Max Baginski, What Does Syndicalism Want? Living, Not Dead Unions, Nathan Jun (ed.), Yvonne Franke and Friederike Wiedemann (trans.)
London: Kate Sharpley Library, 2015; 40pp; |SBN 9781873605366
English speakers interested in historic anarcho-syndicalist ideas have generally had to rely on texts from the 1930s onwards, such as Rudolf Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice or Tom Brown's Syndicalism. The translation and re-publication of Max Baginski's What Does Syndicalism Want? Living, Not Dead Unions (1909) is therefore to be welcomed. It both provides the modern reader with insight into what syndicalists thought at the very beginning of the twentieth century and recovers from history a forgotten but once influential anarchist theorist.
The central argument of Baginski's pamphlet is that if the working class are to abolish capitalism and self-manage the future communist society then they must undergo a process of transformation whereby they develop new forms of consciousness and capacities, such as a sense of solidarity with other workers, a rejection of nationalism, and the ability to organise against capital themselves. In order for this transformation to occur workers must associate together within unions conducive to this process. Revolutionaries must therefore reject the tactics and organisational forms of reformist bureaucratic 'dead...