Fernand Pelloutier and Revolutionary Syndicalism

  • Jeremy Jennings
Part of the St Antony’s book series


Fernand Pelloutier can, in the words of Pierre Monatte, be ‘justly regarded as the father of revolutionary syndicalism’.1 Born in 1867, Pelloutier came to syndicalism via provincial radical republicanism and then orthodox Marxism. By profession a journalist, his break with Guesdism took place in 1892 when he, along with Aristide Briand, jointly defended the use of the general strike. As secretary of the Fédération des bourses du travail from 1895 (at the age of only 27) until his death in 1901 he went part of the way towards creating the organisational basis of an autonomous working-class movement and in his books and numerous articles he outlined the rudiments of syndicalism as a distinct ideology. He also provided the syndicalist movement with an example of dedication and commitment that few, if any, were subsequently to surpass.2


Proportional Representation Capitalist System Strike Action General Strike Future Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    P. Monatte, ‘Fernand Pelloutier et Aristide Briand’, RP, 308, August–September, 1947, p. 129.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    C. Chambelland, ‘La grève générale, thème de la pensée de F. Pelloutier et d’ A. Briand’, L’Actualité de l’histoire, 18, May 1957, pp. 18–27 and 19, October 1957, pp. 1–12; P. Delesalle, ‘Fernand Pelloutier’, TN 23 March 1901, pp. 1–2.; E. Dolléans, ‘Fernand Pelloutier’ L’Homme réel, 19 July 1935, pp. 36–42;Google Scholar
  3. F. Foulon, Fernand Pelloutier (Paris: 1967);Google Scholar
  4. J. Julliard, Fernand Pelloutier et les origines du syndicalisme d’action directe (Paris: 1971);Google Scholar
  5. P. Monatte, review of Maurice Pelloutier, Fernand Pelloutier, VO, 59–60, March 1911, pp. 449–52; P. Monatte, ‘Fernand Pelloutier et Aristide Briand’, RP, August–September, 1947, pp. 129–37;Google Scholar
  6. P. Monatte, ‘La jeunesse de Pelloutier’, RP, 475, September 1962, pp. 13–18;Google Scholar
  7. A. Spitzer, ‘Anarchy and Culture: Fernand Pelloutier and the Dilemma of Revolutionary Syndicalism’, International Review of Social History, 8, 1963, pp. 379–88;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. G. Yvetot, ‘Fernand Pelloutier’ VO, 40, May 1911, pp. 577–93 and 41, June 1911, pp. 641–58. The work by Julliard contains both a commentary on Pelloutier’s work and an extensive selection of his writings. Where possible references to Pelloutier’s writings will cite the Julliard edition as this is the most easily available source. Julliard’s book, without the texts by Pelloutier, was republished in 1985.Google Scholar
  9. 35.
    In January 1899 the paper became Le Monde ouvrier. See J. Julliard, ‘L’Ouvrier des deux mondes’, Cahiers Georges Sorel, 5, 1987, pp. 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 62.
    See J. Maitron, Le Mouvement anarchiste en France (Paris: 1975), I, pp. 206–61.Google Scholar
  11. 63.
    E. Pouget, ‘A roublard, roublard et demi’, in R. Langlois (ed.), Le Père Peinard (Paris: 1976), pp. 34–41.Google Scholar
  12. 65.
    See, for example, the numerous articles on this issue in Le Libertaire from 1899 onwards and see especially L. Grandidier, ‘Anarchistes et syndicalistes’, 5 November 1899;Google Scholar
  13. M. Pélerin, ‘Syndicats et anarchistes’, 14 March 1900;Google Scholar
  14. G. Yvetot, ‘Syndicats et anarchistes’, 18 March 1900.Google Scholar
  15. 66.
    A. Lorulot, ‘Anarchistes ou syndicalistes’, in A. Lorulot and G. Yvetot, Le Syndicalisme et la transformation sociale (Paris: 1909). This text contains a series of articles by Lorulot and Yvetot which outline their contrasting views on this issue. The articles were first published in Le Libertaire at the end of 1905.Google Scholar
  16. 72.
    ESRI, Les Anarchistes et les syndicats (Paris: 1898).Google Scholar
  17. 74.
