New Left Review (NLR)

New Left Review (NLR)


* Bi-monthly journal that examines political, social, and philosophical issues from a leftist perspective

Established in 1960, the London-based New Left Review (NLR) is a 160-page bi-monthly journal that examines such topics as world politics, the global economy, protest movements, history, philosophy, contemporary social theory, cinema, literature, and heterodox art. NLR also features a regular book-review section and is published in both English and Spanish, with selected articles available in Greek, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, and Turkish.

NLR grew out of a merger between the boards of two journals—The New Reasoner and Universities and Left Review—both of which gave extensive attention to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the world’s first anti-nuclear peace movement, during 1960-61.

In 1962-63, NLR‘s political focus was mainly on the Third World rather than the domestic arena—in particular a series of articles about Algeria, Cuba, Iran, and the Portuguese colonies**.

**From 1964-66, NLR shifted the lion’s share of its attention toward affairs within the United Kingdom. Much of its content explored structural features of British historical development and the capitalist society they had created. A major intellectual influence during this period was the late Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci. Also noteworthy was a highly promoted series of articles in which people from a range of occupations recounted their negative experiences as workers in a free-market economic system. Other theoretical concerns of this time were embodied in articles about existentialism and psychoanalysis.

During 1966-68, NLR launched a series of translations and expositions of “Western Marxist” texts by such authors as Gramsci, Karl Korsch, and Georg Lukács. The journal also organized a debate between Communist, Lukácsian, and Trotskyist participants over the role that Trotsky had played in the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Moreover, the Review began to examine women’s liberation. One of its best-known pieces on the subject was Juliet Mitchell‘s essay titled “Women: The Longest Revolution,” an original synthesis of Simone de Beauvoir, Friedrich Engels, Betty Friedan, Viola Klein, and other analysts of “women’s oppression.”

From late 1968 to mid-1970, NLR focused heavily on the international student and worker upsurges in Western Europe, as well as the cultural and political ramifications of the War in Vietnam. Much attention was also given to North America, Japan, and other countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Further, NLR decided to create its own book-publishing house, whose first titles appeared in the autumn of 1970.

From 1971-75, NLR published numerous critical assessments of, or interviews with, major theorists within the Western Marxist tradition—Louis Althusser, Lucio Colletti, the Frankfurt School, Lukács, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

After 1975 NLR devoted much attention to critical analysis of the classical Marxist tradition—Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Marx—along with reassessments of Stalinism’s legacy in the international labor movement. A second emphasis was on the native heritage of British socialist and radical thought.

During 1980-84, NLR gave editorial priority to the burgeoning peace movement. It derided “the increasing dangers of the arms race and the new recklessness of the United States and Britain.”

From the mid- to late 1980s, the Review published numerous economic critiques of the Soviet-bloc systems. In the autumn of 1989, several articles examined the implications of the political collapse of Central and Eastern Europe’s Communist regimes. There were also articles on history and social power, “rational choice” Marxism, post-modernist philosophy, the values of liberalism, the overthrow of Stalinism, “the vitality of socialist theory,” and “the fertility of the basic theses of historical and cultural materialism.”

In a series of historical retrospects during the 1990s, NLR analyzed the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Further, the Review condemned Allied military interventions in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans.

In January 2000, NLR was redesigned and relaunched in a new series featuring, among other things, editorials that attacked “U.S. imperial policy” and “the ramping up of Anglo-American aggression across the greater Middle East.”

In subsequent years, there were numerous articles on such themes as the world economy, “the dilemmas of American hegemony,” and the long-term implications of the 2008 financial crisis. One contributing writer of note, the late Edward Said, attacked what NLR has described as “the hold of the Israel lobby over U.S. policymakers.”

A key member of NLR‘s editorial committee is Tariq Ali.

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