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

by Sharon Smith

Workers in the United States have a rich tradition of fighting back and achieving gains previously thought unthinkable, from the weekend, to health care, to the right to even form a union.

But in 2005, the number of workers organized in unions reached a 100-year low in both the public and private sectors, even though more and more people would like the protection of a union, and real wages for most workers have stagnated or declined since the early 1970s.

Smith explores how the connection between the US labor movement and the Democratic Party, with its extensive corporate ties, has repeatedly held back working-class struggles. And she closely examines the role of the labor movement in the 2004 presidential election, tracing the shrinking electoral influence of organized labor and the failure of labor-management cooperation, “business unionism,” and reliance on the Democrats to deliver any real gains.

Smith shows how a return to the fighting traditions of US labor history, with their emphasis on rank-and-file strategies for change, can turn around the labor movement.

Subterranean Fire brings working-class history to light and reveals its lessons for today.

Sharon Smith is the author of Women and Socialism, also published by Haymarket Books, as well as many articles on women’s liberation and the US working class. Her writings appear regularly in Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review. She has also written for the journal Historical Materialism and is a contributor to Iraq Under Siege :The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War and Women and the Revolution by Ethel Mannin. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Download Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States epub
ISBN: 193185923X
ISBN13: 978-1931859233
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Politics & Government
Author: Sharon Smith
Language: English
Publisher: Haymarket Books (February 1, 2006)
Pages: 320 pages
ePUB size: 1357 kb
FB2 size: 1767 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 769
Other Formats: mbr azw rtf lrf

In a culture of induced amnesia, recovering labor history amounts to an insurrectionary act. The blackout has been in process for some time. The roots go back to the McCarthy purges when labor's vision was severed from its arms, legs, and spirit. How surprising is it that the movement has been stumbling ever since. The twin crashes of the Republican administration and Wall Street culminate a process that began with HUAC, passed into George Meany, to Ronald Reagan, before dead-ending in a Bush. Now the cumulative effects have finally caught up as Americans struggle to pay big bills with little wages, resulting in an economy that unsurprisingly teeters on the brink. It's tempting to say that the proverbial chickens have finally come home to roost.

Smith's account begins in 1900 with the battle for industrial unions and ends with hurricane Katrina. It's a good medium-length (300 pps.) compendium: scholarly, non-polemical, but with a pro-labor perspective. Much of the history is familiar, particularly those classic periods of intense organizing (e.g. 1930's). Smith's work extends the standard coverage through 2006 to include the illustrative UPS and Caterpillar strikes of the new millennium. The story of labor's decline is told in a series of revealing statistics leading up to and prefiguring the current economic impasse. Also distinguishing the text is an illuminating chapter on racism and how it has propelled the American labor movement onto a unique path that diverges, for example, from European counterparts.

Now that the heady days of a new capitalism have collapsed into an uncertain future, yesterday's impossibles have become today's possibles. The bread and butter that labor thought so secure is now off the table and renewed vision is needed. But it's hard to know where to go unless you know where you've been. Smith's handy tome lays out those footprints.
Most people don't even know it but a war is raging today in America and globally... not the war on terror.... rather the war on labor, the war on the middle class. Wanna know more? Get this pivotal book and prepare to arm yourself
good book
There are stories in this book that should be part of every textbook in the United States. The attacks on the miners in the Appalachians, the Ludlow massacre of women and children in Colorado, the police and military attacks on striking textile workers in Gastonia, NC, the remarks of various capitalists regarding their opinion of those that made them their riches, the persecution of labor and other radicals throughout the past 150 years, and the manipulation of the public by the two-party system--a manipulation that means the worker gets screwed no matter who he or she votes for. Women on the barricades and the Wobblies. Likewise, the tales of racial and ethnic prejudices that caused strikes and solidarity to fall apart should be told. This latter aspect of US labor history is very important today as immigrants flex their political muscle in the streets of the country and the power elites attempt to create and widen divisions between these immigrants and those US workers that were born here. If workers don't learn from history and oppose these attempts to divide us, Subterranean Fire makes it abundantly clear that all workers will suffer. And only the bosses will win. When lessons from our history are common knowledge we can move ahead in a manner that will bring a movement back onto US soil that protects the lives and rights of the working people in this country.

Smith's book is the perfect vehicle for such an endeavor. It is a readable, lively tale of the worker's movement in the United States. A collection of statistics and anecdotal stories combined with a critical analysis, it is at times despairingly downbeat and at other times exhilaratingly hopeful. Subterranean Fire's a piece of agitational literature. If there's one message that exists in its pages, it is this: Don't just read, organize.
This brilliant book is indispensable reading for any labor activist worth their salt. Get it and clear your schedule for the next 24 hours while you soak up the electrifying history of working-class radicalism in the United States.

Smith's case is meticulous and convincing: The American working-class is far more combative and ingenuitive than its given credit for by the mainstream. And the author's conclusions are provocative: The working-class is a juggernaut in need of an independent, democratic leadership that can fully realize its class interests.

This book is worth it for the highlights of class struggle alone from Toledo, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Birmingham, Detroit, New York, Seattle and beyond. But what makes it truly valuable is its political analysis of the current labor movement slump. Smith is no labor cheerleader nor academic arm-chair quarterback, she's the salt of the movement.