James Joll, The Anarchists, Second Edition, 1979.

Chapter VIII
Anarchists and syndicalists

Les historiens verront un jour, dans cette entree des anarchistes dans les syndicats, 1'un des plus grands evenements qui se soient produits de notre temps.
Georges Sorel

'Are you poor, forlorn and hungry?
Are there lots of things you lack?
Is your life made up of misery?
Then dump the bosses off your back.
Are your clothes all patched and tattered?
Are you living in a shack?
Would you have your troubles scattered?
Then dump the bosses off your back.

Are you almost split asunder?
Loaded like a long-eared jack?
Boob -- why don't you buck like thunder?
And dump the bosses off your back.
All the agonies you suffer
You can end with one good whack.
Stiffen up, you orn'ry duffer
And dump the bosses off your back.'
From the IWW Song Book


Even before the communist party in Russia had shown that a successful revolution was possible, and before Lenin's achievements had given new encouragement to Marxists as against anarchists, there had been many anarchists who were worried by the futility of individual terrorism and the sterility of academic discussions. Anarchism was, after all, a working-class movement. It was from among the workers that it had recruited many of its most devoted militants; it was in the daily recognition of the realities of the class struggle -- at least in certain industries [178] and countries -- that its strength lay. The doubts about individual acts of propaganda by the deed and about the action of small conspiratorial groups, which men like Kropotkin and Elisee Reclus had often expressed, were reinforced by the increased pressure from the police and government after each act of terrorism. If anarchism were going to be more than an individual protest, it was going to have to find a new basis in the masses, and new means of action in an increasingly industrialized society. As Kropotkin put it: 'If the development of the revolutionary spirit gains enormously from heroic individual acts, it is none the less true . . . that it is not by these heroic acts that revolutions are made. . . . Revolution is above all a popular movement.'1 For anarchism to become a revolutionary popular movement in the face of the rival attraction of the growing political parties which the socialists were building, it needed to show its effectiveness as an organization capable of producing revolutionary social and economic change. As one anarchist paper put it at the time of the assassination of King Umberto I of Italy in 1900: 'It is not the political head that we should be striking. It is the economic head, Property, that we must aim at.'2

These ideas were, in a sense, a return to the classical anarchism of Proudhon and Bakunin. They had never vanished from the anarchist movement, but, at least in the popular mind, they had tended to be overshadowed by the spectacular gestures of the individual terrorists and the resulting counter-measures which showed how seriously the police all over Europe took the anarchists. Proudhon had outlined a programme by which the workers in their workshops would themselves take over the means of production without the need of political institutions; Bakunin, although largely concerned with the possibility of revolution among the backward peasantry of Russia or Italy, had also thought of the workshop or factory as a possible nucleus of social revolt. The only method of emancipation, he had written in 1869, is that of 'solidarity in the struggle of the workers against the bosses. It is the organization and federation of "caisses de resistance".'3 The anarchists of the Jura, concerned as they were with a day-to-day struggle to protect their interests, had responded readily to these ideas and they accepted the principle of direct action by the workers in pursuit of their own social and [179] economic ends. As James Guillaume put it: 'Instead of having recourse to the state, which only possesses such strength as the workers give it, the workers will settle their business direct with the bourgeoisie, will pose their own conditions and force them to accept them.'4

The method by which this battle was to be fought was the strike, and already in 1874 one of the leaders of the Jura anarchists, Adhemar Schwitzguebel, put forward the idea of the general strike as the simplest and surest way of winning control of the means of production:

The idea of a general strike by the workers which would put an end to the miseries they suffer is beginning to be seriously discussed. ... It would certainly be a revolutionary act capable of bringing about the liquidation of the existing social order and a reorganization in accordance with the socialist aspirations of the workers.5
However, the watchmakers of the Jura were not numerous or powerful enough to create a large, effective organization, even though, in the difficult years after the Commune, it was among them that the ideas of Bakunin were most vigorously and effectively kept alive.

It was in France that the new forms of industrial organization and tactics were developed; and they provided the anarchists with new possibilities of action -- and also with new possibilities of disagreement. Whereas, in Germany and Britain, the new trade-union movements which developed in the 1880s were movements aiming at piecemeal improvement in the wages and conditions of employment of the industrial workers, and soon established very close relations with the growing socialist political parties, in France, from the time when trade-union activity was first permitted in 1884 after the repression following the Commune, the unions rapidly became committed to a doctrine of direct industrial action independent of any political parties. In the 1880s, it is true, Jules Guesde, the man most responsible for introducing Marxist ideas into French politics, tried to develop trade unions in close association with the socialist party he had founded. However, the alliance did not last long, and at a congress of unions at Bordeaux in 1888 there was already a [180] majority in favour of direct action by means of the general strike and against any political action. Finally, in 1894, the followers of Guesde walked out of a congress of syndicalists at Nantes. For some fifty years the French trade unions and socialist party were to act independently of each other.

Meanwhile, it was on the basis of Proudhon's teaching that the new working-class organizations in France were being developed. These took two forms. In the first, the workers in individual factories, and in some cases in individual industries, formed unions ('syndicats'). Secondly, from 1887 on, 'Bourses du TravaiV were formed alongside these syndicates. These were organized on a local basis, and workers in all trades belonged to them. The purpose of the Bourses du Travail was primarily to find jobs for workers, but they very quickly assumed functions beyond this and became centres for education and for the discussion of all the problems affecting the life of the working class. The movement spread rapidly and in 1892 the Bourses du Travail, already functioning in many parts of France, were linked into a national federation.

In 1895, Fernand Pelloutier was appointed the Secretary-general of the Federation des Bourses du Travail, at the age of twenty-eight, and it was he who made the movement into a powerful force and inspired it with a particular kind of anarchist idealism which not only influenced French working-class thought and action but also provided a pattern for other countries, notably Spain. Pelloutier came from a family of officials and professional men, originally Protestant, but converted to Catholicism in the early nineteenth century. He was sent to a Catholic school, but, although he was very intelligent, he failed to matriculate, and was, like so many of his generation, in trouble with the masters for writing an anti-clerical novel. His family lived in Brittany, and the young Pelloutier soon became the associate of a young lawyer in Saint-Nazaire, Aristide Briand, who was at the beginning of a long political career and, at this stage, a representative of the extreme left and much involved in the defence of anarchists and syndicalists in trouble with the authorities. Pelloutier's political activity in support of Briand soon got his father, a Post Office official, into difficulties and he was moved by the ministry to Meaux, and then, at the end of [181] 1893, to Paris. Here Fernand continued his career as a spokesman and organizer of the working class, and within two years he was appointed secretary-general of the recently founded Federation des Bourses du Travail. Here for seven years, in spite of ill health (he suffered from a painful and disfiguring tubercular affection of the face), he threw himself single-mindedly into the task of making the Bourses real centres for working-class education and a nucleus which would serve as a pattern for a future reorganization of society on the basis of workers' control of industry.

