America’s Riots Are Just the Latest Version of Marxist “Syndicalism”
The year 2020 is one of the most disrupted times in at least the last half century, maybe longer. Global protests and riots, the covid-19 virus, lockdowns, and police killings of unarmed citizens. Add to that widespread rioting, looting, arson, homelessness, and destruction of property, including the tearing down of statues. This chaos in the streets is being facilitated by mayors, governors, and police chiefs who are unwilling to enforce the law.
The great Ludwig von Mises included a discussion of “syndicalism” in chapter 33 of his Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. Most people have never heard or read of this concept, but it is highly relevant to the situation we find ourselves in today. Mises’s analysis is even more important for understanding and fixing some of the most important problems we face today. In general, I define syndicalism as being able to do whatever you want at the expense of others.
In part, it represents the ideas of French philosopher, Georges Sorel, who thought relentless violence should be used against the institutions of capitalism. This would include the “general strike” so familiar in Europe to this day. This is in direct contrast to mutually beneficial exchange and the social cooperation of the division of labor. His ideas were influential with Marxists, fascists, Nazis, and advocates of unionism.
A Key Chapter in Mises’s Human Action
When I first tried to read Human Action, I found it extremely difficult. I ended up skipping entire chapters and reading through others without understanding the material. Chapter 33 is a good example of that. Today, re
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