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Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,092 ratings  ·  50 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 1938)
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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le GuinAnarchism and Other Essays by Emma GoldmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreOn Anarchism by Noam ChomskyHomage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Anarchist books
373 books — 283 voters
Anarcho-Syndicalism by Rudolf RockerAnarchism and Its Aspirations by Cindy MilsteinOn Anarchism by Noam ChomskyThe Accumulation of Freedom by Deric ShannonHow Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos
AK Press Books
146 books — 23 voters

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really liked it 4.00  · 
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Ian "Marvin" Graye

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
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchism
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.
Randall Wallace
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In the preface to this book, Noam says that Rocker is “pointing the way to a much better world, one that is within our grasp, one that may well be the only alternative to the ‘universal catastrophe’ towards which ‘we are driving on under full sail’. “The Anarchist represents the viewpoint that the war against capitalism must be at the same time a war against all institutions of power, for in history economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression.” The fun ...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
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introduction to anarcho-syndicalism.
Billie Pritchett
Jan 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: anarchism
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
Evan Lemire
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Feeling a light to decent 4 on this book by Rudolf Punk Rocker
Daniel Kudlowiez Franch
Lately I have been trying to educate myself on different schools of leftist ideology. From what I have read so far, Anarcho-Syndicalist theory is the one I liked the most. Voluntary organization of workers into syndicates that would take care of distribution of tasks and the products in a federation of communities where everyone would have a voice in a real democracy. All of this backed by the story of the glorious fight of the CNT in the Spanish Civil War.
Actually, the book is very well researc
Sugarpunksattack Mick
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rudolf Rocker's 'Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice' is the classic and essential read for anyone interested in the history and basics of Anarcho-syndicalism. Written between the two world wars, but during the Spanish Civil War, the book offers an interesting glimpse into the thinking of the time while offering some very timeless points. Among the more salient points covering the time period are Rocker's various critiques of Soviet influence/interference in various political arenas (obviou ...more
Gaz Watson
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"Sabotaging the consumers is the age old-privilege of the employers. The deliberate adulteration of provisions, the construction of wretched slums and insanitary tenements of the poorest and cheapest material, the destruction of great quantities of foodstuffs in order to keep up prices, while millions are perishing in direst misery, the constant efforts of the employers to force the subsistence of the workers down to the lowest point possible, in order to grab for themselves the highest possible ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a decent book, but as others have pointed out, is on the very skinny side as far as theory is concerned. This a book that serves as a great introduction to anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism, and Rocker goes into the struggle of various labor movement in different European countries. The book was quite repetitive at times, Rocker elaborates in almost every other paragraph on how the economic monopoly and state colludes in order to constantly undermine any attempt by the proletariat to emanci ...more
Will Wheatley
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Provides an comprehensive, well organized, and easy to understand introduction to anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in particular. The author, Rudolf Rocker, is also probably one of the most qualified individuals to write such a books, having served syndicalist movements for many years through the first half of the twentieth century. Myself being new to the vast subject of anarchism, I walked away from this title much more informed on anarcho-syndicalism, its history, objectives, and methods. De ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Solid historical examination of the origins of Anarcho-Syndicalism. Sadly, the movement has since been cut short following the Spanish Civil War, and in many ways, Rocker's prose is indicative of why it was neutered by state projects and collaboration between capitalists and trade unions. Whilst the struggles are noble and the story is interesting, the conceptualisation and groundwork for what comes 'after the revolution' is simply not there, and what is left is a rather dry, but nonetheless val ...more
Michael Shockley
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
I felt like the last chapter wasn't entirely useful, but this book does an excellent job of explaining syndicalist strategies and ideology, while explaining the possible dangers of relying on centralized, top-down organizations to represent the working class. I don't necessarily consider myself an anarchist, but this is a fine work which summarizes many of the core ideas of anarcho-syndicalism and anarchism in general. This work appears to have been written with the beginner in mind, so I'm not ...more
Mitch Bowman
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those theory texts that shifts your entire perception of how political change can and should be affected. I found myself on several occasions stopping at the end of a passage and processing it for a couple minutes before continuing, because there's such a richness of information contained within.
Euan Pollock
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic resource for anyone trying to investigate anarchism as a political philosophy. Both concise and comprehensive, and clearly written by someone who is very fluent in the subject matter. An engaging description of a political philosophy which seems more and more pertinent.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction to the historical movement of syndicalist anarchism. It gives a brief history of the movement and the related ideological currents and explains thoroughly the methods thereof.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is a good introduction to Anarcho-syndicalism and its history, but I have more questions I need to ask about it.
Samuel Hilton
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This is ok and interesting as a political theory book. It rubbish as a piece of propaganda which is what it was really meant to be.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
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
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
In this book, the history, practice, and theory of the most popular (I think?) and long-lasting school of anarchism is laid-out. The hilarious grandstanding tone typical of a lot of radical leftist literature has a special charm to it. Other than that, I liked the critique on socialism and communism by somebody who clearly understood the systems. I didn't know communism had a concept called the "dictatorship of the proletariat" before reading this. What a horrifying idea that is.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
While I appreciate the ideas put forward, particularly the emphasis on the role of the strike - which made me think fondly of Rosa Luxemburg's own insistence on the mass strike, and wider class organisation - I have to say I'm disappointed by this book.

I will be reading more Anarchist literature in future, but the repeated shallow attempts at attacking the Soviet Union, particularly Lenin of all people, left me with a bad taste. The epilogue was hopeful, and yet, it's all well and good for Mr Ro
Oct 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism
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
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice by Rudolf Rocker was an excellent introductory work into the topic of anarchism and, specifically, Anarcho-Syndicalism. Rocker takes the reader through the history of Anarchism and the development of the brand known as Anarcho-Syndicalism. He helps walk the reader through the ideas of Anarcho-Syndicalism, the goals, and provides examples of where this method of organization was being tried at the time of the writing of this book during the Spanish Civil W ...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
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political-theory
"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
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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
“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 do 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.” 13 likes
“The portentous development of our present economic system, leading to a mighty accumulation of social wealth in the hands of privileged minorities and to a continuous impoverishment of the great masses of the people, prepared the way for the present political and social reaction, and befriended it in every way. It sacrificed the general interests of human society to the private interests of individuals, and thus systematically undermined the relationship between man and man. People forgot that industry is not an end in itself, but should be only a means to insure to man his material subsistence and to make accessible to him the blessings of a higher intellectual culture. Where industry is everything and man is nothing begins the realm of a ruthless economic despotism whose workings are no less disastrous than those of any political despotism. The two mutually augment one another, and they are fed from the same source.” 3 likes
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