Syndicalism and Fascism

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Dec 27 09:57:53 MST 1995


I'm back on-line! (A chorus of cheers from the grandstands mixed with 
boos and catcalls?)

Here's an interesting post on fascism from PEN-L:
Nick Gomersall wrote:

>I've just been looking over a recent copy of "Critical Review", and an
>there on the foundations of fascism. Egregiously ill-informed as I am on both
>labour history and on political philosophy, I was struck by the way in which
>certain strands of syndicalist thinking, associated with the unions in parts
>Europe at any rate, were said to have contributed to the foundations of

I haven't seen the Critical Review article, but Nick's description of it 
leads me to speculate that it talks about Georges Sorel's "myth of the 
general strike" and the influence of Sorel on Mussolini's thinking. I 
haven't read Sorel but am somewhat familiar with his central image of the 
revolutionary general strike through second hand references in the work of 
Gramsci, Lukacs and Benjamin. The fact that Sorelian influence can be traced 
to both fascism and what eventually came to be known as "Western Marxism" 
should be strong warning against any linear interpretation of political 

In a footnote to Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, Sorel is described as the 
principal theorist of revolutionary syndicalism. Politically, he passed 
through the following metamorphoses: "anti-Jacobin moralist, socialist, 
revolutionary syndicalist, far-right (indeed near-monarchist) preacher of an 
anti-bourgeois authoritarian moral regeneration, sympathiser with the 
Bolshevik revolution." (Sounds like the guy could have been his own Marxism 
discussion list :-).) Elsewhere, Gramsci refers to the "state syndicalism" 
-- aka corporatism -- of the Mussolini regime as the form in which links are 
maintained between the fascist state and the mass of factory workers.

"Only in mediocre art does life unfold as fate." -- Michael Ignatieff

Tom Walker
knoWWare Communications

     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list