The New Left was a broad political movement mainly in the 1960s and 1970s consisting of activists in the Western world who campaigned for a broad range of social issues such as civil and political rights, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, gender roles and drug policy reforms. Some saw the New Left as an oppositional reaction to earlier Marxist and labor union movements for social justice that focused on dialectical materialism and social class, while others who used the term saw the movement as a continuation and revitalization of traditional leftist goals.
Some who self-identified as "New Left" rejected involvement with the labor movement and Marxism's historical theory of class struggle, although others gravitated to their own takes on established forms of Marxism, such as the New Communist movement (which drew from Maoism) in the United States or the K-Gruppen in the German Sprachraum. In the United States, the movement was associated with the anti-war college-campus protest movements, including the Free Speech Movement.
The origins of the New Left have been traced to several factors. Prominently, the confused response of the Communist Party of the USA and the Communist Party of Great Britain to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 led some Marxist intellectuals to develop a more democratic approach to politics, opposed to what they saw as the centralised and authoritarian politics of the pre-war leftist parties. Those Communists who became disillusioned with the Communist Parties due to their authoritarian character eventually formed the "new left", first among dissenting Communist Party intellectuals and campus groups in the United Kingdom, and later alongside campus radicalism in the United States and in the Western Bloc. The term "nouvelle gauche" was already current in France in the 1950s, associated with France Observateur, and its editor Claude Bourdet, who attempted to form a third position, between the dominant Stalinist and social democratic tendencies of the left, and the two Cold War blocs. It was from this French "new left" that the "First New Left" of Britain borrowed the term.
The German-Jewish critical theorist Herbert Marcuse is referred to as the "Father of the New Left". He rejected the theory of class struggle and the Marxist concern with labor. According to Leszek Kołakowski, Marcuse argued that since "all questions of material existence have been solved, moral commands and prohibitions are no longer relevant". He regarded the realization of man's erotic nature, or Eros, as the true liberation of humanity, which inspired the utopias of Jerry Rubin and others. However, Marcuse also believed the concept of Logos, which involves one's reason, would absorb Eros over time as well. Another prominent New Left thinker, Ernst Bloch, believed that socialism would prove the means for all human beings to become immortal and eventually create God.
The writings of sociologist C. Wright Mills, who popularized the term New Left in a 1960 open letter, would also give great inspiration to the movement. Mills' biographer, Daniel Geary, writes that his writings had a "particularly significant impact on New Left social movements of the 1960s."
The New Left in Latin America can be loosely defined as the collection of political parties, radical grassroots social movements (such as indigenous movements, student movements, mobilizations of landless rural workers, afro-descendent organizations and feminist movements), guerilla organizations (such as the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions) and other organizations (such as trade unions, campesino leagues and human rights organizations) that comprised the left between 1959 (with the beginning of the Cuban Revolution) and 1990 (with the fall of the Berlin Wall).
Influential Latin American thinkers such as Francisco de Oliveira argued that the United States used Latin American countries as "peripheral economies" at the expense of Latin American society and economic development, which many saw as an extension of neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism. This shift in thinking led to a surge of dialogue related to how Latin America could assert its social and economic independence from the United States. Many scholars argued that a shift to socialism could help liberate Latin America from this conflict.
The New Left emerged in Latin America, a group which sought to go beyond existing Marxist–Leninist efforts at achieving economic equality and democracy to include social reform and address issues unique to Latin America such as racial and ethnic equality, indigenous rights, the rights of the environment, demands for radical democracy, international solidarity, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism and other aims. Notable New Left movements in Latin America include the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the victory of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua of 1979, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker's Party) government in Porto Alegre of 1990, among others.
As a result of Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech denouncing Joseph Stalin many abandoned the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and began to rethink its orthodox Marxism. Some joined various Trotskyist groupings or the Labour Party.
The Marxist historians E. P. Thompson and John Saville of the Communist Party Historians Group published a dissenting journal within the CPGB called Reasoner. Refusing to discontinue the publication at the behest of the CPGB, the two were suspended from party membership and relaunched the journal as The New Reasoner in the summer of 1957.
Thompson was especially important in bringing the concept of a "New Left" to the United Kingdom in the Summer of 1959 with a New Reasoner lead essay, in which he described
"...[A] generation which never looked upon the Soviet Union as a weak but heroic Workers' State; but rather as the nation of the Great Purges and Stalingrad, of Stalin's Byzantine Birthday and of Khrushchev's Secret Speech; as the vast military and industrial power which repressed the Hungarian rising and threw the first sputniks into space. ...
