Claiming the City: A Global History of Workers’ Fight for Municipal Socialism
How workers fought for municipal socialism to make cities around the globe livable and democratic—and what the lessons are for today
For more than a century, municipal socialism has fired the imaginations of workers fighting to make cities livable and democratic. At every turn propertied elites challenged their right to govern.
Prominent US labor historian, Shelton Stromquist, offers the first global account of the origins of this new trans-local socialist politics. He explains how and why cities after 1890 became crucibles for municipal socialism. Drawing on the colorful stories of local activists and their social-democratic movements in cities as diverse as Broken Hill, Christchurch, Malmö, Bradford, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Hamilton, OH, the book shows how this new urban politics arose.
Long governed by propertied elites, cities in the nineteenth century were transformed by mass migration and industrialization that tore apart their physical and social fabric. Amidst massive strikes and faced with epidemic disease, fouled streets, unsafe water, decrepit housing, and with little economic security and few public amenities, urban workers invented a local politics that promised to democratize cities they might themselves govern and reclaim the wealth they created. This new politics challenged the class power of urban elites as well as the centralizing tendencies of national social-democratic movements. Municipal socialist ideas have continued to inspire activists in their fight for the right of cities to govern themselves.