A Proletarian Prometheus: Socialism, Ethnicity, and Revolution at the Lakehead, 1900-1935
Beaulieu, Michel S.
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“The Proletarian Prometheus: Socialism, Ethnicity, and Revolution at the Lakehead, 1900-1935” is an analysis of the various socialist organizations operating at the Canadian Lakehead (comprised of the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William, Ontario, now the present-day City of Thunder Bay, and their vicinity) during the first 35 years of the twentieth century. It contends that the circumstances and actions of Lakehead labour, especially those related to ideology, ethnicity, and personality, worked simultaneously to empower and to fetter workers in their struggles against the shackles of capitalism. The twentieth-century Lakehead never lacked for a population of enthusiastic, energetic and talented left-wingers. Yet, throughout this period the movement never truly solidified and took hold. Socialist organizations, organizers and organs came and went, leaving behind them an enduring legacy, yet paradoxically the sum of their efforts was cumulatively less than the immense sacrifices and energies they had poured into them. Between 1900 and 1935, the region's working-class politics was shaped by the interaction of ideas drawn from the much larger North Atlantic socialist world with the particularities of Lakehead society and culture. International frameworks of analysis and activism were of necessity reshaped and revised in a local context in which ethnic divisions complicated and even undermined the class identities upon which so many radical dreams and ambitions rested.
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