"A generation nourished on 1984 and Animal Farm, which enters politics at the extreme point of disillusion where the middle-aged begin to get out. The young people ... are enthusiastic enough. But their enthusiasm is not for the Party, or the Movement, or the established Political Leaders. They do not mean to give their enthusiasm cheaply away to any routine machine. They expect the politicians to do their best to trick or betray them. ... They prefer the amateur organisation and amateurish platforms of the Nuclear Disarmament Campaign to the method and manner of the left wing professional. ... They judge with the critical eyes of the first generation of the Nuclear Age."
Later that year, Saville published a piece in the same journal which identified the emergence of the British New Left as a response to the increasing political irrelevance of socialists inside and outside the Labour Party during the 1950s, which he saw as being the result of a failure by the established left to come to grips with the political changes that had come to pass internationally after World War II and with the post–World War II economic expansion and the socio-economic legacy of the Attlee ministry:
"The most important single reason for the miserable performance of the Left in this past decade is the simple fact of its intellectual collapse in the face of full employment and the welfare state at home, and of a new world situation abroad. The Left in domestic matters has produced nothing of substance to offset the most important book of the decade - Crosland's "The Future of Socialism " - a brilliant restatement of Fabian ideas in contemporary terms. We have made no sustained critique of the economics of capitalism in the 1950's, and our vision of a socialist society has changed hardly at all since the days of Keir Hardie. Certainly a minority has begun to recognise our deficiencies in the most recent years, and there is no doubt that the seeds which have already been sown will bring an increasing harvest as we move along the sixties. But we still have a long way to go, and there are far too many timeless militants for whom the mixture is the same as before."
In 1960, The New Reasoner merged with the Universities and Left Review to form the New Left Review. These journals attempted to synthesise a theoretical position of a Marxist revisionism, humanist, socialist Marxism, departing from orthodox Marxist theory. This publishing effort made the ideas of culturally oriented theorists available to an undergraduate reading audience.
In this early period, many on the New Left were involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), formed in 1957. According to Robin Blackburn, "The decline of CND by late 1961, however, deprived the New Left of much of its momentum as a movement, and uncertainties and divisions within the Board of the journal led to the transfer of the Review to a younger and less experienced group in 1962."
Under the long-standing editorial leadership of Perry Anderson, the New Left Review popularised the Frankfurt School, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser and other forms of Marxism. Other periodicals like Socialist Register, started in 1964, and Radical Philosophy, started in 1972, have also been associated with the New Left, and published a range of important writings in this field.
As the campus orientation of the American New Left became clear in the mid to late 1960s, the student sections of the British New Left began taking action. The London School of Economics became a key site of British student militancy. The influence of protests against the Vietnam War and of the May 1968 events in France were also felt strongly throughout the British New Left. Some within the British New Left joined the International Socialists, which later became Socialist Workers Party while others became involved with groups such as the International Marxist Group. The politics of the British New Left can be contrasted with Solidarity, which continued to focus primarily on industrial issues.
The New Left Review, in an obituary following Hall's death in February 2014, wrote "His exemplary investigations came close to inventing a new field of study, 'cultural studies'; in his vision, the new discipline was profoundly political in inspiration and radically interdisciplinary in character."
Numerous Black British scholars attributed their interest in cultural studies to Hall, including Paul Gilroy, Angela McRobbie, Isaac Julien, and John Akomfrah. In the words of Indian literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Academics worldwide could not think 'Black Britain' before Stuart Hall. And in Britain the impact of Cultural Studies went beyond the confines of the academy."
Among Hall's New Left works were the May Day Manifesto, which reflected a "growing disillusionment on the left with what the authors argued to be the surrendering of socialist principles by the Labour Party" and Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order, which contemporary book reviewer John Horton described as "nothing less than an analysis of how the British state is managing the current 'crisis of hegemony'".
In the United States, the "New Left" was the name loosely associated with liberal, radical, Marxist political movements that took place during the 1960s, primarily among college students. At the core of this was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The New Left can be defined as "a loosely organized, mostly white student movement that advocated for democracy, civil rights, and various types of university reforms, and protested against the Vietnam war".
The term "New Left" was popularised in the United States in an open letter written in 1960 by sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916–62) entitled Letter to the New Left. Mills argued for a new leftist ideology, moving away from the traditional ("Old Left") focus on labor issues, into a broader focus towards issues such as opposing alienation, anomie, and authoritarianism. Mills argued for a shift from traditional leftism, toward the values of the counterculture, and emphasized an international perspective on the movement. According to David Burner, C. Wright Mills claimed that the proletariat (collectively the working-class referencing Marxism) were no longer the revolutionary force; the new agents of revolutionary change were young intellectuals around the world.
