Organized Labor and the Crisis of Democracy 

The very establishment of democracy in the first place—universal suffrage and equal voting “weight” across classes—was in large measure the achievement of unions, labor-based political parties (whether called Socialist, Social Democrat, Labor, or some other name), and mass working-class protest. To quote one scholar, throughout the long struggle across the West to broaden the franchise, from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries, the labor movement “was the only consistent democratic force in the arena,” playing a “vital role” at nearly all stages in most countries. In Britain, for example, decades of labor organizing and mass demonstrations, from the Chartists of the 1830s to the working-class Reform League of the 1860s and further union agitation up to the 1880s, were a crucial precondition for the enfranchisement of all men. By the early twentieth century, the new Labor Party also supported the women’s suffrage movement.

Source: Opinion | Organized Labor and the Crisis of Democracy | Chris Wright

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