"Against this noisy, garrulous, and lying Socialism, which is exploited by ambitious people of every description, which amuses a few buffoons, and which is admired by decadents—revolutionary Syndicalism takes its stand, and endeavours, on the contrary, to leave nothing in a state of indecision; its ideas are honestly expressed, without trickery and without mental reservations; no attempt is made to dilute doctrines by a stream of confused commentaries. Syndicalism endeavours to employ methods of expression which throw a full light on things, which put them exactly in the place assigned to them by their nature, and which bring out the whole value of the forces in play."
Syndicalism, shortened to Synd, is an economically left-wing, moderate libertarian and culturally varied, usually left-leaning ideology who is the son of Socialism, and believes that unionization of the workforce, the establishment of local, decentralized revolutionary worker organizations called syndicates and advancements of worker's demands through the use of strikes and direct action is the best method by which a socialist society should be achieved. Once a post-capitalist society is achieved a congress or commune of syndicates would be created to represent the many unions or areas of the economy for a central government.
The roots of Syndicalism are belived to have come from the industrial revolution, which reorganized workers from urban areas right into the city factories. In places like the US, the country relied on farming (and slavery) until this very point.
Sorelianism refers to the ideas of French philosopher Georges Sorel who advocated for a revolutionary form of revolutionary syndicalism based upon Nietzschean, Marxist, and Mutualist thought, while rejecting more mainstream parliamentary socialism. His most famous work is "Reflections on Violence", in which he introduced numerous of his key ideas; most importantly that of his conception of myth, and his analysis of social peace and producerist ethics.
Sorel was highly critical of the French left, due to their decadent political opitimism (a label he gave to reformist socialists). This along with accusations of reactionaryism, revisionism, and proto-fascism, has made him a controversial but at the same time influential figure in the socialist movement.
Sorel’s conception of the myth came about as a way of solving the problem of how to properly install discipline and to energize them. A myth is an event for the proletariat to work towards that showcases what they can achieve. And for Sorel, the most important myth of the proletariat is that of the general strike, which he urges the proletariat to work towards with no hesitation, ‘to precede exactly as a modern physicist does’, he said.
Sorel’s other important contribution is his conception of producerist ethics, which he borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche’s conception of master morality, and of social peace. In Sorel’s home country, France, he examined how the bourgeoisie had weakened itself and given economic and political concessions to the socialists of the country, but only in order to stabilize themselves. This had resulted in the rise of decadence within the bourgeoisie, and in the French left, as the bourgeoisie and proletariat intermingled in the democratic affair. His solution was that of producerist ethics (which he examined from the old bourgeoisie and their cold and ruthless nature in seeking profit) of unlimited proletarian violence, which would destroy social peace and accelerate the class war to its breaking point.
Sorel’s pessimism is an anti-reformist one, being based in his naming of socialist reformism as being political optimism. His main focus with this is in the dire state of the French socialist movement and how they have surrendered themselves to bourgeois forces. The bourgeoisie in order to pacify the proletariat has granted the socialist parties limited power in order to give them hope of achieving their goals peacefully, and with this locking the socialist movement in a cycle of political optimism that will lead only to the stabilization of capitalism. The only solution as stated before for Sorel is unrestrained revolutionary violence by the proletariat in order to destroy social peace and the institutions of it, and to accelerate the class war.
Ideological Analysis and Comparison
Syndicalism versus Council Communism
These two ideologies may appear very similar of the bat, and they mostly are, but have a few key differences. First of all, council communism is scientific while syndicalism tends, not guaranteed, to be utopic(in a Marxist sense). The second key difference is that syndicalism wants unions to own businesses while council communism wants worker elected councils/boards. This might seem small but in reality, it can be quite a huge difference, as in Council Communism all workers get to vote for the council while in Syndicalism only unionized employees can vote. A third key difference is that Syndicalism may, and often does, support decentralized rule akin to anarchism while Council Communism supports the very idea of further centralisation of the proletarian state.
Syndicalism versus Guild Socialism
Syndicalism and Guild Socialism also bear a lot of similarities but differ in that syndicates and unions are worker representative bodies for specific companies while guilds are worker owned organizations that represent entire industries in specific municipalities. Guild Socialism has no specific civic or governmental stance. While syndicates operate within a market economy (usually) but with worker ownership of workplaces, guild socialism on the other hand, allocates resources and needs to their workers directly.