Although the numbers belonging to the Bourses du Travail were never very large, the ideas disseminated by them have never wholly disappeared from the French working-class movement. For Pelloutier the main task was, above all, the education of the workers and their preparation for their role in the new society. First of all, they had to be taught the rational basis for their instinctive revolt against their present situation: 'Ce qui manque a l'ouvrier, c'est la science de son malheur. '6 The Bourses du Travail were accordingly to be 'centres of study where the proletariat could reflect on their condition, unravel the elements of the economic problem so as to make themselves capable of the liberation to which they have the right.'7 Pelloutier and his followers believed that any trade-union movement must be truly revolutionary and aim at the total transformation of society, and that, at the same time, it must not fall into the errors of the society it intended to replace. 'Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be the collectivist jail?' he asked. 'Can't it consist in a free organization limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared?' The workers' union was both a means of revolution and a model for the future. Thus the syndicalist movement 'declared war on everything which constitutes, supports and fortifies social organization'. Officers must be temporary; members must be free to leave. 'What is a syndicate?' Pelloutier wrote. 'An association you are free to enter or leave, without a president, having as its only officials a secretary and treasurer who are instantly dismissible.'8

This was carrying Proudhon's ideas to their natural conclusion; and the anarchists were quick to see the possibilities of the new [182] movement for the spread of their ideas. Already in 1892 the Paris police had seized a circular from the anarchist exiles in London instructing anarchists to use the syndicates as a method of action. The tactics were the same as those envisaged by Bakunin twenty-five years earlier (and to be put into effective practice by the Federation Anarquista Iberica in Spain twenty-five years later). 'It is very useful', the circular ran, 'to take an active part in strikes as in all other working-class agitations, but always to refuse to play the star role. We must profit by every opportunity to make anarchist propaganda and to warn the workers against the authoritarian socialists who will be the oppressors of tomorrow.'9 Pelloutier's ideas seemed to link this aim with a new and positive role for the anarchists in the working-class movement, and many anarchists joined the new syndicalist movement enthusiastically. Emile Pouget, for example, who edited Le Pere Peinard and whose racy, popular journalistic polemics had made him a successful anarchist propagandist among the working class who wanted something more down to earth than the intellectual anarchism of a Jean Grave or a Kropotkin, became the editor of the main syndicalist weekly in 1900.

Pelloutier's main practical aim after he became secretary of the Federation was to amalgamate the revolutionary and educational activities of the Bourses du Travail with the action being carried on by the trade unions organized on a factory or industrial basis. The Federation des Syndicats et des groupes cooperatifs had been in existence since 1886; but in 1895 it split into two on the issue of whether to support political action by a political party. The majority adopted the view that Pouget had expressed a few years earlier when he wrote: 'The aim of the syndicates is to make war on the bosses and not to bother with politics.'10 Once the supporters of Jules Guesde, who wanted a close association with the political socialist movement, had been defeated, the way was open for the syndicates to join with the Bourses du Travail. Nevertheless, the process was a slow one. The syndicates formed their own confederation (the Confederation Generate du Travail -- CGT) in 1895, but it was a comparatively weak and ineffective organization, and the almost total failure of a railway strike in 1898 marked how great the distance was between the hopes of effective and dramatic strike action and the actual capacities of [183] the working class. Pelloutier was anxious that his comparatively strong and well-run Federation should not weaken itself by becoming submerged in a less efficient and less militant body; and, in fact, the unification of the syndicates and the Bourses du Travail did not take place in his lifetime.

Pelloutier died in 1901 aged only thirty-four. His tuberculosis had grown steadily worse and he had ruined his health still further by working not only as secretary-general of the Federation des Bourses du Travail but also as editor of a review which was intended to provide the workers with serious articles and facts about the economic situation, and which Pelloutier and his brother produced almost unaided, even doing the actual printing themselves. Pelloutier's dedication, his mixture of practical gifts with moral enthusiasm, his devotion to the ideal of education and self-improvement among the workers, together with his early death, made him a legendary figure among his followers; and it was they who finally succeeded in uniting the Bourses du Travail with the CGT in 1902. Under the new charter, the CGT was composed both of syndicates and of Bourses du Travail; each section was autonomous, but each syndicate had to belong to a local bourse or an equivalent local organization. Thus the CGT was now based both on the federation of unions, and thus on the various industries, and on the federation of the Bourses du Travail and so on a system of regional and local decentralization. The spirit of Proudhon seemed to have triumphed.

However, although the syndicalist movement had now achieved a unity which in 1902 the French socialist parties still lacked, and although they were committed to direct economic action and to opposition to all forms of political activity, they were, in fact, still very weak numerically. At the beginning of the twentieth century the industrial workers were in a minority in France. It is estimated that in 1906 39 per cent of the wage-earners in France were engaged in commerce and industry; and of these not more than 11 per cent belonged to any sort of trade union, and only 4 per cent to the CGT.11 The membership fluctuated considerably according to economic conditions and between one industry and another. Thus any effective industrial action was bound to be limited in its results, unless it could succeed in paralysing a key industry or service, such as the railways. Under [184] these circumstances there was necessarily much disagreement about what the unions could achieve. Were they to be, as their anarchist members wished, militant organizations preparing the way by their example for the revolution and the new society? Or were they to be content with achieving what practical gains they could in limited sectors of industry? The discussion that divided the socialist political parties in these years, about whether reform or revolution was the first aim, was paralleled in the trade-union movement. The anarchists who saw in the unions a means of making the revolution were quite clear what they were trying to do. One of them, Paul Delesalle, who was one of the assistant secretaries of the CGT for several years, wrote that their role was to 'demonstrate the foolishness of partial reforms and develop the revolutionary spirit among the union members'.12

It was just because the syndicalist movement was weak that the idea of direct revolutionary action seemed attractive. If short-term gains were as hard to win as final victory, there was no reason why the latter should not be an immediate aim. Just as many German social democrats thought that the logic of history would bring them victory without their having to do very much about it, so many French syndicalists believed that somehow the capitalist order would fall at a single blow. The more serious militant syndicalists were constantly reproving this heresy. Emile Pouget wrote on May Day 1904:

If you only had to blow on the old society to overthrow it, it would really be too easy. If we deceive ourselves about the size of the effort required, we are preparing for cruel disillusion. . . . The social revolution will not be accomplished without the necessity of a formidable effort.13
Nevertheless, no one disputed the possibility of imminent revolution provided the will to it was there.

