In the last decade of the nineteenth century a new communist ideology, named Syndicalism, took birth in France. It adopted the views of the class struggle preached by the communists, and confrontation with the state by the anarchists. Then it mingled some of its own views in them. The word syndicalism has its root in syndicate or federation. It is used for syndicate in French language.
Definition of Syndicalism:
(1) F.W. Coker has defined it as under:
“Syndicalism, loosely defined, holds that the workers alone must control the conditions under which they work and live, the social changes they need can be achieved by their own efforts, by direct action in their own associations, and through means suited to their peculiar needs”.
(2) G.V. Hoober writes, “As now employed. Syndicalism means the theories and programmes of those revolutionists who would utilize the economic power of industrial unions and destroy capitalism and organise a socialist society”.
(3) C.E.M. Joad says, “Syndicalism may be defined as that form of social theory which regards the Trade Union Organisations as at once the foundation of the new society and the instrument whereby it is to be brought into being”.
Means of Syndicalists:
The chief supporters of Syndicalism were Pollontier, Sorel, Pouget, Lager- Lelle and Edward Berth, Emile Patand, etc. but Sorel is the most popular among them. The syndicalists believe in sabotage, general stake, boycott, and label to achieve their end.
Sabotage means the destruction of machinery by the workers. It also includes production of goods of poor quality and slow work. General strike means strike in all government offices, in police and military and in factories all over the country, so that the capitalist government may find it difficult to function and workers may be able to control the administration.
Boycott means, the propaganda by the labourers against the purchase of goods of the capitalists. When there is no sale of goods, the capitalists will definitely suffer. Label means propaganda by the workers regarding manufacture of goods in the factories under the workers’ control. A separate label will be fixed on such goods and the people will purchase only those goods, and not the goods manufactured in the lactones owned by the capitalists.
Criticism of Syndicalism:
Syndicalism has been criticised as under:
(1) Syndicalism encourages class struggle, which results in low production. Social unity is weakened and the country is ruined.
(2) The syndicalists have criticized democracy, party system and parliamentary government. This is not desirable, because the working class can gel power by winning the elections and u can improve its position just as the labour party has done in England.
(3) The syndicalists’ enmity against the state is condemnable. Probably state has been supporting the capitalists in the past but today it is a welfare institution. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain it.
(4) The state can defend the people against foreign aggression and can also maintain internal law and order. In the absence of the state, the labour organisations will not be in a position to perform this function.
(5) The syndicalists have adopted the system of sabotage which is not appreciated. It creates conflicts. It will spoil the nature of the workers and the production will definitely fall. If the machines are put out of order, crores of rupees will have to be spent to repair them.
(6) The government will never tolerate general strike and it will adopt every possible measure to curb it.
(7) The syndicalists attach importance only to the interests of the producers, and ignore the interests of the consumers. It will result in the increase of the prices of commodities by the producers in an arbitrary manner and thus the consumers will be exploited.
(8) Lack of faith in nationalism is a seditious act.