What is the radical/far/new left?

I use the terms radical left, far left, and new left often.  Yet, many are confused as to what exactly I mean by those terms and often ask me to define them.  I’ll use several sources to flesh out who, exactly, I mean when I say “radical left…”

The New Left is a term used in political discourse to refer to radical left-wing movements from the 1960s onwards… In the United States, the “New Left” was the name loosely associated with a radical political movement that took place during the 1960s, primarily among college students… The New Left opposed the prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed “The Establishment…” Wikipedia

In American politics, the “establishment” opposed by the New Left was, among other things, the Government and party structure. The Democrats and Republicans. The The new left ultimately got a presidential nominee in George McGovern.

The New Left’s goal, as it is today, is to correct perceived errors of what many on DU call “the old guard,” or Democrats like Wilson, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and even Clinton (based on his association with the DLC.)

In my experience, the New Left today (as described by Marshall Whittman) are merely “McGovernites with modems.”

Many of the ideological heirs to the New Left movement today are a paranoid bunch more concerned with ideological heresy within the ranks of the left than actually defeating the enemy – the GOP. They have their counterparts on the right, as well.

I’ve also noticed historical revisionism among them, with many believing the politics of Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson are in line with their thinking, although their movement was born to oppose the politics of the just mentioned Presidents.

I’ve seen other moderates on DU jokingly say that the “progressives” (New Left) here believe McGovern created the Democratic party. Actually, the extent of knowledge of the party, policies, and such, is limited to the anti-war movement of the 60s. They can speak with reverence about FDR’s New Deal, but for the most part they have little knowledge of FDR’s policies beyond that.

The skewed thinking of the new, or radical, left has given rise to the popular mantra among them that they “have to take their party back.” In reality, though, they never gained more than a foot hole in the party, yet believe they have some grand power over it.


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