The Unions’ Life After Death: Recipes for a new labor movement

“Solidarity means that we stand up for one another and expect something from each other, even if we don’t like the other very much or even understand each other.”

— Frances Tuuloskorpi

Syndicalism is a movement of labor unions that aims for a vision beyond both capitalism and the nation-states. In two previous essays, Rasmus Hästbacka touched on this vision and strategies to reach it. The following essay concludes with recipes for rebuilding the labor movement.

A vision is pointless without strategies to reach it. Strategies are pointless without a movement that can pursue them. At least in Europe and North America, we need to “bring back the movement in the labor movement,” to quote Labor Notes. Continue reading

(R)evolution in the 21st Century: The case for a syndicalist strategy

“Those who work in the mills ought to own them, not
have the status of machines ruled by private despots.”

The Mill Girls of Lowell, 1845

Syndicalism is a movement of labor unions that aims for a vision beyond both capitalism and the nation-states. The syndicalist SAC—Central Organization of Workers in Sweden—neither advocates armed struggle to reach the vision nor revolt through a general strike. So, what do Swedish syndicalists propose? Rasmus Hästbacka addresses this question in the second in a series of three essays.

ASR is presenting this series in the spirit of debate and an exchange of ideas across national borders. We do not agree with every formulation. The SAC’s evolutionary approach is, we believe, unique in the international syndicalist movement. It is certainly possible to fetishize the general strike, transforming it into an idle fantasy that serves as a substitute for the day-to-day struggle in the workplaces for workers’ control and better conditions. But this is to violate the very essence of syndicalism: its emphasis on building revolutionary unions that battle for better conditions today while building the capacity and power to take over the industries and bring them under workers’ self-management. Continue reading