    For a discussion of Pouget’s life and ideas before 1901 see E. P. Fitzgerald, Emile Pouget, the Anarchist Movement and the origins of revolutionary trade-unionism in France (Yale University Ph.D. thesis, 1973).Google Scholar
  18. 76.
    For a critique of the ‘groupe d’affinité’ see E. Pouget, Le Syndicat (Paris: 1905), p. 9.Google Scholar
  19. 78.
    P. Delesalle, L’Action syndicale et les anarchistes (Paris: 1900).Google Scholar
  20. 87.
    See P. Delesalle, La Confédération Générale du Travail (Paris: 1907), pp. 16–19;Google Scholar
  21. P. Delesalle, Les bourses du travail et la CGT (Paris: 1909), p. 45.Google Scholar
  22. 88.
    P. Delesalle, ‘Encore l’unité’, VduP, 1 June 1902. Delesalle and Niel produced a series of articles exploring this issue in La Voix du peuple during May and June 1902. Pouget was of the view that unity had not destroyed the federalist structure of the syndicalist movement; see E. Pouget, ‘Le Congrès syndical de Bourges’, MS, XIV, 1904, pp. 38–41.Google Scholar
  23. 90.
    E. Pouget, Le Syndicat, pp. 10–13. See also P. Delesalle, La Confédération Générale du Travail, pp. 19–20 and G. Yvetot, ABC syndicaliste (Paris: 1908), pp. 26–7.Google Scholar
  24. 91.
    See P. Delesalle, Les bourses du travail et la CGT, pp. 45–50; P. Delesalle, ‘Les bourses du travail et leurs difficultés actuelles’, MS, XXIII, 1908, pp. 161–70;Google Scholar
  25. G. Yvetot, ‘Fernand Pelloutier’, VO, 40, 1911, p. 586. For the view of Griffuelhes see V. Griffuelhes, ‘L’Acte de contrition d’un repenti’, L’Action directe, 29 January 1908.Google Scholar
  26. 93.
    V. Griffuelhes, ‘L’Action syndicaliste (Paris: 1908), p. 3.Google Scholar
  27. 95.
    E. Dolléans, Histoire du mouvement ouvrier (Paris: 1948), II, p. 118.Google Scholar
  28. 96.
    P. H. Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition: The Blanquists in French Politics 1864–1893 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: 1981).Google Scholar
  29. 98.
    V. Griffuelhes, ‘Les Grèves et le syndicalisme français’, MS, XIX, 1906, pp. 249–55.Google Scholar
  30. 100.
    V. Griffuelhes, ‘Les Caractères du syndicalisme français’, in H. Lagardelle (ed.), Syndicalisme et socialisme (Paris: 1908), pp. 55–8; V. Griffuelhes, ‘Sur une délégation’, VduP, 4 February 1906. Michels wrote regularly for Le Mouvement socialiste but see R. Michels, ‘Le syndicalisme et le socialisme en Allemagne’, in H. Lagardelle (ed.), Syndicalisme et socialisme, pp. 21–8 and ‘Lettre de Victor Griffuelhes à Roberto Michels’, Cahiers Georges Sorel, 4, 1986, p. 60.Google Scholar
  31. 103.
    P. Delesalle, Aux travailleurs — la grève (Paris: 1900), pp. 3–9.Google Scholar
  32. 106.
    The phrase ‘disappearance of the wage-earner and employer’ was frequently used to describe the goal of the syndicalist movement. See for example P. Delesalle, La Confédération Générale du Travail, p. 22 and P. Delesalle, Les Deux Méthodes du syndicalisme (Paris: 1903), p. 2.Google Scholar
  33. 107.
    For a discussion of Merrheim’s views see N. Papayanis, Alphonse Merrheim: The Emergence of Reformism in Revolutionary Syndicalism 1871–1925 (Dordrecht: 1985), pp. 59–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. and C. Gras, ‘Merrheim et le capitalisme’, Le Mouvement social, 63, 1968, pp. 143–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 108.
    See especially E. Pouget, Le Parti du travail (Paris: 1905).Google Scholar
  36. 114.
    V. Griffuelhes, ‘Des Professions libérales’, VduP, 29 December 1907. See also P. Monatte, ‘Syndicats de médecins’, VduP, 22 December 1907 and R. Louzon, ‘L’Etat et l’enseignement de médecine’, MS, XXV, 1909, pp. 130–50. Doctors, Louzon argued, ‘do not constitute a class’. For Louis Niel the issue was not as clear-cut; see ‘Mouvement social’, TN, 25 January 1908.Google Scholar
  37. 117.
