How The Working Class Went Global
A captivating 'Who Do You Think You Are?' for today's anti-globalisation movement.
A Chinese woman pushes her way to the front of a hiring queue outside a factory in Shenzhen.... A Bolivian miner, without light or ventilation, crawls deep inside a deserted mine... A group of Somali cleaners files into an investment bank in London's Canary Wharf...
Globalisation has created a whole new working class - and they are reliving stories that were first played out a century ago. In Live Working or Die Fighting, Paul Mason tells the story of this new working class alongside the epic history of the global labour movement, from its formation in the factories of the 1800s to its near destruction by fascism in the 1930s. Along the way he provides a 'Who Do You Think You Are?' for the anti-globalisation movement, uncovering startling parallels between the issues that confronted the original anti-capitalists and those who have taken to the streets in Seattle, Genoa and beyond.
Blending exhilarating historical narrative with reportage from today's front line, he links the lives of 19th-century factory girls with the lives of teenagers in a giant Chinese mobile phone factory; he tells the story of how mass trade unions were born in London's Docklands - and how they're being reinvented by the migrant cleaners in skyscrapers that stand on the very same spot.
The stories come to life through the voices of remarkable individuals: child labourers in Dickensian England, visionary women on Parisian barricades, gun-toting railway strikers in America's wild west, and beer-swilling German metalworkers who tried to stop World War One. It is a story of urban slums, self-help co-operatives, choirs and brass bands, free love and self-education by candlelight. And, as the author shows, in the developing industrial economies of the world it is still with us. Live Working or Die Fighting celebrates a common history of defiance, idealism and self-sacrifice, one as alive and active today as it was two hundred years ago. It is a unique and inspirational book.
“This is micro-historical writing at its best”
Walden Bello, author of Dilemmas of Domination
“Vividly accessible... required reading for the Seattle brigade”
“'Don't die stupid. If you haven't read Mason's book, you know nothing about how this planet works...breathtaking, fascinating, perceptive...Damn, I wish I'd written this book”
Greg Palast, author of the New York Times bestseller Armed Madhouse
“Mason brings together a wealth of inspiring stories of workers' struggles of the past with accounts of workers' fights today.”
“Mason, using an impressive range of primary sources, recounts nine of the great stories of working-class revolts.”
The Irish Times