of the Paris Commune and the outlawing of the International in France the labor movement there had taken on a completely colorless character and had fallen completely under the influence of the bourgeois Republican, J. Barberet, whose slogan was: "Harmony between capital and labor!" Not until the congress in Marseilles (1879) did any Socialist tendencies again manifest themselves and the Fédération des Travailleurs came into being, itself to come quickly and completely under the influence of the so-called collectivists.
But even the collectivists did not long remain united, and the congress of St. Etienne (1882) brought a split in this movement. One section followed the school of the Marxist, Jules Guesde, and founded the Parti Ouvrie Français, while the other section attached itself to the former Anarchist, Paul Brousse, to form the Parti Ouvrier Révolutionare Socialiste Français. The former found its support chiefly in the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats, while the latter had its stronghold in the Fédération des Bourses du Travail de France (Federation of Labor Exchanges of France). After a short time the so- called Allemanists, under the leadership of Jean Alleman, broke away from the Broussists and attained a powerful influence in some of the large syndicates; they had given up parliamentary activity completely. Besides these there were the Blanquists, united in the Comité Révolutionaire Central, and the independent Socialists, who belonged to the Société pour L'Economie Sociale, which had been founded in 1885 by Benoit Malon, and out of which came both Jean Jaurès and Millerand.
All of these parties, with the exception of the Allemanists, saw in the trade unions merely recruiting schools for their political objectives, and had no understanding whatever of their real functions. The constant dissension among the various Socialist factions were naturally carried over to the syndicats, with the results that when the trade unions of one faction went on strike, the syndicats of the other factions walked in on them on strike-breakers. This untenable situation gradually opened the eyes of the workers eyes, on awakening to which the anti-parliamentary propaganda of the Anarchists, who since 1883 had a strong following among the workers in Paris and Lyons, contributed not a little. So the Trade Union Congress at Nantes (1894) charged a special committee with the task of devising ways and means for bringing about an understanding among all the trade union alliances. The result was the founding in the following year at the Congress in Limonges, of the C.G.T., which declared itself independent of all political parties. It was the final renunciation by the trade unions of political Socialism, whose operations had crippled the French labor movement and deprived it of its most effective weapon in the fight for liberation.
From there on there existed only two large trade union groups, the C.G.T. and the Federation of Labor Exchanges, until in 1902, at the Congress of Montpellier the latter joined the C.N.T. With this there was brought about practical unity of the trade unions. This effort at the unification of organized labor was preceded by an intensive propaganda for the general strike, for which the congresses at Marseilles (1892), Paris (1893), and Nantes (1894) had already declared by strong majorities. The idea of the general strike was first brought into the trade union movement by the Anarchist carpenter, Tortelier, who had been deeply stirred by the general strike movement on the U.S.A. in 1886-7, and it had been later taken up by the Allemanists, while Jules Guesde and the French Marxists had emphatically pronounced against it. However, both movements furnished the C.N.T. with a lot of its most distinguished representatives: from the Allemanists came, in particular, V. Griffuelles; from the Anarchists, F. Pelloutier, the devoted and highly intelligent secretary of the Federation of Labor Exchanges, E. Pouget, editor of the official organ of the C.G.T., La Voix du Peuple, P. Delesalle, G. Yvetot, and many others. One often encounters in other countries, the widely disseminated opinion, which was fostered by Werner Sombart in particular, that revolutionary Syndicalism in France owes its origin to intellectuals like G. Sorel, E. Berth and H. Lagardelle, who in the periodical, Le Mouvement Socialiste, founded it 1899, elaborated in their own way the intellectual results of the new movement. This is utterly false. These men never belonged to the movement themselves, nor had they any mentionable influence on its internal development. Moreover, the C.G.T. was not composed exclusively of revolutionary trade unions, certainly half of its members were of reformist tendency and had only joined the C.G.T. because they recognized that the dependence of the trade unions on the political parties was a misfortune for the movement. But the revolutionary wing, which had the most energetic and active elements in organized labor on its side and had at its command, moreover, the best intellectual forces in the organization, gave to the C.G.T. its characteristic stamp, and it was they, exclusively, who determined the development of the ideas of revolutionary Syndicalism.
