E. P. Thompson's Socialist Humanism
E. P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left: Essays and Polemics
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/05/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21596
Book review of Cal Winslow's E. P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left: Essays and Polemics.
The New Left was a direct challenge to a dominant liberal order that fostered mass apathy and complacency, and was led in Britain by Thompson, Doris Lessing, Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams.
Though Winslow doesn't engage in comparison, the U.S. and British New Lefts differed in important ways. Perhaps most notably, some in the United States (for example C. Wright Mills and Herbert Marcuse) claimed that in the affluent West the working class was no longer an agent of revolutionary change; Thompson and others in the UK disagreed.
New Lefts on both sides of the Atlantic were born of a double rejection however: of an unquestioning Old Left conformism to an organizational model based on the Party and Soviet orthodoxy; and of a postwar capitalist system whose most prominent features were mindless consumerism and a milquetoast political order masquerading as democracy.