New Left

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New Left

a loose grouping of intellectual movements in the UK and the US from the 1950s onwards, drawing on MARXISM, and concerned with promoting socialism. The New Left tended to be critical of the Soviet Union, and distanced itself from rigid forms of Marxist analysis. The Russian suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 was an important watershed, in which many of those subsequently active in the New Left left the Communist Party. The translation and

greater availability of Marx's more ‘humanistic’works and also the Grundrisse was also significant. In the UK, many leading intellectuals have been associated with the movement, including the historians Edward THOMPSON and Perry ANDERSON, the cultural theorist Raymond Williams and the sociologist Stuart HALL. The movement's leading theoretical journal is the New Left Review.

In a wider sense, the New Left also embraces other radical social and political movements, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Feminist Movement. In the US, the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT and movements opposed to the Vietnam War can also be regarded as part of the New Left. Although links sometimes exist, the New Left is usually distinguished from Trotskyist or Maoist political organizations (more often seen as branches of the ‘old Left’) and from urban terrorist movements such as the Baader-Meinhof group or the Red Army Faction.

It is notable how over the years many of the initially radical ideas of the New Left, existing at first outside or only marginally within academia, have become incorporated as part of the broad academic mainstream of social science discourse (e.g. see CULTURAL STUDIES, HISTORY WORKSHOP JOURNAL). In the 1980s, in both the UK and the US, the New Left was counterbalanced by the appearance of a NEW RIGHT, finding expression in such research organizations as the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies, and journals such as the Salisbury Review. However, the output of the New Right has yet to gain the kind of bridgehead in sociology gained by the New Left. see also RADICAL SOCIAL WORK.