Dead Men Left

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hurrah for footnotes

One of the signs of the often hesitant but nontheless discernible ascent of the Left's fortunes in the battle for ideas has been the ideological ferment both the anticapitalist and the antiwar movements have sustained. A good indicator of this in Britain has been the revival of three leading theoretical journals on the antiwar/anticapitalist Left: Historical Materialism, International Socialism, and the New Left Review. All three have been redesigned and relaunched in recent years and have maintained a persistently high quality of contributions since; alongside this, all three have organised successful academic events over the last few months, attracting a (perhaps surprisingly) diverse audience of younger activists in addition to sometimes more venerable academics. The joint Historical Materialism/International Socialism dayschool with veteran Marxist historian, Robert Brenner, was quite a revelation: to gather an generally youngish audience of 150-170 at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning for a detailed discussion of the transition from feudalism to capitalism was quite an achievement.

I pick out these three Lefty journals as the ones I read most regularly, all three coming from a broadly similar political and intellectual tradition to my own; I suspect, though, that the phenomenon is more general than my slightly parochial reading-list would suggest, so if anybody does have recommendations, I'd be interested to hear.