The miners retain many of their admirable qualities today, but it is evident that their world, the world of early industrialism, is dying–and the union, seeking to survive by allying itself to management and mechanization, itself becomes an enemy. It could have been foreseen in the Thirties. The old bonds of craft and skill had long been decaying, and the new industrial worker was a man of the cities, not of the mill-towns which formerly tied him to his fellows in private as well as public life. The cities permitted him to escape his job and all those associated with it after hours; the job itself, increasingly devoid of any grounds for feelings of pride or importance, made him desire escape. Increasingly privatized and estranged, he found what meaning and justification he could in the private delights and material goods that his labor might win. Deprivation might force him to recognize his need for fellows; prosperity only enabled him to escape more effectively. The suburbs flourish on the corpse of worker “fraternity.”
Wilson Carey McWilliams, The Idea of Fraternity, 543.