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Title: Syndicalism and its impact in Britain with particular reference to Merseyside 1910-1914.
Author: Holton, R. J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3581 0271
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1971
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This dissertation analyses the development of syndicalism in Britain in the immediate pre-1914 period. Recent interest in British syndicalist traditions has tended to focus upon war-time experience, notably the growth of the shop stewards movement in engineering. There has bean a relative neglect of syndicalism in the pre-war period. This needs to be rectified by a study of syndicalism in similar detail and depth to research already carried out on 19th Century movements like Chartism. Chapter 1 presents a comparative account of syndicalism overseas as a framework for the remainder of the study. Syndicalism is defined historically as a social movement elaborating its attitudes very largely through practical experience of action rather than through a body of abstract theory. Alongside this discussion, it is disputed whether philosophers like Sorel can be seen as central to syndicalist ideology in France or elsewhere. If these conceptual revisions in the definition of syndicalism are accepted, it becomes necessary to consider general problems in the social history of popular movements as they bear upon the impact of syndicalism in Britain. How, for example, do we study forms of working-class action with revolutionary industrial overtones (e. g. strikes, riots etc.)? Existing inadequacies in the purely 'institutional' approach to syndicalism as a labour organisation, require a more sensitive approach towards informal subinstitutional forms of action and discussions. Chapter 2 is in two parts. The first depicts the growth of syndicalist organisations operating in Britain up to 1910. This unspectacular and largely fragmented process was transformed by the return of Tom Mann to Britain and the launching, of the Industrial Syndicalist Education League in 1910. The second part discusses the extent to which a syndicalist mainstream was created around Mann and the ISEL by 1912. Chapter 3 relates the growth of syndicalism to contemporary industrial and social unrest from 1910-14. The role of syndicalism in generating unrest is explored as against other' factors and prima' facie evidence of its importance is provided through a survey of social crisis in the South Wales coalfield communities. Chapters 4-6 develop many of the themes raised above through a detailed case-study of syndicalism on Merseyside. Chapter 4 stresses the importance of Spanish, Irish and American connections in the making of local syndicalists. Chapter 5 describes the transport strikes of 1911, analysing the nature of associated 'riots' and 'spontaneous' unofficial industrial action, as well as the role of formal labour organisations during the unrest. Chapter 6 examines the growing impottance of local syndicalist opinion in the aftermath of the strike* Chapters 7 and 8 return to the general development of syndical- -ism in Britain as a whole between 1912-14. The belief that syndicalism and industrial militancy tended to decline in this period is challenged. The force of this challenge rests On hitherto neglected evidence from the Daily Herald movement and from the British response to the 1913 Dublin look-out. In conclusion it is argued that syndicalism was an increasingly important feature of contemporary opinion. It cannot be regarded simply as a 'poor relation' of similar movements overseas. While the impact uf syndicalism in Britain has been undervalued, it also seams that the strength of movements overseas may have been exagaerated. Revolutionary syndicalism in Britain certainly deserves a more siSnificant place among international syndicalist movements than has been thought hitherto.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available