Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901)
During his short but brilliant life Fernand Pelloutier became one of the
most influential figures in French working-class history. He began life as a
journalist, and joined the Marxist Parti Ouvrier Francais, but became
disgusted with the dogmatism of the leaders and turned to anarchism. In 1885
he became the secretary of the Federation des Bourses de Travail, the
equivalent of local trades councils in English-speaking countries, and there
developed his anarcho-syndicalist idea that the trades union or syndicate
could become at the same time a means of carrying on the struggle for social
change and a model for the free communist world of the future.
Pelloutier was the major theorist of anarcho-syndicalism and is
perhaps more deserving to be known for initiating the theory of syndicalism
than Georges Sorel.