At a time when the European working class are ever more visibly linked, this is the first study to give an outline history of the working-class movement as whole — in West and East Europe, from the industrial revolution and the formation of the urban proletariat, to modern times.
Describing the most important social, political and economic struggles of the working-class movement in different countries, Abendroth charts the general momentum of a movement which has at times been as a standstill and at others has, in the words of Karl Marx, 'stormed the gates of heaven'. Focussing especially but by no means exclusively on the French, German, Russian, and British movements. Abendroth shows the particular contribution each has made to the cause of the proletariat as a whole.
At decisive turning-points of European history — in the revolutions of 1871, in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and in the victory over Fascism in 1944-45 — the working class has shown itself to be potentially the most powerful and creative single factor in modern European history. In showing how the working class has used that power in the past, this book is a pointer towards its use in the immediate future.