The 1960s and the New Left – Saturday 1 February

May 68 – the beggining of a long struggle


hosted by London Socialist Resistance

Saturday 1 February, 1:30pm – 5pm

Room B35, Birkbeck College
Malet Street, WC1E 7HX
(Entrance: £3/£5 donation)

NOTE room change and additional speakers

Penelope Duggan, Fellow of the Amsterdam IIRE, editor of International Viewpoint, and member of the NPA.
Dave Renton, Barrister and historian of IS & SWP; blogs at
Ernie Tate, author of Revolutionary Activism in the Fifties and Sixties in Canada and Britain and a supporter of the Fourth International
Jane Shallice, member of VSC and CAST (the Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre), joined the IMG in 1968 until 1972, NUT activist, and a member of Stop the War from 2001.
Ian Birchall, Marxist historian and translator. Author of ‘Tony Cliff: A Marxist for his time’ and numerous other works. Member of Revolutionary History Editorial Board and of London Socialist Historians Group. Member of IS and SWP for nearly 50 years, recently resigned.
Alan Thornett, Trade union and workers’ leader in the car industry for 25 years, and author of ‘Militant Years – Car Workers Struggles in Britain in the 60s and 70s’. Member of Communist Party and Socialist Labour League (SLL) in the 1960s. Currently a member of Socialist Resistance and of the International Committee of the FI..


The 1960s saw a rising tide of working class mobilisations and youth and student radicalisation. The high point was a month-long general strike in France in 1968. There were also militant and mass mobilisations shaking the system in Prague, Rome, Berlin, London, Mexico and elsewhere. In Britain, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign mobilised up to 200,000 against the war.

In France, revolutionaries saw the events as the “dress rehearsal” of a revolution. How close was France to a revolutionary situation when the rulers can no longer govern as before, and people are no longer willing to be ruled as before?

A “second wave” of feminism spread from the early 196os, with a strong socialist component which argued that there could be no women’s liberation without socialism and no socialism without women’s liberation. It played a major part in defending abortion rights and winning a law for equal pay.

What remains of 1968?  It is one of the key dates of the re-composition of the European workers’ movement at the end of the 20th century. New revolutionary Marxist currents, such as the IMG and IS in Britain, developed into significant players. There is still a strong anti-war movement in Britain, preventing intervention in Syria. And feminism is re-energised as austerity is challenging all the gains that women have won.

Participants and historians of the events of 1968 will present their views for a discussion about the period and the challenges faced by the new Marxist Left.


Ernie Tate will be launching his book about the period Revolutionary Activism in the Fifties and Sixties in Canada and Britain. Ernie was a leading member of the VSC and the IMG. He worked with Bertrand Russell in the Russell Tribunal set up to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.




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  1. The New Left and the 1960s: 1956-66 : The Crystallisation of a Militant Left

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