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A History of the European Working Class - Episode 4

A series by Stan Neumann

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The organized working class of the early 20th century was both at a high point of political power and poised for tragic defeat. The rise of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler turned legions of European workers into disempowered pawns in the pursuit of war. While the emergence of Fordism improved living standards for many workers in the wake of World War II, these gains would be overshadowed by the ensuing decades of deindustrialization and declining union membership. Worker’s protest movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were met with military repression by the Soviet Union, accelerating a legitimacy crisis in the Eastern Bloc and fracturing the international socialist movement. In the face of neoliberal economic restructuring, deindustrialization and the collapse of the Soviet project, working class identity and political organization has entered a period of prolonged crisis. No longer equipped with a sense of historic confidence, does the working class still have meaning as a collective identity? Is it a relic of the past, or can it be reassembled to confront the social and economic inequalities of the 21st century?

“Stan Neumann weaves the common thread of a tragic and largely forgotten European epic. Without any condescension, he delivers a fascinating, poignant portrait of those who make our industrial society go round.” —Libération

“This is the sort of history you don’t usually find in schools.” —Oregon Arts Watch

“With historical interest, intense archive footage, a wealth of personal accounts (workers, historians, philosophers, etc.) and integrated animation sequences as informative as they are entertaining, A History of the European Working Class is poised to become a classic. It’s like a passionate political, social and economic history lesson where the facts (struggling working conditions, employer-worker relations) also leave room for emotion.” —Le Monde

A History of the European Working Class offers an extremely welcome trip into the past we can use to face the labor struggles of the future with a determined, informed eye.” —L’Humanité

“A work of impressive rigor.” —Télérama

“Delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of three hundred years of history. This documentary series reveals just how much our contemporary societies have been molded by the history of workers.” —

“An engaged and essential documentary series.” —L’Usine Nouvelle

“Divided into four parts, A History of the European Working Class is masterful and passionate.” —La

“A remarkable documentary TV series... extremely well researched... smart, must-see series more than worth your time.” —

52 minutes / Color/B&W
English; French / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2022
Copyright: 2020

For individual consumers (home video)

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Subject areas:
Western Europe, Globalization, Labor Studies, Business Ethics

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