Syndicalism versus De Leonism
At first these systems might seem quite similar, especially with both sharing the common label of Unionism. However, looking closer, there are some striking differences between the two. Firstly, De Leonism, just like council communism, is scientific, while syndicalism tends to be utopian. Secondly, De Leonism supports centralization unlike syndicalism which is usually either federal or confederal. Thirdly, De Leonists support industrial unions elected by all workers which are tasked with decision making, which in contrast with the syndicalist approach of syndicates owning and controlling businesses. Lastly, De Leonists support the utilization of a party of class-conscious proletarians in order to organize the proletariat into industrial unions and educate them, unlike Syndicalism which rejects the party-form entirely, and in its place in order to organize the proletariat, syndicates utilizes forms of propaganda in order to install discipline such as myths.
Criticisms From The Left
Many leftists (most notably Council Communism) criticize Syndicalism as, they claim, that union bosses can often become corrupt and use similar "abusive" employment practices as private business owners and thus defeats the whole point. Council Communists also claim that under Syndicalism unemployed workers and non-unionized workers can be hung out to dry as unions close ranks and treat themselves as an upper class.
Daniel De Leon, a prominent Marxist and industrial unionist who is usually associated with “Marxist Syndicalism”, criticized syndicalism in a text just called “Syndicalism”. In it, he criticized the syndicalist movement for its lack of stress on the economic structure of capitalism, and for lacking formal organization and a strategy for achieving socialism.
Criticisms From The Right
Many libertarians and conservatives criticize Syndicalism too because it forcibly collectivises industry and puts it in the hand of corrupt, greedy unions. Right-wing ideologies also attack Syndicalism for destroying competition and innovation as no one, they claim, will be able to profit from their work and so no one would work hard or be innovative under a Syndicalist society.
Syndicalism is often portrayed as a blue collar worker obsessive about unionization, significantly more than his father, and he can often be seen attempting to persuade other leftists to organize and/or join worker's strikes, being highly concerned with the rights and demands of the workers and extremely critical of business owners and their practices. Synd also loves the HOI4 mod Kaiserreich due to his presence as a major ideology both in-universe and in the game.
He is often religious, but often still, socially progressive or "socially laissez-faire". However, this is not hard and fast, and many are culturally conservative too. This is exacerbated when he works in a culturally conservative area but of course, the opposite is true when he works in a cultually progressive area.
Unlike many of his leftist comrades, Synd cares very little for theory, and some question if he can even read. Despite this, he is generally amicable with other leftists, though he does wish they trusted more in the power of the workers.
How to Draw
Different syndicalist symbols can be used to represent Syndicalism.
- A crossed torch and hammer is used to represent Syndicalists in the fictional universe of Kaiserreich. While this symbol is easily recognizable online, it was not used in real life.
- A three-pointed red star was used by Republican factions in the Spanish Civil War.
- A black cat emblem is used by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a modern-day syndicalist organization.
- An emblem with Hercules was used by the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalists) in the Spanish Civil War.
- A yoke and arrows emblem was used by National Syndicalists in Spain.
- Draw a ball with eyes.
- Fill it in with red.
- In black, draw one of the aforementioned symbols.
- (Optional) Add a construction worker's hat.
|Red||#FF0000||255, 0, 0|
|Black||#141414||20, 20, 20|
|Yellow (hat)||#FFF301||255, 243, 1|
|Orange (hat)||#FDCA0C||253, 202, 12|
- Socialism - Thanks for teaching me how to strike.
- Internationalism - Solidarity forever!
- Green Syndicalism - My son who puts an emphasis on the environment.
- Anarcho-Syndicalism - My anarchist son who continues my legacy.
- Geosyndicalism - A Georgist I can follow!
- Monarcho-Syndicalism - Eh, as long as workers have power in their workplaces and you aren't absolutist, I will tolerate your monarch's existence.
- Mutualism - Petit bourgeois, but I wouldn't exist without the influence of you and Marx.
- Marxist Feminism - A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife!
- Industrialism - What would us workers be without the factories we work in, and vice versa? But also, you need to be responsible and ensure our children have clean air to breathe.
- National Syndicalism - Nation, tradition and authority are contentious topics between us.
- Anarcho-Communism - You're based but I wish people would stop confusing my son for you. It’s getting old.
