The Principles of Revolutionary Unionism
Adopted at the Berlin Congress of Revolutionary Unionist organizations, 1922.
Revolutionary unionism, basing itself on the class struggle, aims to unite all workers in combative economic
organizations, that fight to free themselves from the double yoke of capital and the state. Its goal is the
reorganization of social life on the basis of libertarian communism via the revolutionary action of the working class.
Since only the economic organizations of the proletariat are capable of achieving this objective, revolutionary
unionism addresses itself to workers in their capacity as producers, creators of social wealth, to take root and
develop amongst them, in opposition to the modern workers’ parties, which it declares are incapable of the
economic reorganization of society.
Revolutionary unionism is the staunch enemy of all social and economic monopoly, and aims at its abolition by
the establishment of economic communities and administrative organs run by the workers in the fields and
factories, forming a system of free councils without subordination to any authority or political party, bar none. As
an alternative to the politics of states and parties, revolutionary unionism posits the economic reorganization of
production, replacing the rule of man over man with the simple administration of things. Consequently, the goal of
revolutionary unionism is not the conquest of political power, but the abolition of all state functions in the life of
society. Revolutionary unionism considers that along with the disappearance of a property owning caste, must
come the disappearance of central ruling caste; and that no form of statism, however camouflaged, can ever be an
instrument for human liberation, but that on the contrary, it will always be the creator of new monopolies and new
Revolutionary unionism has a two–fold function: to carry on the day–to–day revolutionary struggle for the
economic, social and intellectual advancement of the working class within the limits of present–day society, and to
educate the masses so that they will be ready to independently manage the processes of production and
distribution when the time comes to take possession of all the elements of social life. Revolutionary unionism does
not accept the idea that the organization of a social system based exclusively on the producing class can be
ordered by simple governmental decrees and maintains that it can only be obtained through the common action of
all manual and intellectual workers, in every branch of industry, by self–management of the workers, such that
every group, factory or branch of industry is an autonomous member of the greater economic organism and
systematically runs the production and distribution processes according to the interests of the community, on an
agreed upon plan and on the basis of mutual accord.
Revolutionary unionism is opposed to all organizational tendencies inspired by the centralism of state and
church, because these can only serve to prolong the survival of the state and authority and to systematically stifle
the spirit of initiative and the independence of thought. Centralism is an artificial organization that subjects the
so–called lower classes to those who claim to be superior, and that leaves in the hands of the few the affairs of the
whole community — the individual being turned into a robot with controlled gestures and movements. In the
centralized organization, society’s good is subordinated to the interests of the few, variety is replaced by uniformity
and personal responsibility is replaced by rigid discipline. Consequently, revolutionary unionism bases its social
vision on a broad federalist organization; i.e., an organization organized from the bottom up, the uniting of all
forces in the defense of common ideas and interests.
Revolutionary unionism rejects all parliamentary activity and all collaboration with legislative bodies; because it
knows that even the freest voting system cannot bring about the disappearance of the clear contradictions at the
core of present–day society and because the parliamentary system has only one goal: to lend a pretense of
legitimacy to the reign of falsehood and social injustice.
Revolutionary unionism rejects all political and national frontiers, which are arbitrarily created, and declares that
so–called nationalism is just the religion of the modern state, behind which is concealed the material interests of the
propertied classes. Revolutionary unionism recognizes only economic differences, whether regional or national,
and in the spirit of solidarity claims the right to self–determination for all economic groups.
For the identical reason, revolutionary unionism fights against militarism and war. Revolutionary unionism
advocates anti–war propaganda and the replacement of standing armies, which are only the instruments of
counter– revolution at the service of capitalism, by workers’ militias, which, during the revolution, will be controlled
by the workers’ unions; it demands, as well, the boycott and embargo of all raw materials and products necessary
to war, with the exception of a country where the workers are in the midst of a social revolution, in which case we
should help them defend the revolution. Finally, revolutionary unionism advocates the preventive and revolutionary
general strike as a means of opposing war and militarism.
Revolutionary unionism asserts itself to be a supporter of the method of direct action, and aids and encourages
all struggles that are not in contradiction to its own goals. Its methods of struggle are: strikes, boycotts, sabotage,
etc. Direct action reaches its deepest expression in the general strike, which should also be the prelude to the
social revolution from the point of view of revolutionary unionism.
While revolutionary unionism is opposed to all organized violence regardless of the kind of government, it
realizes that there will be extremely violent clashes during the decisive struggles between the capitalism of today
and the free communism of tomorrow. Consequently, it recognizes as valid that violence that may be used as a
means of defense against the violent methods used by the ruling classes during the struggles that lead up to the
revolutionary populace expropriating the lands and means of production. As this expropriation can only be carried
out and brought to a successful conclusion by the direct intervention of the workers’ revolutionary economic
organizations, defense of the revolution must also be the task of these economic organizations and not of a military
or quasi–military body developing independently of them.
Only in the economic and revolutionary organizations of the working class are there forces capable of
bringing about its liberation and the necessary creative energy for the reorganization of society on the basis of