Tom Mann 1913

Syndicalism and the State

Transcribed: by Tom Ferrour.

It is distinctly encouraging to find so many evidences that the workers are recognising the necessity for industrial organisation and direct action. The amalgamation of the three sectional societies of railwaymen and the spirit of solidarity shown by them over the case of Guard Richardson is magnificent evidence of the right kind of development; but it is necessary to point out that we have to travel much further than this before we arrive at the right conception of Syndicalism.

Syndicalism is not a perfected “stateism.” It is opposed to stateism. It is not a case of developing a force by industrial organisation to be applied through the machinery of the organised state. It is the voluntary organisation of the workers outside of and independent of the state, for the direct control of all industry.

The state is the enemy and the “stateists,” (i.e. those who seek to bring about changes by means of the state machinery), are opponents of voluntary organisation, voluntary control and voluntary ownership. The state and with is parliament and all the governmental departments are opposed to direct control and ownership by the people engaged in the industries. The state caters directly for the ruling class. The ruling class is not the working class. The working class cannot become the ruling class by state action, nor can its members throw off the yoke of bondage imposed on them by the present ruling class by any means short of refusing to act as wealth producers for a ruling class or for any body or institution other than themselves.

William Morris always advocated the vital necessity for the workers themselves to control the work they do. The only possibility for people to become artists again, as our fathers in the Middle Ages certainly were, will be when all responsibility for the entire output of wealth is claimed and discharged by the workers who will form the community. However large or small that community may be, the men and women therein must not be regimented, ordered and bossed by superiors of any kind. The real life of the people will show itself in the work of the people, and with the abolition of economic servitude all shoddy production – all trade trickery – all forms of adulteration will cease, as no one will be a gainer by resorting to such methods.

The workers today must learn to hold the ruling class in contempt and to treat the agency with which they keep alive the glamour, viz. parliament, in the manner it deserves. They must realise that it belongs to their enemies, and see in it an institution that can never be used effectively by the workers. They must view it as belonging to the capitalist class itself, and those of the working class whose minds are incapable of activity, save within those channels provided by the master class. The despising of that master class and the whole of the judicial and legislative trappings upon which it depends for its continued domination is a necessary condition of a healthy mental virility.