Revolutionary History

Syndicalism: An International and Historical Perspective

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Syndicalism: An International and Historical Perspective - Dek KeenanAuthor: Dek Keenan | File size: 330 KB

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This paper will introduce syndicalism both as an historical international phenomenon and as a contemporary international model and movement. It presupposes very little knowledge of, but hopefully some substantial interest in, the subject on the part of the reader.

What does Syndicalism mean to us as labour movement activists? It may mean the million workers in the Spanish CNT fighting with a new world in their hearts during the Spanish Civil War. It may mean the legendary Industrial Workers of the World organising the One Big Union across craft and trade, race and gender lines. It may mean a vast movement of workers across Latin America during the first half of the 20th Century. It may mean Starbucks baristas fighting today to build unions in coffee houses in New York and Santiago. But it very possibly means none of these things.

Because syndicalism constitutes one of the least understood currents in the workers movement. And yet syndicalism was the driving force of immense and powerful labour movements across the globe in the first decades of the 20th Century; from Argentina to Japan and from Australia to Portugal workers gathered under its flag. And today it represents a small, but growing, part of the international labour movement; albeit one that remains unduly obscure and marginal.

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The Tragedy of Spain

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The Tragedy of Spain - Rudolf RockerAuthor: Rudolf Rocker | File size: 451 KB

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German anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker’s history of the Spanish Civil War and Revolution.

July 19th is the anniversary of the start of the Spanish civil war and revolution, the day on which right-wing army officers rose against the republican regime in Spain and, with the assistance of outside powers and foreign troops, plunged the country into a bloody war. The uprising against the revolt by the army officers turned into a full workers’ social revolution with widespread implementation by the workers of anarchist organizational principles throughout various portions of the country for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia, and parts of the Levante. Much of Spain’s economy was put under workers’ self-management; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party influence, as the Soviet Union-controlled party actively tried to crush attempts at worker empowerment. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertarian communes.

Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution, which he claimed “came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history.”

New (Second) Zabalaza Books Edition 06.2014

First published October 1937  | Text from LibCom

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From Defence Cadres to Popular Militias

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From Defence Cadres to Popular Militias - Augustín GuillamónAuthor: Augustín Guillamón  |  File size: 248 KB

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A short article summarizing the history and transformation of the CNT’s Defence Committees in Barcelona during the 1930s from their origins as street fighting units to their reorganisation as integrated combat/intelligence formations, to their suppression by the Republic after the working class defeat of May 1937.

Translated from the Spanish original in October 2013. Obtained online, October 2013 at: http://www.lahaine.org/index.php?p=44663

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Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers

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Witches, Midwives, & Nurses: A History of Women HealersAuthors: Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English  |  PDF file size: 817 KB

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Women have always been healers. They were the unlicensed doctors and anatomists of western history. They were abortionists, nurses and counsellors. They were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging the secrets of their uses. They were midwives, travelling from home to home and village to village. For centuries women were doctors without degrees, barred from books and lectures, learning from each other, and passing on experience from neighbour to neighbour and mother to daughter. They were called “wise women” by the people, witches or charlatans by the authorities. Medicine is part of our heritage as women, our history, our birthright.

Today, however, health care is the property of male professionals. Ninety-three percent of the doctors in the US are men; and almost all the top directors and administrators of health institutions. Women are still in the overall majority — 70 percent of health workers are women — but we have been incorporated as workers into an industry where the bosses are men. We are no longer independent practitioners, known by our own names, for our own work. We are, for the most part, institutional fixtures, filling faceless job slots: clerk, dietary aide, technician, maid….

 “To know our history is to begin to see how
to take up the struggle again!”

“Separate and Equal”?: Mujeres Libres and Anarchist Strategy for Women’s Emancipation

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“Separate and Equal”?: Mujeres Libres and Anarchist Strategy for Women’s Emancipation by Martha A. AckelsbergAuthor: Martha A. Ackelsberg  |  PDF file size: 665 KB

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In May 1936, a group of anarchist women founded Mujeres Libres, the first autonomous, proletarian feminist organisation in Spain… Its goal was to end the “triple enslavement of women, to ignorance, to capital, and to men.” While some of the founders were professional or semi-professional women, the vast majority of its members (who numbered approximately 20,000 in July 1937) were working-class women. The women of Mujeres Libres aimed both to overcome the barriers of ignorance and inexperience which prevented women from participating as equals in the struggle for a better society, and to confront the dominance of men within the anarchist movement itself….

The Kronstadt Rebellion: Still Significant 90 Years On

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The Kronstadt Rebellion: Still Significant 90 Years OnAuthor: Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)  |  PDF file size: 360 KB

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Over the last few years, many on the left have been trying to formulate a vision of socialism based on democracy. As a consequence countless papers and talks have been produced internationally about how socialism needs to be participatory if true freedom is to be achieved. Some have given this search for a form of democratic socialism evocative names, such as ‘Twenty-First Century socialism’, ‘socialism-from-below’ and ‘ecosocialism’. In South Africa the desire for a democratic socialism has also inspired initiatives such as the Conference for a Democratic Left (CDL); while even the South African Communist Party has outlined a need for a more participatory socialist agenda.

Revolutionary History

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Spain


Russia


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