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View Diary: Could the 2008 Election be Like the 1932 Election? (339 comments)

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  •  Upton Sinclair ran in '34 (1+ / 0-)
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    Pesto

    A lot of the great '30s radicalism (especially labor-driven) did not sprout up until FDR's first term. Indeed, labor had been moribund since the 1920s. Corporatists were definitely controlling the levers of power until '32.

    The Republican Party is neither pro-republic nor pro-party. Discuss!

    by Nathaniel Ament Stone on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 07:04:28 PM PST

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    •  Long, Sinclair and the boom in organizing (0+ / 0-)

      in the 30s, though, didn't emerge like Athena out of FDR's head at his inauguration.  These all represented the culmination of generations of organizing, a great deal of it by ideologically-committed leftists.  Labor's success was, and to a good degree continues to be, cyclical, and the boom years of the 20s were definitely a down period.  But the desire to replace capitalism, and the organizational infrastructure to lead a pretty rebellious struggle to accomplish that, was there before 1932.

      My basic point is to step back from the nose-counting and try to assess the level of threat perceived by established power.  Their willingness to compromise, I believe, is entirely based on their sense that they face an existential threat, either to their wealth or to themselves.  The number of Dems in the House or Senate doesn't answer that question, and thus doesn't answer the question of whether the 2008 election will lead to a new New Deal.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 07:43:54 PM PST

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      •  No, You're Dead Wrong (0+ / 0-)

        The organizing drives of the 1930's DIDN'T emerge as a culmination of long decades of organizing.  Labor didn't do SHIT in the 20's, because it was still stuck in the Gompers mode of guild unionism, and the Wobblies were little more than a memory.  It was the REJECTION of previous generations that facilitated the creation of and growth of the CIO, that the creation of the NLRA, and the nurturing of the megalomaniac John L Lewis.  And most of the key people in labor, with only a few exceptions like Sidney Hillman, were very young.  And the experiences of Hillman, who DID work for years prior to the Depression, directly contradicts your argument:

        Sidney Hillman, the founder of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (now UNITE!) and its president from 1914 to 1946, invented trade unionism as we know it today. He sought "constructive cooperation" between the union and garment firms to ensure the economic health of the industry and raise the standards of workers within it and pioneered dispute resolution mechanisms that foreshadowed today's grievance and arbitration procedures. Thanks in large part to his efforts, political action and education became a priority within the labor movement. He also thought the union should serve the interests of its members both on and off the job by providing a wide variety of benefits and community services. And, as a close friend and influential adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hillman was instrumental in shaping landmark labor legislation protecting workers' rights and living standards...

        Hillman's policy of "constructive cooperation" with employers dated back to the first agreement he negotiated in Chicago. He continued his cooperative policies at the ACWA, even arranging loans and conducting efficiency studies for financially troubled employers. At the same time, Hillman pioneered popular educational and social programs for ACWA's members, including a low-cost cooperative housing project and unemployment insurance. In the 1920s, Hillman's "new unionism" was labor's best-known alternative to the "welfare capitalism" that many large corporations were adopting to enhance productivity and deter unionization.

        The Great Depression of 1929–1939 strengthened Hillman's belief in the importance of a strong partnership between government and labor. He was named to the Labor Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration in 1933 and to the National Industrial Recovery Board in 1934. One of his closest advisers helped Sen. Robert Wagner draft the historic labor legislation that became the National Labor Relations Act. And Hillman himself worked closely with Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins to draft a comprehensive wage and hours bill that eventually became the Fair Labor Standards Act.

        In the early 1930s, ACWA became one of labor's fastest-growing unions. Hillman, a supporter of industrial unionism, helped create the new Committee for Industrial Organization in 1935, and he forcefully argued the case for industrial unionism within the American Federation of Labor. In 1937, Hillman pulled ACWA (which had re-affiliated with the AFL in 1933) out of the AFL, joining John L. Lewis and others to found the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Elected first vice president of the CIO in 1937, Hillman headed up its Textile Workers Organizing Committee and its Department Store Workers Organizing Committee. In 1939, the former gave birth to the Textile Workers Union of America, with more than 100,000 members, while the latter led directly to the creation of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union of America.

        It was only after the creation of the CIO--AFTER Roosevelt's reelection--that the UAW organized General Motors.  That was AFTER organized labor mobilized votes for FDR.  That was two years AFTER the passage of the NLRA.  

        You're not dealing in labor and political history, you're dealing in romanticism.  

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 08:21:45 PM PST

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        •  Hillman had been president of the union (0+ / 0-)

          since WWI.  Harry Bridges had been a pain-in-the-ass to the ILA on the SF waterfront since the mid-late 20s.  Frances Perkins and Al Smith both emerged as figures in the wake of Triangle Shirtwaist years before.  Walter Reuther was busy working in a factory in the USSR at the beginning of the FDR presidency.  John L. Lewis had been a major figure in the UMW for decades.

          These folks, and others like them, had interests and careers as activists before 1932, except for Reuther among those I named.  The CIO was happy to have FDR in the White House, but believed absolutely in continuing to fight against their own bosses in ways we won't even consider today, even as FDR was busily assembling the New Deal.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 09:10:46 PM PST

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          •  The CIO Wasn't "Happy to Have FDR in the WH" (0+ / 0-)

            The CIO didn't EXIST until after FDR had been President for 3 years, and it didn't break from/get expelled from the AFL until AFTER the passage of the NLRA, which enabled labor to win massive organizing drives, through the use of sitdown strikes if deemed necessary.  You make it sound like it was around independent of FDR, when in fact it was in part created in response to the political and legal changes enacted under FDR.  

            And other than Bridges, every one of the people you mention worked solidly within the POLITICAL and ELECTORAL system, NOT through outside aggitation via massive protest, threats to the capitalist system, etc.  

            Not only are you trying to reverse the chronology to fit your romantic notions about labor history, you're providing the examples AGAINST your thesis.  

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 03:12:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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