In 1906 the CGT formally accepted the views of militants like Pouget and recognized that it was a revolutionary organization which aimed at the seizure of economic power by means of direct action culminating in a general strike. Paul Delesalle described the plan of campaign as follows: [185]

  1. A general strike by individual unions, which we can compare to manoeuvres of garrisons.
  2. Cessation of work everywhere on a given day, which we can compare to general manoeuvres ('grandes manoeuvres').
  3. A general and complete stoppage which places the proletariat in a state of open war with capitalist society.
  4. General strike -- revolution.14

The problem which confronted the CGT was how to combine a state of war against capitalist society with the pursuit of immediate and limited gains for the workers. The months before the Amiens congress had been filled with industrial unrest; the campaign for the eight-hour day was in full swing and there had been extensive strikes in support of it, especially among the miners, who were the largest of the unions belonging to the CGT. The government had been sufficiently alarmed by the threat of demonstrations on May Day 1906 to order the arrest of the federal secretary and the treasurer of the CGT, and it was in this atmosphere of militancy that the CGT congress assembled later in the year. The congress reaffirmed the divorce between the syndicates and the socialist parties and laid down that, although members of the CGT were entirely free outside the unions to adopt the form of struggle which corresponded to their political or philosophical views, they were not to introduce these views in the unions; and the unions themselves should not 'concern themselves with parties or sects, which are free outside and apart from the unions to work for social transformation as they think fit'. What linked the members of the unions was a consciousness of the need to struggle for the abolition of the wage system and a 'recognition of the class struggle, which, on an economic foundation, puts the workers in revolt against every form of exploitation, material and moral, that is operated by the capitalist class against the working class'. At the same time, the Charter of Amiens tried to reconcile this with the need for day-to-day action in the following terms:

In respect of everyday demands, syndicalism pursues the coordination of the workers' efforts, the increase of the workers' welfare through the achievement of immediate [186] improvements, such as the shortening of the hours of labour, the raising of wages, etc. This, however, is only one aspect of its work: it is preparing the way for the entire emancipation that can be realized only by the expropriation of the capitalist class. It commends the general strike as a means to this end and holds that the trade union, which is at present a resistance group, will be in the future the group responsible for production and distribution, the foundation of the social organization.15

It is obvious how much this programme owed to anarchist ideas, from Proudhon to Kropotkin and Pelloutier, but for some anarchists the assertion that the syndicates had a 'double task of day-to-day activity and of the future' went too far in its implicit acceptance of existing society. There was, indeed, a formal public debate on these questions at an international congress, summoned by the Dutch and Belgian anarchists at Amsterdam in 1907. Many representatives of the young revolutionary syndicalists from France attended, together with many of the most respected international anarchist figures -- Emma Goldman, the Dutchmen Cornelissen and Nieuwenhuis, Rudolph Rocker, and Malatesta - 'perhaps', as one of the French anarchists put it, 'the last representative of the old insurrectional anarchism'.16 The usual eccentrics were also present to make the proceedings more difficult; one of them objected on principle to any votes being taken, because this infringed the liberty of the minority, while another extreme individualist proclaimed that his motto was 'Moi, moi, moi. . . et les autres ensuite'. However, there was a serious discussion of the whole question of trade-union action which, according to reports from the various countries represented, was everywhere dividing the anarchist movement. For the young French syndicalists, Amedee Dunois and Pierre Monatte, the trade-union movement provided a means of bringing anarchism back to a direct contact with the workers. As Dunois put it:

By involving ourselves more actively in the working-class movement, we have crossed the gap which separates the pure idea. . . from the living reality. We are less and less interested in the former abstractions and more and more in the practical movement in action,
[187] and he went on to echo Pelloutier and say: 'The workers' trade union is not simply an organization of struggle, it is the living germ of future society, and future society will be what we have made of the trade union.'17 Pierre Monatte, a twenty-six-year-old blacksmith's son from the Auvergne, made the connection between anarchism and the new syndicalism even more explicit.
Syndicalism has recalled anarchism to the awareness of its working-class origins; on the other hand, the anarchists have contributed not a little towards putting the working-class movement on to the path of revolution and to popularizing the idea of direct action.18

And for him, too, syndicalism was a moral as well as a social force:

Syndicalism does not waste time promising the workers a paradise on earth, it calls on them to conquer it and assures them that their action will never be wholly in vain. It is a school of the will, of energy and of fruitful thought. It opens to anarchism, which for too long has been turned in on itself, new perspectives and experiences.19

The idea of linking the future of anarchism to the trade unions was not, however, accepted by many anarchists. Emma Goldman, for example, was afraid that it might swamp the individual in a mass movement: 'I will only accept anarchist organization on one condition: it is that it should be based on absolute respect for all individual initiatives and should not hamper their free play and development. The essential principle of anarchism is individual autonomy.'20 Malatesta, too, although he had always accepted some degree of organization and had, like Proudhon, thought that it was the autonomy of small social groups rather than of individuals that was important, was nevertheless worried that the new movement involved the risk of dividing the working class, since the interests of all workers were not necessarily the same, and that it might create a bureaucracy of just the type which the anarchists were working to abolish: 'The official is to the working-class movement a danger only comparable to that provided by the parliamentarian; both lead to corruption and from corruption to death is but a short step.' Above all, anarchism [188] must not be limited to one particular class, even if it is the working class who most need revolution because they are the most oppressed. 'The anarchist revolution we want', he said, 'far exceeds the interest of one class; it has as its aim the complete liberation of humanity which is totally enslaved from three points of view -- economically, politically and morally.'21

Malatesta not only attacked some of the basic conceptions of the syndicalists; he also attacked their tactical methods. Revolution was revolution and could not be disguised as anything else. The bourgeoisie and the state would not give way without a fight, and once fighting started it was an insurrection -- and this was not the same as the general strike.

The general strike is pure Utopia. Either the worker, dying of hunger after three days on strike, will return to the factory hanging his head, and we shall score one more defeat. Or else he will try to gain possession of the fruits of production by open force. Who will he find facing him to stop him? Soldiers, policemen, perhaps the bourgeois themselves., and then the question will have to be resolved by bullets and bombs. It will be insurrection, and victory will go to the strongest.22
The compromise resolution with which the discussion ended did not resolve the dilemma; but, as far as effective action by the anarchist movement was concerned, it was Monatte rather than Malatesta who was right. The ideas of anarcho-syndicalism and of direct industrial action were to give the anarchist movement a new lease of life; in France, at least until 1914, and still more in Spain, anarchism in association with trade unionism was to show itself, for the only time in the history of the anarchist movement, an effective and formidable force in practical politics.


