Old School Labor Writing? Any Recommendations?

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Old School Labor Writing? Any Recommendations?

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Feb. 21, 2008, 12:15am

Simone Weil The Need for RootsAlthough she was terrible at it, she worked in French factories for a while to inform and ground her more speculative writing about labor.
Charles Dickens Hard Times Dickens is politically naive and sentimental; still his depiction of miners and factory workers and the factory owner is fabulous.
Let me Live by Angelo Herndon. A labor organizer in the 1930s. Langston Hughes wrote a play and a poem about him.
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
Dorothy Day co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, still alive and well.
Harry Bridges: the rise and fall radical labor in the U..S. Charles P. Larrowe
Does anyone read Marx anymore?!

Feb. 21, 2008, 5:54am

North and South is probably more interesting than Hard Times if you're looking at Victorian attitudes to labour-management relations, but neither is exactly a socialist text. The usual Victorian message that some employers may be bad, but all trade unionists are worse, and the worst thing of all is upsetting the status quo. David Lodge's Nice work is an amusing modern take on North and South.

Zola's novels are probably worth a look as well - Germinal on miners, La terre on agricultural workers, for instance.

If you're talking "old-style" you should probably include Wells and Shaw, although I haven't read much by either for a very long time. Or Marx.

Don't forget George Orwell - The road to Wigan Pier, Down and out in Paris and London, etc.

Feb. 21, 2008, 9:01am

You could go right to the source, the International Workers of the World is still around. Their web site is iww.com and they have lists of titles by and about their founders and early members. I have not been able to read any of them yet, I have been to involved in the reading I need to get done to earn my degree. Elizabeth Gurly Flynn is someone worth reading / reading about. She was a Wobblie, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and went to prison for her political activities.

Feb. 21, 2008, 9:16am