Generations of Social Movements: The Left and Historical Memory in the USA and France, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Generations of Social Movements

The Left and Historical Memory in the USA and France, 1st Edition

Edited by Hélène Le Dantec Lowry, Ambre Ivol


293 pages

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French political culture has long been seen as a model of leftist militancy, while the left in the United States is often perceived in terms of organizational discontinuity. Yet, the crisis of social democracy today suggests that at a time when the archetypal European welfare state is in danger, critics and citizens interested in understanding or reviving progressive politics are invited to consider the United States, where modes of creative activism recurrently demonstrate potentialities for a renewed leftist culture. Using a transatlantic perspective, this volume identifies activist influence through the designation or rejection of specific intellectual and militant figures across generations, and it examines various narrative modes used by militants to write their own history.


“This important work interrogates the history of the Left in vital ways, bringing an abundance of fresh insight into developments that have remained as mysterious to activists as to outsiders. The comparisons and contrasts of the US and French Left, one seemingly collapsed by 1960 and the other still dominated by an Old Left presence, offer new ways of seeing developments since. The crisis of Ferguson, Missouri, prompting protests across a nation but without any seeming coordination or means of continuity, alone suggests how badly this volume is needed.”

—Paul Buhle, author of Marxism in the United States, coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the

American Left

Table of Contents


Ambre Ivol & Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry

Part I The End of History? From the Fall of Communism to the Resurgence of Militancy

Chapter 1 Blind Spots of the American Left. 1960s to the Present

Stanley Aronowitz with James Cohen

Chapter 2 Memory and Amnesia in the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Jean-Baptiste Velut

Chapter 3 The Decline of the Communist Idea in a French Union (the CGT), a Sociological Case Study, 1945-2000

Guy Groux

Part II. Reassessing Generations: Designated and Forgotten Heirs in Black and White

Chapter 4 Black Radical Thought Over Time: from Marxist Traditions to the Hip Hop Generation

Manning Marable

Chapter 5 Intellectual Origins of the New Left: the Legacy of the "Lyrical Left"

A. Ollivier-Melios

Chapter 6 Radical Voices of the Silent 1950s

Soraya Guenifi

Chapter 7 Rebel Apart: Saul Alinsky and the Troubled Memory of the New Left

Andrew Diamond

Part III Militant Narrative Modes: the Radical Edge of Leftist Memoirs

Chapter 8 Remembrances of Political Things Past: Memoirs of Gay Militancy as Militant Memoirs

Guillaume Marche

Chapter 9 The Sixties Revisited: Tom Hayden's Retrospective Eye

Hélène Christol

Chapter 10 From North to South in the Sixties: A Black Militant's Recollections

John Brown Childs

Chapter 11 Activist Writings: Public Memory and Militant History in Alternative libertaire, a French Anarchist Organization

Irène Pereira

About the Editors

A specialist of African American and women's history, HélèneLe Dantec-Lowry is Professor of American Civilization at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, where she directs the Center for Research on North America.

Ambre Ivol is Associate Professor of US Civilization at the University of Nantes. Her research interests include Afro-American history, political history, and the study of intellectual generations. She is currently editing a Howard Zinn Reader (Agone, 2014).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General