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Old Left: Wikis


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The Old Left is a term used to describe classic 1930s-era Western Leninists, Trotskyists and Stalinists to differentiate them from the Marxists of the New Left who emerged between the 1960s and the 1970s.[1] The New Left developed as a separate, typically anti-Stalinist tendency from the developing Marxist-Leninist New Communist Movement. The Old Left and New Communist Movement tended to emphasise the importance of party organization and class consciousness over a cultural agenda, and to organize in the then-mass-based industrial sectors of society.

The Old Left experienced a massive decline with the combined effect of several anti-communist ventures on the part of governments, including such things as the Palmer Raids and the First Red Scare in the 1920s, and the Second Red Scare in the McCarthy era. The Communist Party USA was tremendously weakened by this, as well as problems of the line within the party and by Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in the Secret Speech to the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU. The ensuing Sino-Soviet and Sino-Albanian splits further divided the Old Left forces. By the late 1950s many far-left and communist Old Left people were gone, in jail, had become liberals, or had joined the emerging anti-revisionist groups.

References and footnotes

  1. ^ See article by C. Wright Mills, the originater of the terms "Old" and "New" left, in his article from 1960: Letter to the New Left


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