Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Anarcho-syndicalism

“My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood to mean abolition of control, not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.”  J. R. R. Tolkien

Chomsky at Swarthmore College, November 2013

Chomsky at Swarthmore College, November 2013

Anarcho-syndicalism best explains my political philosophy where workers’ solidarity, direct action and workers’ self-management form the basis for encouraging workers to free themselves from the hierarchial systems of bosses and managers.  In the ideal economic system, workers control the means of production and manage all aspects of their individual company.  Decisions are made collectively.  Today Noam Chomsky is one of  the most famous anarcho-syndicalists.

Anarchy is a theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty.  It is not about throwing bombs, a view that was perpetuated in order to discount this group on the political fringe.  Yes, some resorted to violence but no worse that violence brought on by “legitimate parties.” Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was sometimes seen as a philosophical anarchist who believed that, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

dscf3148_2

The Wobblies, or members of the Industrial Workers of the World, is an international union founded in 1905. The goal of the union is to support worker solidarity. The Preamble to the current IWW Constitution reads:

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. … Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’, we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system.’ It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.

One of the IWW’s most important contributions to the labor movement and broader push towards social justice was that, when founded, it was the only American union to welcome all workers including women, immigrants, and African Americans into the same organization.

The headquarters of the IWW was located in Philadelphia for many years, and I felt very honored to be asked to make an urn for Joe Hill‘s ashes. Joe Hill was a songwriter, labor activist and member of the IWW. He was executed in 1915 in Utah after a controversial trial. Joe requested that his ashes be scattered around the world. In 1988 it was discovered that an envelope had been seized by the US Postal Service in 1917 because of its “subversive potential.” After some negotiations, the last of Hill’s ashes (but not the envelope that contained them) was turned over to the IWW in 1988. The majority of the ashes were cast to the wind. One small portion was preserved at the IWW headquarters, which is now located in Cincinnati.

Joe Hill Ashes.JPG

A member of the Industrial Workers of the World, my son writes regularly for their newspaper, The Industrial Worker.

Comments on: "Anarcho-syndicalism" (4)

  1. Most interesting. I know Joe Hill only from the Joan Baez song. A great honour indeed to be asked to make his urn.

  2. [...] Understanding that the root of this misery rested in the capitalist system, workers established a new kind of labor union.  The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) believed in organizing all workers. Ahead of their time, the Wobblies refused to accept the society’s racial, ethnic and class prejudices and welcomed the most dispossessed into their ranks. They possessed a revolutionary spirit which provided the catalyst to create greater democracy through worker participation. [...]

  3. [...] Anarchism: Political philosophy advocating that people are better served if they make decisions for themselves and communities rather than from any form of centralized power structure. [...]

  4. […] a supporter of anarcho-syndicalist movements, which advocate for democracy for the working classes in politics as well as the workplace, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 252 other followers

%d bloggers like this: