Was revolutionary syndicalism the most salient characteristic of the French labour movement between 1890 and 1914, as most historians have claimed? Are the terms used to describe syndicalism - revolutionary, violent, anti-organisation, individualistic - equally applicable to the French "National character"?
Professor Stearns answers no. The prevalent theory, he says, is based on the false assumption that the ideology of the syndicalist movement necessarily expressed the true aims of the workers themselves. What, then, did French workmen really want from their employers? What goals did they set for themselves and what tactics were they willing to use? Were these the same as those their syndicalist leaders agitated for?