Capitalism and Class Conflict in U.S. History

Assignment 1:

    Attend the talk by Robert Reich, Thursday, November 2, 4 p.m., in Campbell Hall entitled “How Did We Get Into This Mess?” Write a one page summary of the main points Reich makes in the talk and hand it in at the start of class on November 6. If you cannot attend the talk read Paul Krugman’s review of Robert Reich’s latest book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and write a one page summary of the main points Krugman makes about Reich’s books. That review is entitled “Challenging the Oligarchy” (New York Review of Books, December 17, 2015) and it can be found by plugging Paul Krugman, “Challenging the Oligarchy” into any web browser. It is also on Gauchospace. 

Assignment 2: 

    This four-page, double-spaced paper is due November 13 at the start of class. 

Construct a narrative and an argument that answers one of the following two questions? 

1. Did collective bargaining in the four decades after the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935 resolve the “labor question” that so troubled so many Americans in the 19th century and the early 20th.? In answering this question you will want to define the labor question as it evolved over time and also discuss how collective bargaining worked in its heyday.  Rely upon Herbert Gutman’s essay, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919” and Daniel Nelson’s  “Taylorism and Welfare Capitalism,” both on Gauchospace, as well as relevant chapters in the book by Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union.

2. To what degree did mid 20th century American capitalists and the managers of large corporations accommodate the existence of a trade union movement that had influence in politics and in the economic life of the nation and the companies that employed so many workers now enrolled in trade unions. Do not ignore the business critique or acceptance of the New Deal liberalism that most unions endorsed and sustained. In answering this question you will want to rely upon Daniel Nelson’s “Taylorism and Welfare Capitalism” and Kim Phillips-Fein’s “The Business Challenge to Liberalism,” both on Gauchospace, as well as the relevant chapters in the book by Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union.

A successful essay demonstrates an understanding of the arguments put forward by each author. But avoid long quotations from any one essay and instead use example and narrative, in your own words, to explain the meaning of each author and the kind of evidence he or she marshals to sustain their version of history.  In this short essay, the point is not to compare one author to another but to use their work to construct your own argument. 

Be sure to write and spell using correct English. Proofread your paper at least once before you turn it in. Normally, you will want to outline your argument, or offer an overview of the paper, in the very first paragraph. Get to the point. Don’t throw in background material that is not relevant to the argument you will make in your paper. 

Do not use social science notation! Instead use the kind of footnotes or endnotes deployed by the historians writing in State of the Union or in the American Historical Review.  Here are some examples:

Although many companies enjoyed placid bargaining relationships with unions representing their employees, the Kohler Corporation in Wisconsin bitterly resisted unionization and spread the anti-union message far and wide.   Indeed, many such business conservatives were influenced by European anti-Marxists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. 

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