During the years of the growth of syndicalism in France, a retired civil engineer, Georges Sorel, had been thinking about its implications and developing certain theories about the proletariat and its role in modern society. He thought of himself as a successor to Proudhon; indeed, on the opening page of his [189] Materials for a Theory of the Proletariat, published in 1918 at the end of his life and dedicated to the syndicalist bookseller Paul Delesalle, he called himself, with a slightly pathetic rhetorical touch, 'an old man who like Proudhon obstinately remains a disinterested servant of the proletariat'. To his Marxist enemies he was always a 'reactionary, petty bourgeois Proudhonist'. He was like Proudhon in the unsystematic nature of his thought and also in the divergent views which he is said to have inspired. He himself was sceptical about his own influence. 'I don't believe much in the influence of a single man,' he said to a friend in 1922, just before his death. ,

I believe that when a mind puts forth an idea, it is because this idea is in the air. ... Is it necessary for a man of the first rank like Lenin to have read my work to see clearly? Frankly, I don't think so. . . . You see I am far from sharing the flattering opinion of those who talk of my influence on Lenin and Mussolini.23

It is typical of Sorel that although he devoted thirty years of his life to attacking bourgeois society, he was a characteristic member of it. He came from a middle-class family in Normandy -- his cousin was the great historian Albert Sorel - and he had a perfectly respectable career as a government engineer. He retired when a little over forty, with a Legion of Honour and a small inherited income. In 1889, when he was forty-five, he published his first book. For the rest of his life he lived quietly in a cottage at Boulogne-sur-Seine, taking the tram once a week to Paris, where he spent the day listening to Bergson's lectures and talking for hours with his young friends. He soon became a familiar figure in the lives of the young intellectuals who gathered in the offices of the advanced reviews. His circle included Romain Rolland and Charles Peguy, and (among the younger men, some of whom were to become his bitterest critics) Daniel Halevy and Julien Benda. He lived among intellectuals - although hostility to intellectuals was a central feature of his teaching; and those anarcho-syndicalists he knew best were those who were, like Paul Delesalle, by nature interested in theory.

Sorel's admiration for the proletariat, for direct action and revolutionary violence, which brought him close to the militant [190] anarchists and led to his being regarded as the theorist of anarcho-syndicalism, was only one part of an all-out attack on most of the political and social values of the late nineteenth century. Above all, according to him, it was the intellectuals and the rationalists who were ruining society and filling it with false values. Already in his first book, The Trial of Socrates, he states the case which he repeated for the rest of his life. The Athenians, he maintains, were right to condemn Socrates; Socrates did corrupt the youth and undermine the tacitly accepted values that held Athenian society together. It is easy to see why much of Sorel's teaching appealed to the right more than to the left and why he spent the later years of his life closer to the Action Franchise than to his former anarchist friends. As in Proudhon, there is often in his work a nostalgia for a vanished past where men were bound to each other by ties deeper than the mechanical devices invented by liberal constitutional theorists, by positivists and by all the people who believed that problems have solutions and who are therefore optimistic -- or if they are pessimistic, it is only because their own pet schemes have gone wrong.

All Sorel's doctrine is based on the assumption that the intellectuals are misleading the masses, debauching them with false ideas and cheap sentimentality, making them believe that 'irrealizable things are possible in order the better to lead them by the nose'.24 Intellectuals impose a pattern on the world that does not correspond to reality. Sorel said (and here we can see how attentive he must have been at Bergson's lectures):

It is impossible to reach a point where you can describe with precision and clarity; sometimes we must beware of attempting to make language too rigorous because it will be in contradiction to the fluid character of reality and thus language will deceive us. We must proceed by feeling our way ('par tatonnements').25
The intellectuals have prostituted true science; they are only interested in results, not in the nature of the world. 'Science is for the bourgeoisie a mill that produces solutions for all problems; science is no longer considered as a perfected way of knowing but only as a recipe for pursuing certain advantages.'26

The bourgeois intellectuals, according to Sorel, have broken up [191] the natural solidarity of society and disintegrated the old order without replacing it by a new one in which men will be more than atoms whose behaviour is studied and predicted by the social scientist. If society is to be transformed, there must be a new elite to transform it, since the traditional elites of the past have long since forfeited their role. Sorel had studied Marx and had been much influenced by him, even though he bitterly attacked the Marxists in his Decomposition of Marxism; he shared Marx's belief that the next revolution would be made by the proletariat; and thus it was the proletariat which, in his view, was to be the new force that would regenerate society. At the same time, he realized that Fernand Pelloutier was attempting to turn the Bourses du Travail into centres of education which would train the working class and its leaders for just the role for which Sorel had cast them. As Sorel himself wrote, the Bourses were to be 'a matter of conscience rather than an instrument of government'.27 The militants of the new trade-union movement would provide the proletariat with the leaders who would ensure their victory in the coming revolution.

Sorel already had much in common with the anarchists when, in the late 1890s, he realized the potentialities of the syndicalist movement and the power of Pelloutier's ideas. He was full of contempt for governments and politics. 'All our political crises', he wrote, 'consist in the replacement of intellectuals by other intellectuals; they always therefore have as a result the maintenance of the state and sometimes its reinforcement by increasing the number of people with a vested interest.'28 It was the failure of the Dreyfus crisis to bring about any real change in the structure of French society that finally disillusioned him with politics and existing political figures. At this time he was getting to know Pelloutier and his ideas, and it was to the syndicalist movement that he turned in the hope that this might regenerate society where the political leaders had failed. 'The liquidation of the Dreyfusian revolution', he wrote later, 'obliged me to recognize that proletarian socialism or syndicalism realizes its nature fully only if it is by its own will a labour movement directed against the demagogues.'29

The militant leaders of the proletariat now seemed to promise the possibility of a true revolution which would obliterate the [192] corruption and false sentimentality of the liberal age and which would draw its strength from deep, primitive, instinctive forces in man's nature. It was the working class alone that had the moral integrity to make such a revolution; and the militants of the syndicalist movement were the elite of the new age. A violent destruction of the existing state by the revolutionary proletariat would be not just a political revolution but a moral revival: 'Not only can proletarian violence ensure the future revolution, but it also seems to be the only means at the disposal of the nations of Europe, numbed as they are by humanitarianism, to recover their energy.'30 And elsewhere he expressly talks of revolutionary socialism as being the Nietzschean reversal of moral values -- the Umwertung aller Werte.

These are the ideas Sorel elaborated in his most famous book, Reflexions on Violence, published in 1906. It is here that the passionate and romantic nature of his thought is most apparent. He is as conscious as Nietzsche was of the decadence and weaknesses of modern society and its reluctance to use violence even to defend itself. On the other hand, if the proletariat is prepared to use violence it will win an easy victory; and this sort of violence will somehow be morally pure. Sorel contrasts it with the force used by upholders of the existing state or advocated by those socialists who only want to gain possession of the state machine instead of destroying it altogether. Sorel sometimes writes as if, for all the purifying effect of violence, physical violence might not actually be needed and the proletariat's faith in its own power might be sufficient to cause the revolution.

In almost all his works, indeed, Sorel insists on the importance of faith in producing political and social change. The organizations that survive in history, the causes that triumph, are those inspired by an irrational belief in their own destiny and mission, and not those based on intellectual constructions and rational analysis. The most successful example -- and Sorel comes back to it again and again -- is the Roman Catholic church. The church has always shown astonishing powers of survival. 'I believe', Sorel said in one of his essays, 'that Christianity will not perish: the mystical faculty is something very real in man and experience shows that it does not decrease in intensity through the ages ... it is not weakened by scientific development.'31 Indeed, [193] he thinks that it is only when the church begins to compromise with liberalism by trying to give its theology an appearance of rationalism that it is in danger of losing its power.