- Marxism - I like your ideas a lot, though at times you do fall into the trap of mechanistic determinism, and also the dictatorship of the proletariat just reinforces the master and slave relationship. Also, Blanquism and Positivism have decomposed you, but I will save your theory from them.
- Marxism–Leninism - I like your economics but centralization is awful and there's a reason the USSR decayed back into capitalism.
- Reformism - “The optimist in politics is an inconstant and even dangerous man, because he takes no account of the great difficulties presented by his projects; these projects seem to him to possess a force of their own which tends to bring about their realization all the more easily as, in his opinion, they are destined to produce more happiness. He frequently thinks that small reforms of the political system and, above all, of government personnel will be sufficient to direct the movement of society in such a way as to mitigate those evils of the modern world which seem so hideous to sensitive souls. As soon as his friends come to power he declares that it is necessary to let things alone for a while, not to be too hasty, and to learn to be content with whatever their good intentions suggest; it is not always self-interest that dictates these expressions of satisfaction, as people have often believed: self-interest is strongly aided by vanity and by the illusions of poor-quality philosophy. The optimist moves with remarkable ease from revolutionary anger to the most ridiculous social pacifism.”
- Blanquism - The reason why Marxism is at a decline. You hate him yet your followers infiltrate his theories.
- Yellow Socialism - Class collaboratist reactionary posing as me.
- Guild Socialism - HAHA, do you really think that trade guilds are capable of being revolutionary against capitalism?
- Italian Left Communism - In what way does a free organization of working men distract from true socialism, you armchair lover?
- De Leonism - Still coping about being kicked out of the IWW. Your "socialist industrial unionism" with its centralization, use of the party-form, and authoritarian structure, is nothing but Blanquist.
- Council Communism - I’m a real form of workers’ organization. Stop attacking me.
- State Socialism - "One of the outstanding tasks of the proletariat is, obviously, to combat with every possible means the extension of the state and to free social life from the intervention of state functionaries. Statism is the ideal of the petty bourgeoisie; it is the exact opposite of socialism."
- Capitalism - Keep coping about the incoming general strike which will destroy you.
- Social Democracy - Preserver of capital whose entire aim is to submit the proletariat into social pacifism by slightly weakening capitalist power with concessions only to stabilize it in the long term.
- Corporatism - Class collaboration will only pacify the worker and distract from what's important!
- Democracy - “Marx believed that the democratic regime has the advantage that as workers are no longer attracted to fighting the monarchy or the aristocracy, the notion of class becomes easier to grasp. Experience teaches us the opposite; democracy is quite good at preventing the advance of socialism, by diverting workers’ minds toward trade-unionism under government protection.”
- Neoliberalism - Union busting welfare lover.
- Mediacracy - Stop making us look bad, dammit!
- Plutocracy - Put your money where your mouth is.
- Social Liberalism and Pink Capitalism - I don't want your bribes, I need a job. And having more diversity isn't going to solve anything. We don't need rich Ivy League idiots telling us what to do.
- State Liberalism - You are literally the two above except worse!
- Fascism - STOP BANNING TRADE UNIONS! State-owned labour campaigns aren't gonna cut it. I hate being related to you so much. I will bash your skull in.
- Nazism - Same as above but even worse.
- Corporatocracy - I couldn't think of a more natural enemy.
- Reactionary Socialism - We're not all like you, contrary to what others think.
- Post-Industrialism - FUCK YOU for outsourcing all our jobs and factories to China!! Typing keys in a computer isn't going to cut it out, kid.
- Third Way - So you call yourself the Labour Party yet you don't like labour unions. Curious.
- Liberal Conservatism - No, you're not going to bust my trade unions!
- Zelenskyism - Why did you cancel the labour laws?
- Pinkertonism - Stop strike-breaking and espionage, you corporate puppet.
- Post-Humanism - You want to destroy humanity, which includes us workers! Also, many of my friends in the artist unions DESPISE you, so I don't like you.
- Reflections on Violence - Georges Sorel
- The Socialist Future of the Syndicates - Georges Sorel
- Syndicalism: The Modern Menace to Capitalism by Emma Goldman
- Ford, Earl C.; Foster, William Z. (1913). Syndicalism.
Flag of Social Syndicalism (Legacy)
- Sorel, while supportive of the fascists early in 1921, later in that year reversed his position and started labeling the fascists as Thermidorian reactionaries working for the king to destroy socialism.