Anarcho-Syndicalism (book)

Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice. An Introduction to a Subject Which the Spanish War Has Brought into Overwhelming Prominence is a book written by the German anarchist Rudolf Rocker. Its first edition (158 pages) was published in English by Secker and Warburg, London in 1938, after having been translated by Ray E. Chase from Rocker's original German. Rocker penned this political and philosophical work in 1937, at the behest of Emma Goldman, as an introduction to the ideals fueling the Spanish social revolution and resistance to capitalism and fascism 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 tactics embraced at the time (direct action, sabotage and the general strike). The Pluto Press and the newest AK Press editions including a lengthy introduction by Nicolas Walter and a preface by Noam Chomsky.[1] An abridged version was published in the 1950s as Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism.

Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice. An Introduction to a Subject Which the Spanish War Has Brought into Overwhelming Prominence
AuthorRudolf Rocker
Publication date

The book contents of each chapter in briefEdit

Anarchism: Its Aims and PurposesEdit

Anarchism versus economic monopoly and state power; Forerunners of modern Anarchism; William Godwin and his work on Political Justice; P.J. Proudhon and his ideas of political and economic decentralisation; Max Stirner's work, The Ego and Its Own; M. Bakunin the Collectivist and founder of the Anarchist movement; P. Kropotkin the exponent of Anarchist Communism and the philosophy of Mutual Aid; Anarchism and revolution; Anarchism a synthesis of Socialism and Liberalism; Anarchism versus economic materialism and Dictatorship; Anarchism and the state; Anarchism a tendency of history; Freedom and culture.[2]

The Proletariat and the Beginning of the Modern Labour MovementEdit

The era of machine production and modern Capitalism; The rise of the Proletariat; The first labour unions and their struggle for existence; Luddism; Trade Unionism pure and simple; Political radicalism and labour; The Chartist movement; Socialism and the labour movement.[3]

The Forerunners of SyndicalismEdit

Robert Owen and the English labour movement; The Grand National Consolidated Trade Union; William Benbow and the idea of the General Strike; The period of reaction; Evolution of the labour organisations in France; The International Workingmen's Association; The new conception of trade unionism; The idea of the labour councils; Labour councils versus dictatorships; Bakunin on the economic organisation of the workers; The introduction of parliamentary politics by Marx and Engels and the end of the International[4]

The Objectives of Anarcho-SyndicalismEdit

Anarcho-Syndicalism versus political socialism; Political parties and labour unions; Federalism versus Centralism; Germany and Spain; The organisation of Anarcho-Syndicalism; The impotence of political parties for social reconstruction; The CNT in Spain: its aims and methods; Constructive work of the labour syndicates and peasant collectives in Spain; Anarcho-Syndicalism and national politics; Problems of our time.[5]

The Methods of Anarcho-SyndicalismEdit

Anarcho-Syndicalism and political action; The Significance of political rights; Direct Action versus Parliamentarism; The strike and its meaning for the workers; The Sympathetic Strike; The General Strike; The Boycott; Sabotage by the workers; Sabotage by capitalism; The social strike as a means of social protection; Anti-militarism.[6]

The Evolution of Anarcho-SyndicalismEdit

Revolutionary Syndicalism in France and its Influence on the labour movement in Europe; The Industrial Workers of the World; Syndicalism after the First World War; The Syndicalists and the Third International; The founding of the new International Workingmen's Association; Anarcho-Syndicalism in Spain; In Portugal; In Italy; In France; In Germany; In Sweden; In Holland; In South America.[7]


Epilogue (by Rudolf Rocker, 2. edition, India 1947)Edit

(Rudolf Rockers Epilogue for the second English edition 1947, after Fascism and the World War II destroyed Spain, Europe, the anarcho-syndicalist and general labour movement and much of the world itself).[8]

Opinions about the bookEdit

Rocker expresses throughout his faith in the capacity of ordinary people to construct for themselves a world suited to their inner needs, to create and participate in an advancing culture of liberation in free communities, to discover through their own thought and engagement the institutional arrangements that can best satisfy their deeply rooted striving for freedom, justice, compassion and solidarity, at a particular historical moment. This vision remains as inspiring as when it was written a half century ago, and no less valid as a stimulus to our thinking and our constructive action.

Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism (1948)Edit

1946 Rocker wrote an abridged version of the book, as an essay for Feliks Gross's American symposium "European Ideologies: A Survey of 20th Century Political Ideas", it came out with the same title in New York, 1948. It consist of a slightly revised passages from different parts of the book "Anarcho-Syndicalism" and amounting to nearly one-third of the text.[9] This was reprinted in James J. Martin's edition of Paul Eltzbacher's Anarchism (1960) and was later published later as a Book by itself by Freedom Press, London 1973 and 1988 with a new Introduction by Nicolas Walter.[1]


Living Utopia (Vivir la utopía, 1997) – "Anarcho-Syndicalism, has revealed itself as a great constructive force" C.Roselli cited in Rocker's book (AK Press edition, page 66[1]) and here shown in Juan Gamero's Documentary.

Other booksEdit


See alsoEdit


  • Rocker, Rudolf (2004). Anarcho-syndicalism: Theory and practice. Oakland & Edinburgh: AK Press. ISBN 978-1-902593-92-0. OCLC 56325627.
  • Rocker, Rudolf (1988). Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. London: Freedom Press. ISBN 978-0-900384-45-5.

External linksEdit