With it the ideas of the old International wakened to new life, and there was initiated that storm-and-stress period of the French labor movement, whose revolutionary influences made themselves felt far beyond the boundaries of France. The great strike movements and the countless prosecutions of the C.G.T. by the government merely strengthened their revolutionary verve, and caused the new ideas to find their way also into Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Bohemia, and the Scandinavian counties. In England also the Syndicalist Education League, which had been brought into existence in 1910 by Tom Mann and Guy Bowman, and whose teachings exercised a very strong influence, especially among the rank-and-file of the transport and mining industries, as was revealed in the great strike movements of that period, owed its existence to French Syndicalism.
The influence of French Syndicalism on the international labor movement was strengthened in great degree by the internal crisis which at that time laid hold of nearly all the Socialist labor parties. The battle between the so-called Revisionists and the rigid Marxists, and particularly the fact that their very parliamentary activities forced the most violent opponents of revisionism of natural necessity to travel in practice the revisionary path, caused many of the more thoughtful element to reflect seriously. Thus it came about that most of the parties found themselves driven by the force of circumstances, often against their will, to make certain concessions to the general strike idea of the Syndicalists. Before this Domela Nieuwenhuis, the pioneer of the Socialist labor movement in Holland, had brought up in the International Congress of Socialists in Brussels (1891) a proposal for warding off the approaching danger of a war by preparing organized labor for the general strike, a proposal which was most bitterly opposed by Wilhelm Liebknect in particular. But in spite of this opposition almost all national and international Socialist congresses were subsequently obliged to concern themselves more and more with this question.
At the Socialist congress in Paris in 1899, the future minister, Aristide Briand, argued for the general strike with all his fiery eloquence and succeeded in having an appropriate resolution adopted by the congress. Even the French Guesdists, who had previously been the bitterest foes of the general strike, found themselves obliged at the congress in Lille (1904) to adopt a resolution favoring it, as they feared they would otherwise lose all their influence with the workers. Of course nothing was gained by such concessions. The see-saw back and forth between parliamentarism and direct action could only cause confusion. Straightforward men like Domela Nieuwenhuis and his followers in Holland, and the Allemanists in France, drew the inevitable inference from their new conception of things and withdrew entirely from parliamentary activity; for the others, however, their concessions to the idea of the general strike were merely lip service, with no clear understanding behind it. Whither that led was shown nicely in the case of Briand, who, as a minister, found himself in the tragic-comic situation of being obliged to prohibit his own address in favor of the general strike, which the C.G.T. had distributed in pamphlet form by the hundred thousand.
Independent of European Syndicalism there developed in the U.S.A. the movement of the Industrial Workers of the World, which was wholly the outgrowth of American conditions. Still it had in common with Syndicalism the methods of direct action and the idea of a Socialist reorganization of society by the industrial and agricultural organization of the workers themselves. At its founding congress in Chicago (1905) the most diverse radical elements in the American labor movement were represented: Eugene Debs, Bill Haywood, Charles Moyer, Daniel De Leon, W. Trautmann, Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons and many others. The most important section for a time was the Western Federation of Miners whose name was known everywhere for its devoted and self- sacrificing labor fights in Colorado, Montana and Idaho. Since the great movement for the eight-hour day in 1886-7, which came to its tragic conclusion with the execution of the Anarchists, Spies, Parsons, Fletcher. Engel and Lingg on November 11, 1877, the American labor movement had been completely bogged down spiritually. It was believed that by the founding of the I.W.W. it might be possible to put the movement back on its revolutionary course, an expectation which has thus far not been fulfilled. What chiefly distinguished the I.W.W. from the European Syndicalists was its strongly defined Marxist views, which were impressed on it more particularly by Daniel De Leon while European Syndicalists had conspicuously adopted the Socialist ideas of the libertarian wing of the First International.
