Finding Labor’s Voice

Finding Labor’s Voice

From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America’s Future
by Stanley Aronowitz
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998, 256 pp., $25

The appearance of Stanley Aronowitz’s new book on the future of American labor comes precisely a quarter-century after he burst into the consciousness of my New Left generation with the publication of False Promises: The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousness. That book took its title and much of its spirit from an old bit of communist doggerel:

The Cloakmakers Union is a no-good union
It’s a company union by the bosses . . .
The Dubinskys, the Hillquits, the Thomases
By the workers are making false promises.
They preach socialism but they practice fascism
To save capitalism by the bosses

Needless to say, this little poem appears nowhere in From the Ashes of the Old. Aronowitz, a professor of sociology at the City University of New York, writes not as the visionary partisan of some radical union future, but as an advocate ...

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