“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
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.”
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.