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Syndicalism (The Kalmar Union)

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Syndicalism, Cavellism, is a theoretical political system in which central government is abolished and authority invested in the hands of the working classes. This would entail confiscating the land of wealth of all levels of society and redistributing it to the entire populace.

Aureliano Cavelli (The Kalmar Union)

Aureliano Cavelli

Though many Syndicalist historians point to various figures and movements throughout history as 'proto-syndicalist' the thoughts underpinning the ideology was first cohesively articulated in the 1920s. The Tuscan economist Aureliano Cavalli was researching life amongst peasant farmers when he noticed landlords were increasingly enforcing their rights over marginal scrubland which had previously been used by the peasantry to supplement their meagre incomes. By removing the peasant's rights the landlords gained hunting grounds or perhaps improved their incomes and estates. However, the peasants themselves were often impoverished and perhaps had to abandon farming altogether, migrating to the cities where an ever-growing underclass could be paid smaller wages in the industrial centres. The land itself would often revert to an unusable state and food prices would also rise slightly as less was being produced or rather, production of it increasingly fell under the sphere of the farm owners.

This process described by Cavelli in his work 'Terreni Agricoli per L'industria: Il Viaggio di un Contadino' (Farmland to Industry: A Peasant's Journey) led to further economic treatise calling for landlords to expand the land freely available to farmers rather than selfishly restrict it arguing it was in the best interests of society to do so. The peasantry had after all centuries of experience in managing the land whereas the landlords had 'only cultivated the art of getting richer'.

As Cavelli gained support and acolytes, this call turned into a general demand for government to be stripped out of the hands of landed gentry, nobility and the church and put in the hands of 'syndicates' of local farmers. Finally in 1927 the authorities in Tuscany had had enough and compelled Cavelli and his group to leave. However the thoughts and theories had already spread widely, moving into influencing philosophical and political thought, and Cavelli found safe havens abounded. A teaching job at the University of Ulm followed. While Cavelli maintained a firm belief in the pure theoretical side of Syndicalism, believing that society would eventually see the end of unbridled capitalism and begin a natural retreat to the syndicalist ideal, others believed more direct action was required.

Most European and North-East Leifian states saw the growth of Syndicalist political parties, some more left wing than the already popular socialist parties, they campaigned directly on the promise to confiscate wealth and redistribute it. Laws, intimidation and poor results generally keeps support for these parties low but in a few states moderate Syndicalist parties they have polled over 10% in elections. Many see it, at best, as a distraction to the more realistic goals of moderate Socialism and Trade Unionism or, at worst, a reason for the authorities to ban all populist workers' parties (such as in Wessex which has considerable anti-Syndicalist and anti-Trade Union laws).

However it is outside of Europe that Syndicalism has become a real political force. Contrary to Cavelli's belief that only rich countries could 'reverse into a Syndicalist State' it is the poorer countries of South-East Asia in which the politics have gripped hardest.

With wealth overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of a vanishingly small elite and little industry to absorb employment small educated cliques have committed themselves to overthrowing the old orders. Several republican insurgencies in Thailand, Khmer and eastern India became radicalised in the 1970s and 1980s as exiles travelled to Europe and mixed with Syndicalist thinkers. In Thailand and India the Syndicalist groups form guerrilla armies proving formidable opponents to the established governments. In Khmer however the monarchy was overthrown by moderate republicans in 1996. This unstable government was in turn ousted by the charismatic Syndicalist leader Khieu Minh who had stoked up anti-Thai and anti-Viet passions and could rely on a massive peasant militia. This new government swiftly came under attack from Viet Nam and Thailand, with implicit backing from European nations, and has used this as an excuse not to implement widespread Syndicalist policies other than effectively dispossessing the elites.

This has disappointed many Syndicalists who hoped a working and peaceful government could prove to the world the validity of the theory. However as Syndicalism is itself severely divided between differing schools of thought often hostile to other's interpretations it is likely no one system of syndicalist government would satisfy all.

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