Thomas Mackaman calls “the phenomenon of mass international immigration” the “most consciously-experienced element” of the contradiction between the growth in the productive forces and capitalist social relations based in the nation-state system.
The author has done what historians must strive to do: hold a lantern to those overlooked but decisive moments in history the lessons of which must be assimilated to combat political reaction today. New Immigrants and the Radicalization of American Labor is not a general labor history of the 1914-24 period. Instead, the book is centered on three specific sections of the working class in the US: coal miners in Illinois, steelworkers in the 1919 national steel strike, and miners in Northern Minnesota’s iron range. The three industries were constituent parts of the emerging national steel industry and were linked by the Great Lakes as an internal waterway.