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Its authors, at first mostly graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, came to include most of the major figures of sixties radicalism, and not only from the United States. Writers for Studies on the Left included Martin J. Sklar, Lee Baxandall, James Weinstein, Eleanor Hakim, Ronald Radosh, Gabriel Kolko, James B. Gilbert, Saul Landau, Lloyd Gardner, Eugene D. Genovese, Norm Fruchter, Staughton Lynd, Ronald Aronson, William Appleman Williams, Raymond Williams, and Tom Hayden.
C. Wright Mills first published his much-reproduced "Letter to the New Left" (1961) in Studies on the Left. The journal's chief claim to theoretical distinction was in the concept of "corporate liberalism" as a descriptive term for the twentieth-century economic and political system typified by the United States and characterized by a warfare-welfare state. It advocated a socialism distinct from the variant then found in the Soviet Union.
The journal was important in the rebirth of a critical intellectual life in the 1960s after the McCarthyism of the 1950s. It was succeeded, under the editorial guidance of James Weinstein, by Socialist Revolution and then by Socialist Review.
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