Sorel believed -- and it is perhaps his most original contribution to political thought - in the power of the Myth in politics. These myths cannot be analysed; they are not Utopian descriptions of a future state of affairs, but moral beliefs acting on present conduct. 'They are not descriptions of things,' Sorel says, 'but expressions of will.'32 It does not matter if they are symbols of a state of affairs that will never be realized. 'Myths must be judged', he wrote, 'as a means of acting on the present; any discussion on the method of applying them practically to the course of history is meaningless. It is only the myth taken as a whole that is important.'33 The success of the Catholic church is, for Sorel, one example of the effectiveness of the myth in action: the deep faith in the possibility of change that made the French Revolution is another; and so is Mazzini's almost religious faith in Italian unity.

The myth -- the mystical belief in the ultimate triumph of one's cause, one's will to victory -- is kept alive and propagated by an elite. In the periods when the Catholic church was in danger it was the monastic orders that kept the myth alive. In the twentieth-century workers' movement this task is performed by the militant syndicalists. And the myth which they must believe in is that the proletariat has in its possession a weapon that will infallibly enable it to overthrow the existing order. That weapon is the general strike. By the time that Sorel produced the Reflexions on Violence the idea of the general strike was already well established in many working-class organizations. Although the leaders of the German trade unions repeated at intervals 'General Strike is General Nonsense' ('Generalstreik ist Generalunsinn'), it had been used as an effective political weapon to obtain franchise reforms in Belgium, and the mass stoppages of work on May Day had, in many countries, provided an impressive demonstration of the potential strength of the working class. By 1906, the idea of the general strike had been accepted by the CGT in France and formally embodied in the Charter of Amiens. Sorel was not therefore launching a new strategy for the working classes in their struggle, but rather trying to fit what they were already doing into his own highly personal, subjective and [194] romantic view of society and history. By temperament he was closer to those anarchists for whom the violent revolutionary overthrow of society had a purifying value of its own than to the conscientious trade-union organizers, and he said very little about what would happen after the revolution. He is like Proudhon in his awareness of the power of the irrational and also in his puritanism. 'The world will become more just only to the extent to which it becomes more chaste.'34

If the passionate nature of Sorel's hatred of the liberal world and his belief in the purifying effects of violence bring him close to a certain type of anarchist temperament, and if his recognition of what the trade unions might achieve and of the possibilities of the general strike fitted into a general theory of society which the syndicalist leaders had been trying to put into practice, it is nevertheless with the revolutionaries and reactionary theorists of the right that Sorel has been rightly linked in the works recently devoted to him.35 Sorel's syndicalism was only a part of his unsystematic, voluminous, wide-ranging critique of society and of his attack on intellectuals, rationalists and bourgeois politicians; and it was only for a few years of his life that he was in active contact with the syndicalist leaders. In fact, his anti-intellectualism and his obsession with dynamic violence make him closer to Mussolini (who reviewed Reflexions on Violence when it first appeared in Italy) than to Kropotkin or Pelloutier. He remains a paradoxical figure whom it is hard to classify; an anti-intellectual who spent his time in the company of intellectuals and in reading, writing and theorizing; a man of the left who ended up nearer to the right; a technician who rejected the possibility of exact science. An English writer, Wyndham Lewis, for whom Sorel had a particular fascination, summed him up as follows:

George Sorel is the key to all contemporary thought. Sorel is, or was, a highly unstable and equivocal figure. He seems composed of a crowd of warring personalities, sometimes one being in the ascendant, sometimes another, and which in any case he has not been able, or not cared, to control. He is the arch exponent of extreme action and revolutionary violence a I'outrance; but he expounds this sanguinary doctrine in [195] manuals that often, by the changing of a few words, would equally serve the forces of traditional authority and provide them with a twin evangel of demented and intolerant class war.36
Another of his friends and disciples, Daniel Halevy, said of him in 1940: 'Those who listened to him forty years ago owe it to him that they have not been surprised at the changes in the world.'37 Perhaps it is as an analyst and commentator on the forces which led to the governments of Mussolini and Hitler, Petain and Franco, rather than as a theorist of anarcho-syndicalism that he should be remembered.


At the beginning of the twentieth century not all the syndicalist leaders in France were anarchists, and even fewer were friends of Sorel, as Pelloutier and Delesalle and Pouget were. Some were still hankering after a trade unionism which would concentrate on collective bargaining for immediate gains; others, such as Victor Griffuelhes, the secretary-general of the CGT from 1902 to 1909, were tough labour bosses whose ideology, such as it was, had been formed by the Blanquists who believed in direct action for its own sake rather than by those who believed in social theories or educational programmes. ('I read Alexandre Dumas,' Griffuelhes is reported to have said when asked if he had been influenced by Sorel.)38 Nevertheless, in the years before 1914 the French trade union movement made many attempts at revolutionary direct action and it became a model which militant syndicalists in other countries, especially Spain, were prepared to follow.

In one way, at least, the experience of the French syndicates seemed to show that Sorel was right. Although there were a number of effective strikes in individual industries, the general strike and the collapse of bourgeois society which was to follow from it remained a myth -- a hope and inspiration for the future rather than a possibility for the present. Of the great strikes in this period -- the postal strike of 1909, the rail strike of 1910, the miners' and metalworkers' strikes in 1913 -- none had in [196] themselves achieved either partial success in the shape of immediate reforms nor had they played the part of preparing a breach in capitalist society which the militant anarchists in the trade union assigned to them. The constant agitation, the violent revolutionary tone of these years, was not without effect, but it was not always the effect which the syndicalist leaders had hoped to obtain. Certainly in the first decade of the century the French trade union movement had increased in strength; on one estimate the CGT had increased its membership six times over between 1902 and 1912 -- even though the total figure was still only 600,000.39 Their unremitting agitation had created an atmosphere of class struggle and had undoubtedly drawn attention, as never before, to the existence of the social question in France and of a militant, underprivileged proletariat. Yet the very fact that the government had taken notice of some of their grievances, and had introduced laws for the improvement in the conditions of work and for workers' pensions, weakened the appeal of a purely revolutionary syndicalism. Moreover, when it came to a showdown the government always seemed able to win. Under the former radical republican, Clemenceau, or under Aristide Briand, the former advocate of the general strike who had abandoned his syndicalism for a long and successful government career, the government had broken strikes, mobilized strikers and sown dissension among syndicalist leaders. At the same time, personal rivalries and differences of opinion had prevented the CGT from presenting the appearance of a solid workers' front which it would have to do if the myth of the general strike were to be effective. Victor Griffuelhes was forced to resign from the office of general secretary in 1909. His authoritarian temperament and impatience of criticism laid him open to attack ('Ceux qui n'ont pas confiance en moi, je les emmerde,' he once said),40 and he resigned when his financial integrity was wrongly called in question. After a brief interval Leon Jouhaux became general secretary, and for nearly fifty years he was the organizer and inspirer of the French trade-union movement.

