Socialism and Labor: Theory and Praxis
Special Issue of Labor Studies Journal
In conjunction with the 2018 United Association for Labor Education Annual Conference
April 4-7, 2018
Seattle, Washington

Many people believe that socialism as a viable economic system became unfeasible with the historical and political collapse of “actually existing socialism” in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries from 1989 to 1991. Moreover, with the British Labor Party under the leadership of Tony Blair jettisoning Clause IV in 1994 in preparation for the advent of New Labour and the Third Way, even social-democratic parties committed to a parliamentary road to socialism appeared to abandon any hopes of achieving such an economic system instead opting for promoting “capitalism with a human face.” Such triumphalism, as indicated in Francis Fukuyama’s book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), contended that liberal democracies and free market capitalism had won the worldwide ideological struggle against socialism.

Events of the last decade, however, point to the continued relevancy of socialism. The increasing financialization of the US, and other post-industrial, economies over the last three decades, the Great Recession of 2008, and the tremendous growth in wage inequality has resulted in the reevaluation of socialism by many people. The popularity of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, an open socialist, during the 2016 US presidential campaign, the election of the Syriza government in Greece in 2015 and the recent rise of Podemos in Spain indicate that many people continue to view socialism as a viable alternative to capitalism. Moreover, polls in early 2017 indicated that 40% of Americans preferred socialism to capitalism.

Socialists have been active at the times of the formation of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886 and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905. Furthermore, socialists of various stripes (Communists, Socialists, and Trotskyists for example) were instrumental in organizing and leading many of the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) unions from 1935 to 1950. As stated by Big Bill Haywood, an IWW leader, there is a natural relationship between socialism and labor because labor unions represent “socialism with its working clothes on.”

This call for papers seeks manuscripts examining the relationship between socialism and labor in various theoretical and practical contexts. We welcome papers on historical case studies of the role of various groups of socialists who have been active and/or instrumental in shaping the theory and praxis of particular unions (whether affiliated to the AFL, IWW, CIO or independent), trade union federations and/or labor movements. We also are interested in theoretical papers on the relationship between labor and various ideologies of socialism (Marxism, Fabianism, anarchism, etc.) for guiding the practice of particular unions, trade union federations and/or labor movements. We welcome studies that focus on the United States, Canada, other individual nations or that are cross-cultural or comparative in nature. Finally, we are interested in the role of socialists and the role socialists and various ideologies of socialism have played in guiding the theory and practice of transnational labor organizations (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Federation of Trade Unions, International Trade Union Confederation, etc.) from an historical perspective.

Interested authors should submit an abstract of 500 words, along with full contact information to Professor Robert Bruno at Any questions about the submission should be directed to Proposals should be submitted by December 31, 2017. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editor. Acceptance of proposals is conditional upon authors presenting their papers at the 2018 UALE Conference. Only papers accepted for presentation at the 2018 Conference will be eligible to be submitted to a peer reviewed process for possible publication in a LSJ-UALE-Special Conference Issue.

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