For more than thirty years Nelson Lichtenstein has deployed his scholarship--on labor, politics, and social thought--to chart the history and prospects of a progressive America. A Contest of Ideas collects and updates many of Lichtenstein's most provocative and controversial essays and reviews. These incisive writings link the fate of the labor movement to the transformations in the shape of world capitalism, to the rise of the civil rights movement, and to the activists and intellectuals who have played such important roles. Tracing broad patterns of political thought, Lichtenstein offers important perspectives on the relationship of labor and the state, the tensions that sometimes exist between a culture of rights and the idea of solidarity, and the rise of conservatism in politics, law, and intellectual life. The volume closes with portraits of five activist intellectuals whose work has been vital to the conflicts that engage the labor movement, public policy, and political culture.
Nelson Lichtenstein is MacArthur Foundation Professor in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. His books include Wal-Mart and World Capitalism: A Political Economy for Our Times and Walter Reuther: the Most Dangerous Man in Detroit.