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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Summer 2018: 50 years of 1968: readings from the New Left

Summer 2018: 50 years of 1968: readings from the New Left

Between us we can change this rotten society. Now, put on your coat and make for the nearest cinema. Look at their deadly love-making on the screen. Isn’t it better in real life? Make up your mind to learn to love. Then, during the interval, when the first advertisements come on, pick up your tomatoes or, if you prefer, your eggs, and chuck them. Then get out into the street, and peel off all the latest government proclamations until underneath you discover the message of the days of May and June.

Stay awhile in the street. Look at the passers-by and remind yourself: the last word has not yet been said. Then act. Act with others, not for them. Make the revolution here and now. It is your own. C’est pour toi que tu fais la révolution.

— Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative

Recommended films for screening

+ Brother Outsider: The Bayard Rustin Story
+ Rebels with a Cause: The SDS
+ Medium Cool
+ Columbia Revolt
+ The Weather Underground
+ Finally Got the News

Recommended background readings

+ Students for a Democratic Society, Port Huron Statement (1962)
+ Irwin Unger, The Movement (1974); see also Unger’s retrospective of 1968

Further background readings

+ Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (1973)
+ Massimo Teodori, The New Left (1969)
+ Harold Jacobs, Weatherman (1970)

required / + recommended reading

Primary book source *

• Carl Oglesby, ed. The New Left Reader (1968)

Recommended preliminary readings

+ The Platypus Historians Group, "Requiem for the '60s: Response to a boycott of discussion of '40 years of 1968'" (2008)
+ Chris Cutrone, "Let the dead bury the dead!" Response to Principia Dialectica (UK) on May 1968 (2008)
+ Atiya Khan, The Decline of the Left in the 20th Century: 1968 (2009)

Week 1 | June 9

• Stuart Hall, "Introducing New Left Review"
• C. Wright Mills, "Letter to the New Left" and "The politics of responsibility" *
• Leszek Kolakowski, "The concept of the Left" *
• Herbert Marcuse, "Conclusion to One-Dimensional Man" *

Week 2 | June 16

• Carl Oglesby, "The idea of the New Left" *
• Louis Althusser, "Contradiction and over-determination" *
+ Althusser, "Marxism and humanism"

Week 3 | June 23

• Cliff Slaughter, "What is revolutionary leadership?"
Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Workers Party/U.S., "In defense of a revolutionary perspective"
Spartacist League, "Genesis of Pabloism"

Week 4 | June 30

• Malcolm X, "I don't mean bananas" *
• Huey Newton, "A prison interview" *
Spartacist League, "Soul power or workers' power? The rise and fall of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers"
+ Harold Cruse, from The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual Part 1 Part 2

Week 5 | July 7

• Andre Gorz, from Strategy for Labor *
Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams, E.P. Thompson, from The May Day Manifesto *

Week 6 | July 14

• Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, "The battle of the streets," from Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative *
• Rudi Dutschke, "On anti-authoritarianism" *
• Mark Rudd, "Columbia: Notes on the Spring rebellion" *
Sorbonne students' open assembly of June 13-14, 1968, "The appeal from the Sorbonne" *
Tom Fawthorpe, Tom Nairn, David Triesman, "Three student risings" *

Week 7 | July 21

Marcuse, "The question of revolution" (1967)
+ Theodor Adorno, “Late Capitalism or Industrial Society?” (AKA “Is Marx Obsolete?”) (1968)
+ Esther Leslie, Introduction to the 1969 Adorno-Marcuse correspondence (1999)
+ Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, correspondence on the German New Left (1969)
Adorno, “Marginalia to Theory and Praxis” (1969)
Adorno, “Resignation” (1969)
+ Adorno, Interview with Der Spiegel magazine (1969)


+ Marcuse, "The failure of the New Left" (1975)