1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. (1)
[Socialism] was first applied in England to Owen's theory of social reconstruction, and in France to those also of St. Simon and Fourier . . . The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning, . . . even by economists and learned critics. The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, . . . radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property . . . The tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy. (2)
'Anarcho-Syndicalism is sometimes held to be a particular theory as to how an Anarchist society should be organised, that is, through unions or syndicates. Some regard it as a faction counterpoised to other forms of Anarchism, or even as a political ideology completely separate from Anarchism. In my view these are all mistakes. Rather, Anarcho-Syndicalism can be defined as "the strategy of advancing the Anarchist project through building a leaderless mass movement of wage-workers using direct action to take control of the workplace away from the bosses." This definition may be a little rough, but the important part I want to stress is that it is a "strategy for advancing the Anarchist project".'(3)
Hence, Anarcho-Syndicalism means the creating of small communities or syndicates which would be directly controlled by the workers.
As opposed to Capitalism
Capitalism, more specifically laissez-fairecapitalist theory is most often attributed to Adam Smith who, in 1776 published his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. In this book, Smith developed the idea of "the invisible hand," as he called it, whereby " the private interests and passions of men" are led in the direction "which is most agreeable to the interest of the whole society." This idea is explained nicely here:
Adam Smith's laws of the market are basically simple. They tell us that the outcome of a certain kind of behavior in a certain social framework will bring about perfectly definite and foreseeable results. Specifically they show us how the drive of individual self- interest in an environment of similarly motivated individuals will result in competition; and they further demonstrate how competition will result in the provision of those goods that society wants, in the quantities that society desires, and at the prices society is prepared to pay.
But self- interest is only half the picture. It drives men to action. Something else must prevent the pushing of profit hungry individuals from holding society up to exorbitant ransom. This regulator is competition, the conflict of the self- interested actors on the marketplace. A man who permits his self- interest to run away with him will find that competitors have slipped in to take his trade away. Thus the selfish motives of men are transmuted by interaction to yield the most unexpected of results: social harmony.(4)
How does Socialism respond to this theory? The Socialist position is that any Capitalist economy will naturally revert towards an anti-proletariat(worker) system. In an effort to maximize profits, the bourgeois (owners, ruling class) would do such things as decrease wages and prevent worker's unions. The result of this would be, for all intents and purposes, wage-slavery. If a worker or a group of workers went on strike, the company would immediately fire those workers and hire new workers. The only way a company could do this is if there is a sufficient group of unemployed workers and craftsmen to hire if the current employees tried to organise and a considerable monopoly over a given market, and it would be entirely possible for companies to crush competition without government intervention. To usurp this, the workers would have to have direct control of government and companies. The government would have to be made to enforce laws against companies monopolizing the market. And thus, complete economic freedom would result in wage-slavery, high rate of unemployment and complete dominance of the rich classes over the working class.
There will be no voting on this. This, and Sean's first post will be outlining our beliefs. Your turn, Sean.
(1)Source: The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright � 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
(2)Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
(3)Excerpt from "What is Anarchism?
What is Anarcho-Syndicalism?" by Jeremy Dixon.
(4)Excerpt from Robert L. Heilbroner's "The Worldly Philosophers".