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From the Ashes of the Old: A Critical Analysis of American Labor, Social Movements, and Cooptation
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This project is an analysis of the ways in which the power structure maintains hegemony and ideological dominance when confronted with challenges. Challenges to the power structure typically emerge in the form of social movements. Using conventional and Marxist theories, the American labor movement as an historical case study, and cross-national comparisons, I establish a perspective of social movements and socioeconomic power dynamics which asserts that cooptation is the primary method used by the ruling class to maintain ideological dominance and hegemony. I argue that the American labor movement at its most radical and militant was an effective force for change against the power structure. At the opposite end, I claim that today’s institutionalized movements, from the AFL-CIO to what is called the Nonprofit Industrial Complex, hinder social movement radicalism and effectiveness and aid in the maintenance of the capitalist status quo. In the concluding chapter, I present prospects for the future of militant working class activism and identify essential components for the development of a proletarian movement that is capable of effectively challenging the power structure.