My favourite definition of Anarcho-syndicalism has to be from a review of The Couriers are Revolting along the lines of “It seems to mean they didn’t mess about”. While this book goes into more depth than that, it has a similar practical focus: “Doing and thinking are but moments of the same process of organisation” (p8).
Fighting for ourselves asks how we got to our current situation with a solid critique of ‘regular’ trade unionism and the Labour Party. “Reform has become a euphemism for attacking our living standards. Unions have been allowed to remain social partners so long as they accepted their role was no longer to police the shop floor in exchange for annual improvements in pay and conditions, but simply to manage their stagnation and decline with minimal disruption.” (p89).
It also asks how we might win some social battles. Now, all anarchists should be interested in that. What’s also good is their historical overview of anarcho-syndicalism. The Spanish CNT is mentioned and understood in context, but so are other movements like the FAUD (Free Workers Union of Germany) and FORA (Argentine Regional Workers’ Association), as well as nearby currents like council communism. The Direct Action Movement gets mentioned, so a history of the DAM might appear one day. Or perhaps the Solidarity Federation might produce an introductory critique of capitalism: How we get robbed?
Fighting for ourselves is well written, clear and asks interesting questions about anarchist history and practice. Read it if you’re interested in either.
Fighting For Ourselves: Anarcho-syndicalism and the Class Struggle by the Solidarity Federation
ISBN 9781904491200 www.solfed.org.uk
The Solidarity Federation also have a couple of pamphlets out: Workmates: direct action workplace organising on the London Underground and a reissue of Anarcho-syndicalism in Puerto Real: from shipyard resistance to direct democracy and community control.