Simultaneously with the strike action of the British Army in England came the strikes of British Army units in France. Little of these is recorded and many are entirely without printed word. Fortunately there existed the Herald, a weekly paper, which, early in 1919, became a daily, run by George Lansbury. The Herald and the Daily Herald of those days were very different to the Herald of the T.U.C. and Odhams Press. The files of Lansbury’s old paper give us a glimpse, though only a glimpse of the unrest in the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders.
Of the hitherto unrecorded mutinies one shall serve us as an example of many. The 4th Middlesex stationed at Caudry, Belgium was, like every other fighting unit, glad of the pr... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Syndicalism and Workers’ Committees
Published in the Jan/Feb 1962 issue of World Labor News
In case the critics of revolutionary industrial unionism — Syndicalism — wish to know what it is about, let us recapitulate the main idea. What the historians of labor call the “Syndicalist Tendency” in the English-speaking world must include the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World and, in Britain, we cannot ignore the work of the old Socialist Labor Party in popularizing the ideas of industrial unionism, particularly in Scotland.
At the end of the 19th Century, the socially-conscious workers were faced by a host of unions which organized disunity in the industrial struggle. Even by 1939 there were 40 unions in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The “Internationale” has appeared in the news at almost weekly intervals since June of last year. Russia’s entry into the war was followed by the B.B.C. controversy “to play or not to play.” The song might serve Russia in place of a national anthem but still that did not live down its rebel past. After that came news and rows about it being played or not played at anything from political banquets to football matches.
From all this hullabaloo has come the idea, repeated again and again by the ill-informed Press, that the “Internationale” is a Russian Bolshevik work. Our readers will know of course, that it is neither Russian nor Communist. It was written in French by Eugène Pottier in 1871 an... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) One way of writing history is to take a social group, in one place and at one time, leaving the broad drama of great events, and treating the subject as a microcosm, letting the minutiae of humble lives interpret the greater story. In thus taking one corner of the Durham Coalfield as my subject I might as well be writing of the coalminers of Scotland, South Wales, Yorkshire or almost anywhere.
When the General Strike of 1926 ended, I lost my job in Coventry. Four weeks after the Strike I decided to go North, but at Coventry station I was told: “We can issue a ticket to Derby only. The railways are so disorganized we cannot guarantee any travel beyond that distance.” So, with three tickets and four trains, I reached Newcastle (a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The pursuit of power
A POLITICIAN who has one single overpowering aim and pursues it relentlessly, even wading in blood, has, if circumstances are favorable, a chance of success. He is not usually good at longsight or broadsight, but on a single aim he makes fluffy liberals his victims. The same is true of tycoons.
Lenin and the Bolshevik party had that single purpose, to gain and keep absolute power; all other things were means to that end, or were forced on them by the pursuit of it. This is true of collectivism and nationalization. I shall quote a great deal from Mr. M. H. Dobb, M.A., because of his long service to the Communist Party, his position as lecturer in economics at Cambridge University and the respect given him by the CP. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Present discussion of post war demobilization should naturally recall the discussion of the subject in 1918. Then, as now, the politicians had well-laid plans abundantly reported by the Press. How true is the comment of Burns, “the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley”. In a few weeks the demobilization plans of the politicians were shattered by the soldiers who almost demobilized themselves.
But it was not demobilization alone which caused the mutinies of 1918 and 1919. It was also a revolt against tyrannous discipline, low pay and senseless parades. The first postwar mutiny occurred on November 13th, 1918 at Shoreham, only two days after the Armistice. The strike was led by a Northumberland sergeant, G.P., who in ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Victory over Toryism
The air raid sirens had hardly sounded the last all-clear when Britain was thrust into the hurly-burly of a General Election. Before the world’s first atom bombs had fallen on Japanese cities, a Labor Government with an overwhelming majority ruled the House of Commons, and when victory over Japan followed victory over Germany, a Labor Prime Minister, head of a victorious Labor Government, rose to tell a House of Commons packed to the roof with his jubilant comrades.
The road was now open, the way to the New Jerusalem was clear.
