1670s, "one who denies the validity of ruling power;" see anarchy + -ist. The word got a boost during the French Revolution; in 19c. it was used both of "one who advocates absence of government as a political ideal" (philosophical or scientific anarchism) and "one who seeks to overthrow violently all forms and institutions of society and government with no intention of establishing others."
1907, from French syndicalisme "movement to transfer ownership of means of production and distribution to industrial workers," from syndical "of a labor union," from syndic "chief representative" (see syndic).
"Syndicalism" is in France the new, all-absorbing form of Labor's conflict with Capital. Its growth has been so rapid that its gravity is not appreciated abroad. This year, even more than last, the strikes and other "direct action," which it has combined, have upset the industrial life of the country, and forced the attention of Parliament and Government. [The Nation, June 20, 1907]