Economics/Class Relations

Revolutionary Syndicalism: A French Specialty

Rébellion – September 16th 2014

French Syndicalism was born from the reaction of the proletariat against democracy” (H. Lagardelle)

In the history of the European worker’s movement, French revolutionary syndicalism holds a special place due to the originality of its organization and its style of action.

Its Origins

The confiscation of the Revolution of 1789 by the bourgeoisie to their benefit alone, lead to the establishment of its domination. One of its priorities was to prevent the workers from organizing themselves in order to defend themselves against their exploitation. Under the fallacious pretext of eliminating the guilds of the Ancien Régime, the “Le Chapelier” law of July 1791 forbid any agreement between workers to assure their interests. Any attempt on their part was judged as “an attempt against liberty and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

Consequently, the worker’s movement was born in secrecy. The growing development of worker’s mutual aid organizations was recognized under the Second Empire which ended the criminalization of unionizing in 1864. But the bloody repression of the Commune lead to the disappearance of the best revolutionary cadres; shot, exiled, or deported to penal colonies overseas following the Bloody Week.


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