What is syndicalism?

Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses Confederations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions. It is a form of socialist economic corporatism that advocates interest aggregation of multiple non-competitive categorised units to negotiate and manage an economy.

For adherents, labour unions are the potential means of both overcoming economic aristocracy and running society fairly in the interest of the majority, through union democracy. Industry in a syndicalist system would be run through co-operative confederations and mutual aid.

Syndicalism is one of the three most common currents of socialist economics, together with Market socialism and socialist planned economies. It holds, on an ethical basis, that all participants in an organised trade internally share equal ownership of its production. By contrast, socialism emphasises distributing output among trades as required by each trade, not necessarily considering how trades organise internally. Communism rejects government-sanctioned private ownership of the means of production in favour of ownership by the class of individuals who actually use such property (i.e., the workers or proletariat, who under most variants of communism would have control of the state as well, muddling the distinction between state and proletarian ownership). In syndicalism, unions exist independent of the state rather than needing the state’s micromanagement and central planning. As with businesses in capitalism, labor unions in syndicalism would likely share a complicated relationship of co-operation and opposition with the state (with the obvious exception of anarcho-syndicalism, under which there would be no state).

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