    E. Pouget, ‘Pas de politique’, VduP, 15 June 1902 and E. Pouget, Les Bases du syndicalisme (Paris: 1905), pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  38. 118.
    E. Pouget, L’Action directe (Paris: 1910), p. 1. See also E. Pouget, ‘L’Unité’, JduP, 22 July 1899.Google Scholar
  39. 122.
    E. Pouget, ‘Le Congrès syndical de Bourges’, MS, XIV, 1904, p. 62. See also P. Delesalle, ‘Le Congrès de Bourges’, TN, 24 September 1904 and V. Griffuelhes, ‘Le Congrès de Bourges’, Almanach de la révolution pour 1905 (Paris: 1905), pp. 30–33.Google Scholar
  40. 133.
    E. Pouget, Variations guesdistes (Paris: 1896).Google Scholar
  41. 143.
    Quoted in J. Maitron, Paul Delesalle (Paris: 1985), p. 107.Google Scholar
  42. 159.
    A. Merrheim, ‘Un grand conflit social: la grève d’Hennebont’, MS, XX, 1906, pp. 194–218, 347–79.Google Scholar
  43. 169.
    See J. Julliard, ‘La CGT devant la guerre (1900–1914)’, Le Mouvement social, 49, 1964, pp. 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 173.
    G. Yvetot, Le Nouveau manuel du soldat (Paris: 1903); reference to (Paris, 1908), p. 10.Google Scholar
  45. 178.
    G. Yvetot, Ma Pensée libre (Paris: 1913), p. 19.Google Scholar
  46. 184.
    G. Yvetot, ‘Enquête sur l’idée de patrie’, MS XVI, 1905, p. 468.Google Scholar
  47. 185.
    C. Guieysse, ‘Action patriotique et action révolutionnaire’, Pages libres, X, 1905, p. 302.Google Scholar
  48. See also C. Guieysse, ‘Patriotisme démocratique et patriotisme capitaliste’, MS, XVII, 1905, pp. 129–59.Google Scholar
  49. 189.
    V. Griffuelhes, Voyage révolutionnaire (Paris: 1910)Google Scholar
  50. and V. Griffuelhes, La Grève des délaineurs de Mazzamet (Paris: 1909).Google Scholar
  51. 191.
    For a discussion of this issue see M. Ferre, Histoire du mouvement syndicaliste révolutionnaire chez les instituteurs (des origines à 1922) (Paris: 1955).Google Scholar
  52. 192.
    For a succinct expression of these views see M. T. Laurin, ‘L’Enseignement primaire et le prolétariat’, MS, XIX, 1906, pp. 212–27;Google Scholar
  53. M. T. Laurin, ‘Les Ecoles syndicales’, MS, XXV, 1909, pp. 40–8;Google Scholar
  54. L. Jouhaux, ‘Le Monopole de l’enseignement et le socialisme’, MS, XXVII, 1910, pp. 66–70Google Scholar
  55. and H. Lagardelle, ‘L’Ecole et le prolétariat’, MS, XX, 1906, pp. 185–8.Google Scholar
  56. 193.
    See M. T. Laurin, Les Instituteurs et le syndicalisme (Paris: 1908).Google Scholar
  57. 194.
    See P. Delesalle, ‘Les Instituteurs et les syndicats’, TN, 23 December 1905; C. Guieysse, ‘Syndicats de fonctionnaires’, Pages libres, X, 1905, pp. 465–8;Google Scholar
  58. M. T. Laurin, ‘Les Instituteurs et les Bourses du travail’, MS, XXXIII, 1908, pp. 120–4;Google Scholar
  59. M. T. Laurin, ‘La Faillite de l’enseignement primaire’, MS, XXXIV, 1908, pp. 374–7; Un groupe d’instituteurs, ‘Ce que nous voulons’, VduP, 17 March 1907. The journal L’Ecole émancipée, first published in October 1910, provided a forum for the discussion of these ideas.Google Scholar
  60. 196.
    G. Yvetot, ‘L’Ecole syndicale’, L’Ecole émancipée, I, 28 January 1911, p. 1.Google Scholar
  61. 197.
