Syndicalism as Prophylactic
ACCORDING TO the syndicalist doctrine, it is essential to transfer the revolutionary center of gravity of the proletariat from the political party to the trade union. The union is conceived as a politically neutral organism, one which does not adhere to any party, but which is socialist in inspiration and aim.
It is the great merit of the syndicalists that they have understood how disastrous would be isolated syndicalist activity, devoid of any general theory, living simply from day to day; and to have advocated with much energy the indissoluble union of the working class, organized in its trade unions, with the socialist idea as spiritus rector and as ultimate aim. The syndicalists desire (and here, for once, they agree with the Marxist politicians) to diffuse among the organized workers the conviction that the trade union cannot attain its aim except by the elimination of capitalism, that is to say, by the abolition of the existing economic order. But the syndicalists also desire (and here they are in open conflict with all the other currents of contemporary socialism) that the trade union should not merely be an asylum for socialist ideas, but that it should also directly promote socialist activity, pursuing not simply a tradeunionist policy in the amplest sense of the term, but in addition and above all a socialist policy. Syndicalism is to put an end to the dualism of the labor movement by substituting for the party, whose sole functions are politico-electoral, and for the trade union, whose sole functions are economic, a completer organism which shall represent a synthesis of the political and of the economic function.1
Hence it is not the purpose of syndicalism to do away with organization as the basis of the labor movement. It expressly recognizes that this basis is indispensable. The syndicalists hold, and with good reason, that the dangers of organization cannot be eliminated simply by suppressing the organization, any more than we can prevent intoxication of the blood or diseases of the circulation by withdrawing the blood from the vessels. These would be quack cures, alike fatal in their result,____________________