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New Left Review I/29, January-February 1965

Perry Anderson

The Left in the Fifties

For a decade in Britain, under Conservative rule, there was a recognizable and active Left. Now at last there is a Labour Government. But there is no longer, in the same sense, a Left. This paradox must be the starting-point of any consideration of the tasks confronting socialists today. Clearly, the most urgent need is to recreate an independent, combative Left, with its own goals and its own timetable. A condition of success in this is a critical assessment of the Left which has just disappeared. Without such an assessment, it is unlikely that anything durable will emerge in the search for a new strategy. For any future Left will have to learn the lessons of the past. These lessons concern not so much the mistakes of the Left in the Fifties, as its character. It is this which requires a precise and lucid analysis today.

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Perry Anderson, ‘The Left in the Fifties’, NLR I/29: £3

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