Texts :: critics
Capitalist Praise for Anarcho-Syndicalism
by Jeremy Sapienza
02 Sep 2005
"When you add in the fact that all workers, as union members, have to pay union dues, I'm sorry, but I don't see anything "stateless" here. In fact, it seems to be organized exactly like a political government, complete with decision-making bodies whose decisions are enforceable, organizational hierarchy, and taxation. It doesn't seem that anarcho-syndicalists want to destroy the State so much as they want to become it."
taken from http://www.anti-state.com/sapienza/sapienza3.html
Jeremy Sapienza is a real estate agent in Miami Beach. He edits anti-state.com and is a columnist at LewRockwell.com.
I have been studying left-anarchism for quite a while now, and I've been impressed with the strong anti-statism of many of the factions. I have a lot of respect for the voluntary anarcho-socialists, who truly would let everyone do their own thing, form their own communities, as long as they were allowed to create their own and not be disturbed. Their true goal is to destroy the State, and I could hardly condemn them for that.Ý
I have been pretty partial lately, though, to the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism, but not as a defining political/economic theory. Allow me, for a minute, to expound my theory. Just as we advocates of a stateless society strictly relate anarchism to government*, we can so relate syndicalism to the market economy.
For example, "anarcho"-syndicalism (to use the tactics of the anarchist left) is a contradiction. This from Anarcosindicalismo: Basico:Ý
Contrary to the hierarchical Organization and authority of the State-Capital, and its repressive apparatus, anarcho-syndicalism poses its Anti-Organization. This involves a process, in which decisions are made at the base, in which the people participate, in which there is no leadership (or it is very limited), there is no repression, and there exists full liberty and equality in the exchange of ideas, opinions, and initiatives. Anarcho-syndicalist organization resembles that of the State-Capital as little as possible. It is thus an anti-organization when compared to the authoritarian model existing nowadays.
Apart from the annoying use of noun capitalization reminiscent of German, and the ridiculousness of the tendency to equate capital with the state, this is so far consistent with the use of the term "anarchism," since this in no way assumes that coercive force has been or will be used to make sure that this worker's "paradise" is established or protected.
But let's read on:
The CNT (ConfederaciÛn Nacional del Trabajo, National Work Confederation) is a union, a confederation of industrial union branches...[T]he CNT health workers form the Union of Public Health, without distinction to professional categories [instead of dividing different professions within healthcare into distinct unions). This structure was adopted at the Sans Congress in 1918. It was agreed on because it was seen as the most practical in struggles with capital...
[A] union decides its issues by means of the Union Assembly. The assembly is its highest decision-making body, attended directly by members. It is not mediated by outside committees , delegations, etc...
All mandates are revokable at anytime. The assembly is free to demand the resignation of the officers if it wishes. The duration of a term is two years, with possible re-election for one more year as maximum. It is required that officers be rotated...
Do you see the tendency of these "anarchist" unions toward authority? It all seems to oddly resemble a...state! If you read on, you'll see what I mean. I found the following concise little quote here.
In place of capitalism we want a free socialistic economic system in which the workers and peasants directly control the land and factories, and use these resources to produce for the benefit of all. In place of the State, we want to manage our own affairs through grassroots workplace and community councils, united at the local, regional, national and international levels. We call this system "anarchism" or "stateless socialism" or "libertarian socialism."
When you add in the fact that all workers, as union members, have to pay union dues, I'm sorry, but I don't see anything "stateless" here. In fact, it seems to be organized exactly like a political government, complete with decision-making bodies whose decisions are enforceable, organizational hierarchy, and taxation. It doesn't seem that anarcho-syndicalists want to destroy the State so much as they want to become it.
So, rather than have the left-anarchists use the term "syndicalist" exclusively for their own state-building purposes, let's also use it for the simple concept of worker ownership of the means of production in a capitalistic, stateless society. Not of all the means of production, but as an ideal situation for many distinct industries.
So shall I coin the term? How about capitalist syndicalism?
Now, I would think that a company run on the principle of capitalist syndicalism would create a more efficient system of production than one run as many are now, from the top down, and with all property owned and controlled by one person or family. For any anarcho-capitalists out there that would take me to task on this, let me remind you: it is we who are always making the argument that people work more efficiently when they work for themselves one hundred percent of the time, as opposed to much of their time for the state. How much more efficiently and productively would you work if you not only got to keep your entire wage, but got to share in the profits, too!? Employee theft would probably become non-existent, not to mention that waste itself would be drastically reduced, the only exceptions being in the case of accidents.
In the situation I envision, I will create an imaginary tire plant. A bunch of workers in various tire plants around the country decide they don't like working for the Man anymore, and possibly via the internet they find each other, and with their pensions and/or savings cashed in, they could raise enough capital to start their own tire plant.
Most likely, they would elect supervisors, or they could be chosen by how much money was invested. Whatever way this is decided, the workers would have full democratic control over their investments and their work.Ý
They would hire administrative workers into "wage slavery," such as accountants, secretaries, janitors, marketing personnel, etc. Or these jobs could be restricted to investors as well. This could be the company of the future, with workers brought together through modern communications and common interest.
The workers would guarantee that their tires would be the best quality possible, because it is their livelihood and their capital at stake. The secretaries would be overly nice and sweet and patient with customers, since they have the same motivation to keep them coming back. More customers means more money in the pockets of everyone. This leads to a general increase in quality and profitability.
We can expand the example beyond one tire plant. There could be worker-owned factories making all different parts and products, trading and selling these goods to other "commune companies" or directly to retail stores (who in turn could be employee owned). There is no limit to the possibilities of capitalist syndicalism!
Don't the workers of the world deserve to share in the prosperity brought to us by advanced technology? I would hope for a world where the line between the capitalist and the worker is smashed to pieces, not just blurred or softened.
But the socialist anarcho-syndicalists scoff at this idea. Why? Because they aren't really interested in bringing the common worker up to the level of the capitalist. They want to tear the capitalist and entrepreneur down to the level of a poor wage laborer, and then rule them all in their little mock state.
Anarcho-syndicalists don't want to see the market economy survive democratization of the workplace, because it would severely limit "class struggle," and therefore, their reason for being. They couldn't "agitate" because all the worker/capitalists would be telling them to go screw. I have seen (I can't remember where, I searched forever it seems for a quote) anarcho-syndicalists say that they wouldn't let syndicalism be used in the capitalist system. They say that they aren't for simple worker control of the means of production, they want those means to be used only for the "good of society." Whatever the hell that is. Obviously to be determined by them, and not society, which expresses what it wants through demand (purchasing).
How would the anarcho-syndicalists know what to produce and how much? Who, for instance, would make such trifling things as contact lens cases and cable ties? If there is no market demand, how will you know who needs what? Money is a signal to producers about what and how much they need to produce. Without real money, you have the situation in Soviet Russia, where the central planners tried to pull market prices out of their asses, and the whole damn system collapsed because it wasn't organic, it was directed from above.
So let's take yet another word into our free market lexicon: syndicalism! Capitalist syndicalism might be the dominant corporate structure in a stateless society. If the socialist "anarchists" don't take us to the killing fields like they did in Spain...
* Most of you are familiar with the debate between left-anarchists and anarcho-capitalists. The left insists that we are not "true" anarchists because we're capitalist boosters, and anarchism is defined as the absence of any type of hierarchy or domination. We say that they are full of shit, and that anarchism is easily defined as the simple absence of political government.
July 10, 2001
PS: If anyone can find a quote from an anarcho-syndicalist about not working inside the market system, please send it to me and I will make an amendment to this article and give you credit. Thanx.
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