The I.W.W. had an especially strong influence on the itinerant workers in the West, but they also gained some influence among factory workers in the eastern states, and conducted a great many wide-spread strikes, which put the name of the "Wobblies" in everybody's mouth. They took an outstanding part in the embittered battles for the safeguarding of freedom of speech in the Western states, and made many terrible sacrifices of life and liberty in doing so. Their members filled the jails by thousands, many were tarred and feathered by fanatical vigilantes, or lynched outright. The Everett massacre of 1916, the execution of the labor poet, Joe Hill, in 1915, the Centralia affair in 1919, and a lot of similar cases in which defenseless workers fell victims, were only a few mile stones in the I.W.W.'s history of sacrifice.
The outbreak of the World War affected the labor movement like a natural catastrophe of enormous scope. After the assassinations at Sarajevo, when everybody felt that Europe was driving under full sail toward a general war, the leaders of the C.G.T. proposed to the leaders of the German trade unions that organized labor in the two countries should take joint action to halt the threatened disaster. But the German labor leaders, who always opposed any direct mass action, and in their long years of parliamentary routine had long since lost every trace of revolutionary initiative, could not be won over to such a proposal. So failed the last chance for preventing the frightful catastrophe.
After the war the peoples faced a new situation. Europe was bleeding from a thousand wounds and writhing as if in the throes of a fever. In Central Europe the old regime had collapsed. Russia found herself in the midst of a social revolution of which no one could see the end. Of all the events after the war the occurrences in Russia had impressed the workers in every country most deeply. They felt instinctively that they were in the midst of a revolutionary situation, and that, if nothing decisive came out of it now, all the hopes of the toiling masses would be dispelled for years. The workers recognized that the system which had been unable to prevent the horrible catastrophe of the World War, but instead for four years had driven the peoples to the slaughter-pen, had forfeited its right to existence, and they hailed any effort which promised them a way out of the economic and political chaos which the war had created. For just this reason they placed their highest hopes on the Russian revolution and thought it marked the inauguration of a new era in the history of the European peoples.
In 1919 the Bolshevist party, which had attained to power in Russia, issued an appeal to the revolutionary workers' organizations in the world, and invited them to a congress which was to meet in Russia in the following year to set up a new International. Communist parties exist at that time in only a few countries; on the other hand, there were in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, Germany, England and the countries of North and South America Syndicalist organizations, some of which exercised a very strong influence. It was, therefore, of deep concern to Lenin and his followers to win these particular organizations, as he had so thoroughly alienated himself from the Socialist labor parties that he could scarcely count upon their support. So it came about that, at the congress for the founding of the Third International in the summer of 1920, almost all of the Syndicalist and Anarcho-Syndicalist organizations were represented.
But the impressions which the Syndicalist delegates received in Russia were not calculated to make them regard collaboration with the Communists as either possible or desirable. The "dictatorship of the proletariat" was already revealing itself in its worst light. The prisons were filled with Socialists of every school, among them many Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists. But above all it was plain that the new dominant caste was in no way fitted for the task of genuine Socialist reconstruction.
The foundation of the Third International, with its dictatorial apparatus of organization and its effort to make the whole labor movement of Europe into an instrument of the foreign policy of the Bolshevist state, quickly made plain to the Syndicalists that there was no place for them in that organization. But it was very necessary for the Bolshevists, and Lenin in particular, to establish a hold on the syndicalist organization abroad, as their importance, especially in the Latin countries, was well known. For this reason it was decided to set up, alongside the Third International, a separate international alliance of all revolutionary trade unions, in which the Syndicalist organizations of all shades could also find a place. The Syndicalist delegates agreed to the proposal and began negotiations with Losovsky, the commissioner of the Communist International. But he demanded that the new organization should be subordinate to the Third International, and that the Syndicates in the several countries should be placed under the leadership of the Communist organizations in their countries. This demand was unanimously rejected by the Syndicalist delegates. As they were unable to come to an agreement on any terms, it was at last decided to hold and international trade union congress in Moscow the following year, 1921, and to leave the decision of his question to it.
