By Pete M Reclus
On December 4th 2019, seven comrades from around the country gathered for the Anarchist Syndicalist Theory Workshop, facilitated by Piper Tompkins. The Workshop was a project of the WSA Infrastructure Committee.
Piper prepared a sweeping overview of the movement as a way to highlight questions for discussion and debate. She helped the group trace roots of anarcho-syndicalism in the libertarian wing of the First International — from the Federative ideas of Proudhon and Bakunin to the foundation in 1922 of the International Workers Association. To this day the IWA-AIT is the oldest continuous anarchist international. She guided the discussion up through the Spanish revolution of 1936 to 1939 and its aftermath.
The group participated in theory questions ranging from the nature of non-anarchist movements in syndicalism, how anarchists in the 20s and 30s viewed Taylorism, anarchist currents among the Zapatista uprisings and libertarian elements within the IWW. The group discussed ways for the movement to move forward, to not be trapped in outdated understandings of industry and how to build a vibrant and flexible movement that can address the unique challenges of today.
The Infrastructure Committee will host another workshop in the future, focused on community and workplace organizing.