The rise of populist and far-right forces has generated widespread concern over a contemporary “crisis of democracy.” Much of the literature on this question, however, fails to register the extent to which democratic backsliding is related to the weakness and disorganization of the world’s working classes. In a review of four recent books, I conclude that a recovery of class politics must guide any project for democratic renewal in the present moment.
Public sector unions are bloodied and on the defensive. In a historic decision, the Supreme Court has imposed a right-to-work regime on public employment nationwide, and the post-crash austerity drive is still taking its toll. In this environment, public sector unions face two main paths forward: increasing their dependence on government employers, or joining forces with the emergent political alternative on the Left.