Jouhaux and the other most influential syndicalist leaders of his generation, Alfred Merrheim and Pierre Monatte, had all started as anarchists; but their experience of working-class organization in a democratic state made them move a long way towards [197] coming to terms with existing society and obliged them to temper their revolutionary ideals with a considerable amount of practical reformist action. Proudhon and Pelloutier were Jouhaux's masters; and throughout his long career he never wholly abandoned their teaching. Even after the dark experiences of the Second World War, he was still speaking their language:

When will men come together again in a world regenerated by labour freed from all servitude to join in singing in unison hymns to production and happiness? On this first day of the new year [1944] I want to believe in the coming of these new lights, as I do not wish to doubt the reason of man.41

The setbacks and crises of the years before 1914 convinced Jouhaux that the CGT needed more organization -- even at the cost of more centralization - if it was to be effective. The total failure of the attempt at a general strike in 1912 disillusioned many syndicalists, but it was the experience of the First World War which forced them into thinking again about their whole position and basic beliefs and which made them abandon most of the anarchism in anarcho-syndicalism. In the years before the outbreak of the war the CGT had regularly debated the action to be taken to prevent war and regularly passed, by a considerable majority, a resolution calling for a general strike as the best means of stopping it. Amicable exchanges of visits with German and British trade unionists (although Jouhaux himself was shocked by the bourgeois appearance and habits of the English and German union leaders) served to obscure the differences in the nature of the movements in the three countries and the fact that, while the French were calling for a general strike against war, the German trade unionists were still repeating with equal regularity, 'General Strike is General Nonsense.'

August 1914 showed not only that the CGT was in no position to call a general strike against war, but also that nearly all its leading members did not want to. For some syndicalists it may have been fear of the consequences which made them obey the mobilization notices; for to fail to do so would make them deserters, and the penalty for desertion in wartime was death. But for most of them the sense of patriotism and a genuine fear of the Germans was enough to send them to the front, expectantly or [198] resignedly according to their temperament; and it was only after two years that the militant and anti-militarist revolutionary spirit began to revive. In fact, the trade unions in France, as in the other belligerent countries, strengthened their own position immensely as a result of the war. Just as the governments were forced to realize that it is impossible to fight a war without the cooperation of organized labour, so the unions began to feel a certain sense of solidarity with the state. As Jouhaux himself put it in 1918: 'We must give up the policy of fist-shaking in order to adopt a policy of being present in the affairs of the nation. . . . We want to be everywhere where the workers' interests are being discussed.'42 This is not to say that after 1914 the CGT wholly abandoned the anarchist ideas which had dominated it in the decade after 1899, but it did in practice give up the idea of an immediate revolution and it did, in theory and in practice, accept the existence of the state. The CGT remained resolutely anti-political; it refused continuously to associate itself permanently with any single political party. When calling for the nationalization of industry, Jouhaux was careful to point out that this must not mean state control but rather control by the workers. For a few years after the Russian Revolution some former anarchists in the CGT were attracted to communism as representing the most directly revolutionary force in the country; but most of those who joined the communists, such as Pierre Monatte, could not support the discipline or approve of the centralization which the Third International was determined to impose, and it was only in the 1930s, in very changed circumstances and with a new generation of trade unionists, that communist influence became a strong force in French trade unionism.

Jouhaux's own criticism of the Russian Revolution was not unlike that of Emma Goldman, or, indeed, that of Kropotkin. He was largely converted to an evolutionary view of social and economic change because he had been appalled by the economic chaos in Russia, and like Kropotkin, who had exclaimed many years before, 'Du pain, il faut du pain a la revolution', Jouhaux saw that famine on the scale experienced in Russia made nonsense of the Revolution. 'We are against the Third Communist International,' he said in 1920. 'We are against the Third International because it is a political grouping which concentrates [199] in itself all political forces and wants to include most economic elements, but without being a specifically economic organization.'43 The history of French syndicalism from 1920 onwards is the history of its struggle to remain a specifically economic organization in the face of increasing temptation to involve itself with political groupings whether communist or anti-communist; and to this extent its anarchist origins were never wholly forgotten.

The anarchists left their mark on French syndicalism, but they only influenced it seriously for ten or fifteen years; and after 1914 the history of the CGT had little to do with the history of the anarchists. In a sense, the French state proved too strong for them, since not only did it show before 1914 (and indeed repeatedly down to the present) that it could survive syndicalist attempts to paralyse it by means of direct action, but it also showed that it had considerable power of positive attraction. France as a state still, in spite of continuous anti-militarist propaganda, had the power of arousing patriotic support and enforcing obedience, while the political methods of obtaining social reform proved just as effective and attractive as the ideas of direct industrial action. Although the syndicalist movement never lost its revolutionary element nor its pacifist anti-militarist side (which made some of its members paradoxically enough come to terms with the authoritarian Etat Francais of Vichy), it was, in fact, committed to reform rather than revolution, to negotiation with the state rather than to its abolition. Anarcho-syndicalist ideas on the French model had considerable influence elsewhere, but they did not survive in the face of governments which were prepared to permit trade-union activity and themselves to undertake social reform; nor were they strong enough to resist the appeals to solidarity in time of war. The one country where anarcho-syndicalism was to remain a serious force was Spain -- where union activity was barely tolerated, where the government was both decrepit and reactionary, and where there had been no experience of a war to convince at least some of the working class that they shared certain interests with the bosses.

It was in France that the ideas and practice of anarcho-syndicalism were first developed; it was in Spain, where there was already a strong anarchist movement, that they were most [200] effective. But elsewhere, especially in Argentina, where the labour movement was weak and the class struggle bitter, militant leaders were able to direct working-class organizations along syndicalist lines. In fact, however, anarchist ideas tended to flourish everywhere where there was a true class struggle between employers and labour and where the state either deliberately lent its authority to the employers or stood aloof from the battle. Thus for some fifteen years one section of the trade-union movement in the United States practised anarchist tactics and held largely anarchist beliefs, simultaneously with, though largely independent of, the development of anarcho-syndicalist ideas in France.

The innumerable immigrants from Italy, Spain and Russia or those Germans in the U.S.A. who had listened to the teachings of John Most had made anarchist ideas widely known in the United States, while the Haymarket affair, the ceaseless propaganda of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and others, and the alarm caused by the assassination of President McKinley had kept the concept of an 'anarchist peril' before the public. John Most and some of his followers had, in the 1890s, turned against the practice of terrorism and had begun to see that there were possibilities of industrial action in the factories and mines which could be more effective: and it was these ideas, involving as they did the acceptance of a minimum of organization, which had separated Most from many of his anarchist colleagues. However, when certain American trade unions began to accept anarchist practice it was not the theorists who were responsible. American anarcho-syndicalism was rather a blind, instinctive reaction against bad labour conditions by ignorant labourers, largely immigrant, to whom the politicians seemed very remote, and to whom direct, often violent, action seemed a natural way of achieving their ends. In the mines and lumber camps of the West, or in the textile and other factories of the East and Middle West which relied on cheap immigrant labour, a few militant organizers could, at least for short periods, build up an effective industrial fighting force.

