Politics in Minutes (2016)

The New Left

Several of the so-called Frankfurt School of neo-Marxists settled in the USA, including Herbert Marcuse (pictured), whose ideas became the foundation for the New Left movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Closely associated with student protest movements, the New Left was less concerned with traditional left-wing issues, such as class struggle and workers’ revolution, and placed more emphasis on social reform.

The New Left movement was taken more seriously in Britain, led as it was by respected Marxist academics who departed from the strict Marxist/Leninist line of the ailing Communist Party of Great Britain – adopting the American emphasis on social reform, while retaining Marx’s notion of class struggle. The popularity of the New Left waned in the 1980s, but some elements of new-left thinking have re-emerged recently in, for example, Spain and Greece, where Podemos and Syriza have abandoned the ‘old left’ traditional socialist and communist parties in their opposition to capitalism.