A student protest called the Free Speech Movement took place during the 1964–1965 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In protests unprecedented in this scope at the time, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom. In particular, on 2 December 1964 on the steps of Sproul Hall, Mario Savio gave a famous speech: "But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be—have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean—Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings! ... There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."
The New Left opposed what it saw as the prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed "The Establishment", and those who rejected this authority became known as "anti-Establishment". The New Left focused on social activists and their approach to organization, convinced that they could be the source for a better kind of social revolution.
The New Left in the United States also included anarchist, countercultural, and hippie-related radical groups such as the Yippies (who were led by Abbie Hoffman), The Diggers, Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, and the White Panther Party. By late 1966, the Diggers opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art. The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers led by Gerrard Winstanley and sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism. On the other hand, the Yippies employed theatrical gestures, such as advancing a pig ("Pigasus the Immortal") as a candidate for President in 1968, to mock the social status quo. They have been described as a highly theatrical, anti-authoritarian, and anarchist youth movement of "symbolic politics". According to ABC News, "The group was known for street theater pranks and was once referred to as the 'Groucho Marxists'." Many of the "old school" political left either ignored or denounced them.
Many New Left thinkers in the United States were influenced by the Vietnam War and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Some in the U.S. New Left argued that since the Soviet Union could no longer be considered the world center for proletarian revolution, new revolutionary Communist thinkers had to be substituted in its place, such as Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. Todd Gitlin in The Whole World Is Watching in describing the movement's influences stated, "The New Left, again, refused the self-discipline of explicit programmatic statement until too late—until, that is, the Marxist–Leninist sects filled the vacuum with dogmas, with clarity on the cheap."
Isserman (2001) reports that the New Left "came to use the word 'liberal' as a political epithet". Historian Richard Ellis (1998) says that the SDS's search for their own identity "increasingly meant rejecting, even demonizing, liberalism." As Wolfe (2010) notes, "no one hated liberals more than leftists".
Other elements of the U.S. New Left were anarchist and looked to libertarian socialist traditions of American radicalism, the Industrial Workers of the World and union militancy. This group coalesced around the historical journal Radical America. American Autonomist Marxism was also a child of this stream, for instance in the thought of Harry Cleaver. Murray Bookchin was also part of the anarchist stream of the New Left, as were the Yippies.
The U.S. New Left drew inspiration from black radicalism, particularly the Black Power movement and the more explicitly Maoist and militant Black Panther Party. The Panthers in turn influenced other similar militant groups, like the Young Lords, the Brown Berets and the American Indian Movement. The New Left was also inspired by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Students immersed themselves into poor communities building up support with the locals. The New Left sought to be a broad based, grass roots movement.
The Vietnam War conducted by liberal President Lyndon B. Johnson was a special target across the worldwide New Left. Johnson and his top officials became unwelcome on American campuses. The anti-war movement escalated the rhetorical heat, as violence broke out on both sides. The climax came at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
The New Left also accommodated the rebirth of feminism. As the original leaders of the New Left were largely white men, women reacted to the lack of progressive gender politics with their own social intellectual movement. The New Left was also marked by the invention of the modern environmentalist movement, which clashed with the Old Left's disregard for the environment in favor of preserving the jobs of union workers. Environmentalism also gave rise to various other social justice movements such as the environmental justice movement, which aims to prevent the toxification of the environment of minority and disadvantaged communities.
By 1968, however, the New Left coalition began to split. The anti-war Democratic presidential nomination campaign of Kennedy and McCarthy brought the central issue of the New Left into the mainstream liberal establishment. The 1972 nomination of George McGovern further highlighted the new influence of Liberal protest movements within the Democratic establishment. Increasingly, feminist and gay rights groups became important parts of the Democratic coalition, thus satisfying many of the same constituencies that were previously unserved by the mainstream parties. This institutionalization took away all but the most radical members of the New Left. The remaining radical core of the SDS, dissatisfied with the pace of change, incorporated violent tendencies towards social transformation. After 1969, the Weathermen, a surviving faction of SDS, attempted to launch a guerrilla war in an incident known as the "Days of Rage". Finally, in 1970 three members of the Weathermen blew themselves up in a Greenwich Village brownstone trying to make a bomb out of a stick of dynamite and an alarm clock. Port Huron Statement participant Jack Newfield wrote in 1971 that "in its Weathermen, Panther and Yippee incarnations, [the New Left] seems anti-democratic, terroristic, dogmatic, stoned on rhetoric and badly disconnected from everyday reality". In contrast, the more moderate groups associated with the New Left increasingly became central players in the Democratic Party and thus in mainstream American politics.
