7 Palmer’s Politics Discovering the Past and the Future of Class Struggle
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin
To be a historian of the Left is a responsibility and a burden. Few write with breadth of vision, critical engagement, passion for evidence and commitment to reason, embracing as well revolutionary social change—foundations all of a calling as difficult as any to realise. It is one thing to research deeply, theorise imaginatively, orchestrate materials from the past to construct its blazing colours in all of their glory and despair and write with creativity and flair. Quite another to tend the garden of politics, where the blooms of one month fade and the foliage of another can be overtaken by weeds, some of which are quite compelling in their attractiveness. . . . To research and write, guided by the insights of Marxism, is, however difficult, easier than to struggle against capitalism and realise another world.1
Thus does Bryan Palmer begin his essay on the politics of no less a star in the left’s intellectual firmament than Eric Hobsbawm. It was precisely “the rich range of his historical practice,” Palmer argued, that brought the limitations of Hobsbawm’s “political engagement into sharp relief.” In particular, Hobsbawm’s insistence “that the Labour Party needed to reconstitute itself as a popular-frontist body attractive to the broad anti-Thatcher coalition that might turn back the tide of reaction would, in actuality, culminate in a rightward trajectory that was truly destructive of socialist possibility and alternative.”2 Hobsbawm’s political and intellectual formation as a young man amidst the Communist parties’ turn to Popular Frontism, Palmer argued, was at the root of the “mark of deformation” that became so fully “visible in the cauldron of the 1980s, when so much of so-called communism of the 20th century crashed and burned.”3 But whereas this might confirm for lesser left historians why it was safest to stick to the past and stay away from contemporary politics, Palmer refused to do this. Indeed, it reinforced the central concern in his historical writing to explain why working-class struggles against capitalism directed at realizing another world turned out to be so difficult, while consistently validating and powerfully demonstrating the ongoing need to keep at it.
Palmer’s own political and intellectual formation, so very different than Hobsbawm’s, was rooted in the recognition by the generation of the 1960s that the role of the old Communist parties as agencies of class formation and socialist transformation was already long spent, even as newly militant working classes had re-emerged amidst new economic and political crises. Young workers in particular, across a very broad range of occupations and community settings, refused to buy into the narrow legalisms of collective bargaining procedures that required lowering their material expectations and bowing to managerial authority in the workplace. Inspired by this, Palmer was at the very forefront of a coterie of equally young and highly energized labour historians in the 1970s who—“grappling with class as an agent of social transformation,” as Palmer has put it, with their (and especially his own) “boundless sense of the possibilities of dissidence”4—dug deeply to uncover the historical legacy of worker militancy in Canadian working-class culture. They dedicated themselves to excavating the daily life, the occupational and community associations, and the periodic struggles of working people right across the country over the previous century and more. If E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (or even Hobsbawm’s Labouring Men) was their intellectual inspiration, the turbulent time was their material catalyst.
Even though “the response of established Canadian historians to a New Left, class-based historiography was harsher than in other national settings” (led, in fact, by “the particularly vehement reaction of certain liberal-social democratic historians, who were stridently vocal in their opposition to Marxism”),5 the impact of the remarkably dedicated and productive new generation of young Marxist labour historians was profound. And this had impacts well beyond Canadian history’s disciplinary boundaries, not least on the new Canadian political economy that also emerged out of the ferment of the late 1960s. Originally almost exclusively oriented to disinterring the distinctive nature of the capitalist class to explain Canada’s economic dependency, the work of the new labour historians, especially Palmer’s A Culture in Conflict in 1979,6 provided the foundation for the new political economy to develop a much fuller and more social-relational class analysis by the beginning of the 1980s.7
But it was through the course of the decade of the 1980s that Palmer’s distinctive voice was really registered in terms of a breadth of vision and critical engagement that stemmed from continuing to embrace the goal of revolutionary social change.8 It was his Working-Class Experience, first published in 1983, that above all proclaimed how distinctively radical and ambitious Palmer’s historiographic and political trajectory would be, even in the face of the defeats of working-class militancy and the retreats of both old and New Left intellectuals through the fateful decade of the 1980s.9 It was “widely seen as the first synthesis of the new working-class history.”10 But if it was most certainly that (with an exceptional discursive bibliography that drew the reader’s attention to an astonishing array of MA theses), it was at the same time so much more than that. Nothing like it had ever been produced in the study of Canadian working-class history. The sheer ambition of its breadth of coverage over two centuries and diverse regional experiences transcended the sources it drew on to achieve, through its sharp attention to political economy as well as its distinctively rich class analysis, the “sophisticated understanding” of Canadian workers’ collective experience that Palmer set out as the central objective of his study.11
