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Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice (Working Classics Series #2)

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  601 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In 1937, at the behest of Emma Goldman, Rocker penned this political and philosophical masterpiece as an introduction to the ideals fueling the Spanish social revolution and resistance to capitalism the world over. Within, Rocker offers an introduction to anarchist ideas, a history of the international workers’ movement, and an outline of the syndicalist strategies and tac ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by AK Press (first published 1960)
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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le GuinAnarchism and Other Essays by Emma GoldmanOn Anarchism by Noam ChomskyV for Vendetta by Alan MooreHomage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Anarchist books
9th out of 229 books — 166 voters
Anarcho-Syndicalism by Rudolf RockerAnarchism and Its Aspirations by Cindy MilsteinThe Accumulation of Freedom by Deric ShannonOn Anarchism by Noam ChomskyHow Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos
AK Press Books
1st out of 47 books — 12 voters


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Community Reviews

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Ian Cantankeroo-Gazan
Preconceptions

Apart from the dress sense, I've always approached Anarchism with negative preconceptions.

To the extent that I thought it opposed the authority of the State, I assumed that it was accountable to no authority at all.

Therefore, I inferred that no individual would be accountable to any group or collective.

I was wrong in drawing this inference. However, to understand why, I needed to understand that the term "Anarchism" is a roof over many different, competing ideologies.

It’s possible
...more
Kenghis Khan
You see, this is exactly the kind of book I DIDN'T want to read in my spare time. "Theory and Practice" is almost all practice. What little "Theory" there is is confined to platitudes of the sort of "on the premise that all men seek justice and liberty" blah blah blah. Add to this the fact that the author tediously repeats ad nauseum the history of anarcho-syndacalist and labor movements. Yes, he describes in some detail the sufferings of the working classes, but he is maddeningly repetitive abo ...more
Billie Pritchett
Rudolf Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism was supposed to be the first clear, concise expression of this brand of anarchism. Anarcho-syndicalism, Rocker tells, is the organization of the political and economic structures of life around trade unions, which would collectively make decisions from the bottom up, i.e. democratically, and would control their own means of production. Rocker provides some basic means to achieve these goals, and they involve various kinds of strikes, non-violent sabotage, and, ...more
Malachy
I managed to pick up the original version as a free EPUB on the internet which therefore didn't have the prefaces from Chomsky and Mike Davis.
The content isn't particularly striking for its style. But it does what it says on the tin - i.e. gives an outline of Anarchist principles and how these manifest themselves in practice.

Unlike Marxism which is very much a pseudo-science whilst otherwise pretending to be some kind of bible setting out a definite road map for humanity, the version of Anarch
...more
Jeff
Such a great introduction to Anarcho-Syndicalism. This is really what I was looking for when I read Guerin's "Anarchism". Literally covers all the bases that someone interested in AS would be interested in learning about: organizational precepts, a history of movements across the world, in-depth descriptions of how syndicalism differs from other socialist tendencies, and all along written with such an incredible passion for what he's describing that it's hard not to become excited about the poss ...more
Mr.
How can a society progress to a level of legitimate egalitarian communization without the creation of a hierarchical structure of leadership or vanguard? For anarchists, the answer often lies in anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndaclism. This text by Rudolph Rocker, is perhaps the definitive work on the latter theory. Anarcho-syndaclism eliminates the apparatus of the state as a means to socialism, whereas classical Marxist theory insists that the state will wither away once the proletarian has se ...more
Kurt
In all honesty, this book probably deserves 3 1/2 stars, but it won't let me do that, so I rounded up.

This was translated into English from Yiddish, so the prose might not be as sharp as it would be if it written in English (or read in Yiddish). It was heavy on the history and light on the theory, which was the opposite of what I was hoping for. It includes an almost complete history of the syndicalist movement. Indeed, it's amazing that he knew so much about the movement; especially considerin
...more
abclaret
Rocker had the arduous task of hastily putting together a document explaining the dynamism of a movement which had come about due to the necessity of working class action in early 20th century Europe; one which had buckled away from the dead-end of left social democrats and had taken a different and more decisive route altogether. This movement was based on a synthesis of trade unionism and anarchist politics; anarcho-syndicalism.

When he wrote this he was simply articulating about a movement wh
...more
Sebastian
A thorough history of the Anarcho-Syndicalist labor movements in Europe in the early part of the 20th century.

It reads like a history told the defeated, as a major theme is how either pro-government, parliamentarian labor or Soviet led operatives kept coopting the movement and reducing its effectiveness.

Inspiring as a record of how very large-scale, self-governing civil society organizations worked at a period in history. Unions organized themselves in a confederated consensus model, structured
...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Another amazing work about anarcho-syndicalism and the potential for the means of production to be harnessed by working people in federated alliances with other worker owned businesses. Rocker examines the workers' collectives during the Spanish Revolution of the 1930s as empirical evidence to support his argument that the "principles of Federalism, on free combination from below upward, putting the right of self-determination of every member above everything else and recognizing only the organi ...more
Anjoo
Exceptional, if overly brief, overview of the history and philosophy of anarchist thought, specifcaly the anarcho-syndicast movements and the impact of anarchist trade unions in Europe and Latin America. The text itself is sort of dry (being a political treastie and all) but very readable, and drives all of it's points home quite admirably considering the brief length.