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word 'hippie' came from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain, though by the 1940s both had become part of African American jive slang and meant "currently fashionable; fully up-to-date". The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation and mimicked some of the current values of the British Mod scene. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic rock, embraced the sexual revolution, and some used drugs such as cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.
The Yippies, who were seen as an offshoot of the hippie movements parodying as a political party, came to national attention during their celebration of the 1968 spring equinox, when some 3,000 of them took over Grand Central Terminal in New York, resulting in 61 arrests. The Yippies, especially their leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, became notorious for their theatrics, such as trying to levitate the Pentagon at the October 1967 war protest, and such slogans as "Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball!" Their stated intention to protest the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, including nominating their own candidate, "Lyndon Pigasus Pig" (an actual pig), was also widely publicized in the media at this time. In Cambridge, hippies congregated each Sunday for a large "be-in" at Cambridge Park with swarms of drummers and those beginning the Women's Movement. In the United States the hippie movement started to be seen as part of the "New Left" which was associated with anti-war college campus protest movements.
The organization that really came to symbolize the core of the New Left was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). By 1962, the SDS had emerged as the most important of the new campus radical groups; soon it would be regarded as virtually synonymous with the "New Left". In 1962, Tom Hayden wrote its founding document, the Port Huron Statement, which issued a call for "participatory democracy" based on non-violent civil disobedience. This was the idea that individual citizens could help make 'those social decisions determining the quality and direction' of their lives. The SDS marshaled antiwar, pro-civil rights and free speech concerns on campuses, and brought together liberals and more revolutionary leftists.
The SDS became the leading organization of the anti-war movement on college campuses during the Vietnam War. As the war escalated the membership of the SDS also increased greatly as more people were willing to scrutinise political decisions in moral terms.:170 During the course of the war, the people became increasingly militant. As opposition to the war grew stronger, the SDS became a nationally prominent political organization, with opposing the war an overriding concern that overshadowed many of the original issues that had inspired SDS. In 1967, the old statement in Port Huron was abandoned for a new call for action,:172 which would inevitably lead to the destruction of the SDS.
In 1968 and 1969, as its radicalism reached a fever pitch, the SDS began to split under the strain of internal dissension and increasing turn towards Maoism. Along with adherents known as the New Communist Movement, some extremist illegal factions also emerged, such as the Weather Underground organization.
The SDS suffered the difficulty of wanting to change the world while 'freeing life in the here and now.' This caused confusion between short-term and long-term goals. The sudden growth due to the successful rallies against the Vietnam War meant there were more people wanting action to end the Vietnam war, whereas the original New Left had wanted to focus on critical reflection. In the end, it was the anti-war sentiment that dominated the SDS.:183
The European New Left appeared first in West Germany, which became a prototype for European student radicals. German students protesting against the Vietnam war often wore discarded US military uniforms, and they made influential contacts with dissident GIs—draftees who did not like the war either.
In Europe Provo was a Dutch counterculture movement in the mid-1960s that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities using non-violent bait. One manifestation of this was the French general strike that took place in Paris in May 1968, which nearly toppled the French government. In France the Situationist International reached the apex of its creative output and influence in 1967 and 1968, with the former marking the publication of the two most significant texts of the situationist movement, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem. The expressed writing and political theory of these texts, along with other situationist publications, proved greatly influential in shaping the ideas behind the May 1968 insurrections in France; quotes, phrases, and slogans from situationist texts and publications were ubiquitous on posters and graffiti throughout France during the uprisings. Another was the German student movement of the 1960s. Kommune 1 or K1 was the first politically motivated commune in Germany. It was created on January 12, 1967, in West Berlin and finally dissolved in November 1969. During its entire existence, Kommune 1 was infamous for its bizarre staged events that fluctuated between satire and provocation. These events served as inspiration for the "Sponti" movement and other leftist groups. In the late summer of 1968, the commune moved into a deserted factory on Stephanstraße in order to reorient. This second phase of Kommune 1 was characterized by sex, music, and drugs. All of a sudden, the commune was receiving visitors from all over the world, among them Jimi Hendrix, who turned up one morning in the bedroom of Kommune 1. The underground was a countercultural movement in the United Kingdom linked to the underground culture in the United States and associated with the hippie phenomenon. Its primary focus was around Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill in London. It generated its own magazines and newspapers, bands, clubs and alternative lifestyle, associated with cannabis and LSD use and a strong socio-political revolutionary agenda to create an alternative society. The counterculture movement took hold in Western Europe, with London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and West Berlin rivaling San Francisco and New York as counterculture centers.
