Between the mid-1930s and mid-1970s worker organizing and unrest created a degree of economic democracy not achieved since. It was quite an accomplishment. After several decades of increased standards of living for most US workers, corporate actors organized a counter-attack that aimed to reverse those gains.
The mid-20 century was no golden age. But, it does stand as a measure of just how much — and just how little — economic democracy the existing order will allow. Black and Brown workers, for example, saw the gains last and least but suffered from the austerity counter-attack first and foremost. While progressive reforms won during those four mid-century decades did help working people, the system still belonged to the bosses and they still called the shots.
Against the backdrop of Cold War anti-communism, the US Congress restricted workers’ rights while top labor “leaders” pledged their allegiance to the empire. New global institutions such as the IMF were the cutting edge of austerity protecting the rule of big money by pitting workers vs. workers worldwide.