The history of trade unionism in America is as much a history of the rivalry between the unions as of the struggle between capital and labour. By the 1890s there was a powerful trade union [201] movement based on a craft organization and forming the American Federation of Labour. But to the vast mass of the unskilled, organized working class, the AF of L seemed to be just an organization for the preservation of the position of a minority of skilled workers, by means of a series of deals with the employers, to the disadvantage of the less skilled or more recently arrived workers. In the 1890s, along with attempts to form a socialist political party, various labour leaders began to see the potential political power of the unorganized workers. As one of these leaders, Daniel de Leon, put it: 'The organization of the future has to be built of the men who are now unorganized -- that is, the overwhelming majority of the working class of the nation.'44 It was this desire to organize the unorganized and to bring together all the men working in one industry into 'one big union' as well as to unite the unions into a really powerful force that led to the foundation in 1905 of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The main support for this came from the Western Federation of Miners, whose chief, 'Big Bill' Haywood, was one of the most forceful exponents of the idea of direct industrial action to be found anywhere. The anarchists were few in number at the founding congress of the IWW, though they had a consistency and a sincerity that gave them a certain influence. Immediately, however, the organization became involved in a discussion which was to split it from the start and which went to the centre of the problems with which the anarchists were most concerned: how far should a working-class movement be involved with politics? How far should it be associated with a political party? Should the revolution be made by direct action by the workers, who would simply take over the means of production, or should it aim at conquering the state by political means?

De Leon, an intellectual Marxist, thought that the trade-union movement ought to be the industrial arm of a political movement, and, largely under his influence, the preamble to the constitution of the IWW contained a specific, if puzzling and contradictory, reference to political action:

Between these two classes [workers and employers] a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political [202] as well as on the industrial field, and take hold of that which they produce by their labour, through an economic organization of the working class, without affiliation to any political party.45

This clearly went too far in the direction of accepting political action for many of the delegates, one of whom had declared: 'The ballot box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emancipation of the working class, and to my thinking never will.'46 In fact, the lack of clarity in the debates at the foundation of the IWW was to lead to further trouble and division. Within a year Eugene Debs, one of the most famous leaders in the history of the American labour movement, had resigned from the IWW because he believed it was putting too little emphasis on political activity, and in 1908 Daniel de Leon, although he had originally maintained that 'the political expression of labour is but the shadow of economic organization',47 broke away from Haywood and the Chicago leaders of the IWW, because he was committed to the ideas of political action by means of the Socialist Labour Party, of which he was also one of the leading members.

From 1908 to 1915 there was a confusing situation in which there were two groups both calling themselves the IWW -- a group based on Chicago, led by Haywood and Vincent St John, who believed in direct action and who became increasingly anarchistic in feeling, and de Leon's group based on Detroit, which eventually took the name of the Workers' International Industrial Union. The anarchist element in the IWW had indeed already made itself felt in 1906, when they carried a resolution abolishing the office of president of the IWW and stating:

Whereas the day is at hand when we must abolish anything that pertains to autocratic power and reactionary policy, the office of president of a class-conscious organization is not necessary. The rank and file must conduct the affairs of the organization directly through an executive based on a central committee.48
And, as a result of this decision the police had to be called in to help the organization to gain possession of the offices and files [203] from the abolished president, who refused to give up his post.

During these years of bitter personal recrimination and faction rivalries mixed with genuine ideological differences the IWW achieved very little. Although it claimed 60,000 members in 1906, only 14,000 of these actually paid their dues and they were badly weakened by the various secessions, especially by that of the Western Federation of Miners, which abandoned Haywood in 1907. However, the militant section began to have a certain success just because of the violence and directness of their methods and the simplicity of their ideas, which appealed to overworked, underpaid and undereducated miners, lumberjacks and farmhands, so that in 1910 an observer could write of the farmhands at North Yamhill, Oregon, that they 'had been handing out the principles of revolutionary unionism in huge raw chunks'.49 The IWW successfully led strikes in Pennsylvania in 1909; and in 1912 they had a great success with a strike at Lawrence, Massachusetts, when for three months the IWW militants, although said to number only 300, kept 23,000 workers out. In the meantime, Haywood had been in Europe, where he met Pouget and other leading thinkers of French syndicalism, so that the techniques of direct action and sabotage practised at Lawrence were at once branded as un-American by the IWW's many enemies.

Still, for all its renunciation of politics and acceptance of direct action, the IWW failed to make itself truly anarchist. In 1912 attempts to enforce decentralization in the organization failed, so that Alexander Berkman commented sadly:

The question of local autonomy, in itself such an axiomatic necessity of a truly revolutionary movement, has been so obscured in the debates of the convention that apparently sight was lost of the fact that no organization of independent and self-reliant workers is thinkable without complete local autonomy.50
Berkman and Emma Goldman found much to sympathize with in the militant IWW: they were the first to associate themselves with its claims for freedom of speech and agitation, and to campaign when its leaders were tried and imprisoned, but they were never wholly committed to it, and, indeed, the rivalries and feuds of the [204] American trade-union movement were very far removed from the anarchist dreams of what a working-class organization should be like. However, Berkman and Emma Goldman were victims of the same circumstances as the IWW leaders when, after America's entry into the war in 1917, any 'subversive' organizations were made to suffer. They fought against conscription with the IWW leaders; they fought against the sentences imposed on Mooney and Billings at San Francisco in 1917. The same repression which put an end to their careers as agitators in the U.S.A. practically put an end to the IWW also, and sent Big Bill Haywood into the same disillusioning exile in Russia, where he died in 1925. By the end of the war anarcho-syndicalism in the U.S.A. had virtually disappeared and, although non-political industrial unionism was to continue, and although a streak of violence in the conduct of industrial disputes continued till the 1930s, it was no longer really anarchist in feeling.

The IWW experience had left a militant legend; it had influenced some foreign trade unions for a brief period -- notably in Mexico, where Mexican workers who had experienced IWW methods in the U.S.A. returned to join with the anarchists who, in the years of the Mexican revolution, were learning anarcho-syndicalist practice from Spain.51 But the growing prosperity of the United States, the end of immigration and the absorption of the foreign elements, as well as the slow mitigation of the rigours of uncontrolled capitalist expansion, all removed the basis of American anarcho-syndicalism. In the 1920s and 1930s anarchism was kept alive as a creed in the U.S.A. among the Italian or Spanish immigrants; and, indeed, they were to have a cause celebre with the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti and the six-year legal battle between their condemnation in 1921 and their execution in 1927. Sacco and Vanzetti had been condemned for murder in the course of an armed robbery near Boston; and although the facts of the case are still a subject of controversy, [The examination of the evidence by Mr Francis Russell, in his interesting Tragedy at Dedham (New York 1962, London 1963), suggests that Sacco may have been guilty (although perhaps his robbery was to raise funds for the anarchist cause), while Vanzetti was almost certainly innocent.] the knowledge that they were admittedly anarchists undoubtedly did much to create prejudice against them in the minds of the [205] citizens of Massachusetts, while this in turn made them the rallying-point for liberals and men and women of the left of all shades of opinion. Yet the campaign in their favour soon seemed to be taken out of the hands of their original anarchist comrades; and it was the communists who became increasingly active in their defence -- though occasionally embarrassed by an anti-Soviet remark from Vanzetti in his prison cell -- while the anarchists who had formed the original defence committee became correspondingly uneasy and suspicious. This was perhaps the last time when old-fashioned anarchist bomb attacks -- including ones against the houses of the judge and of one of the jurors -- still gave the impression that anarchism was a potent force in the United States. By the mid-twentieth century anarchism in the U.S.A. had reverted to being a dream which intellectuals discuss or a symbol of revolt against the affluent society that still attracts idealistic students, but which has long since ceased to be an effective social force.