The Prague Spring was legitimised by the Czechoslovak government as a socialist reform movement. The 1968 events in the Czechoslovakia were driven forward by industrial workers, and were explicitly theorized by active Czechoslovak unionists as a revolution for workers' control.
The student activism of the New Left came to a head around the world in 1968. The May 1968 protests in France temporarily shut down the city of Paris, while the German student movement did the same in Bonn. Universities were simultaneously occupied in May in Paris, in the Columbia University protests of 1968, and in Japanese student strikes. Shortly thereafter, Swedish students occupied a building at Stockholm University. However, all of these protests were shut down by police authorities without achieving their goals, which caused the influence of the student movement to lapse in the 1970s.
While the Autonomia in Italy have been called New Left, it is more appropriate to see them as the result of traditional, industrially oriented, communism re-theorising its ideas and methods. Unlike most of the New Left, Autonomia had a strong blue-collar arm, active in regularly occupying factories.
The New Left in Japan began by occupying college campuses for several years in the 1960s. After 1970, they splintered into several freedom fighter groups including the United Red Army and the Japanese Red Army. They also developed the political ideology of Anti-Japaneseism.
The Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) is considered the main organization to emerge from the New Left in Brazil. According to Manuel Larrabure, "rather than taking the path of the old Latin American left, in the form of the guerrilla movement, or the Stalinist party", PT decided to try something new, while being aided by CUT and other social movements. Its challenge was to "combine the institutions of liberal democracy with popular participation by communities and movements". PT, however, has been criticized for its "strategic alliances" with the right-wing after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected president of Brazil. The party has distanced itself from social movements and youth organizations and for many it seems the PT's model of a new left is reaching its limits.
In Australia, the New Left was engaged in debates concerning the legitimacy of heterodox economics and political economy in tertiary education. This culminated in the establishment of an independent department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.
Anderson took over as editor in 1962.
In 1969, the American organization ruptured into two factions, one Maoist and one proterrorist.
The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California. The party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities, and international chapters operating in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and in Algeria from 1969 until 1972.At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party's core practice was its armed citizens' patrols to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in the city. In 1969, community social programs became a core activity of party members. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, to address issues like food injustice, and community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later HIV/AIDS. The party enrolled the most members and had the most influence in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Philadelphia. There were active chapters in many prisons, at a time when an increasing number of young African-American men were being incarcerated.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover described the party in 1969 as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." He developed and supervised an extensive counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate party members, discredit and criminalize the Party, and drain the organization of resources and manpower. The program was also accused of assassinating Black Panther members, including Fred Hampton.Black Panther Party members were involved in many fatal firefights with police: Huey Newton allegedly killed officer John Frey in 1967, and Eldridge Cleaver led an ambush in 1968 of Oakland police officers, in which two officers were wounded and Panther Bobby Hutton was killed. The party suffered many internal conflicts, resulting in the murders of Alex Rackley and Betty Van Patter.
Government oppression initially contributed to the party's growth, as killings and arrests of Panthers increased its support among African Americans and on the broad political left. Both groups valued the Panthers as a powerful force opposed to de facto segregation and the military draft. Black Panther Party membership reached a peak in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members; it began to decline over the following decade. After the leaders and members were vilified by the mainstream press, public support for the party waned, and the group became more isolated. In-fighting among Party leadership, caused largely by the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, led to expulsions and defections that decimated the membership. Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared detailing the group's involvement in illegal activities, such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland merchants. By 1972 most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics. Though under constant police surveillance, the Chicago chapter also remained active and maintained their community programs until 1974. The Seattle chapter lasted longer than most, with a breakfast program and medical clinics that continued even after the chapter disbanded in 1977. Party contractions continued throughout the 1970s, and by 1980, the Black Panther Party had just 27 members.The history of the Black Panther Party is controversial. Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, and "the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism". Other commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by "defiant posturing over substance".C. Wright Mills
Charles Wright Mills (August 28, 1916 – March 20, 1962) was an American sociologist, and a professor of sociology at Columbia University from 1946 until his death in 1962. Mills was published widely in popular and intellectual journals, and is remembered for several books such as The Power Elite, which introduced that term and describes the relationships and class alliances among the US political, military, and economic elites; White Collar: The American Middle Classes, on the American middle class; and The Sociological Imagination, which presents a model of analysis for the interdependence of subjective experiences within a person's biography, the general social structure, and historical development.
