Criminal Syndicalism Law and Legal Definition

Criminal syndicalism is a doctrine which advocates crime, sabotage, violence or other unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform. The advocates of this doctrine believe that unions should run the nation’s economy.

Criminal syndicalism is associated with a radical labor organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World. Half the states passed criminal syndicalism laws just after World War I. Their target was the Industrial Workers of the World. In California, a person could be convicted for having once belonged to the IWW. In New Mexico, an employer could be prosecuted for hiring an anarchist.

Criminal syndicalism was punished as a felony. Statutes made it a crime to defend, advocate, or set up an organization committed to the use of crime, violence, sabotage, or other unlawful means to bring about a change in the form of government or in industrial ownership or control. A number of radicals were prosecuted for criminal syndicalism after World War I. Prosecution for criminal syndicalism was done during labor troubles.