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Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States?
     

Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States?

by Robin Archer
 

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ISBN-10: 0691127018

ISBN-13: 9780691127019

Pub. Date: 01/03/2008

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Why is the United States the only advanced capitalist country with no labor party? This question is one of the great enduring puzzles of American political development, and it lies at the heart of a fundamental debate about the nature of American society. Tackling this debate head-on, Robin Archer puts forward a new explanation for why there is no American labor

Overview

Why is the United States the only advanced capitalist country with no labor party? This question is one of the great enduring puzzles of American political development, and it lies at the heart of a fundamental debate about the nature of American society. Tackling this debate head-on, Robin Archer puts forward a new explanation for why there is no American labor party—an explanation that suggests that much of the conventional wisdom about "American exceptionalism" is untenable.

Conventional explanations rely on comparison with Europe. Archer challenges these explanations by comparing the United States with its most similar New World counterpart—Australia. This comparison is particularly revealing, not only because the United States and Australia share many fundamental historical, political, and social characteristics, but also because Australian unions established a labor party in the late nineteenth century, just when American unions, against a common backdrop of industrial defeat and depression, came closest to doing something similar.

Archer examines each of the factors that could help explain the American outcome, and his systematic comparison yields unexpected conclusions. He argues that prosperity, democracy, liberalism, and racial hostility often promoted the very changes they are said to have obstructed. And he shows that it was not these characteristics that left the United States without a labor party, but, rather, the powerful impact of repression, religion, and political sectarianism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691127019
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/03/2008
Series:
Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives Series
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

List of Figures xi
List of Tables xii
List of Abbreviations xiii
Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1
Labor-based Parties 3
Explaining by Comparing 6
Some Possible Objections 10
Historical Overview 13
Mutual Awareness 17
Chapter Summary 19

Chapter 1: Workers 23
Prosperity 23
Skilled and Unskilled Workers 31
The Effect of the New Unionism 36
Workers and Farmers 39
Conclusion 47

Chapter 2: Race 49
The Extent of Racial Hostility 50
The Effect in Australia 55
The Effect in the United States Compared 58
European Immigration 63
Conclusion 71

Chapter 3: Elections and the Constitution 73
Early Suffrage 73
The Electoral System 77
Multimember Districts 80
The Case of Illinois 82
Federalism 84
Presidentialism 86
Conclusion 91

Chapter 4: The Courts 93
The Court Repression Thesis 93
Labor Law and the Courts 95
Union Attitudes towards Politics 98
The Effect of Court Repression 102
Conclusion 110

Chapter 5: Repression 112
Two Theses on Repression 112
The Extent of Repression 113
Soldiers and Police 121
The Effect of Repression in Australia 124
The Effect in the United States Compared 127
The Effect in Illinois Compared 133
Complexities and Qualifications 139
Conclusion 141

Chapter 6: Liberalism 143
Social Egalitarianism 145
Labor Leaders in Australia 147
Labor Leaders in the United States 152
Were Their Claims Plausible? 155
Individual Freedom 160
Labor Leaders in Australia 160
Labor Leaders in the United States 164
Were Their Claims Plausible? 168
Conclusion 175

Chapter 7: Religion 177
The Extent of Religious Involvement 178
The Nature of Religious Beliefs 179
Protestant Clergy 182
Catholic Clergy 184
The Response of Labor Leaders to Clerical Hostility 187
Religion and the Party System 188
The Late 1880s and the Early 1890s 193
The Effect in the United States 197
The Effect in Australia Compared 200
Conclusion 204

Chapter 8: Socialism 207
Left-Wing Reform Ideologies 208
Labor Parties and Left-Wing Factionalism 214
Socialists and Unionists in the United States 219
Socialists and Unionists in Australia Compared 225
Conclusion 230

Conclusion 233
Negative Findings 233
Positive Findings 237
American Politics and Society 241
Appendix: Notes and Sources for the Tables 245
Notes 257
Bibliography 299
Index 337

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