Howard Brick and Christopher Phelps
Radicals in America
The U.S. Left since the Second World War
Cambridge University Press 2015
Christopher Phelps is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham and co-author of Radicals in America: The U.S. Left since the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Phelps and Howard Brick have written a comprehensive history of the American left. Beginning with the multiple strands of radicalism prior to 1940, the book traces its development to recent movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Queer Nation, and Earth First! As a heterogeneous group the left has sought to expand personal freedom, and social, economic and political equality through the broad distribution of power. Instead of progressive reforms of existing systems radicals have called for a change in the structures of society. Under a large ideological tent the movement has included socialist, communist, labor activist, anarchist, and pacifists working against the hierarchies of class, race, and sex. From the New Left of the 1960s to the sanctuary movement of the religious left, as activist they have challenged all forms of inequality, militarization, capitalism, and ecological disaster. Radicals have continually struggled with factional disputes, cooptation by the mainstream, and a lack of a coherent and unifying political strategy. Currently at low ebb, radicalism is facing extremes form of capitalism, police states, resource scarcity, and a dystopian future calling for a new realism and for reaching out to a wider constituency. The authors argue that the effectiveness of radical movements must reflect egalitarian and democratic values while retaining a concern for the rights of the individual.