In December, 1920, an international Syndicalist conference convened in Berlin to decide upon an attitude toward the approaching congress in Moscow. The congress agreed upon seven points, on the acceptance of which their entrance into the Red Trade Union International was made dependent. The most important of these seven points was the complete independence of the movement from all political parties, and insistence on the viewpoint that the Socialist reorganization of society could only be carried out by the economic organizations of the producing classes themselves. At the congress in Moscow in the following year the Syndicalist organizations were in the minority. The Central Alliance of Russian Trade Unions dominated the entire situation and put through all the resolutions.
In conjunction with the thirteenth congress of the F.A.U.D. (Freie Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands, Free Labor Union of Germany) at Düsseldorf in October, 1921, there was held an international organization of Syndicalist organizations at which delegates from Germany, Sweden, Holland, Czechoslovakia and the I.W.W. in America were present. The conference voted for the calling of an international Syndicalist congress in the spring of 1922. Berlin was selected as the meeting place. In July, 1922, a conference was held in Berlin to make preparations for this congress; France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Spain and the revolutionary Syndicalists in Russia were represented. The Central Alliance of Russian Trade Unions had also sent a delegate who did his best to prevent the calling of the congress, and when he had no success in this left the congress. The conference worked out a declaration of the principles of revolutionary Syndicalism, which was to be laid before the coming congress for consideration, and made all the necessary preparations for making the congress a success.
The International Congress of Syndicalists met in Berlin from December 25, 1922, until January 2, 1923, the following organizations being represented; Argentina by the Federactión Obrera Regional Argentina, with 200,000 members; Chili by the Industrial Workers of the World, with 20,000 members; Denmark by the Union for Syndicalist Propaganda, with 600 members; Germany by the Freie Arbeiter-Union, with 120,000 members; Holland by the National Arbeids Sekretariat, with 22,500 members; Italy by the Unione Sindicale Italiana, 500,000 members; Mexico by the Confederación General de Trabajadores, with 30,000 members; Norway by the Norsk Syndikalistik Federasjon, with 20,000 members; Portugal by the Confederaçao Geral do Trabalho, with 150,000 members; Sweden by the Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation, with 32,000 members. The Spanish C.N.T. was at that time engaged in a terrific struggle against the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, and for that reason had sent no delegate, but they reaffirmed their adherence at the secret conference in Saragossa in October, 1923. In France, where after the war a split in the C.G.T. had taken place, leading to the founding of the C.G.T.U., the latter had already joined the Muscovites. But there was a minority in the organization which had combined to form the Comité de Défence Syndicaliste Revolutionaire. This committee, which represented about 100,000 workers, took active part in the proceedings of the Berlin congress. From France the Federation des feunesses de la Seine were likewise represented. Two delegates represented the Syndicalist minority of the Russian trade unions.
The congress resolved unanimously on the founding of an international alliance of all Syndicalist organizations under the name International Workingmen's Association. It adopted the declaration of principles that had been worked out by the Berlin preliminary conference, which presented an outspoken profession of Anarcho- Syndicalism. The second item on this declaration runs as follows:
"Revolutionary Syndicalism is the confirmed enemy of every form of economic and social monopoly, and aims at its abolition by means of economic communes and administrative organs of field and factory workers on the basis of a free system of councils, entirely liberated from subordination to any government or political party. Against the politics of the state and of parties it erects the economic organization of labor; against the government of men, it sets up the administration of things. Consequently, it has for its object not the conquest of political power, but the abolition of every State function in social life. It considers that, along with the monopoly of property, should disappear also the monopoly of domination, and that any form of the State, including the dictatorship of the proletariat, will always be the creator of new privileges; it could never be an instrument of liberation."
With this the breach with Bolshevism and its adherents in the separate countries was completed. The I.W.M.A. from then on traveled its own road and gained a foothold in a number of countries which had not been represented at the founding congress. It holds its international congresses, issues its bulletins, and adjusts the relations between the Syndicalists organizations of the different countries. Among all the international alliances of organized labor it is the one that has most faithfully cherished the traditions of the First International.
