The New Left
Beyond Stalinism and social democracy?
in Against the grain
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The British New Left emerged in 1956 as a response to a global ideological crisis that opened with Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech. This chapter argues that the earlier movement marked a fork in the road at which a plurality of leftist currents momentarily converged through an attempt to map a left that was independent both of Stalinism and social democracy. Stuart Hall suggests that the New Left 'attempted to define a "third" political space' between the polarities of the Cold War politics as embodied in the 'depressing experiences of both "actual existing socialism" and "actual existing social democracy"'. Beyond the impasse, the New Left's trajectory from a critique of Leninism through left-reformism and on towards Harold Wilson's Labour Party was not in any sense preordained. Indeed, voices within the New Left both criticised and pointed beyond this impasse.

Against the grain

The British far left from 1956

Editors: Evan Smith and Matthew Worley

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