The older members of the Labor Party, who had canvased on doorsteps after hard days in the factories, who had spoken from boxes on street corners to hostile or indifferent audiences, o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Fascism by 1934 was marching triumphantly. In Italy, Mussolini had long consolidated his power and was preparing to attack Abyssinia. Hitler, after one year of power, was tightening his hold on Germany and preparing the first of the many international adventures which were to lead to the pyre at his Berlin bunker. In England, Mosley had returned from a long visit to Germany and reorganized and re-trained his blackshirted British Union of Fascists.
At that time there seemed nothing to stop Oswald Mosley’s military marching columns and aggressive propaganda. The Labor Party advised, “Be constitutional. leave it to the police and don’t forget to vote Labor!” The Communist Party, as each big Fascist meeting was announce... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Syndicalism — a theory and movement of trade unionism, originating in France, in which all means of production and distribution are brought under the direct control of their workers by the use of direct action, and organized through federations of labor unions; direct political and economic democracy in the workplace and community organized through labor unions and federations, including the abolition of capitalism, social classes, parliamentary government, bureaucracy and political parties.
Anarcho-Syndicalism — Syndicalism; the Anarchist labor movement as characterized by labor unions and federations in Argentina(FORA), Bolivia(FLP), Costa Rica(HL), Chili(IWW), Denmark(USP), France(CNT), Germany(FAU), Guatemala(CAS), Holland(... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) One’s first day at work is an important day. In my case it was also a very long day. Hurrying along the damp, dark streets at 5.30 on a winters morning, with a tin tea can and a parcel of bread (there were few canteens at that time), I felt like a workman, though a very small one. The first world war was still raging and my first inside view of the factory was of rows of 60-pounder and 18-pounder field guns, anti-aircraft and mountain guns, tanks and anti-sub artillery, then lines of machines turning gun barrels or milling breech blocks.
It was noisy, bewildering and rather threatening, but youth is buoyant and I soon adapted myself to my new environment. I soon learned that some persons were jolly, some indifferent and some aggressi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The repeal of The 1927 Trades Disputes Act by the Labor Parliament makes little difference to the prospect of a General Strike. The Labor leaders believe that, for the present at least, they can better suppress strikes by their control of the trade unions than by Parliament. On the other hand, when the workers are willing to engage the class enemy in a General Strike they will not consult Acts of Parliament to do so. During the 1926 General Strike the strikers did not care two hoots whether the strike was legal or illegal.
Why did the British General Strike of 1926 fail? Not because the workers failed to strike. The number of blacklegs was insignificant. The attempt of the middle-class to scab on the strikers was a poor effort and was rapi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) When, in 1939, Fascism triumphed in Spain, the Libertarian movement was downcast, many gave up hope and departed. The social climate, too, was gloomy, for Spain had been, not only the last, but the only hope of defeating World Fascism. And in spite of those who murmured, “Now for peace, I always said they should not have resisted Fascism,” the world knew that in the same year war would again sere the earth and tens of millions would die in the rubble of civilization. That, all knew, was the beginning; none could know the end.
There were Syndicalists before and during the 1914–1918 war. They were not many, but their work in the social struggle was so earnest, so great and so apt to the workers’ needs that the class e... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) 1. What’s Wrong With the Unions?
HOW often we hear the question “What’s wrong with the unions?” In factory, ship or mine, in pub and club, by non-unionists and trade-unionists, the question is raised.
Few would be daring enough to resist the criticism. During the past twenty-odd years the unions have rapidly degenerated as fighting working-class organizations. Wages have fallen when they might have risen. Rights have been lost and no attempt is made to regain them when circumstances have improved. Strike funds are withheld from strikers and the trade union boss is allied to the employer. To the degeneracy of the trade union bureaucracy is added the most shameless treachery of the new type of shop steward, the Com... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) There are several ways of beginning a book or pamphlet on a labor question. One may start, as many pundits do, with Adam and Eve and work on through history until one has reached the Tolpuddle martyrs on the second last page. Or one might begin, continue and end by quoting the writings of bearded gentlemen who lived a hundred years ago. This method saves writing half of the book if sufficient quotations are made – and it saves all the ideas. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the scissors beats both of them!
There is a third method… .to begin with the subject at its place and in its time. This I would do. I will take as my starting point a discussion I had with my workmates a few days ago. This discussion is woven, in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)