Palmer was, of course, most interested in uncovering “organizational, political and cultural ferment.” But he recognized that discovering why such activity was “more intense at some moments than at others is one of the most difficult tasks of labour historians.”12 This was a sharp departure from those who approached working-class history teleologically, whether in terms of the cumulative development of collective revolutionary potential, or in terms of merely tracing the origins of contemporary unions and parties. Indeed, what was perhaps most important about Palmer’s book was that it was as concerned with understanding the episodic unmaking of the Canadian working class. Thus, as much as he attended to the rise of the “movement culture” that came to prominence in the 1880s, and the “working-class challenge” it presented to the structures of “competitive capitalism and political localism,” so too did he attend to its demise as “monopoly began to develop and as political power in a nation born only 20 years earlier grew more centralized and more sophisticated”:
Change was proceeding at such a quickening pace and the older social relations were being superseded so dramatically that working-class bodies like the Knights of Labor and the Provincial Workmen’s Association were thrown into a state of confused agitation . . . In the 1890s the search for solutions to labour’s dilemmas would be renewed in the rise of socialism and the drift toward a more dominant pragmatic unionism. But by then, the damage had been done, and the movement culture of the 1880s was in a shambles.13
But with the pan-Canadian general strike revolt of 1919, “an eclectic radicalism infused with new socialist principles re-emerged in the exuberance of wartime militancy, international working-class advance, and a climate in which proletarian victory seemed possible.” Even so, Palmer was careful to show why this did not erase underlying fragmentations, “including why little lasting unity between indigenous and immigrant workers was achieved.” And he went on to analyze developments in North American capitalism in the 1920s that would “erode the very substance of traditional working-class culture as a commercialized mass culture took root”14:
In spite of its capacity to reach and exploit huge markets, mass culture was an individualized activity that moved workers away from social interaction and into the confines of the nuclear family . . . The automobile craze accelerated by easy credit, declining costs of products and fuel, and suburban expansion, helped to transform the nature of working-class experience. It separated work and leisure decisively and structured working-class life in new ways.15
By the time the Great Depression struck, the Canadian working class “was stripped, in large measure, of its institutions and political traditions of radicalism.”16 There was once again nothing teleological in Palmer’s account that followed of the emergence of “one of the first truly mass movements of the unemployed . . . [which] drew upon the spontaneous energies of class experience, as well as the disciplined leadership of communists, socialists, and nonaligned militants.”17
Far from seeing the achievement of industrial unionism and legal collective bargaining rights in the postwar period in terms of the “forward march of labour,” Palmer documented the limits and contradictions this entailed. Comfortable notions of gradualist reformism dissipated by the mid-1960s amidst a generational revolt that centrally involved wildcat strikes by young workers challenging the very legal sanctity of the collective agreements their union officials now policed in close cooperation with management in the workplace. Palmer thus came to the conclusion that if his book had “a message,” it was that the contemporary labour movement needed to reach into its past,
to cultivate an appreciation of those rare moments when workers sustained a movement that thrived because it was able to forge an assertion of opposition that united political and cultural struggles with the demands of the workplace. For there have been times in the history of Canadian workers when labour has united to reassert itself and to reappropriate what capital and the state have been concerned to suppress or destroy: the sense of potential that workers hold in their productive power and the alternative society that could be created around that capacity and authority.18
The “Forward March of Labour Halted” perspective that Hobsbawm was articulating in the face of collapse of the postwar capital-labour settlement by the end of the 1970s in fact evinced the denouement of the teleological approach.19 And it underpinned Hobsbawm’s—and so many others’—political timidity in the founding years of neoliberal capitalist reaction. For his part, Palmer’s own experience of Operation Solidarity’s mass mobilization in British Columbia in 1983—the very year Working-Class Experience was published—reinforced his inclinations in the opposite direction. As he put it: “To have lived through those 130 days is to have been a witness to the reality of class struggle, and of how, in certain circumstances, it can restructure the politics of everyday life.”20 The sorry way that mobilization ended (so indelibly captured in the image of the two wallets “commencing negotiations” in Tom Wayman’s great poem “The Face of Jack Munro”21) deeply informed Palmer’s characteristically searing indictment of the “bureaucratic” union leadership in his 1987 book on the Solidarity movement. The emphasis he gave to this sat uneasily with the weight he accorded in his historical writings to autonomous working-class agency as opposed to the weight traditionally given to parties and unions by most labour historians. “In that sense, this book is an autocritique,” Palmer admitted in the afterword to the book. “Solidarity taught me some hard political lessons . . . Nothing teaches like concrete reality.” Palmer ended the book quoting Lenin on the inadequacies of “temporary non-partisan organization, which at best may supplement a stable and durable militant organization of a party, but can never replace it.”22