    Ibid., pp. 1–2; E. Pataud and E. Pouget, Comment nous ferons la révolution (Paris, 1909), pp. 224–30. Part of Yvetot’s article consisted of a reprint of his contribution to the 1908 debate at Marseille. For a more complete discussion of syndicalist educational principles see the articles contributed by Albert Thierry to La Vie ouvrière in 1912.Google Scholar
  62. These articles were reprinted in A. Thierry, Réflexions sur l’éducation (Paris: 1923), pp. 3–135.Google Scholar
  63. 198.
    For the development of this argument see R. Louzon, ‘L’Ouvriérisme dans les mathématiques supérieures’, VO, IV, 1912, pp. 320–5.Google Scholar
  64. 199.
    G. Yvetot, ‘L’Ecole syndicale’, L’Ecole émancipée, I, 1 October 1910, pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  65. See also M. T. Laurin, ‘Les Ecoles syndicales’, MS, XXV, 1909, pp. 40–8 and H. Lagardelle, ‘Les Ecoles syndicales’, La Révolution, 18 February 1909.Google Scholar
  66. 200.
    P. Delesalle, ‘La Crise de l’apprentissage’, MS, XXIII, 1908, pp. 245–6. For a more extensive discussion of this issue see the ‘Enquête ouvrière sur la crise de l’apprentissage’, MS, XXIII, 1908, pp. 241–67, 321–40, 401–17; XXIV, 1908, pp. 96–8, 278–84; XXV, 1909, pp. 100–7, 290–9.Google Scholar
  67. 204.
    J. Julliard, ‘Le Syndicalisme révolutionnaire et les grèves’, Le Mouvement social, 65, 1968, pp. 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 205.
    E. Pouget, ‘Action directe’, in V. Griffuelhes and L. Jouhaux (eds), Encyclopaedic du mouvement syndicaliste (Paris: 1912), p. 13. See also E. Pouget, L’Action directe. Two journals created by syndicalist militants bore the title L’Action directe.Google Scholar
  69. 206.
    Griffuelhes made explicit the connection between a rejection of the idea of God and the advocacy of direct action in V. Griffuelhes and L. Niel, Les Objectifs de nos luttes de classe (Paris: 1909). Griffuelhes’ contribution to this volume covered pp. 11–40. It was printed separately under the title Le Syndicalisme révolutionnaire (Paris: 1909).Google Scholar
  70. 210.
    E. Pouget, ‘Le Sabotage’, La Sociale, 26 July 1896; E. Pouget, ‘Le Sabott-age’, Le Père Peinard, 19 September 1896; E. Pouget, Le Sabotage (Paris: 1910).Google Scholar
  71. 212.
    H. Lagardelle, ‘La Formation du syndicalisme en France’, MS, XXX 1911, p. 163Google Scholar
  72. and G. Sorel, ‘Le Syndicalisme révolutionnaire’, MS, XVII, 1905, pp. 276–7.Google Scholar
  73. 213.
    E. Pouget, Le Sabotage (Paris: 1910), p. 16.Google Scholar
  74. 216.
    E. Pouget, Le Sabotage (Paris: 1910), pp. 64–8.Google Scholar
  75. 227.
    E. Pouget, ‘La Conquête de la journée de huit heures’, MS, XV, 1905, pp. 357–80; ‘Les Résultats du mouvement du premier mai’, MS, XIX, 1906, pp. 269–88; ‘En attendant la révolution’, VduP, 20 August 1906; ‘L’Agitation pour les huits heures’, L’Avant-garde, 23 April 1905.Google Scholar
  76. 47.
    V. Griffuelhes, ‘A Propos d’un livre’, VO, I, 1909, pp. 274–5 and E. Pouget, ‘L’élève Pouget au prof. Jaurès’, GS, 1 December 1909.Google Scholar
  77. 258.
    Proudhon held similar views on punishment: see A. Ritter, ‘Godwin, Proudhon and the Anarchist Justification of Punishment’, Political Theory, 3, 1975, pp. 69–87.Google Scholar
  78. 263.
    M. Leroy, La Coutume ouvrière (Paris: 1913).Google Scholar
  79. 266.
    For a discussion of these issues see A. Ritter, Anarchism: A Theoretical Analysis (Cambridge: 1980).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. R. Jennings 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Jennings
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeSwanseaUK

Personalised recommendations