THE NEW LEFT READER by Carl--Ed. Oglesby


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Seeking to shed light on the present mission, and historical significance of the New Left, a former national chairman of SDS has compiled a comprehensive and thoughtful anthology drawn from the writings of the Movement's most representative thinkers (including Herbert Marcuse, C. Wright Mills, and Louis Althusser) and activists (Huey Newton, Rudi Dutschke, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, et al). Ranging from an analysis of Britain's ""new capitalism"" by three English socialists to a speech by Malcolm X, the selections offer a varied but consistent picture of the current radical world view. Oglesby's introduction, tracing the emergence of contemporary militance from the vague malaise of the Fifties is helpful; his attempt to define the New Leftists' role in Marxist perspective, calling for a move from accusation to theory, is less successful. A major drawback of most selections is the quality of the writing. Save for a few instances--Martin Nicolaus' essay on Marx, Frantz Fanon's moving notes on Algerian women--most authors tend to dense theorizing filtered through a specialized vocabulary, with the occasional spice of deliberate illiteracy (Mark Rudd on campus reformism: ""faggoty, wimpy. . . McCarthyite gook""). Many translations are poor. Another difficulty lies in the potential audience: in style and substance, most essays are beyond the reach-of the uninitiated, yet too familiar, or too brief, for the Movement veteran. Perhaps the most suitable reader is the as yet uncommitted student (or adult) whose appetite may be whetted, and future researches guided, by this difficult collection.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Grove