Mills was concerned with the responsibilities of intellectuals in post-World War II society, and he advocated public and political engagement over disinterested observation. Mills's biographer, Daniel Geary, writes that Mills's writings had a "particularly significant impact on New Left social movements of the 1960s." Indeed, it was Mills who popularized the term "New Left" in the U.S. in a 1960 open letter, Letter to the New Left.Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed first in the United Kingdom (UK) and then the United States (US) and then spreading throughout much of the Western world between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, with London, New York City, and San Francisco being hotbeds of early countercultural activity. The aggregate movement gained momentum as the Civil Rights Movement continued to grow, and would later become revolutionary with the expansion of the US government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam. As the 1960s progressed, widespread social tensions also developed concerning other issues, and tended to flow along generational lines regarding human sexuality, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and differing interpretations of the American Dream. Many key movements related to these issues were born or advanced within the counterculture of the 1960s.As the era unfolded, new cultural forms and a dynamic subculture which celebrated experimentation, modern incarnations of Bohemianism, and the rise of the hippie and other alternative lifestyles, emerged. This embracing of creativity is particularly notable in the works of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, and filmmakers whose works became far less restricted by censorship. In addition to the trendsetting Beatles, many other creative artists, authors, and thinkers, within and across many disciplines, helped define the counterculture movement.
Several factors distinguished the counterculture of the 1960s from the anti-authoritarian movements of previous eras. The post-World War II "baby boom" generated an unprecedented number of potentially disaffected young people as prospective participants in a rethinking of the direction of the United States and other democratic societies. Post-war affluence allowed many of the counterculture generation to move beyond a focus on the provision of the material necessities of life that had preoccupied their Depression-era parents. The era was also notable in that a significant portion of the array of behaviors and "causes" within the larger movement were quickly assimilated within mainstream society, particularly in the US, even though counterculture participants numbered in the clear minority within their respective national populations.The counterculture era essentially commenced in earnest with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963. It became absorbed into the popular culture with the termination of US combat military involvement in Southeast Asia and the end of the draft in 1973, and ultimately with the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.David Horowitz
David Joel Horowitz (born January 10, 1939) is an American conservative writer. He is a founder and president of the think tank the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC); editor of the Center's publication, FrontPage Magazine; and director of Discover the Networks, a website that tracks individuals and groups on the political left. Horowitz also founded the organization Students for Academic Freedom.
Horowitz wrote several books with author Peter Collier, including four on prominent 20th-century American political families that had members elected to the presidency. He and Collier have collaborated on books about cultural criticism. Horowitz worked as a columnist for Salon. Its then-editor Joan Walsh described him as a "conservative provocateur".From 1956 to 1975, Horowitz was an outspoken adherent of the New Left. He later rejected liberal and progressive ideas and became a proponent of Neoconservatism before leaving it. Horowitz recounted his ideological journey in a series of retrospective books, culminating with his 1996 memoir Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Horowitz today as "...a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements."E. P. Thompson
Edward Palmer Thompson (3 February 1924 – 28 August 1993) was a British historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner. He is probably best known today for his historical work on the British radical movements in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular The Making of the English Working Class (1963). He also published influential biographies of William Morris (1955) and (posthumously) William Blake (1993) and was a prolific journalist and essayist. He also published the novel The Sykaos Papers and a collection of poetry. His work is considered to have been among the most important contributions to labour history and social history in the latter twentieth-century, with a global impact, including on scholarship in Asia and Africa.Thompson was one of the principal intellectuals of the Communist Party in Great Britain. Although he left the party in 1956 over the Soviet invasion of Hungary, he nevertheless remained a "historian in the Marxist tradition", calling for a rebellion against Stalinism as a prerequisite for the restoration of communists' "confidence in our own revolutionary perspectives". Thompson played a key role in the first New Left in Britain in the late 1950s. He was a vociferous left-wing socialist critic of the Labour governments of 1964–70 and 1974–79, and an early and constant supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, becoming during the 1980s the leading intellectual light of the movement against nuclear weapons in Europe.Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson (born April 14, 1934) is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends, particularly his analysis of postmodernity and capitalism. Jameson's best-known books include Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) and The Political Unconscious (1981).
