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50 Years After '68 - 4th Annual European Conference (London)

Held 16 February 2018 from 19:00-21:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference. The discussion was moderated by Nunzia Faes.

Event Speakers:

Robert Borba (Revolutionary Communist Party USA)
Judith Shapiro (London School of Economics)
Jack Conrad (Communist Party of Great Britain; Weekly Worker)
Hillel Ticktin (University of Glasgow; Founding Editor, Critique)

Panel Description:

For half a century, 1968 has represented a high-water mark of social and political transformation, a year of social upheaval that spanned the entire globe. Ushered in by a New Left that sought to distinguish itself from the Old Left that emerged in the 20s and 30s, the monumental events of 1968 set the tone for everything from protest politics to academic leftism.

Today, with the U.S. entangled in a seemingly endless war in Asia and people calling for the impeachment of an unpopular president, with activists fighting in the streets and calling for liberation along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality, the Left’s every attempt to discover new methods and new ideas seems to invoke a memory of the political horizons of 1968. We can perhaps more than ever feel the urgency of the question: what lessons are to be drawn from the New Left as another generation undertakes the project of building a Left for the 21st century?

Questions for the panelists

Please answer the following questions in two registers: 1. What did you think in the 1960's 2. what do you think is possible now?

  1. Why did separatist politics (according to, e.g., race, gender, and sexuality, Black Power, feminism, gay liberation, etc.) become so salient in the 60s? What was common to the “movement” that transcended these diverse struggles for self-determination?
  2. Why was a “new” Left needed? What were the tasks that the New Left inherited from the Old Left?
  3. What was the relationship between the labor and students’ movements? Is a labour-student alliance needed today?
  4. How was the U.S. role in the war in Vietnam understood in relation to other social and political issues? Did the shift from the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-war movement change the possibilities for progressive politics?
  5. It is said that those of you participating in the 1960s movement(s) thought you could have changed the world. How was this change imagined? How did the efforts in the 1960's fail or succeed?

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