This begged the awkward but increasingly unavoidable question of whether Leninist forms of party organization were adequate, especially amidst all the changes in capitalist cultures and structures by the end of the twentieth century—not to mention the final implosion of Soviet Communism. But it did not gainsay Palmer’s stronger conclusion with regard to the political and intellectual trajectory of the left at this conjuncture:
To those who champion the capacity of the “new social movements” to displace the working class as the central agent of social change, Solidarity’s story will be read as yet another example of the failure of class politics and the need for coalition struggles that leave behind any notion of working-class leadership . . . Solidarity was surely a telling proof that on their own, without the material power of the working class, the various “sectors”—themselves often valuable allies of the labour movement—are ultimately impotent when confronted with the force and resources of the capitalist order.23
Despite his commitment to reviving a Leninist mode of political organization—or perhaps because of this—Palmer was well aware that the defeats suffered by working-class militancy in the 1980s made revived mobilization very difficult. What made it even more difficult now was what his essay in the 1990 volume of the Socialist Register, titled “The Retreat of the Intellectuals,” addressed by way of “the eclipse of materialism” in the writing of social history in the 1980s. The essay opened with the admission: “This is not a good time to be a historical materialist. It is not even a good time to be a historian.” But the essay ended:
To be a historian, to be a historical materialist, is necessarily to register certain refusals in the face of those many and influential forces that have gathered in the darkness of the 1980s, clamouring for new lights of interpretive insight and political practice that illuminate, in the end, nothing so much as their own accommodations to the pressures of the moment. To stake out this elementary ground of opposition is, of course, to court dismissals and nasty excommunications. But it is time for historians, for historical materialists, to begin fighting back.24
This would indeed characterize Palmer’s intellectual and political stances over the following three decades, beginning with the second and much revised edition of Working-Class Experience, with a subtitle highlighting the “rethinking” required since labour history’s first heady days in the 1970s. As Palmer would put it in a later reflection, “a kind of ‘popular front’ of all seemingly Marxist scholars” had consolidated in that decade in the face of “the uphill battle to secure for Marxist ideas some measure of acceptance in the academy” in Canada. But this having been achieved by the mid-1980s, the differences among the New Left labour historians that were previously “suppressed and silenced” re-emerged in new forms amidst the overall decline of confidence in the prospects of further developing historical materialism as a fundamental tool of analysis.25 The conflicts between the New Left labour historians and the old guard now extended to controversies among themselves and this included varying degrees of challenges to Palmer’s work.
Much of this was to be expected in a newly developing field of study—differences in emphasis and interpretations of specific events, calls for refinement or clarification, identification of holes to fill and contradictions not fully explored. Some argued that Palmer was too focused on the late nineteenth century, over-emphasizing the importance of the Knights of Labor and romanticizing its achievements; others contended that Palmer’s preoccupation with working-class “culture” was too vague to carry the load he had assigned it. Palmer conceded in his new preface that those criticisms, along with social developments since the first edition, justified some changes.26 As well, he accepted some blame for the polarization caused by the “rhetorical excesses” he was “prone to and [would] likely continue to be burdened by.”27
Although it was grossly unfair to claim that the first edition of Working-Class Experience ignored working-class women, Palmer did place much greater emphasis on their role in the new edition. Similarly, Palmer acknowledged that the rise of identity politics reflected gaps in left thinking that could no longer be ignored. And although he admitted that “culture” as applied to the making of a working class did have an inherent vagueness, he was adamant about retaining it in the absence of another vocabulary to replace his conviction that class could not be grasped in only economic terms. But in the main, Palmer stuck to his guns on the centrality of class as he broadly conceived it. In contrast with the “presentism” that Palmer saw as characteristic of those of his critics who were impatient with his lengthy excavation of the nineteenth century—because reaching that far into the past is of minimal benefit by way of contributing to what is to be done a century later—Palmer insisted on the virtues of an intensive longer look back as having more than direct instrumental value.
