Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930 : In Defence of Freedom book cover
1st Edition

Corporate Policing, Yellow Unionism, and Strikebreaking, 1890-1930
In Defence of Freedom

ISBN 9780367701178
Published August 1, 2022 by Routledge
298 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book provides a comparative and transnational examination of the complex and multifaceted experiences of anti-labour mobilisation, from the bitter social conflicts of the pre-war period, through the epochal tremors of war and revolution, and the violent spasms of the 1920s and 1930s.

It retraces the formation of an extensive market for corporate policing, privately contracted security and yellow unionism, as well as processes of professionalisation in strikebreaking activities, labour espionage and surveillance. It reconstructs the diverse spectrum of right-wing patriotic leagues and vigilante corps which, in support or in competition with law enforcement agencies, sought to counter the dual dangers of industrial militancy and revolutionary situations. Although considerable research has been done on the rise of socialist parties and trade unions the repressive policies of their opponents have been generally left unexamined. This book fills this gap by reconstructing the methods and strategies used by state authorities and employers to counter outbreaks of labour militancy on a global scale. It adopts a long-term chronology that sheds light on the shocks and strains that marked industrial societies during their turbulent transition into mass politics from the bitter social conflicts of the pre-war period, through the epochal tremors of war and revolution, and the violent spasms of the 1920s and 1930s.

Offering a new angle of vision to examine the violent transition to mass politics in industrial societies, this is of great interest to scholars of policing, unionism and striking in the modern era.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

Preface. Coercion at Work, Violence in Politics: What Changed Between 1890 and 1930? 

Geoff Eley

1. Introduction. Strikebreaking and Industrial Vigilantism as an Historical Problem

Matteo Millan and Alessandro Saluppo

Part 1: Institutional Responses

2. Policies and Practices against Labour Movement in the Late Russian Empire

Volodymyr Kulikov and Irina Shilnikova

3. Violence Against Strikers in the Rural Peripheries of the Iberian Peninsula, 1890s-1915

Assumpta Castillo Cañiz

4. The Swedish Labour Market c. 1870–1914: A Labour Market Regime without Repression?

Erik Bengtsson

5. State Authorities, Municipal Forces, and Military Intervention in the Policing of Strikes in Austria-Hungary, 1890s-1914

Claire Morelon

6. Employers of the World, Unite! The Transnational Mobilization of Industrialists Around World War One

Pierre Eichenberger

Part 2: Strikebreaking Tactics and Practices

7. Anti-labour Repression in the in-between Spaces of Empire: The Compagnie des Messageries maritimes and the Steamship Workers of the ‘China Line’ (1900-1920)

Charles Fawell

8. In the Name of Constitutionalism and Islam: The Murky World of Labour Politics in Calcutta’s Docklands

Prerna Agarwal

9. Cairo, Athens, Salonica. Strikebreaking and Anti-Labour Practices of Employers and the State in the Early-Twentieth-Century Cigarette Industry

Thanasis Betas

10. In Reaction to Revolution: Anti-Strike Mentalities and Practices in the Russian Radical Right, 1905-14

George Gilbert

11. “We Can Kill Striking Workers without Being Prosecuted.” Armed Bands of Strikebreakers in late Imperial Germany

Amerigo Caruso

Part 3: Civic and Industrial Vigilantism

12. The Wild West of Employer Anti-Unionism: The Glorification of Vigilantism and Individualism in the Early-Twentieth-Century United States

Vilja Hulden and Chad Pearson

13. Vigilant Citizens: the Case of the Volunteer Police Force, 1911-1914

Alessandro Saluppo

14. From “State Protection” to “Private Defence”. Strikebreaking, Civilian Armed Mobilisation and the Rise of Italian Fascism

Matteo Millan 

15. Conclusions. Strikebreaking and the Fault-Lines of Mass Society, 1880-1930

Martin Conway

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Matteo Millan is Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Padova, Italy. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford and Dublin. In 2015, he obtained a major grant from the European Research Council. He has published extensively on Italian fascism and pre-1914 armed associations.

Alessandro Saluppo is an ERC post-doctoral researcher at the University of Padua, Italy. His current research is devoted to private industrial policing, strikebreaking and anti-labor violence in the United Kingdom before the First World War.