International Review of Social History

Research Article

Towards a Syndicalist International: The 1913 London Congress1

Wayne Westergard-Thorpe

Although identified above all with the French Confédération Général du Travail prior to the First World War, revolutionary syndicalism had become an international movement by 1914, when various labour organizations in Europe, North and South America, and Australasia espoused its doctrines or the kindred doctrines of industrial unionism. The desire to establish durable international bonds between these revolutionary organizations had grown steadily, especially in Europe, where by 1912 organized syndicalist bodies existed in France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Britain, Belgium, Spain and Italy. The congress held in London in the autumn of 1913 represented the first effort to create a vehicle of syndicalist internationalism. But the congress and the debate surrounding it demonstrated not only that syndicalists were not in accord on international tactics, nor on national tactics, but also that the deepest cleavage on the question of international strategy was that dividing the CGT from most syndicalist organizations in other countries.


1 All dates cited refer to the year 1913, unless otherwise specified.