Coalitions across the Class Divide: Lessons from the Labor, Peace, and Environmental Movements

Coalitions across the Class Divide: Lessons from the Labor, Peace, and Environmental Movements

Coalitions across the Class Divide: Lessons from the Labor, Peace, and Environmental Movements

Coalitions across the Class Divide: Lessons from the Labor, Peace, and Environmental Movements

Synopsis

Rose brings the challenges and potential of coalition organising to life through a look at cases of conflict and cooperation. These cases teach practical lessons about the processes and pitfalls of organising across movements and classes.

Excerpt

This book is rooted in my experiences, struggles, and questions as a white, middle-class guy seeking to contribute to social justice and social change. I've spent a good part of the past two decades exploring how I could be effective in this vocation. What follows are the best personal and political answers I've found both as an organizer and as a student of social movements.

Born at the start of the 1960s, the son of two research scientists, I have been both blessed and cursed to have internalized two conflicting sets of values -- a professional, middle-class ethic of personal success and a countercultural ethic of living for and in the present. a recurring theme in my life is whether to pursue a traditional professional career or to find work as an activist. This has given me a critical view of middle-class lifestyles, even though I now find myself in one. As a result my analysis of middle-class (and working-class) cultures in this book speaks to some of my own ghosts.

My focus on working- and middle-class coalitions dates back to 1985-87, when I directed a military conversion project with a peace organization in Tacoma, Washington, called Sixth Sense. We built a successful coalition with metal trades unions in the shipyards as Navy contracts dried up at the end of the Reagan military boom. the coalition eventually brought new state ferry contracts to Tacoma by changing restrictive state insurance requirements. the act of summoning my courage, going down to the union halls, and trying to bring workers into the coalition had a profound effect on me. It taught me about the social and physical distances I needed to cross.

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