Jameson is currently Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies (French) and the director of the Center for Critical Theory at Duke University. In 2012, the Modern Language Association gave Jameson its sixth Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement.Free Speech Movement
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Berkeley graduate student Mario Savio. Other student leaders include Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, George Barton, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Michael Teal, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others.With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left, and was also related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. To this day, the Movement's legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, impacting on the political views and values of college students and the general public.Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse (; German: [maɐ̯ˈkuːzə]; July 19, 1898 – July 29, 1979) was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Born in Berlin, Marcuse studied at the universities of Berlin and then at Freiburg, where he received his PhD. He was a prominent figure in the Frankfurt-based Institute for Social Research – what later became known as the Frankfurt School. He was married to Sophie Wertheim (1924–1951), Inge Neumann (1955–1973), and Erica Sherover (1976–1979). In his written works, he criticized capitalism, modern technology, historical materialism and entertainment culture, arguing that they represent new forms of social control.Between 1943 and 1950, Marcuse worked in US government service for the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency) where he criticized the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the book Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (1958). After his studies, in the 1960s and the 1970s he became known as the preeminent theorist of the New Left and the student movements of West Germany, France, and the United States; some consider him the "father of the New Left".His best known works are Eros and Civilization (1955) and One-Dimensional Man (1964). His Marxist scholarship inspired many radical intellectuals and political activists in the 1960s and 1970s, both in the United States and internationally.Left-wing politics
Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished (by advocating for social justice). The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system".The political terms "Left" and "Right" were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General: those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the "Independents". The word "wing" was appended to Left and Right in the late 19th century, usually with disparaging intent and "left-wing" was applied to those who were unorthodox in their religious or political views.
The term was later applied to a number of movements, especially republicanism during the French Revolution in the 18th century, followed by socialism, communism, anarchism and social democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since then, the term left-wing has been applied to a broad range of movements including civil rights movements, feminist movements, anti-war movements and environmental movements, as well as a wide range of parties. According to former professor of economics Barry Clark, "[leftists] claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated".Neo-Marxism
Neo-Marxism encompasses 20th-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, typically by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, or existentialism (in the case of Jean-Paul Sartre).
An example of the syncretism in neo-Marxist theory is Erik Olin Wright's theory of contradictory class locations which incorporates Weberian sociology, critical criminology and anarchism. As with many uses of the prefix neo-, some theorists and groups designated as neo-Marxist have attempted to supplement the perceived deficiencies of orthodox Marxism or dialectical materialism. Many prominent neo-Marxists, such as Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School, have historically been sociologists and psychologists.
Neo-Marxism comes under the broader framework of the New Left. In a sociological sense, neo-Marxism adds Max Weber's broader understanding of social inequality such as status and power to Marxist philosophy. Examples of neo-Marxism include critical theory, analytical Marxism and French structural Marxism.Neoconservatism
Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon when labelling its adherents) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party, and the growing New Left and counterculture, in particular the Vietnam protests. Some also began to question their liberal beliefs regarding domestic policies such as the Great Society.
Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, including peace through strength (by means of military force), and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s as neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administration of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Prominent neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration included Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer. While not identifying as neoconservatives, senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel and the promotion of American influence in the Middle East.
Historically speaking, the term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism during the 1960s and 1970s. The movement had its intellectual roots in the Jewish monthly review magazine Commentary, edited by Norman Podhoretz and published by the American Jewish Committee. They spoke out against the New Left and in that way helped define the movement.New Left Review
The New Left Review is a bimonthly political academic journal covering world politics, economy, and culture which was established in 1960.Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and laureate professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.
Born to middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. He began studying at the University of Pennsylvania at age 16, taking courses in linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. From 1951 to 1955, he was appointed to Harvard University's Society of Fellows. While at Harvard, he developed the theory of transformational grammar; for this, he was awarded his doctorate in 1955. Chomsky began teaching at MIT in 1957 and emerged as a significant figure in the field of linguistics for his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which remodelled the scientific study of language. From 1958 to 1959, he was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. Chomsky is credited as the creator or co-creator of the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, and the Chomsky hierarchy. He also played a pivotal role in the decline of behaviorism, being particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.
Chomsky vocally opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, believing the war to be an act of American imperialism. In 1967, he attracted widespread public attention for his antiwar essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals". Associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and was placed on Richard Nixon's Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over late 1960s and 1970s, he also became involved in the so-called linguistics wars with generative semantics. In the 1980s, Chomsky helped develop the government and binding theory. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later co-wrote Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which articulated the propaganda model of media criticism and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Additionally, his defense of freedom of speech—including free speech for Holocaust deniers—generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the early 1980s. In the 1990s, Chomsky started the minimalist program. Since retiring from active teaching (becoming emeritus in 2002), Chomsky has continued his vocal political activism by opposing the War on Terror and supporting the Occupy Movement.
