Second thoughts on revolutionary syndicalism

van der Linden, Marcel
June 1998
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Summer98, Vol. 63 Issue 2, p182
Academic Journal
This article discusses the history of revolutionary-syndicalist movements. The organizational aspects of syndicalism have suffered from a peculiar neglect. Admittedly there is an extensive literature about the organizational conceptions of syndicalist leaders and theoreticians, but it has rarely been asked how the organizations actually functioned in everyday life. Syndicalism was not only an international phenomenon, but also an internationalist movement. National currents influenced each other, learnt from each other, criticized each other, and not only--and not even primarily--via the official International Working Men's Association. In the course of time, three more or less consecutive models crystallized, which to a certain extent functioned as nuclei for international syndicalist families: the French Confédération Générale du Travail, the American Industrial Workers of the World and the Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. Why have syndicalist movements in some countries been much larger and relatively more important than in other countries? In the past various answers to this question have already been presented. In part, the kind of answer given appears to depend on whether a broad concept of syndicalism is adopted or not.


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