Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders - Vol. 2

Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders - Vol. 2

Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders - Vol. 2

Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders - Vol. 2

Synopsis

In almost 1,500 biographical entries, this comprehensive, authoritative reference work covers the European labor movement from its origins to the present. The entries are selected from all the countries of Europe, from Ireland in the west to Russia in the east and from Finland in the north to Greece in the south. Written by specialists in the labor history of the subject countries, the entries are arranged alphabetically, irrespective of the country of origin, while a state-by-state breakdown provides an additional source of information. Labor is defined broadly to include trade unions, political parties, cooperatives, and anarcho-syndicalist groups, but not so broadly as to include state-controlled bodies lacking democratic procedures.

Excerpt

No one scholar, however accomplished and erudite, can grasp in all its complexity and variety the history of European labor movements. When the idea of compiling a dictionary of European labor leaders was conceived the first thought of the editor was to secure a group of specialist advisers to lay the foundations of the project and to take responsibility for regions of Europe where they had expertise. The composition of the Editorial Board reflects this priority. Each of the main foci of European labor history is represented here: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Scandinavia and Eastern and Central Europe. I am most grateful to my editorial colleagues for agreeing so readily to participate in the project and to devote considerable effort to it over a number of years in the face of other pressing calls on their time.

The first task of the Editorial Board was to come to grips with a number of fundamental problems. How, for example, was Europe to be defined? Was there some general agreement on what constitutes labor? Could leadership be determined by some more or less objective measures? It soon became clear that there were few definitive answers to these questions. At the same time, however, it was equally apparent that there was broad agreement on the criteria to be applied even if this meant a degree of arbitrariness or uncertainty at the margins. Moreover, the editors had to exercise choice within the constraints unavoidably set by the publishers regarding the number and length of biographies to be included.

Initial discussions took place at a time when the political landscape in Europe was being transformed by the forces let loose by Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow. The transition to democratic and liberal political systems in the former Soviet satellites, as well as in the Soviet Union itself, was accompanied by the establishment of free market economies. While collectivism in all its forms remained anathema to large sections of the populations in these societies the ground was nonetheless prepared for the re-establishment of free trade unions and other forms of labor organisation in countries where they had not existed (with one . . .

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