Of course, at such a short length, it's hard to recommend this to anyone already familiar with anarchism. Still a great intro, an
...more
Matthew Conroy
I'd been wanting to read something semi-modern on anarchy. This pretty well fit the bill. It's not a particularly interesting book though it clarified a notion I already sensed: that anarchists and Marxists have a lot in common. Both want workers to organize and revolt, with the goal of eliminating capitalism and the state. With such a vast and good goal in common, I would have thought I'd see anarchists and Marxists working together more often. (Though, then again, different flavors of Marxists ...more
K
"Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human conditions which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fi ...more
Lucas
Excellent explanation of the history and development of Anarchism from the early labor unions through the first international and the split with the authoritarian socialist to the mid 1900s. This is by no means an expansive examination of theory but Rocker does a good job at clarifying the defining thoughts and strategies of Syndicalism. Perfect for someone who is looking for an introduction into Syndicalism before getting into more in depth theory.
Punk Johnny Cash
This book is one of a handful that changed my life. It led me to question the concept of capitalism and begin to oppose it and begin to favor the alternatives.

The book gives a good solid history of the working class struggle and shows what the workers were rising up against.
Brian
Interesting points against repurposing organs of the state, a good introduction that leaves you thirsty to learn more about the Catalonia revolution and it's subsequent fate. As always, be weary of absolutes, more so when you agree with ideas.
mharipin
anarchism is a great idea for our society.
one problem remains is how to implement it.
do we feel enough with crimethinc? i dont think so.
we need more radical movemement, who throw a molotov to mcd's windows. he he he.

regards,
mh.
Jose Palafox
A classic anarchist text with a nice preface by Noam Chomsky that is part of AK Press' 'Working Classics Series' (shameless promotion here: the other 3 in the series are by A. Berkman # 1, M. Bookchin #3, and P. Kropotkin #4).
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Oct 10, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: left
For a short bio, a detailed bibliography, and complete e-texts of works translated into English, see: http://www.anarchosyndicalism.net/roc...
Z3000
A great book that outlines the principles and methods of the Anarcho-Syndicalist movement. A must read for any anarchist!
Joshua
A well-written history of anarcho-syndicalism, but disappointingly light on the "theory and practice" of a-s.
Kent
Good summary about a political system that would work if it weren't for the intransigence of human nature.
Dietcokedick
syndicalism needs to be understood in order to avoid its pitfalls
David Grasse
A must read for aspiring revolutionaries...
Eric Gulliver
Clear, concise and brilliant.
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  • Post-Scarcity Anarchism
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  • Anarchism
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  • On Anarchism
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  • Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
  • The ABC of Anarchism
  • On Anarchism
  • What Is Property?
  • Anarchy
  • Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism
  • The Russian Anarchists
  • How Nonviolence Protects the State
  • Workers' Councils
  • Anarchy in Action
  • Durruti in the Spanish Revolution
  • Anarchism and Other Essays
28903
An anarcho-syndicalist writer and activist of some prominence, whose politics had a major influence in the Spanish Civil War and the jewish émigré community in London, England (see The London Years). His political ideas had emerged from the failings of late 19th century Marxism/Social Democracy under the Germany's SPD, having seen firsthand the erosive influence of electoralism.

Would maintain lif
...more
More about Rudolf Rocker...

Other Books in the Series

Working Classics Series (4 books)
  • What Is Anarchism?
  • Post-Scarcity Anarchism
  • The Conquest of Bread
Nationalism and Culture The London Years Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism Die Spanische Tragödie Pioneers of American Freedom: Origin of Liberal and Radical Thought in America

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“Every type of political power presupposes some particular form of human slavery, for the maintenance of which it is called into being. Just as outwardly, that is, in relation to other states the state has to create certain artificial antagonisms in order to justify its existence, so also internally the cleavage of society into castes, ranks and classes is an essential condition of its continuance. The development of the Bolshevist bureaucracy in Russia under the alleged dictatorship of the proletariat (which has never been anything but the dictatorship of a small clique over the proletariat and the whole Russian people) is merely a new instance of an old historical experience which has repeated itself countless times. This new ruling class, which to-day is rapidly growing into a new aristocracy, is set apart from the great masses of the Russian peasants and workers just as clearly as are the privileged castes and classes in other countries from the mass of the people. And this situation becomes still more unbearable when a despotic state denies to the lower classes the right to complain of existing conditions, so that any protest is made at the risk of their lives.

But even a far greater degree of economic equality than that which exists in Russia would be no guarantee against political and social oppression. Economic equality alone is not social liberation. It is precisely this which all the schools of authoritarian Socialism have never understood. In the prison, in the cloister, or in the barracks one finds a fairly high degree of economic equality, as all the inmates are provided with the same dwelling, the same food, the same uniform, and the same tasks. The ancient Inca state in Peru and the Jesuit state in Paraguay had brought equal economic provision for every inhabitant to a fixed system, but in spite of this the vilest despotism prevailed there, and the human being was merely the automaton of a higher will on whose decisions he had not the slightest influence. It was not without reason that Proudhon saw in a "Socialism" without freedom the worst form of slavery. The urge for social justice can only develop properly and be effective when it grows out of man's sense of freedom and responsibility, and is based upon it. In other words, Socialism will be free or it will not be at all. In its recognition of this fact lies the genuine and profound justification of Anarchism. ”
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“Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are, rather, forced upon parliaments from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. Just as the employers always try to nullify every concession they had made to labor as soon as opportunity offered, as soon as any signs of weakness were observable in the workers’ organizations, so governments also are always inclined to restrict or to abrogate completely rights and freedoms that have been achieved if they imagine that the people will put up no resistance. Even in those countries where such things as freedom of the press, right of assembly, right of combination, and the like have long existed, governments are constantly trying to restrict those rights or to reinterpret them by juridical hair-splitting. Political rights to not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace. Where this is not the case, there is no help in any parliamentary Opposition or any Platonic appeals to the constitution.” 8 likes
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