Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States
In her book, Smith explores how the connection between the U.S. labor movement and the Democratic Party, with its extensive corporate ties, has repeatedly held back working-class struggles. And she closely examines the role of the labor movement in the 2004 presidential election, tracing the shrinking electoral influence of organized labor and the failure of labor-management cooperation, “business unionism,” and reliance on the Democrats to deliver any real gains.
The title is taken from the inspiring words of August Spies, a U.S. radical and labor activist executed during the fight for the eight-hour day. He said, “If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement, then hang us. Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you, and in front of you, the flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out. The ground is on fire upon which you stand.” These words remain fundamentally true today, as Sharon Smith demonstrates by tracing the legacy of workers' struggle from August Spies’ days to the present.
Smith writes about her book: "This accessible, critical history of the U.S. labor movement examines the hidden history of workers’ resistance from the nineteenth century to the present. Workers in the U.S. have a rich tradition of fighting back which remains largely hidden. Subterranean Fire brings that history to light and reveals its lessons for today."
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