Left-wing politics have traditionally been divided in to two broad categories. One is Socialism, which includes Social Democracy and Soviet Communism, where the other is Anarchism, which includes a number of different schools of thought. The major difference is the approach these political traditions have towards the state. While the first group sees the state as a tool to be used to achieve its political, economic and social goals (the welfare state, centrally-planned economies etc.) the later group looks at the state with skepticism and rejection. The state, by its very nature, is viewed by anarchists as a destructive institution, that can be used only to oppress, but not to emancipate human beings. Thus anarchists look for ways of organizing the society and the economy that are not based on the coercive nature of the state.
In this classic book, Rudolf Rocker, a known anarchist of the early 20th century, explores the idea and practice of Anarcho-Syndicalism, a specific anarchist school of thought that focuses on the use of direct action as well as the role of the trade unions in the future organization of society. Anarcho-syndicalism was mostly influential in the first half of the 20th century, with its climax being the application of its ideas during the Spanish civil-war.
While Rocker's book is in many ways outdated, it is still considered a classic general account of anarcho-syndicalism, and can easily be used as an introduction to anarcho-syndicalist ideas. With the fall of planned economies in 1991, and the economic crisis of 2008, both Soviet communism and capitalism are seen by more and more people as inadequate models for our economic and social organization. Anarchism, or some of its ideas, however, could be used as a basis for new forms of organizing our society outside the control of the state or of the capitalist organization of production.
Five stars because this is a good edition of a classic political text.