When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921
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The United States looks today much like it did in the late 19th to early 20th century. Open class conflict is disappearing, strikes are becoming rare, unions are declining, corporate power is growing, and work is insecure and contingent. When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921 explores one of the most tumultuous times in United States history. Self-organised workers recomposed their power by devising new strategies and tactics to disrupt the capitalist economy and extract concessions. Mine, railroad, steel, and iron workers pursued a strategy of tension that sometimes erupted into militant class conflict and general strikes in which workers took over and ran a number of cities. Turning common wisdom on its head, When Workers Shot Back argues that the escalation of working class conflict drives rather than reacts to the consolidation and reorganisation of capital and economic and political reform of the state. Studying the class composition of this period illustrates why workers escalated the intensity of their tactics, even using tactical violence, to extract concessions and reforms when all other efforts to do so were blocked, coopted or repressed.