The most powerful and influential organization in the I.W.M.A. is the Spanish C.N.T., which is making history in Europe today and is, moreover, discharging one of the hardest tasks that has ever been set before the workers' organization. The C.N.T. was founded in 1910, and within a few years counted as members over a million workers and peasants. The organization was new only in name, not in objectives or methods. The history of the Spanish labor movement is shot through with long periods of reaction, in which the movement has been able to carry on only an underground existence. But after every such period it has organized anew. The name changes, but the goal remains the same. The labor movement in Spain goes back to 1840, when the weaver, Juan Munts, in Catalonia, brought into being in Barcelona the first trade union of textile workers. The government of that day sent General Zapatero to Catalonia to put down the movement. The consequence was the great general strike of 1855, which led to an open revolt in which the workers inscribed on their banners the slogan: Associación ó Muerte! (The right to organize or death!) The rebellion was bloodily suppressed, but the government granted the workers the right of organization.
The first movement of the Spanish workers was strongly influenced by the ideas of Pi y Margall, leader of the Spanish Federalists and disciple of Proudhon. Pi y Margall was one of the outstanding theorists of his time and had a powerful influence on the development of libertarian ideas in Spain. His political ideas had much in common with those of Richard Price, Joseph Priestly, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, and other representatives of the Anglo-American liberalism of the first period. He wanted to limit the power of the state to a minimum and gradually replace it by a Socialist economic order. In 1868, after the abdication of King Amadeo I, Bakunin addressed his celebrated manifest to the Spanish workers, and sent a special delegation to Spain to win the workers to the First International. Tens of thousands of workers joined the great workers' alliance and adopted the Anarcho-Syndicalist ideas of Bakunin, to which they have remained loyal to this day. As a matter of fact, the Spanish Federation was the strongest organization in the International. After the overthrow of the first Spanish republic the International was suppressed in Spain, but it continued to exist as an underground movement, issued its periodicals, and bade defiance to every tyranny. And when, finally, after seven years of unheard-of persecution, the exceptional law against the workers was repealed, there immediately sprang to life the Federaction de Trabajadores de la Región Española, at whose second congress in Sevilla (1882) there were already represented 218 local federations with 70,000 members.
No other workers' organization in the world has had to endure such frightful persecution as the Anarchist labor movement in Spain. Hundreds of its adherents were executed or horrible tortured by inhuman inquisitors in the prisons of Jerez de la Forntera, Montjuich, Sevilla, Alcalá del Valle, and so on. The bloody persecutions of the so-called Mano Negra (Black Hand), which actually never existed, was a pure invention of the government to justify the suppression of the organizations of the field workers in Andalusia; the gruesome tragedy of Montjuich, which in its day roused a storm of protest from the entire world; the acts of terrorism of the of the Camisas Blancas (White Shirts), a gangster organization which had been brought into existence by the police and the employers to clear away the leaders of the movement by assassination, and to which even the General Secretary of the C.N.T., Salvador Segui, fell victim -- these are just a few chapters in the long, torture-filled story of the Spanish labor movement. Fransisco Ferrer, founder of the Modern School in Barcelona and publisher of the paper La Huelga General (The General Strike) was one of its martyrs. But no reaction was ever able to crush the resistance of its adherents. That movement has produced hundreds of the most marvelous characters, whose purity of heart and inflexible idealism had to be acknowledged even by their grimmest opponents. The Spanish Anarchist labor movement had no place for political careerists. What it had to offer was constant danger, imprisonment, and often death. Only when one has become acquainted with the frightful story of the martyrs of this movement does one understand why it has assumed at certain periods such a violent character in defense of its human rights against the onslaughts of black reactionaries.
