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The Left was Right: Radical Politics and Labor Militancy 1945-2020

Author-activists Toni Gilpin and John Nichols discuss the historic consequences of the ousting of the Democrats' progressive wing.

Seventy five years ago, Vice President Henry Wallace’s antiracist, progressive political vision—as well as his nomination to remain vice president—was sidelined by Democratic big city bosses and southern segregationists.

As history repeats itself through Democratic insiders' staunch rejection of the Sanders campaign, how should radicals engage with the Democratic Party?

Wallace's ouster set the stage for a continued pattern of Democratic concessions to the right, and a series of blows to labor unions. As organized labor collapsed, so did the standard of living for the American working class.

In this virtual teach-in, the authors will contend with this history and offer takeaways for radicals from the campaign trail to the factory floor.

John Nichols is the author of The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party: The Enduring Legacy of Henry Wallace's Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics, the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times, and the associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times. He’s the author of several books, including The Death and Life of American Journalism, The Genius of Impeachment and The "S" Word.

Toni Gilpin is a labor historian, activist and writer. She is the author of The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland. She is a co-author of On Strike for Respect: The Clerical and Technical Workers’ Strike at Yale University, and is the recipient of the 2018 Debra Bernhardt Award for Labor Journalism.

For further reading on radical US history and workers struggle check out Haymarket's Class War Reading List.

  • The Long Deep Grudge

    A powerful account of the epic clash between corporate greed and militant workers in the American heartland.

  • Class War, USA

    An engaging collection of riveting stories about working people in United States history fighting back in the darkest times.
  • On New Terrain

    An insightful and timely analysis of how global economic restructuring will impact workers' struggles in the US.
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