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Several years ago when I still considered myself a democratic socialist (and a strong supporter of independent labor unions), I wrote an article in support of strikers at GM during Independence Day.

The first comment I received about the article was, "This sounds like an anarcho-syndicalist treatise." That was the first time I ever heard of the term. I looked it up. I had never seriously read much about anarchism before that point. It made me wonder if the American revolutionaries were anarcho-syndicalists without knowing it - or if the early anarcho-syndicalists had taken their inspiration from the American Revolution.

This was the article (here in its entirety):


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the economic bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women and men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Corporations are instituted among Women and Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the employed. That whenever any Form of Corporation becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Corporation, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Corporations long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Corporation, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Unions; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Corporation. The history of the present Executive of General Motors [John F. Smith, Jr.] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Unions. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Unions to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in a Union, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Unions repeatedly, for opposing with righteous firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Union powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the Company remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of dissolution from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these Unions; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Organization of Unemployed; refusing to pass others to encourage their employment hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Companies.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their campaign finances.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our unions.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Terminations which they should commit on the Workers of these Unions:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Peer Jury:
For transporting us beyond States to be tried for pretended offences:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Unions:
For suspending our own Unions, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Corporation here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our forests, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of paramilitary Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized company.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Union, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited internal insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Scab Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, faiths, races and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our deunionized brethren.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our organization and assembly here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United Unions of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Assemblies, solemnly publish and declare.

That these United Assemblies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent Companies; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Wall Street Crown,

and that all corporate connection between them and the State of General Motors is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent Companies, they have full Power to levy Security, conclude Mergers, contract Alliances, establish Employment,

and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent Companies may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.


Rereading this now, I should have added "endeavoured to co-opt and bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Scab Savages" - these "savages" were, after all, not part of the oppressive class, but rather used as tools of oppression simply because they too were seeking a decent life.


Comments from thisisby.us

by mudgeon
on Jul. 02, 2008 at 03:27pm
1 Vote

You seem a little confused as to the boundaries and distinctions between politics and economics. They're really not the same thing.


by vetinarii
on Jul. 02, 2008 at 06:47pm
2 Votes

There's some big differences between countries and companies.

I work for a company because it pays me. It controls the money, and I choose to sell a portion of my time and labour to it. If it does something objectionable, such as denying me leave when I ask for it, I can simply walk away.

But living in a country isn't like that. Governments control far more than just money, they control the framework of our whole lives. And have you ever tried resigning from a country?

Back in the early 90s, it was very fashionable in Britain to talk about "UK PLC" ("Public Limited Company"), as if a nation's success could be measured in terms of profit and balance. I hated the affectation then, and it hasn't grown on me since. Reversing the equation (company = country) doesn't help.


by seeya
on Jul. 02, 2008 at 07:00pm
2 Votes

The concept of "wage slavery" explains the situation quite well.

When governments form, they limit what can happen within that territory.

When ownership of resources is concentrated, the owner also limits what can happen with those resources.

As one government spreads, if the people lose control over that government, then they lose control over their freedoms within the territory the government covers.

As ownership of resources by a tiny minority spreads, the people also lose their freedom to do as they please economically, without being forced to agree to someone else's terms.

A billionaire can easily start an airline. Can the son of a pilot start an airline? No. Not unless he basically agrees to sign away large portions of his freedom to a bank, a group of venture capitalists, or what-have-you.


by grantlawnm
on Jul. 08, 2008 at 01:17am
1 Vote

...."As ownership of resources by a tiny minority spreads, the people also lose their freedom to do as they please economically, without being forced to agree to someone else's terms...."

Absolutely!
People are mistaking corporatism and monopoly capitalism for freedom or even a free market.
You can't separate economics from politics. Especially since the people making and controlling the paper are the owners of the country.
If I recall Mudgeon correctly, he aptly pointed out that the power rests with money and that is why we all want it.


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