Indeed, Palmer’s historical excavations have shaped our understanding of the complexities of working-class politics, challenged narratives of inevitable progressive reform of the ills of capitalism, and fostered an invaluable understanding that even those reforms that are won always contain within them the deep contradictions of social class in capitalism. Palmer’s emphasis on class as a process was indeed especially valuable for fostering understanding of how working-class achievements in terms of institutional and material success contained deep contradictions stemming from how they were bound up with class accommodations within capitalism, and the ways this impacted on the further development of working-class culture. Understanding the longue durée in the making and unmaking or remaking of working people into a class, sensitive to the complexities and possibilities of class formation and social change, not only carries lessons for the present but, more importantly, shapes how we approach the working class and its open possibilities in the future.
Yet, as Palmer continued to reflect on the retreat from Marxist class analysis in general and in social history in particular, he would eventually offer a very significant mea culpa. In his 1981 book on E. P. Thompson, which preceded his own ambitious reframing of Canadian labour history, Palmer had insisted that “the persistent calls for rigor are often the first innocent signs of rigor mortis.”28 Looking back twenty-five years later, however, he admitted that the practitioners of social history had been “insufficiently rigorous in premising and elaborating their findings on the theory of historical materialism.”29 Those who had spawned that “youthful decade of decisive productivity in the 1970s and early 1980s developing Marxism in Canada” had through the course of the 1990s increasingly “placed the necessity of elaborating a sophisticated conceptualisation of historical materialism on the lower shelf of priorities.”30 And it might be added that this was, in fact, as true of the new Canadian political economy as it was of the new labour history.
To be fair, Palmer actually had addressed the central theoretical issue more than most. In particular, Althusserian structuralism, he had long argued, contributed little toward exploring “dimensions of the human experience, not as some predetermined outcome but as agency operative within certain clearly understood limits.”31 His chosen theoretical frame, as he had already expressed it in that early book on Thompson in 1981, was a sober and nuanced historical materialism that allowed for “an understanding of past and present as part of a continuous and unfinished effort to resist, challenge, and change the limits within which men and women find themselves.”32 It is only when history is seen in terms of the shifting of limitations that “agency becomes the process of possibility: the human resources and institutions, cultures and traditions, ideology and practice, that can be drawn upon to resist, challenge, adapt to, or withdraw from the structures and determinations that establish the limits within which agency can operate.”33 This was clearly not a rejection of theory per se, but only of the kind of theory that allowed little room for human intervention, and which was especially informed by experiences and calculations involved in challenging the (mutable) structures that fostered the development of working-class agency.
