Proletarian movements (1940–90)

  • Patrick Bryan


The modern Caribbean proletarian movement emerged out of the historic upheavals of the 1930s. Since then the Caribbean proletarian, and more specifically the trade union, movement has fluctuated in its growth. The political alliances, fragmentation and ideological influences that have shaped the history of the proletarian movement are inseparable from the goals of redistribution of income and services and from the broader and changeable context of national and international capitalism and politics. The first period of consolidation and rapid development can be seen between 1940 and 1947, when Second World War conditions favoured the development of viable trade unions. The second period after 1947 saw a continued growth of trade unions, but it was an epoch significantly influenced by the ideological pressures of the Cold War, and by national developmental policies that responded less favourably to proletarian autonomy. The post-1970 decline in post-war prosperity confirmed the tendency in the earlier period to control unions more rigorously. Simultaneously, proletarian movements have depended less on their earlier political alliances.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2003

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  • Patrick Bryan

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