AskDefine | Define syndicalism

Dictionary Definition

syndicalism n : a radical political movement that advocates bringing industry and government under the control of labor unions

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The belief that capitalism is undesirable and should be replaced with labor unions.


the belief that capitalism should be replaced with labor unions
  • Croatian: sindikalizam

Extensive Definition

Syndicalism refers to a set of ideas, movements, and tendencies which share the avowed aim of transforming capitalist society through action by the working class on the industrial front. For syndicalists, labor unions are the potential means both of overcoming capitalism and of running society in the interests of the majority. Industry and government in a syndicalist society would be run by labour union federations.


This emphasis on industrial organization was a distinguishing feature of syndicalism when it began to be identified as a distinct current at the beginning of the twentieth century. Most socialist organisations of that period emphasised the importance of political action through party organizations as a means of bringing about socialism. Although all syndicalists emphasize industrial organization, not all reject political action altogether. For example, De Leonists and some other Industrial Unionists advocate parallel organisation both politically and industrially.
Syndicalisme is a French word meaning "trade unionism". This milder version of syndicalism was overshadowed by revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism in the early 20th century, which was most powerful in Spain, but also appeared in other parts of the world, as in the U.S.-centered Industrial Workers of the World.
In a model syndicalist community, the local syndicate communicates with other syndicates through the Bourse de Travail (labour exchange), which manages and transfers commodities.
Syndicalism is one of the three most common ideologies of egalitarian, pre-managed economic and labour structure, together with socialism and communism. It states, on an ethical basis, that all participants in an organized trade internally share equal ownership of its production and therefore deserve equal earnings and benefits within that trade, regardless of position or duty. By contrast, socialism emphasises distributing output among trades as required by each trade, not necessarily considering how trades organize internally. Syndicalism is compatible with privatism, unlike communism. Communism rejects government-sanctioned private ownership and private earnings in favor of making all property legally public, and therefore directly and solely managed by the people themselves. In Syndicalism, unions are the basis for the future society rather than simply means of attaining that society.
Syndicalists often form alliances with other workers' movements, including socialism, communism, and anarchism.

Prominent syndicalists

French syndicalists

Scottish syndicalists

Welsh syndicalists

  • Sam Mainwaring, orator & originator of the term 'anarcho-syndicalist'

German syndicalists

Italian syndicalists

Swedish syndicalists

External links


  • Anarcho-Syndicalism, Rudolf Rocker, London, 1989.
  • Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870), J. Salwyn Schapiro, McGraw-Hill Book Co., NY, l949.
  • The Anarchists, James Joll, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1980.
  • The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian Fascism, David D. Robert, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC, 1979.
  • Lenny Flank (ed), "IWW: A Documentary History", Red and Black Publishers, St Petersburg, Florida, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9791813-5-1
syndicalism in Danish: Syndikalisme
syndicalism in German: Syndikalismus
syndicalism in Esperanto: Sindikatismo
syndicalism in Spanish: Sindicalismo revolucionario
syndicalism in French: Syndicalisme révolutionnaire
syndicalism in Galician: Sindicalismo revolucionario
syndicalism in Hebrew: סינדיקליזם
syndicalism in Italian: Sindacalismo rivoluzionario
syndicalism in Dutch: Syndicalisme
syndicalism in Norwegian: Syndikalisme
syndicalism in Norwegian Nynorsk: Syndikalisme
syndicalism in Polish: Syndykalizm
syndicalism in Finnish: Syndikalismi
syndicalism in Swedish: Syndikalism
syndicalism in Urdu: کسبی اشتراکیت

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bolshevikism, Bolshevism, Carbonarism, Castroism, Jacobinism, Maoism, New Left, Old Left, Sinn Feinism, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarchy, antinomianism, chaos, confusion, criminal syndicalism, disorder, disorderliness, disorganization, disruption, extreme left, extreme left wing, extremism, left-wing extremism, lynch law, misrule, mob law, mob rule, mobocracy, nihilism, ochlocracy, primal chaos, radicalism, radicalization, rebellion, revolution, revolutionism, sans-culotterie, sans-culottism, terrorism, tohubohu, turmoil, ultraconservatism, ultraism, unruliness
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