Imagining Internationalism in American and British Labor, 1939-49

Imagining Internationalism in American and British Labor, 1939-49

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Vividly capturing a moment in history when American and British unions seemed about to join with their Soviet counterparts to create a world unified by its workers, this wide-ranging study uncovers the social, cultural, and ideological currents that generated worldwide support among workers for a union international as well as the pull of national interests that ultimately subverted it. In a striking departure from the conventional wisdom, Victor Silverman argues that the ideology of the cold war was essentially imposed from above and came into conflict with the attitudes workers developed about internationalism. This work, the first to look at internationalism from the point of view of the worker, confirms at the level of social and cultural history that the postwar tensions between the Anglo-Americans and the Soviets took several years to become a new orthodoxy. Silverman demonstrates that for millions of trade unionists in dozens of countries the Cold War began in late 1948, rather than between 1945 and 1946, as generally recorded by diplomatic historians.
Tracing the faultlines between politics and ideals and between national and class allegiances, Silverman shows how the vision of an international working-class recovery was ultimately discredited and the cold war set inexorably in motion.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 165.1 x 230 x 19.05mm | 565g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252024907
  • 9780252024900

Review quote

"This carefully documented book makes novel use of opinion surveys of workers and offers a detailed picture of international aspects of labor union activity during a momentous period in international affairs. A worthy addition to this important series." -- Choice "Silverman does not like the ending, but he tells the story very well." -- Ronald L. Filippelli, American Historical Review, "Silverman's research will surely have to be considered seriously in all future discussions of twentieth-century labor." -- Bryan D. Palmer, Journal of American History "This is a book about failure. Silverman has examined the failure of the social democratic promise to embed itself as the reality of the lives of people in the post-World War II world... An extremely rich and suggestive work... Silverman's contribution is in illuminating the role of the TUC and the CIO while paying close attention to the relationship between the rank and file and international relations in the two countries." -- Stephen Burwood, Labor History, ADVANCE PRAISE "A well-crafted, fully engaged historical argument that all students of the postwar world must confront."-Nelson Lichtenstein
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