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New Left Review
NLR Cover May June 05.gif
Type Journal
Format Magazine
Editor Perry Anderson
Susan Watkins
Founded 1960
Political alignment Socialist/Marxist
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Official website

The New Left Review is a political journal, founded in 1960 in the UK after the editors of the New Reasoner and the Universities and Left Review merged their boards. The Universities and Left Review had expressed opposition to the Suez War in 1956; it rejected the dominant 'revisionism' within the Labour Party, and developed a cultural critique of consumer capitalism. The New Reasoner was the publication of an oppositional current which left the Communist Party after 1956 because it opposed the Soviet occupation of Hungary. Contributors to these journals included Edward Thompson, Ralph Miliband, Charles Taylor, Raphael Samuel, Stuart Hall, Lawrence Daly, John Saville and Doris Lessing. [1]



The new journal appeared in January-February 1960 and has been published every two months since then becoming - as the Guardian put it in 1993 - the 'flagship of the Western intellectual Left'. The journal was initially edited by Stuart Hall, and pioneered an influential concern with popular culture. It debated the perspectives of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and explored alternatives to the false choices of Cold War politics, taking an interest in both Sweden and Cuba. Stuart Hall was succeeded as editor in 1962 by Perry Anderson, who introduced a book-like format with longer articles, footnotes, fewer topical comments and at least 96 pages per issue. But the journal remained very political.

The NLR - as it came to be known - drew on debates within Western Marxism and broadened its international coverage. It published work by Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, El Lissitsky, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Antonio Gramsci, and Louis Althusser, and interviewed Jean-Paul Sartre, Georg Lukács, and Lucio Colletti. Translations and presentations by Quintin Hoare, Ben Brewster, and others introduced these important thinkers to the English language public. A distinctive feature of the journal was a series of 'country studies' with Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn supplying an account of the peculiar formation of capitalism and the state in Britain (Edward Thompson disagreed in an essay published in the annual Socialist Register, 1965). The journal has also specialized in sweeping global surveys. In 1966 the journal published Juliet Mitchell's essay 'Women, the Longest Revolution', a founding text of second wave feminism. Nearly every issue from the mid-60s to the mid-70s carried an account by a worker of their experience at work. Texts of the aesthetic avant-garde were published and a series of articles on film by Peter Wollen. The journal covered third world anti-imperial movements. It reflected the concerns of the student movements of the 60s and 70s and documented the crises of the Communist regimes in Russia and eastern Europe. Isaac Deutscher, Raymond Williams, Raphael Samuel, and Ralph Miliband published in the journal and their work gave rise to important exchanges. In the 70s and 80s a debate between Ernest Mandel, Alec Nove and Diane Elson focussed on the respective weight of plan, market and worker or community control in socialist economics. In the 90s and after the journal published major studies of the growing evidence of global capitalist disorder by Robert Brenner, Giovanni Arrighi, David Harvey, Peter Gowan and Andrew Glyn. Benedict Anderson, Mike Davis, Fredric Jameson, Terry Eagleton, Ellen Wood, Tariq Ali and Nancy Davis published some of their most important texts in the review. Notable studies included Robert Brenner on the origins of capitalism, Erik Olin Wright on class, Göran Therborn on the advent of democracy, Raymond Williams on the materialism of Sebastiano Timpanaro, Julian Stallabrass on Sebastiao Salgado, Ellen Dubois on how women won the vote, Kate Soper on consumerism and David Fernbach on the surprising history of gay liberation. Joan Martinez Alier, Ted Benton and Rainer Grundman addressed the need for a 'green' political economy.

The NLR has published sparkling exponents of the essay form, such as Hans Magnus Enzensberger on the end of the world, Alexander Cockburn on meat, or Malcolm Bull on philistinism.

Robin Blackburn took over from Anderson in 1982, and continued in this role until a redesign and relaunch in 2000. Perry Anderson became the editor again, briefly; Susan Watkins took over the role of editor in 2003.

Although there has been turnover on the editorial committee over the decades, with several editors withdrawing in 1983 and 1993, these departures - unlike the debate between Thompson and Anderson in the 1960s - were not accompanied by political disagreements (though some former editors have not shared the review's unrelenting opposition to Western military interventions).

In fact there has been continuity as well as change in the journal's stable of regular contributors and in its preoccupations, including anti-militarism. In the early 1980s it led debate on 'exterminism and the 'Second Cold War' with contributions by Thompson, Fred Halliday, Mike Davis and Rudolf Bahro. In a special issue Anthony Barnett mounted a critique of Margaret Thatcher and the Malvinas (Falklands) war. The implications of the Soviet collapse and China's surge were extensively covered. Post-modernism, post-Marxism, the fate of feminism and the real configurations of the 'new world order' were plotted and assessed. In every decade since the mid-70s the journal has wrestled with the historical meaning of nationalism with essays by Tom Nairn, Eric Hobsbawm, Miroslav Hroch, Benedict Anderson, Stuart Hall, Ernest Gellner, Ronald Suny, Regis Debray, Michael Lowy and Gopal Balakrishnan.

In 2003 the Institute for Scientific Information did an impact factor analysis which ranked New Left Review 12th on a list of the top 20 political science journals.[2]

In its new form, NLR has led with controversial editorials on the direction of world politics and major articles on the United States, China, Japan, Turkey, Europe, Britain, Indonesia, Cuba, Iraq, Mexico, India and Palestine. It has published work by Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, David Graeber and Michael Hardt and featured analysis of global imbalances, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the credit crunch, prospects for nuclear disarmament, the scope of anti-corporate activism, the prospect of a 'planet of slums', and discussions of world literature and cinema, cultural criticism and the continuing exploits of the avant-garde.

Further reading

  • Lin, Chun (1993). The British New Left. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748604227. 
  • Duncan Thompson, Pessimism of the Intellect? A History of New Left Review (Merlin)


  1. ^ The sponsors of the new journal hoped that it would be at the forefront of the New Left in Britain. Through the journal, the members of the New Left would create 'New Left Clubs', and began working towards the reinvention of Socialism as a viable force in British politics. The New Reasoner and Universities & Left Review, have their contents archived at the Amiel Melburn Trust Internet Archive.
  2. ^ Roland Erne, "The Profession," European Political Science (2007) 6, 306–314.

External links



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