The present C.N.T.-F.A.I. embodies the old traditions of the movement. In contrast with the Anarchists of many other countries, their comrades in Spain from the beginning based their activities on the economic fighting organizations of the workers. The C.N.T. today embraces a membership of two and a half million workers and peasants. It controls thirty-six daily papers, among them Solidaredad Obrera in Barcelona, with a circulation of 240,000, the largest of any paper in Spain, and Castilla Libre, which is the most read paper in Madrid. Besides these the movements put out a lot of weekly publications and possesses six of the best reviews in the country. During the last year, in particular, it has published a large number of excellent books and pamphlets and has contributed more to the education of the masses than has any other movement. The C.N.T.-F.A.I. is, today, the backbone of the heroic struggle against Fascism in Spain and the soul of the social reorganization of the country.
In Portugal, where the labor movement has always been strongly influenced by neighboring Spain, there was formed in 1911 the Confederacçao Geral do Trabalho, the strongest workers' organization in the country, representing the same principles as the C.N.T. in Spain. It has always sharply its independence of all political parties, and had conducted a lot of big strike movements. By the victory of the dictatorship in Portugal the C.G.T. was forced out of political activity and today leads an underground existence. The recent disturbances in Portugal, directed against the existing reaction, are chiefly traceable to its activities.
In Italy there always existed, from the days of the First International, a strong Anarchist movement which, in certain sections of the country retained a decisive influence over the workers and peasants. In 1902 the Socialist Party founded the Confederazione del Lavoro, which was patterned after the model of the German trade union organizations of the country. But it never attained this goal; it was not even able to prevent a large part of its membership from being strongly influenced by the ideas of the French Syndicalists. A few big and successful strikes, especially the farmlabourers' strike in Parma and Ferrara, gave a strong impetus to the prestige of the advocates of direct action. In 1912 there convened in Modena a conference of various organizations which were not at all in accord with the method of the Confederation and its subservience to the influence of the Socialist Party. This conference formed a new organization under the name Unione Sindicale Italiana. This body was the soul of a long list of labor struggles op to the outbreak of the World War. In particular it took a prominent part in the occurrences of the so-called Red Week in June, 1913. The brutal attacks of the police on striking workers in Ancona led to general strike, which in a few provinces developed into an armed insurrection.
When, in following year, the World War broke out, a serious crisis arose in the U.S.I. The most influential leader of the movement, Alceste de Ambris, who had all the time played a rather ambiguous role, tried to rouse in the organization a sentiment for the war. At the congress in Parma (1914), however, he found himself in the minority, and, with his followers, withdrew from the movement. Upon Italy's entrance into the war all the known propagandists of the U.S.I. were arrested and imprisoned until the end of the war. After the war a revolutionary situation arose in Italy, and the events in Russia, whose actual significance could at that time, of course, not be foreseen, roused a vigorous response in the country. The U.S.I. in a short time awoke to new life and soon counted 600,000 members. A series of serious labor disturbances shook the country, reaching their peak in the occupation of the factories in August, 1920. Its goal at that time was a free soviet system, which was to reject any dictatorship and find its basis in the economic organizations of organized labor.
In that same year, the U.S.I. sent its secretary, Armando Borghi, to Moscow to acquaint himself personally with the situation in Russia. Borghi returned to Italy sadly disillusioned. In the interim the Communists had been trying to get the U.S.I. into their hands; but the congress at Rome in 1922 led to an open break with Bolshevism and the affiliation of the organization with the I.W.M.A. Meanwhile Fascism had developed into an immediate danger. A strong and united labor movement that was determined to risk everything in defense of its freedom could still have put a check upon this danger> But the pitiful conduct of the Socialist Party and the Confederation of Labor, which was subject to its influence, wrecked everything. Besides the U.S.I. there remained only the only the Unione Anarchia Italiana to rally round the universally revered champion of Italian Anarchism, Errico Malatesta. When in 1922 the general strike against Fascism broke out, the democratic government armed the Fascist hordes and throttled this last attempt at the defense of freedom and right. But Italian democracy had dug its own grave. It thought it could use Mussolini as a tool against the workers, but thus it became its own grave-digger. With the victory of Fascism the whole Italian labor movement disappeared, and along with it the U.S.I. and all openness in social life.
