WiSe 15/16: Transformations of the U.S. Left: From the New Left to Occupy Wall Street
This course examines the historical trajectory of left politics and social movements in the United States from the 1960s to the present. Beginning with the rise of fall of the New Left, we will ... read more
This course examines the historical trajectory of left politics and social movements in the United States from the 1960s to the present. Beginning with the rise of fall of the New Left, we will explore the logic of its political break with the Old Left and subsequent development from "participatory democracy" to Maoism and political violence. Next, we will explore the "New Social Movements" that followed in the 70s and 80s which rejected Marxism and articulated a new politics combining feminism, antiracism, and ecology with a "prefigurative" cultural approach to politics. The course proceeds by charting the parallel development in the 80s and 90s of an "academic left" characterized by identity politics and poststructuralism, alongside growing radical ecology and anarchist movements. We will trace how these tendencies converged within the alterglobalization movement that emerged in the late nineties to challenge global neoliberalism, and its subsequent transformation into the antiwar movement of the 2000s. It concludes with an analysis of Occupy Wall Street and its rapid disappearance and replacement by subsequent movements like Black Lives Matter.
The course will bring primary sources and secondary literature into conversation with a range of related theoretical issues and debates, including: the legacy of the New Left and the 1960s (Gitlin, White, Cowie); the abandonment of Marxism and rise of new political concerns (Gorz, Habermas, Epstein, Bookchin, Offe); identity politics and the shift from redistribution to recognition (Fraser, Butler, Brown); global capitalism, the state and empire (Hardt and Negri, Harvey); neoanarchism (Graeber, Sitrin, Critchley); the return of communist critique (Zizek, Dean, Badiou); and the recuperation of social movement discourse by corporations and the state (Boltanski and Chiapello, Reed, Frank, Fraser).