Critique of New Left

Einde O'Callaghan einde at
Wed Jul 9 14:40:54 MDT 2003

Louis Proyect wrote:
>> I am doing a research on the fate of the New Left for
>> the Russian weekly and will appreciate any
>> guidance in terms of literature to read as well as opinions from the
>> list members.  I am especially interested in a critique of the New
>> Left from
>> the ´traditional´Marxist perspective and some sad stories
>> similar to that of Cohn-Bendit.
>> Thank you,
>> Vadim Stolz
> The New Left in the USA was virtually synonymous with Students for a
> Democratic Society (SDS). I have reviewed 2 documentaries about this
> group that fill in some background information about their rise and
> collapse:

In Britain the term new left is usually applied to the movement that
arose around those who left the CP in 1956. Key figures were the
historians EP Thompson and John Saville. A major statement of this
tendency was the book "Out of Apathy!" (1960?). They also played a major
role in founding "New Left Review" (which also connected them to later
developments) although it's politics went through several radical
transitions since then. Another important publication of this tendency
was (is) the annual "Socialist Register". They played an important role
in the first period of CND in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Incidentally, Saville is still alive.

The term is more loosely applied to the student and Anti-Vietnam War
movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, although this was much more
influenced by more "traditional" non-Stalinist ideas, mainly of
Trotskyist origin. A prominent figure was Tariq Ali, who is still active
in radical politics. The organisation now called the Socialist Workers
Party - the British one -, then called the International Socialists,
alos first came to play an important role in left politics in this period.

Einde O'Callaghan

More information about the Marxism mailing list