Labor and the American Left

An Analytical History


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About the Book

According to public opinion data over the past decade, most Americans hold center-left attitudes regarding key economic and social policy issues. Recent polls even show significant support of “socialism” among American adults, especially self-identified Democrats and the “millennial generation.” At the same time, the focus of the mass media has been on a widespread right-wing “populism,” while movements on the left seem to lack political clout. In order to better understand this dichotomy, this book explores relations between organized labor and left-wing parties and movements in America at crucial junctures from the 1870s to the present. Providing fresh insight into current political developments, it highlights emerging alternatives and major challenges facing labor and the left today.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Mel van Elteren is an emeritus associate professor of social sciences at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He has published several books and articles in sociology, social psychology and cultural studies, with special interest in American society, politics and labor.

Bibliographic Details

Mel van Elteren
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 259
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6487-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8880-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1

1. The U.S. Political System and Institutional Constraints on Labor- Based Politics      9
2. Organized Labor, Socialist Parties, and Early Efforts to Establish a Labor Party      36
3. Labor and the Left during the New Deal and the Onset of the Cold War      73
4. Corporate Assaults on the Labor Left and the Limits of Postwar Liberalism      103
5. Labor Renewal and the Issues of Immigration, Globalized Production and Erosion of Workers’ Rights      130
6. The Legacy of U.S. Labor Politics and Challenges Facing the Left      163

Notes      191
Bibliography      213
Index      231