Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW

Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW

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The Industrial Workers of the World is a union unlike any other. Founded in 1905 in Chicago, it rapidly gained members across the world thanks to its revolutionary, internationalist outlook. By using powerful organising methods including direct-action and direct-democracy, it put power in the hands of workers. This philosophy is labeled as ‘revolutionary industrial unionism’ and the members called, affectionately, ‘Wobblies’.

This book is the first to look at the history of the IWW from an international perspective. Bringing together a group of leading scholars, it includes lively accounts from a number diverse countries including Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and Ireland, which reveal a fascinating story of global anarchism, syndicalism and socialism.

Drawing on many important figures of the movements such as Tom Barker, Har Dayal, Joe Hill, James Larkin and William D. "Big Bill" Haywood, and exploring particular industries including shipping, mining, and agriculture, this book describes how the IWW and its ideals travelled around the world.


'Finally! A book about the IWW that takes seriously their global self-description. This book is a landmark and a sea beacon in the history of the planetary proletariat' - Marcus Rediker, author of Slave Ship: A Human History (John Murray, 2008)

'A splendid project and a vitally important contribution to the understanding of labor as a social movement.' - Paul Buhle, author of Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World (2005)

'As a second-generation member of the IWW, I am delighted to see this outstanding collection of essays on the Wobblies, their achievements, and their substantial impact despite severe repression' - Noam Chomsky

'[A] valuable collection' - Against the Current

'Fantastic' - Labor Notes

'Recommended' - CHOICE

'This eclectic and wide-ranging book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the IWW and its international reach ... [it] performs a valuable service in recalling our attention to the centrality of internationalism in the IWWis vision. Anyone serious about the history of the IWW will need to read this book' - Jon Bekeen, former General Secretary-Treasurer of the IWW (US) and co-author of 'The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First Hundred Years'

'Despite the IWW's extensive global history and continued inspiration to radical labour activists, historical research on the IWW is sketchy, fragmented and almost exclusively US focused. Wobblies of the World, the first global history of the IWW, wants to remedy this and succeeds in doing so' - British Journal of Employment Relations

'Fascinating ... pioneering ... adds the important global dimension to the history of the IWW and makes a significant contribution to transnational and global labor history' - Labor - The official journal for the Labor and Working-Class History Association

About the editors

Peter Cole is Professor of History at Western Illinois University and Research Associate at the Society, Work and Development Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author of Wobblies on the Waterfront (University of Illinois Press, 2007) and editor of Wobblies of the World (Pluto, 2017).

David M. Struthers is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen. He is the editor of Wobblies of the World (Pluto, 2017).

Kenyon Zimmer is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is the author of Immigrants Against the State (University of Illinois Press, 2015) and the editor of Wobblies of the World (Pluto, 2017).

Author: Peter Cole, David Struthers, Kenyon Zimmer
Publisher: Pluto Press
ISBN: 9780745399591
Published: 10/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 150mm x 230mm
Page count: 320