What's the difference between Anarcho-Communism and Anarchosyndicalism?
The difference of views between Anarcho-Communism and Anarcho-syndicalism lies on the “organizational dualism” (revolutionary dualism) theory proposed by anarchist communists and opposed by the anarcho-syndicalists.
Anarcho-syndicalists look at the union not only as a mean but as a revolutionary end (the first aim of the revolution is class struggle). In order to obtain the liberation of the working class, the anarchist trade unionists agree in some cases with some Marxist unions or organizations.
The International Workers’ Association (IWA; Spanish: AIT; German: IAA) is the international federation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions and initiatives.
Anarcho-communists split instead the incitement to revolution of the unions and workers groups (the mass organization) by the revolutionary action that should be done by a transversal organization of workers and dispossessed (the so called “specific anarchist organization”).
According to Anarchist Communists the revolutionary practice of organizational dualism is the way through which anarchism differs from Marxism that on the other hand looks at the working class (mainly industrial) to lead and win the revolution. The presence of unions (the mass movement) close by the specific organization would be an antibody to the authoritarian deviation and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
According to the Anarchist Communists this dualism would also allow a more cohesive revolutionary structure, and common shared objectives leading to the emancipation of the workers through autonomous social movements that would overcome the polarization of the union.
The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF; French: IFA) contains a large number of anarchist-communist federations and individuals. Founded in 1968 the IAF has since aimed to build and improve strong and active international anarchist’ structures. The federations associated with IAF believe that such an organization is necessary to co-ordinate their international work and efficiently co-operate towards their mutual aims. In order to further improve the quality of exchange and co-operation, IAF also keeps close contact with other anarchist organizations, such as the International Workers Association (IWA).
Anarcho-syndicalism primary purpose is class war: it seeks to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production and its goal is workers’ self-management.
Anarcho-syndicalists militants have theorized different methods of class struggle: the general strike (considered the most effective means available to the working class to regain possession of the means of production), direct action (occupation, picket lines, etc.), the boycott and sabotage (refusal to produce certain goods and boycott by the proletariat of the products).
Anarcho-syndicalism focuses primarily on the labor movement, but it is also probably the one that has undergone a greater decline due to the disintegration of class consciousness.
Anarchist communism stresses egalitarianism and the abolition of social hierarchy and class distinctions that arise from unequal wealth distribution, the abolition of capitalism and money, and the collective production and distribution of wealth by means of voluntary associations.
In anarchist communism, the state and property would no longer exist. Each individual and group would be free to contribute to production and to satisfy their needs based on their own choice. Systems of production and distribution would be managed by their participants. The abolition of wage labor is central to anarchist communism. With distribution of wealth being based on self-determined needs, people would be free to engage in whatever activities they found most fulfilling and would no longer have to engage in work for which they have neither the temperament nor the aptitude.
Basically Anarchist communism is a larger movement, and regards the self-management of workers and class war as much as the liberation of all the oppressed.
Anarcho-syndicalism is a revolutionary strategy which struggles for the emancipation of the workers gathered in revolutionary unions, and takes as its goal the establishment of anarchist communism (or collectivism) through class war.
The two movements are then not really opposed but complementary and both necessary for the revolutionary approach.
History gives us some examples on the anarchist communist revolutionary praxis. In the Spanish Civil War, an anarchist social revolution would have been impossible without the help of revolutionary trade unions such as CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) and FAI (Federación Anarquista Ibérica).
For a long time, until the Spanish Revolution, the two organizations acted according to the principles of organizational dualism: CNT represented the mass organization (union) and FAI the revolutionary specific (across the board political organization).
FAI acted as a kind of ancillary of the CNT, which was also the armed and illegal faction (in addition to self-defense actions, were frequent robberies of self-financing).
During the social revolution within the Spanish Civil war, the agrarian and industrial collectives instituted immediately economic equality in accordance with the essential principle of communism, ‘From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.’ They coordinated their efforts through free association in whole regions, created new wealth, increased production (especially in agriculture), built more schools, bettered public services and founded popular defense committees.
They instituted not bourgeois formal democracy but genuine grass roots functional libertarian democracy, where each individual participated directly in the revolutionary reorganization of social life. They replaced the war between men, ‘survival of the fittest,’ by the universal practice of mutual aid, and replaced rivalry by the principle of solidarity.
The workers and peasants collectivized land and industry in Aragón and Catalonia and set up councils based on direct democracy. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivized and run as libertarian communes. Even places like hotels, barber shops, and restaurants were collectivized and managed by their workers. Moreover they instituted new types of exchanges based on mutualism, the gift economy or barter, and adopted alternative currencies that were worth only to quantify the goods in their possession.
“The difference between communist-anarchism and syndicalism, I would argue, is rooted in different perspectives on the nature and role of the labour movement within anarchism. Let me be clear that the communist-anarchist and the syndicalist agree on the importance of working class self-organisation and direct action.
So rather than being anti-syndicalism as some historians have suggested, the communist-anarchist position is actually syndicalism-plus. Syndicalism is a tactic, an important one, but it is not the be-all and end-all of anarchist activity. So, in effect, communist-anarchists would suggest that syndicalists turn a means into an end and fail to acknowledge the importance of anarchist groups working within the unions to keep them radical.
In the historical development of the anarchist movement, the revolutionary organizational dualism was neglected in diverse countries in detriment to a position that said that “syndicalism/ trade unionism” (that accumulated set of social movements) was enough. Not for us. We believe that the duty of the specific anarchist organization, what Malatesta called the anarchist “party”, is to articulate the force of the anarchists around a common proposal and to stimulate the social movements that they advance more and more beyond their demands, being able to forge the basis of a revolutionary transformation.
It is important to emphasize that organizational dualism does not presuppose a relation of subordination or hierarchy between the two instances mentioned. In our understanding of anarchism the specific anarchist organization and the social movements are complimentary. The relation of the specific anarchist organization presupposes ethical and horizontal relations, that imply the absence of relations of hierarchy or domination over the instances that participate.
The role of the specific anarchist organization is to act as a catalyst of social struggles. We don’t believe that political organizations must guide or direct the struggles, as the Marxist-Leninist primer says. Bakunin’s conception of active minority is very useful for us in this regard. The active minority does not impose, dominate, establish hierarchical relations or control within the social movements.”