A Contest of Ideas: Capital, Politics and Labor (Working Class in American History)

A Contest of Ideas: Capital, Politics and Labor (Working Class in American History)

Nelson Lichtenstein

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 025207940X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For more than thirty years Nelson Lichtenstein has deployed his scholarship--on labor, politics, and social thought--to chart the history and prospects of a progressive America. A Contest of Ideas collects and updates many of Lichtenstein's most provocative and controversial essays and reviews.

These incisive writings link the fate of the labor movement to the transformations in the shape of world capitalism, to the rise of the civil rights movement, and to the activists and intellectuals who have played such important roles. Tracing broad patterns of political thought, Lichtenstein offers important perspectives on the relationship of labor and the state, the tensions that sometimes exist between a culture of rights and the idea of solidarity, and the rise of conservatism in politics, law, and intellectual life. The volume closes with portraits of five activist intellectuals whose work has been vital to the conflicts that engage the labor movement, public policy, and political culture.

The Johnstown Flood

This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America

Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream

Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America

Painter in a Savage Land: The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America

The Naked Eye (Kendra Michaels, Book 3)



















itinerant radical named Joe. This old Wobbly, this “Vanishing American,” becomes Walter’s mentor, offering him a credo that would also guide Swados as a reporter and critic of industrial America: “Never mind the machinery. Remember the men. The men make the machines and they make their own tragedies too.” Swados revealed himself to be very much an intellectual of the 1950s—aware of injustice but incapable of pointing toward any fundamental resolution. In his emphasis on the alienation of modern

Shadow of the Racketeer: Scandal in Organized LaborDavid Witwer Sweet Tyranny: Migrant Labor, Industrial Agriculture, and Imperial PoliticsKathleen Mapes Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor MovementSteven K. Ashby and C. J. Hawking On the Ground: Labor Struggles in the American Airline IndustryLiesl Miller Orenic NAFTA and Labor in North AmericaNorman Caulfield Making Capitalism Safe: Work Safety and Health Regulation in America, 1880–1940Donald W. Rogers Good, Reliable, White Men:

counsel Lee Pressman put it in 1947, “When you think of it merely as a combination of individual provisions, you are losing entirely the full impact of the program, the sinister conspiracy that has been hatched.” Union leaders correctly recognized that the act represented the definitive end of the brief era when the state served as an arena in which the trade unions could bargain for the kind of tripartite accommodation with industry that had been so characteristic of the New Deal years. At the

to the demobilization and depoliticization of a large part of the American working class in these years. Denied access to a political leadership that could articulate their specific class-oriented interests, workers found their consciousness shaped either by the parochial interests of their union or, more likely, by the vaguely populist rhetoric of mainstream Democrats.51 Privatization of the Welfare State After 1947 the defensive political posture adopted by even the most liberal of the CIO

key unions, and despite the recruitment of thousands of energetic new organizers, the United States remains politically and legally hostile terrain for the revival of trade unionism, regardless of its structure, leadership, industry, or demographic composition. As the Human Rights Watch report Unfair Advantage pointed out in such graphic detail: “millions of workers are excluded from coverage by laws to protect rights of organizing, bargaining, and striking . . . recourse for labor rights

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