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Review of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States - Book Report/Review Example

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Review of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States

e General Motors workers is one of the greatest workers struggle (Smith 136).The struggle was characterized by a decline in the number of union members, reliance on institutionalized labor-management cooperation schemes by the labor officials, disorganization of non-union manufacturing and service sectors, and concession bargaining.
Smith made several arguments towards working-class radicalism in the US labor movement. She argues that the decline in union membership in 1940s and 1950s coincided with the resultant fall in working-class radicalism and McCarthyism where the highest levels of government-purged radicals from the labor movement thereby eliminating radical traditions in the working class (Smith 63). She equally argues that despite relatively higher wages and greater opportunities in the U.S, workers in the 19th and 20th centuries could venture in militancy and organization. Additionally, she argued that the three features of U.S. capitalist development that fueled industrial militancy and divided the US working class in the second half of the 19th century were individual, permanent, and not temporary (Smith 7). Smith also denotes that the early universal white male suffrage, immigration, and the expansion of the agro-industrial frontier are not the causes of the U.S. labor movement’s failure to create its own political party. Instead, she argues that reliance on political repression, high degree of racism and racial segregation, and the shared rule of the Democrats and Republicans, attribute to the failure of the U.S. labor movement to create its own political party. Indeed, she says racism considerably benefits the capitalist class and that the white workers have a mandate to fight racism. Smith argues that the postwar social contract that exchanged peace with rising wages and benefits largely led to rising working-class living standards but carried with it massive exploitation (Smith 208). Smith equally notes that the emerging bureaucracy of the ...Show more
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The struggle for abolition of slavery, the battle for Reconstruction, and the subsequent victories were radical initiatives that led to the emergence of U.S multiracial labor movement (Smith xv). Many historians and…
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