Before 1914 the ideas and practice of anarcho-syndicalism had been widespread. Beatrice Webb could write in 1912:

Syndicalism has taken the place of the old-fashioned Marxism. The angry youth, with bad complexion, frowning brow and weedy figure is nowadays a syndicalist; the glib young workman whose tongue runs away with him today mouths the phrases of French syndicalism instead of those of German social democracy.52
Although these ideas did not survive either in the advanced capitalist countries or in the centralized Soviet state, they were still powerful in countries where the class struggle was violent and the state powerless or unwilling to intervene - in the Argentine, where the teachings of Malatesta had not been forgotten by the Italian immigrants; in Uruguay and Bolivia; in Mexico and Peru, where Spaniards and the occasional militant who had been to the U.S.A. and seen the IWW in action kept alive the tradition of direct action in a revolutionary situation.53 But in one country alone did the anarcho-syndicalist ideas originating in France at the end of the nineteenth century take root so successfully that for a brief period in the summer of 1936 the anarchist revolution seemed about to be achieved. It is to Spain that we must look to [206] see a serious anarchist movement effectively at work; and it was the defeat of that movement in 1937 which marked the end of anarchism as a serious political force, even if it still survives as an intellectual one.


1 La Revolte, March 1891, quoted J. Maitron, Histoire du mouvement anarchiste en France (1880-1914) (Paris 1950), p. 240.

2 Les Temps Nouveaux, August 1900, quoted ibid., p. 382.

3 Bakunin, Oeuvres (Paris 1913), vol. V, p. 182.

4 Bulletin de la Federation Jurassienne, 1 November 1774, quoted Maitron, op. cit., p. 261.

5 Quoted ibid.

6 M. Pelloutier, Fernand Pelloutier: sa vie, son oeuvre (1867-1901) (Paris 1911), p. 5.

7 ibid., p. 62.

8 F. Pelloutier, L'Anarchisme et les syndicats ouvriers in Les Temps Nouveaux, November 1895, quoted Maitron, op. cit., p. 251.

9 Quoted J. Maitron, Le syndicalisme revolutionnaire: Paul Delesalle (Paris 1952), p. 24.

10 Quoted Maitron, Histoire du mouvement anarchiste, p. 252.

11 Figures based on the 1906 census as given in Bernard Georges and Denise Tintant, Leon Jouhaux: Cinquante ans de syndicalisme, vol. I (Paris 1962), p. 11.

12 Quoted Maitron, Delesalle, p. 81.

13 Quoted E. Dolleans, Histoire du mouvement ouvrier, vol. II (Paris 1946), p. 117.

14 Maitron, Delesalle, p. 111.

15 The translation of these passages from the Charte d'Amiens is that given in G. D. H. Cole, The Second International (vol. III of A History of Socialist Thought) (London 1956), Part I, p. 371.

16 Amedee Dunois in Congres anarchiste tenu a Amsterdam 24-31 aout 1907. Compte renduanalytique . . . (Paris 1908), p. 14.

17 ibid., pp. 36-8.

18 ibid., p. 62.

19 ibid., p. 70.

20 ibid., p. 46.

21 ibid., p. 85.

22 ibid., p. 83.

23 Jean Variot, Propos de Georges Sorel (Paris 1935), pp. 54 -- 7.

24 ibid., p. 65.

25 G. Sorel, Materiaux d'une theorie du proletariat (Paris 1918), p. 58.

26 G. Sorel, Reflexions sur la violence (Paris 1912), p. 205.

27 G. Sorel, Preface to F. Pelloutier, Histoire des Bourses du Travail (Paris 1902).

28 G. Sorel, La decomposition du Marxisme (Paris 1907), pp. 53-4.

29 Sorel, Materiaux d'une theorie du proletariat, p. 268; see Richard Humphreys, Georges Sorel: Prophet Without Honor (Cambridge, Mass. 1951), p. 18.

30 Sorel, Reflexions, p. 120.

31 Sorel, De l'eglise et de l'etat (Paris 1901), pp. 31-2.

32 Sorel, Reflexions, p. 46.

33 ibid., p. 180.

34 Sorel, Materiaux, p. 199.

35 For a general discussion of the various aspects of Sorel's thought, see Richard Humphreys, op. cit.; H. Stuart Hughes, Consciousness and Society (London 1959); Irving Louis Horowitz, Radicalism and the Revolt Against Reason: The Theories of Georges Sorel (London 1961); Isaiah Berlin, 'Georges Sorel' in C. Abramsky (ed.), Essays in Honour of E. H. Carr (London 1974), pp. 3-35.

36 Wyndham Lewis, The Art of Being Ruled (London 1926), p. 128.

37 Daniel Halevy, Peguy et les Cahiers de la Quinzaine (Paris 1941), p. 108.

38 Dolleans, op. cit., vol. II, p. 127.

39 L. Jouhaux gave these figures in a lecture at Brussels in December 1911. See Dolleans, op. cit., p. 189 n.

40 Quoted ibid., p. 155.

41 Georges and Tintant, op. cit., vol. I, p. 3.

42 Quoted ibid., vol. I, p. 320.

43 ibid., pp. 388-9.

44 P. E. Brissenden, The I WW: A Study of American Syndicalism (New York 1920), p. 66.

45 ibid., p. 92.

46 Thomas Hagerty, quoted Ira Kipnis, The American Socialist Movement 1897-1912 (New York 1952), p. 192.

47 ibid.

48 Brissenden, op. cit., pp. 138-9.

49 The Industrial Worker, 23 April 1910, quoted ibid., p. 271.

50 Mother Earth, October 1913, quoted ibid., p. 3-18.

51 See Marjorie Ruth Clark, Organized Labour in Mexico (Chapel Hill, N.C. 1934).

52 Beatrice Webb's Diaries, 1912-1924, ed. Margaret Cole (London 1952), p. 7.

53 See Fanny F. Simon, 'Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism in South America' in The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. xxvi (1946), pp. 38-59; Isaac Oved, El Anarquismo en los Sindicatos Obreros de la Argentina a Comienzos del siglo XX (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Tel Aviv 1975).