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3 Labor: Emergence of Worker Organization and Protest BEGINNING in the latter decades of the 1 9th century, older patterns of worker association oriented toward mutual aid societies began to give way to new forms of collective action. By the end of the second decade of the 20th cen­ tury, most of the eight countries had seen the emergence of substantial labor movements and dramatic episodes of worker protest. Although the middle sectors would ultimately play a far more central role in initiating the change in government that brought the major challenge to oligarchic hegemony, it was the working class that was in a position at an earlier point to make its demands felt through the vehicle of mass protest and to pose what came to be known as the "social question." The emergence of worker organization and protest grew out of the expan­ sion of Latin American economies that occurred in response to a remarkable 25-fold increase in world trade between approximately the middle of the 1 9th century and the beginning of World War I (Furtado 1 976:45). During this pe­ riod, the primary product export sector within Latin America exhibited ex­ traordinary growth. Though political factors played a role, the emergence of the labor movement cannot be understood without central reference to the economic, social, and demographic transformations of this era. The character of these economic transformations varied greatly from coun­ try to country. According to their contrasting endowments of location, cli­ mate, and natural and human resources, these countries developed distinct combinations of extensive agriculture, intensive agriculture, and extraction of minerals and petroleum; contrasting patterns of urban-commercial devel­ opment and incipient manufacturing for the domestic market; and vastly dif­ ferent degrees of reliance on European immigration to expand the modern labor force. This chapter explores the impact of distinct constellations of growth on the emergence of national labor movements. The remainder of the book is, in effect, an analysis of the reactions and counterreactions to these initial developments. For each country, this chapter summarizes the contrasting patterns of economic and social change and then presents a brief account of the emerging labor movement. For all the countries, the account covers the period at least to 1920, thus providing a basis for comparing the rhythm of labor movement development in the last decade of the 1 9th century and in the first two decades of the 20th. This part of the analysis has an important place in the larger design of the book. We argued in Chapter 1 that critical junctures such as the initial in- 60 S H A P I N G T H E P O L I T I C A L A R E N A corporation period can lay the foundation for political institutions that may come to have significant autonomy. By contrast, the present chapter explores a contrasting pattern in which the initial eruption of worker politicization appears to be strongly and directly linked to economic and social change. A related goal of this chapter is to examine the evolution of the labor movement up to reform periods analyzed in the following chapter: that is, the periods inaugurated by the changes in government in 1 920 in Chile, 1 930 in Brazil, 1 935 in Venezuela, 1 9 1 1 in Mexico, 1 903 in Uruguay, 1 930 in Co­ lombia, 1 9 1 9 in Peru, and 1916 in Argentina. This analysis provides a "base line" against which the subsequent interaction between the labor movement and state initiatives toward labor can be assessed. For the countries where the beginning of the incorporation period was delayed beyond these changes in government, we briefly extend this assessment to the onset of incorpora­ tion. To help orient the reader, Figure 3 . 1 provides a chronological overview of the emergence of labor protest and its timing in relation to the reform period and to major international events. Grievances, Demonstration Effect, and Opportunity for Collective Action The emergence of labor organizing and protest derived from an interaction among ( 1 ) the collective grievances created by dismal conditions of work typ­ ical of the early history of industrialization and commercial development in many countries; (2) the demonstration effect of European labor movements, especially the anarcho-syndicalist tradition of Spain and Italy and later the Russian Revolution and the international Communist movement; and (3) workers' opportunity to pursue new forms of collective action that was cre­ ated by the rapid growth of the working...


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