The Combined Syndicates of America is an American association of trade unions, based on the principles of syndicalism. Anarchism is a minor influence, but not as strong as in some other foreign movements, like the CNT-FAI.
The Combined Syndicates of America developed in the 1920s from the Industrial Workers of the World, under the guidance of Jack Reed.
The IWW was founded in Chicago in June 1905 at a convention of two hundred socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States. The IWW's goal was to promote worker solidarity in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the employing class; its motto was "an injury to one is an injury to all". One of the IWW's most important contributions to the labor movement and broader push towards social justice was that, when founded, it was the only American union to welcome all workers including women, immigrants, and Negroes into the same organization. Indeed, many of its early members were immigrants.
In 1920s, former journalist Jack Reed, who turned into a savvy political operator during his time in Russia during its revolution and civil war, advocated the creation of a coalition of all the separated trade unions, as they would be stronger if united in one entity. The Industrial Workers of the World accepted the challenge and became the bulk around which the Combined Syndicates of America were born.
The Great Depression only exacerbated the feelings of social inequality and injustice among Northern workers, and lead to the white working class of the areas to find common cause with them. The failure of the 1933 campaign finally broke the last bit of trust that the two parties had with the Democrats, and the resulting anger caused the creation of a "Red Belt" in Chicago, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and most other states neighboring the Great Lakes. The socioeconomic stress of the depression caused Red Belt workers to find common cause with the newly formed Combined Syndicates, and only a few Democratic mayors and Senators remain in the Red Belt.
Influence at Home and Abroad
Uniting various shades of socialist, syndicalist and communist opinion, the CSA have mobilized the surging throngs of workers in America's industrial heartlands. Its headquarters are located in Chicago. Internationally, they have connections and good relations with the syndicalist government of the Commune of France, Union of Britain and Mexico.
In the upcoming Presidential Election of 1936 Jack Reed will lead the Combined Syndicates of America as a new entity in the political scene of the United States.
Due to the nature of the party, there are various factions within the group who have different interpretations of Socialism.
- There is a group of Social Democrats, Democratic Socialists and Anarcho-Syndicalists who are not as radical as the other members of the party. The most dominant figure is the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America Norman Thomas, the heir to Eugene V. Debs' socialist legacy.
- There is a group of more Radical Socialists led by the intellectual Max Schachtman who seek to structure the government in a manner similar to the Union of Britain, where the power is held by the local Trade Unions.
- Another group favors a more orthodox Syndicalist approach and sees the Commune of France and the Socialist Republic of Italy as good examples. This group is led by political writer and activist Paul Mattick.
- The last faction favors centralization and state control of the economy and is led by the communist William Z. Foster. This factions shares some principles with the British Maximist led by Oswald Mosley and the Italian National-Syndicalist Union led by Benito Mussolini and is looking forward to the expected announcement of Totalism, a new doctrine developed by Oswald Mosley.