This is especially relevant for appreciating how Palmer has continued to navigate the “responsibility” and “burden” of a historian of the left. Though his work has continued to be passionately political, never straying from his unequivocal commitment to radical social transformation, Palmer has refused to compromise research and analysis so as to conform to that cause, as only the best historical work can contribute to revolutionary change. This precept has in fact clearly guided the whole of Palmer’s prodigious output over the past three decades as much as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. His meticulous recovery of the Minneapolis Teamsters strikes of 1934, as much as he was clearly concerned with lessons about agency for the current conjuncture, was exceptionally rich in terms of its attention to what was distinctive about US social formation at the time.34 And in his book on the 1960s in Canada, the changing culture of young workers is set in the context of a deep analysis of the broader economic, political, and social changes.35 Similarly, his more recent book with Gaétan Héroux examines the long history of working-class poverty in Toronto as part and parcel of the permanently uneven restructuring of work and the urban labour market under capitalism.36 And in this light, Palmer has encouraged us to see how the dispossession of the worker that lies at the heart of capitalism has come in our time to frame the insecurity of auto workers in southern Ontario today.37
Palmer’s historical materialism has opened many windows to seeing how capitalist realities have pushed workers toward resistance of some kind, whether emanating from “a consciousness nurtured in the mundane context of workplace control,”38 or from the solidarities working-class families form in the course of turning the piece of urban space they occupy into “a locale of resettlement and revival that [has] struggled against the odds.”39 Of course, sustaining this resistance has also been constrained by the very nature of working-class life. The pressures to attain the means of subsistence to reproduce themselves and their families leave workers focused on meeting short-term needs at the expense of longer-term capacity building and struggles. The dependence on capital is an everyday lesson about the limited autonomy of workers, whose fragmentation along lines of sector, occupation, and labour process limits class solidarity. Union representation of workers in a specific firm, occupation, or industry often takes the form of a transactional relationship with members in which dues are regarded by both as a premium on an insurance policy. This is sustained by worker passivity and even deference to union leaders as well as to the union staff’s expertise in collective bargaining and grievance procedures. The problem of union bureaucratization, so much the object of Palmer’s sharp pen, thus extends beyond the interests of the leaders to the inclinations of the members themselves.
This is where socialist political leadership comes in. A socialist political organization and cadre can bring strategic insights and retrieve lost memories from earlier struggles. It facilitates connections across the sectionalism of unions and community, and it raises the consciousness of being part of a broader collectivity. It injects a vision and nurtures class confidence in the potential of collective class power—the power of being part of an explicitly transformative project. The dialectic that links Palmer’s simultaneous emphasis on worker agency and the need for a revolutionary party lies in the fact that without an organized socialist presence, workers are left with only moments of resistance. The inspiration that Palmer invites us to draw from his sweeping biographical account of American Trotskyist leader James Cannon has everything to do with “his origins as a militant dedicated to advancing the possibility of working-class revolution. Central to this purpose was building a proletarian party that could implement a politics of class struggle.”40
This sheds light on how far even in Palmer’s case, “the rich range of his historical practice” has brought the limitations of his own “political engagement into sharp relief.”41 Like other intellectuals of his generation inspired by the workers’ revolt of the 1960s, Palmer was attracted by the criticisms levied by Trotskyist political groups of the bureaucratization of Communist parties and trade unions and the Popular Frontism and class collaboration that suppressed rather than encouraged worker militancy. But the infamous factionalism of these groups, mired in their inability to get beyond the specific strategic disputations and even the specific discourse that had emerged within the Communist parties in the first decades after the Russian revolution, always limited their influence on workers engaged in concrete struggles. As Palmer himself says of the contingent of Minneapolis ex-Communists who went on as Trotskyists to play such a crucial role in leading the strike movement in that city in 1934, they had “no fundamental grasp of what was at stake in the animosity to Trotsky and his critique of the Communist International.”42 This may have been a blessing. The obsessive debates that came with Trotskyists attempting to acquire such “a fundamental grasp” unfortunately defined and structured their political divisions right through the postwar era, and again after the 1960s. This ensured that Trotskyist groups would not get beyond their small memberships, and consistently frustrated their ambitions to become mass political parties.
Palmer’s prodigious research into these debates has been guided by his own understanding of what he often calls the “fundamental Trotskyist principles,” so as to show how much these were transgressed by most of the leaders of the Trotskyist groups as well as the foremost Trotskyist intellectuals. Palmer’s highlighting of this was accompanied by the lamentation that, had this not been the case, “the history of Trotskyism and possibly the history of radicalism in the 1960s and beyond might well have looked very different.”43 What remained insufficiently addressed, as suggested earlier, was the inadequacy of the Leninist party model and Bolshevik discourse as understood and practiced by Trotskyist groups through to the end of the twentieth century.
