Rethinking the Sixties Legacy: From New Left to New Social Movements

  • Carl Boggs
Part of the Main Trends of the Modern World book series (MTMW)


In contrast with the “total break” thesis characteristic of most New Left literature, which posits a collapse of 1960s radicalism in the period of 1968–70 and therefore a gulf separating it from the future, this essay argues for a continuity from the 1960s to the contemporary phase of new social movements and the appearance of political formations such as the Greens. The themes that permeated and galvanized the New Left — participatory democracy, community, cultural renewal, collective consumption, and the restoration of nature — have been typically carried forward into the modern ecology, feminist, peace and urban protest movements that have proliferated since the early 1970s. At the same time, whereas the New Left failed to establish durable organization, constituencies or even a theory of its own development, the new movements represent a far more mature and stable representation of local democratic struggles that grew out of the earlier period. The immense diversity of new social movements, which increasingly shapes progressive politics today, suggests an obsolescence of those global solutions and strategies that the left has historically embellished.


Social Movement Affirmative Action Modern Ecology Participatory Democracy Total Break 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Boggs

There are no affiliations available

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