Rethinking the Left

Please circulate this call. Questions about this issue should be addressed to Michael Hanagan at [mailto][/mailto]

Time and time again leftist activists and movements, confronted with unexpected contingencies, have responded by shifting ground, reframing issues in major ways, imagining new political and social possibilities, and experimenting with drastic new approaches to mobilizing masses. In some situations political defeat can lead to efforts to broaden political appeal while in others defeat only moves parties to inward battles, reinforcing old convictions and leading to new isolation. Under what circumstances do labor and left-wing movement abandon long-held beliefs? Under what circumstances do they hold fast to rigid ideologies? For some movements, defeat indicates a dead end while for others it only marks a temporary setback in the inevitable road to victory. How can such different responses be explained? And success can prove as devastating as defeat. In 1906 in the U.K., against all expectation, a Liberal electoral landslide led to the enactment of nearly the entire Liberal social reform program. These reforms marked the beginning of the national welfare state but, in exhausting the store of Liberal reformist ideas, they also paved the way for the rise of the Labour Party. Why do some leftist movements build on their victories while others are threatened by them?

This issue of ILWCH focuses on the efforts of left-wing activists and movements to readjust to dramatic new circumstances, to adverse developments and sometimes even to successes. It welcomes papers from around the globe and from diverse historical era.

The deadline for paper proposals is October 15, 2007. All submissions should indicate that they are for the "Rethinking the Left" special issue, and should be sent to:

ILWCH, c/o Peter Nekola, Managing Editor
New School for Social Research
80 Fifth Avenue, #519
New York, New York 10011

phone (212) 229-5921
fax (212) 229-5929
e-mail: [mailto][/mailto]