This raises a more fundamental challenge beyond the obstacles Palmer identifies with “union bureaucracy.” Rank-and-file rebellions against elected union leaderships have been rare in the neoliberal era, even during concession bargaining, and when they have erupted, they too have often been easily contained. Their passivity in relationship to the leadership, even in the most democratic of unions, raises difficult questions about workplace struggles, working-class culture, and the political and organizational barriers socialists confront in trying to change this. Palmer’s animus against the union bureaucracy for stifling the revolutionary potential of the Solidarity movement in British Columbia and the Days of Action in Ontario actually sits uneasily with his recognition of the need for organized socialist cadres to develop the working-class agencies capable of overturning the capitalist class and its state. It is all too easy to recognize the inability of unions and traditional political parties like the NDP to change their ways. But the socialist left, too, has so pointedly failed to fill the vacuum—the small groups claiming a Leninist heritage are barely a presence. The flurry of coalitions and networks that have formed since the 1980s were all short-lived and are now even difficult to construct, and the non-aligned left outside of social democracy has not come close to a mass political organization of any kind.
The long string of working-class defeats that now, astonishingly, stretch over four decades has had a direct impact on the disorganization of the left itself. Palmer’s repeated expression of the need for a Leninist organizational practice in Canada fails to offer the necessary guidance for routes out of the impasse. Yet, none of this detracts from Palmer’s singular contribution and his relevance to the renewal of socialist politics. At the core of this has been the commitment to developing historical materialism and the high-quality research and sophisticated writing that has underpinned his recovery of working-class history in all its richness and flaws. In this respect, Palmer’s concern as a historian to recover and analyze the cultures of resistance that working people developed in the course of practicing class struggle from below is not only a remarkable achievement of scholarship but also retains great contemporary relevance.
Indeed, the close attention Palmer has paid to the kinds of struggles working people engaged in that were transgressive of the existing social order has also led him to appreciate the postmodernist identification with the transgressions of socially marginal “others” who are feared, shunned, and repressed by the forces of order and conventionality. But, at the same time, he has been acutely aware of postmodernism’s simultaneous inability to get beyond the mere defence of the right of marginalized subjectivity to be “recognized” in all of its particularities and even its parochial self-identity. Palmer has wanted, in other words, to save the politics of transgression from the postmodernists, whose bogeyman of the “grand narrative” also blocked them from understanding “the determining and foundational feature of human experience in the modern world,” that is, “the rise and transformation of global capitalism.”44 This has left us, Palmer insists, with “the disembodied pieces of a puzzle” without the “borders and linked segments which would make the whole intelligible.”
Yet this puzzle, in its rich totality, is the metanarrative that can, in part, counter capitalism’s current grand story of accomplishment, the obscured mirror image of which is of course enslavement, the forcible extraction of surplus value, and the endless proliferation of special oppressions associated with gender, race and sexual identification. To make the coerced marginalities of history a viable force of transformative alternative, the need is to bring them together. Differences need to be championed, not through a reification of difference, but in the building of programs and perspectives that fly in every way against the impulses and structures of our current varied but connected subordinations.45
No one has said this better. Bravo.
We are especially grateful to Greg Albo for his suggestions, comments, and editorial input.
- 1. Bryan D. Palmer, “Hobsbawm’s Politics: The Forward March of the Popular Front Halted,” in Interventions and Appreciations, vol. 2, Marxism and Historical Practice (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 261–62.
- 2. Ibid., 262–63.
- 3. Ibid., 263.
- 4. Bryan D. Palmer, “Writing About Canadian Workers: A Historiographic Overview,” in Marxism and Historical Practice, vol. 2, 94.
- 5. Bryan D. Palmer, “Historical Materialism and the Writing of Canadian History: A Dialectical View,” in Marxism and Historical Practice, vol. 2, 59, n. 44.
- 6. Bryan D, Palmer, A Culture in Conflict: Skilled Workers and Industrial Capitalism in Hamilton, Ontario, 1860–1914 (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1979).
- 7. See the special issue of Studies in Political Economy (“Rethinking Canadian Political Economy”) 6 (Autumn 1981), and especially the discussion of Palmer and Kealey in Leo Panitch, “Dependency and Class in Canadian Political Economy,” 17–18. See also the appreciation of Palmer’s work in Leo Panitch, “Elites, Classes and Power in Canada,” in Canadian Politics in the 1980s, ed. Michael S. Whittington and Glen Williams (Toronto: Methuen, 1981), 177–78.
