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syndicalists

syndicalists. Disliking capitalism and fearing that the triumph of communism would merely introduce a different form of state oppression, syndicalists argued for the transfer of power to the trade unions, if necessary through a general strike. Their theorists included Proudhon and Sorel, they formed links with anarchist groups, and had considerable influence in France, Italy, and Spain. In Britain their main contribution was to the concept of guild socialism. British trade unionists showed little interest in the theory and their creation of the Labour Party was a direct repudiation of syndicalist tactics: Ramsay MacDonald wrote a short book in 1912 denouncing syndicalism as class warfare. There was some syndicalist involvement in the labour unrest before 1914 and the General Strike of 1926 was certainly condemned by some as syndicalist, though few of the strikers had such grandiose ambitions. Though the slogan ‘All power to the trade unions’ does not seem to have much contemporary appeal, concern at the power of the state, capitalist or communist, remains a live issue.

J. A. Cannon

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