The first and second New Left

After 1956, Marxist intellectuals in Britain began moving away from the Communist Party and seeking new orientation without rejecting their socialist perspectives.

The historian Edward Palmer Thompson was one of the most important protagonists from this period. He vehemently advocated socialist humanism and sought ways to develop a new left-wing class politics through links to the history of the English workers’ movement. In contrast to this “first New Left”, during the 1960s and 1970s a “second New Left” linked to the historian Perry Anderson and the journal New Left Review attempted to develop new political perspectives via intense study of continental Marxism.