- 8. This was already signalled by Palmer’s The Making of E. P. Thompson: Marxism, Humanism, History (Toronto: New Hogtown Press, 1981), which marked his entry into the key theoretical debates on the left internationally, although it was unlikely uppermost in the minds of those who selected his and Gregory S. Kealey’s monumental study of the Knights of Labor in Ontario (published by Cambridge in 1982) for the A. B. Corey Prize, jointly awarded by the Canadian Historical Association and the American Historical Association. (A Culture in Conflict had already secured Honourable Mention from the Canadian Historical Association’s Sir John A. Macdonald Prize in Canadian History.)
- 9. Bryan D. Palmer, Working-Class Experience: The Rise and Reconstitution of Canadian Labour, 1800–1980, 1st ed. (Toronto: Butterworth, 1983).
- 10. Craig Heron, “Towards Synthesis in Canadian Working-Class History: Reflections on Bryan Palmer’s Rethinking,” Left History 1, no. 1 (1993): 109–21.
- 11. Palmer, Working-Class Experience (1983), 2.
- 12. Bryan Palmer, preface, Working-Class Experience: Rethinking the History of Canadian Labour, 1800–1991, 2nd ed. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1992), 31.
- 13. Palmer, Working-Class Experience (1983), 131–32.
- 14. Ibid., 180–84.
- 15. Ibid., 192–93.
- 16. Ibid., 189.
- 17. Ibid., 212.
- 18. Ibid., 297.
- 19. Eric Hobsbawm, “The Forward March of Labour Halted?” Marxism Today (September 1978): 279–86.
- 20. Bryan D. Palmer, Solidarity: The Rise and Fall of an Opposition in British Columbia (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1987), 9.
- 21. Tom Wayman, The Face of Jack Munro (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 1986).
- 22. Palmer, Solidarity, 105.
- 23. Ibid., 103.
- 24. Bryan D. Palmer, “The Eclipse of Materialism: Marxism and the Writing of Social History in the 1980s,” Socialist Register 1990: The Retreat of the Intellectuals 26 (1990): 110, 138.
- 25. Bryan D. Palmer, “Historical Materialism and the Writing of Canadian History: A Dialectical View,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 17, no. 2 (2006): 49.
- 26. Palmer, Working-Class Experience (1992), 11–28.
- 27. Ibid., 14.
- 28. Palmer, The Making of E. P. Thompson, 71.
- 29. Palmer, “Historical Materialism and the Writing of Canadian History,” in Marxism and Historical Practice, vol. 2, 63; emphasis original.
- 30. Ibid., 62–63.
- 31. Palmer, The Making of E. P. Thompson, 15.
- 32. Ibid.
- 33. Ibid.
- 34. Bryan D. Palmer, Revolutionary Teamsters: The Minneapolis Truckers’ Strikes of 1934 (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014).
- 35. Bryan D. Palmer, Canada’s 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009).
- 36. Bryan D. Palmer and Gaétan Héroux, Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2016).
- 37. See Bryan D. Palmer, “Reconsiderations of Class: Precariousness as Proletarianization,” Socialist Register 2014: Registering Class 50 (2014): 40–62.
- 38. Palmer, A Culture in Conflict, 244.
- 39. Bryan D. Palmer, “Sugar Man’s Sweet Kiss: The Artist Formerly, and Now Again, Known as Rodriguez,” in Interventions and Appreciations, vol. 2, Marxism and Historical Practice (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 156.
- 40. Bryan D. Palmer, “James Patrick Cannon: Revolutionary Continuity and Class-Struggle Politics in the United States, 1890–1974,” in Interventions and Appreciations, vol. 2, Marxism and Historical Practice (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 273. See also Bryan D. Palmer, James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890–1928 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007).
- 41. Palmer, “Hobsbawm’s Politics,” 262–63.
- 42. Palmer, “James Patrick Cannon,” 286.
- 43. Bryan D. Palmer, “The Personal, the Political, and Permanent Revolution: Ernest Mandel and the Conflicted Legacies of Trotskyism,” in Interventions and Appreciations, vol. 2, Marxism and Historical Practice (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 237.
- 44. Bryan D. Palmer, Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression [From Medieval to Modern] (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), 456; emphasis original.
- 45. Palmer, Cultures of Darkness, 4.