Selections from “Anarcho-Syndicalism”

I recently read Anarcho-Syndicalism, Theory and Practice by Rudolf Rocker. I pulled out the take-away lessons, so now you don’t even need to read the book yourself!

“[In industrial democracies] the role of the public is to ratify decisions taken elsewhere, to adopt the doctrines prepared for them by their superiors, and in general to observe passively while performing their duty.” Pg.ii (Part of the introduction written by Noam Chomsky.)

“As long as within society a possessing and a non-possessing group of human beings face one another in enmity, the state will be indispensable to the possessing minority for the protection of its privileges.” Pg.11

“The urge for social justice can only develop properly and be effective, when it grows out of man’s sense of personal freedom and is based on that.” Pg.14

“[O]ne cannot at will hear with his eyes and see with his ears, so also one cannot at pleasure transform an organ of social oppression into an instrument for the liberation of the oppressed. The state can only be what it is: the defender of mass-exploitation and social privileges, the creator of privileged classes and castes and of new monopolies.” Pg.15

“Power operates only destructively, bent always on forcing every manifestation of life into the straitjacket of its laws.” Pg.17

“Movements arise only from the immediate and practical necessities of social life, and are never the result of purely abstract ideas.” Pg.19

“New worlds are not born in the vacuum of abstract ideas, but in the fight for daily bread, in that hard and ceaseless struggle which the needs and worries of the hour demand just to take care of the indispensable requirements of life.” Pg.33

“The organization of Anarcho-Syndicalism is based on the principles of Federalism, on free combination from below upward, putting the right of self-determination of every member above everything else and recognizing only the organic agreement of all on the basis of like interests and common convictions.” Pg.60

“Organization is, after all, only a means to an end. When it becomes an end in itself, it kills the spirit and the vital initiative of its members and sets up that domination by mediocrity which is the characteristic of all bureaucracies.” Pg.61

“Anarcho-Syndicalists are convinced that a Socialist economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand or brain…” Pg.62

“The workers must learn that, not only must their social liberation be their own work, but that that liberation was possible only if they themselves attended to the constructive preliminaries instead of leaving the task to the politicians.” Pg.70

“Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace.” Pg.75

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