Workers’ Control and the Wage System : What is Anarcho-Syndicalism?

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(1920 - 1996) ~ British Anarcho-Syndicalist and CNT-FAI Activist during the Spanish Civil War : A lifelong trade unionist he fought Mosley's blackshirts; actively supported the Spanish revolution's anarchist communes and militias and the German anti-Nazi resistance and was a key player in the second world war Cairo mutiny. (From : Bio.)
• "If Government is the maintenance of privilege and exploitation and inefficiency of distribution, then Anarchy is order." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)
• "Nobody is fit to rule anybody else. It is not alleged that Mankind is perfect, or that merely through his/her natural goodness (or lack of same) he/she should (or should not) be permitted to rule. Rule as such causes abuse." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)
• "If we accept the principle of a socialized society, and abolish hereditary privilege and dominant classes, the State becomes unnecessary. If the State is retained, unnecessary Government becomes tyranny since the governing body has no other way to maintain its hold." (From : "Anarchism: Arguments for and against," by Albert ....)


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Workers’ Control and the Wage System

When we declare our opposition to reformism, we do not mean that we oppose reforms, and obviously any crumb is better than no bread at all.

What we oppose is the devotion of the labor movement to the reformist principle, thus gradually taking over from the middle-class do-gooders, and even (as has happened above all in England) letting those people in turn take over the direction of the labor movement politically, on the grounds that they will thus manage to achieve a few parliamentary and other reforms here and there. The result of this action is that in the end we get some reforms, but no social change-over such as the labor movement was originally created for.

The new labor movement we hope as syndicalists to achieve is one that will help to bring about that new society, and will therefore not be one concerned with political reformism. At the same time reforms can be obtained without recourse to parliamentary action. The fact of the matter is that the ruling-class, when faced by its subjects in a revolutionary mood, is only too prepared to give them reforms in an effort to appease them. Through industrial action social amelioration can be obtained, not only in wages, but also in many other concessions – compare some of the strikes in and since the war made for liberty rather than economic gains (railwaymen’s and dockers’ strikes against police action, for instance), When we call ourselves anti-reformists we do not believe we should not act to stop such action. What we say is that a Society for the Prevention of Police Snooping on the Railway will waste a lot of time and achieve nothing. The action of the railwaymen can do the job in one quick strike.

Similarly, although we believe that in the capitalist system it is necessary to achieve wage increases, this does not mean that we believe in the wage system. Whatever we think, the wage struggle continues in the factory in any case. The organisms that arise in the workshop are created mostly on this issue. What we claim is that these organisms should be freed of political control altogether and made instead a movement by which workers’ control of the place of work might ultimately be achieved. As they represent the people doing the job, in them lies the possibility of control being carried out by the workers themselves. Workers’ control can only go hand-in-hand with the abolition of the wages system. The idea of different wage rates operating if workers were controlling different places of work is unthinkable. It is impossible to decide which job merits which rate. Instead we put in its place the principle of common ownership – each taking from the community what he needs and giving to the pool of work what he is able.

Syndicalism is therefore the system of workers’ control which is operated by the workers themselves, and created by the organisms which they build spontaneously in order to fight the wages struggle, but which take over when the wages system ends and the employing caste are no longer dominant. Because, however, we are alive to the dangers of political control, which might replace the capitalist order, we take our stand against all forms of authority, whether it claims to be representing the masses or not. This, of course, is anarchism (“no governmentalism”) and explains the name “anarcho-syndicalist”. Syndicalism, like socialism, has been used as a name by a great many people to cover a great many points of view, but the name Anarcho-Syndicalism has this plain meaning of workers’ control of the places of work, absence of government, and the decentralization of social affairs to the commune.

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January 09, 2021 ; 4:39:49 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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