The Making of Western Labor Radicalism

The Making of Western Labor Radicalism

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Labor radicalism was a phenomenon of tremendous importance in early twentieth-century America, and nowhere was this more true than in the American West. Here the Industrial Workers of the World constituted a dramatic presence, capturing the imagination of immigrant workers and left-wing intellectuals alike with its practice of what has been called a qtrade unionism of the dispossessed.q The Making of Western Labor Radicalism breaks with standard interpretations to maintain that the IWW's emergence was a logical extension of late nineteenth-century labor traditions and not a sharp break with the past. David Brundage focuses on Denver's organized workers, showing that all of the IWW's key features - its syndicalism, its internationalism and racial egalitarianism, its commitment to organizing unskilled workers, and its effort to construct a movement culture - had deep roots in the city's craft union and labor reform movements. He relates ideological change to the social history of the city's working people. In developing his interpretation, Brundage also provides new information and fresh insights on a variety of topics: the role of Irish nationalism in the Knights of Labor, the meanings of working-class temperance, the origins of syndicalist theory, the impact of populism on the working class, and the roots of the trade union-Democratic party alliance that came to dominate the twentieth-century labor movement.Storekeepers, professionals, and independent artisans had dominated the occupational structure of pioneer Denver. But by 1880, census takers counted eighty-seven hundred wage-earning manual workers in the city, constituting 66 percent of the total work ... A commercial elite became visible as early as the mid- 1860s, when distinct commercial and residential areas of the town began taking shape.


Title:The Making of Western Labor Radicalism
Author:David Thomas Brundage
Publisher:University of Illinois Press - 1994
ISBN-13:

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