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Revolutionary syndicalist opposition to the First World War: An international comparative reassessment

Darlington, RR 2006, 'Revolutionary syndicalist opposition to the First World War: An international comparative reassessment' , Revue Belge De Philologie Et D'Histoire, 12 (4) , pp. 983-1003.

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      Abstract

      It has been argued that support for the First World War by the important French syndicalist organisation, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) has tended to obscure the fact that other national syndicalist organisations remained faithful to their professed workers’ internationalism: on this basis syndicalists beyond France, more than any other ideological persuasion within the organised trade union movement in immediate pre-war and wartime Europe, can be seen to have constituted an authentic movement of opposition to the war in their refusal to subordinate class interests to those of the state, to endorse policies of ‘defencism’ and to abandon the rhetoric of class conflict. This article, which attempts to contribute to a much neglected comparative historiography of the international syndicalist movement, re-evaluates the syndicalist response across a broad geographical field of canvas (embracing France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Britain and America) to reveal a rather more nuanced, ambiguous and uneven picture. While it highlights the distinctive nature of the syndicalist response compared with other labour movement trends, it also explores the important strategic and tactical limitations involved, including the dilemma of attempting to translate formal syndicalist ideological commitments against the war into practical measures of intervention, and the consequences of the syndicalists’ subordination of the political question of the war to the industrial struggle.

      Item Type: Article
      Uncontrolled Keywords: Syndicalism, trade unionism, First World War, internationalism, nationalism, patriotism
      Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
      Subjects outside of the University Themes
      Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Business & Law > Salford Business School > International Strategy People Management & Salford Law
      Journal or Publication Title: Revue Belge De Philologie Et D'Histoire
      Refereed: Yes
      ISSN: 0035-0818
      Depositing User: RR Darlington
      Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2010 11:40
      Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 17:24
      URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093

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