In France after the war the so-called reformist wing had gained the upper-hand in the C.G.T., whereupon the revolutionary elements seceded and formed themselves into the C.G.T.U. But since Moscow had a very strong interest in getting this particular organization into its hands, there was started in it an unscrupulous underground activity in cells after the Russian pattern which went so far that in 1922 two Anarcho-Syndicalists were shot down by Communists in the Paris Trade Union house. Thereupon the Anarcho-Syndicalists, with Pierre Bernard, withdrew from the C.G.T.U., and formed the Confédération Générale du Travail Syndicaliste Revolutionaire, which joined the International Workingmens' Association. This organization has since then been vigorously active and has contributed greatly to keep alive among the workers the old pre-war ideas of the C.G.T. The disillusionment over Russia and, above all, the resounding echo among the French workers of the Spanish fight for freedom, led to a strong revival of revolutionary Syndicalism in France, so that one can safely count on a rebirth of the movement within predictable time.
In Germany there had existed for a long time before the war the movement of the so-called Locolists, whose stronghold was the Freie Vereigung deutscher Gewerkschaften, founded by G.Kessler and F. Kater in 1897. This organization was originally inspired by purely Social Democratic ideas, but it combated the centralizing tendencies of the general German trade union movement. The revival of revolutionary Syndicalism in France had a strong influence on this movement, and this was notably strengthened when the former Social Democrat and later Anarchist, Dr. R. Friedberg came out for the general strike. In 1908 the F.V.D.G. broke completely with Social Democracy and openly professed Syndicalism. After the war this movement took a sharp upswing and in a short time counted 120,000 members. At its congress in Berlin in 1919 the declaration of principles worked out by R. Rocker was adopted; this was in essential agreement with the objectives of the Spanish C.N.T. At the congress in Düsseldorf (1920), the organization changed its name to Freie Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands. The movement carried on an unusually active propaganda and took an especially energetic part in the great actions by organized labor in the Rhenish industrial field. The F.A.U.D. rendered a great service through the tireless labors of its active publishing house, which, in addition to a volumous pamphlet literature, brought out a large number of longer works by Kropotkin, Bakunin, Nettlau, Rocker and others, and by this activity spread the libertarian ideas of these men to wider circles. The movement, in addition to its weekly organ, Der Syndikalist, and the theoretical monthly, Die Internationale, had at its command a number of local sheets, among them the daily paper, Die Schöpfung, in Dusseldorf. After Hitler's accession to power the movement of the German Anarcho- Syndicalists vanished from the scene. A great many of its supporters languished in concentration camps or had to take refuge abroad. In spite of this the organization still exists in secret, and under most difficult conditions carries on its underground propaganda.
In Sweden there has existed for a long time a very active Syndicalist movement, the Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganization, which is also affiliated with the I.W.M.A. This organization numbers over 40,000 members, which constitutes a very high percentage of the Swedish labor movement. The internal organization of the Swedish workers' movement is in very excellent condition. The movement has two daily papers one of them, Arbetaren, managed by Albert Jensen in Stockholm. It has its disposal a large number of distinguished propagandists, and has also inaugurated a very active Syndicalist Youth movement. The Swedish Syndicalists take a strong interest in all the workers' struggles in the country. When, on the occasion of the great strike of Adalen, the Swedish government for the first time sent militia against the workers, five men being shot down in the affray, and the Swedish workers replied with a general strike, the Syndicalists played a prominent part, and the government was at last compelled to make concessions to the protest movement of the workers.
