With protest around the country today concerning wage freezes in the health and support sector, it’s evident that radical workplace organising is still needed, and more than ever. Faced with moderate trade unions in bed with the current political system, anarcho-syndicalism offers a practical and militant approach to real change in our own lives. Beyond Resistance looks forward to the development of industrial networks and works towards this goal (see our strategy here).

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  self-organisation.

In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to Trade Unionism, w
hich 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 pr
inciple 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 conditions.
  • 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 through networks.
  • 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.

From the Solidarity Federation.