There's no government like no government.
An Anarchist Slogan
One small group of capitalism's foes perceives corporate giants and government as parasites that exploit the working class. This group consists of anarchists, who would retain private property rights, and syndicalists, who seek collective worker ownership of nonhuman resources. Hatred of government is the glue that binds anarchism to syndicalism. Both groups are convinced that elite groups always control government. Under industrial capitalism, capitalists and professional managers control government; under centrally planned socialism, government is in the grip of an enormous bureaucracy. Anarchists and syndicalists believe that governments monopolize and institutionalize violence through imperialistic wars and police brutality. Hence, both groups would do away with the twin evils of corporate capitalism and state socialism.
Anarchists are popularly stereotyped as wild-eyed bomb throwers, but a little research reveals that their philosophy derives from the view that without government, worldwide violence and exploitation would be reduced.
Philosophical anarchism counts on cooperation among people to ensure social harmony in the absence of government or law.
Anarchists are not necessarily opposed to the market system, but view modern capitalism as a system in which professional corporate managers and government officials are in cahoots to exploit workers. Corporations exist only because of government recognition. In an idealized anarchy, the rights to what individuals produce could not be "stolen" by capitalists who rely on government to legitimize their exploitation of workers. Most anarchists would recognize private property rights and disavow social ownership of anything. In this position, anarchism is closer to libertarianism than to socialism.
But how might government be eradicated? Answers to this question range from pacifism to bloody revolution. William Godfrey, an English clergyman, and the Russian Prince Kropotkin thought that if we all just ignored government, it would dry up and blow away. The image of "anarchy" as synonymous with chaos and anarchists as bomb throwers originated with Mikhail Bakunin, who convinced his followers that random violence could precipitate the collapse of governments and capitalism. Instead, widespread fear of violence brought anarchism as a social philosophy into lasting disrepute.
Many of the socialist reformers described in the next section have faith that their goals can be achieved peacefully through the ballot box. Syndicalists disagree, viewing the state as an oppressive vehicle manipulated by power-hungry plutocrats. Syndicalism was the brainchild of the French philosopher Georges Sorel (1847—1922), who viewed stupid wars, corruption, and gross mismanagement as inevitable consequences of government.
Syndicalism would abolish the state, corporate capitalism, and private ownership of nonhuman resources. Each industry would be owned by its workers and run by elected worker committees.
Society would be reorganized into syndicates, which are, effectively, industry-wide trade unions. Thus, there would be an auto syndicate, a steel syndicate, an electronics syndicate, and so on. Syndicates would replace government and control the workplace, but would leave people alone in all other matters.
Syndicalism arrived in the United States in 1905 with the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) by Daniel Deleon, Eugene V. Debs, and "Big Bill" Haywood, all of whom are legends in the history of American radicalism. Debs collected over a million votes as the Socialist candidate for president during World War I, even though he had been jailed for sedition by President Woodrow Wilson.
IWW members, known as wobblies, grew to more than 100,000 before World War I. They intended to overthrow capitalism by locking out managers and seizing factories. The IWW was especially powerful among Western miners, railroad workers, and merchant seamen, who participated in more than 150 violent strikes before succumbing to internal strife arising from lack of a coherent vision of how an economy should operate "after the revolution."
Today, syndicalist ideas find expression in Western Europe and North America in "profit sharing" plans and in union demands for voices in managerial decisions. In Eastern Europe, the trend toward decentralized socialism is somewhat syndicalist, Yugoslavia being especially distinguished by "worker-management." Solidarity, the organization led by Lech Walesa that gained control of the Polish government in 1990, has syndicalist goals.