One of the most cited scholars in history, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as a paradigm shifter who helped spark a major revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarly research, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. His ideas have proved highly significant within the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements. Some of his critics have accused him of anti-Americanism.Revolution (Beatles song)
"Revolution" is a song by the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Three versions of the song were recorded in 1968, all during sessions for the Beatles' self-titled double album, commonly known as "the White Album": a slow, bluesy arrangement (titled "Revolution 1") that would make the final cut for the LP; a more abstract musical collage (titled "Revolution 9") that originated as the latter part of "Revolution 1" and appears on the same album; and the better-known, faster, hard rock version similar to "Revolution 1", released as the B-side of the "Hey Jude" single. Although the single version was issued first, it was recorded several weeks after "Revolution 1", as a re-make specifically intended for release as a single.
Inspired by political protests in early 1968, Lennon's lyrics expressed sympathy with the need for change but doubt in regard to some of the tactics. When the single version was released in August, the political left viewed it as betraying their cause. The release of the album version in November indicated Lennon's uncertainty about destructive change, with the phrase "count me out" recorded differently as "count me out, in". In 1987, the song became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for a television commercial, which prompted a lawsuit from the surviving members of the group.Students for a Democratic Society
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a national student activist organization in the United States that was one of the main representations of the New Left. Founded in 1960, the organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s, with over 300 chapters recorded nationwide by 1969,before dissolving at its last convention in 1969.
SDS has been an important influence on student organizing in the decades since its collapse. Participatory democracy, direct action, radicalism, student power, shoestring budgets, and its organizational structure are all present in varying degrees in current American student activist groups. Though various organizations have been formed in subsequent years as proposed national networks for left-wing student organizing, none has approached the scale of SDS, and most have lasted a few years at best.
A new incarnation of SDS was founded in 2006.Tom Hayden
Thomas Emmet Hayden (December 11, 1939 – October 23, 2016) was an American social and political activist, author and politician. Hayden was best known for his major role as an anti-war, civil rights, and radical intellectual activist in the 1960s, authoring the Port Huron Statement and standing trial in the Chicago Seven case.
In later years he ran for political office numerous times, winning seats in both the California Assembly and California Senate. At the end of his life he was the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County. He was married to Jane Fonda for 17 years, and was the father of actor Troy Garity.Verso Books
Verso Books (formerly New Left Books) is a publishing house based in London and New York City, founded in 1970 by the staff of New Left Review.Weather Underground
The Weather Underground Organization (WUO), commonly known as the Weather Underground, was a radical left-wing domestic terror group active in the late 1960s and 1970s, founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. Originally called Weatherman, the group became known colloquially as the Weathermen. Weatherman organized in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their supporters. Their political goal, stated in print after 1974, was to create a revolutionary party to overthrow U.S. imperialism.
With revolutionary positions characterized by black power and opposition to the Vietnam War, the group conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s and took part in actions such as the jailbreak of Timothy Leary in 1970. The "Days of Rage", their first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago timed to coincide with the trial of the Chicago Seven. In 1970 the group issued a "Declaration of a State of War" against the United States government, under the name "Weather Underground Organization".The bombing campaign targeted government buildings, along with several banks. The group stated that the United States government had been exploiting other nations by waging war as a means of solidifying America as a greater nation. Some attacks were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with threats identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. Three members of the group were killed in the accidental Greenwich Village townhouse explosion but no civilians were killed in any of the terrorist attacks.
For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a communiqué saying that it was "in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos". For the bombing of the Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated that it was "in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi". For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State building, they stated that it was "in response to the escalation in Vietnam".The Weathermen grew out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) faction of SDS. It took its name from Bob Dylan's lyric, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", from the song "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965). "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows" was the title of a position paper that they distributed at an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969. This founding document called for a "white fighting force" to be allied with the "Black Liberation Movement" and other radical movements to achieve "the destruction of U.S. imperialism and achieve a classless world: world communism".The Weathermen began to disintegrate after the United States reached a peace accord in Vietnam in 1973, after which the New Left declined in influence. By 1977, the organization was defunct.Western Marxism
Western Marxism is a current of Marxist theory arising from Western and Central Europe in the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the ascent of Leninism. The term denotes a loose collection of theorists who advanced an interpretation of Marxism distinct from that codified by the Soviet Union.The Western Marxists placed more emphasis on Marxism's philosophical and sociological aspects, and its origins in the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (for which reason it is sometimes called Hegelian Marxism) and what they called "Young Marx" (i.e. the more humanistic early works of Marx). Although some early figures such as György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci had been prominent in political activities, Western Marxism became primarily the reserve of the academia especially after World War II. Prominent figures included Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.
Since the 1960s, the concept has been closely associated with the New Left. While many of the Western Marxists were adherents of Marxist humanism, the term also encompasses their critics in the form of the structural Marxism of Louis Althusser.
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