In Holland as Syndicalist movement there was the Nationale Arbeeter-Sekretariat (N.A.S.), which counted 40,000 members. But when this came more and more under Communist influence, the Nederlandisch Syndikalistisch Vakverbond split off from it and announced its affiliation with the I.W.M.A. The most important unit in this new organization is the metal workers' union under the leadership of A. Rousseau. The movement has carried on, especially in recent years, a very active propaganda, and possesses in Die Syndikalist, edited by Albert De Jong, an excellent organ. And the monthly Grond-Slagen, which appeared for a few years under the editorship of A. Müller-Lehning, deserves also to be mentioned here. Holland has been from old the classic land of anti-militarism. Domela Neiuwenhuis, former priest and later Anarchist, highly respected by everyone for his pure idealism, in 1904 founded the Anti-Militarist International, which, however, had influence worth mentioning only in Holland and France. At the third anti-militarist congress at The Hague (1921) the International Anti- Militarist Bureau against War and Reaction was founded, which for the past sixteen years has carried on an extremely active international propaganda group, and has found able and unselfish representatives in men like B de Ligt and Albert de Jong. The bureau was represented at a number of international peace congresses and put out a special press- service in several languages. In 1925 it allied itself with the I.W.M.A. through the International Anti-military Committee, and in association with that organization carries on a tireless struggle against reaction and the peril of new wars.
In addition to these there exist Anarcho-Syndicalist propaganda groups in Norway, Poland and Bulgaria, which are affiliated with the I.W.M.A. Likewise the Japanese Jiyu Rengo Dantai Zenkoku Kaigi had entered into formal alliance with the I.W.M.A.
In South America, especially in Argentina, the most advanced country on the southern continent, the young labor movement was from the very beginning strongly influenced by the libertarian ideas of Spanish Anarchism. In 1890 to Buenos Aires from Barcelona came Pellice Parairo, who had lived through the time of the First International and was one of the champions of libertarian Socialism in Spain. Under his influence a congress of trade unions convened in Buenos Aires in 1891, from which arose the Federación Obrera Argentina, which at its' fourth congress changed its name to Federación Obrera Segional Argentina. The F.O.R.A. has carried on since then without interruption, even though its efficiency was often, as it is again today, disturbed by periods of reaction, and it was driven to underground activity. It is an Anarchist trade union organization, and it was the soul of all the great labor struggles which have so often shaken that country. The F.O.R.A. began its activity with 40,000 members, which number has grown since the World War to 300,000. Its history, which D. A. de Santiallan has sketched in his work "F.O.R.A.," is one of the most battle-filled chapters in the annals of the international labor movement. For over twenty-five years the movement had a daily paper, La Protesta, which under the editorship of Santiallan and Arango, for years published a weekly supplement to which the best minds of international libertarian Socialism contributed. The paper was suppressed after the coup d'etat of General Uribura, but it continues to appear in an underground edition oven today, even if not quite daily. Moreover, almost every considerable trade union had its own organ. The F.O.R.A. early joined the I.W.M.A., having been represented at its founding congress by two delegates.
In May, 1929, the F.O.R.A. summoned a congress of all the South American countries, to meet in Buenos Aires. To it the I.W.M.A. sent from Berlin its Corresponding Secretary, A. Souchy. At this congress, besides the F.O.R.A of Argentina, there were represented: Paraguay by the Centro Obraro del Paraguay; Bolivia by the Federacion Local de la Paz, La Antorcha, and Luz y Libertad; Mexico by the Confederación General de Trabajadores; Guatemala by the Comité pro Acción Sindical; Uruguay by the Federación Regional Uruguaya; From Brazil trade unions from seven of the ten constituent states were represented, Costa Rica was represented by the organization, Hacia la Libertad. Even the Chilean I.W.W. sent representatives, although since the dictatorship of Ibanez it had been able to carry on only underground activities. At this congress the Continental American Workingmen's Association was brought into existence, constituting the American division of the I.W.M.A. The seat of this organization was at first in Buenos Aires, but later, because of the dictatorship, it had to be transferred to Uruguay.
These are the forces which Anarcho-Syndicalism at present has at its disposal in the several countries. Everywhere it has to carry on a difficult struggle against reaction as well as against the conservative elements in the present labor movement. Through the heroic battle of the Spanish workers the attention of the world is today directed to this movement, and its adherents are firmly convinced that a great and successful future lies before them.
From : Spunk.org
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