Modern Europe Colloquium | Terence Renaud

Event time: 
Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Location: 
Online () See map
Event description: 

The Modern Europe Colloquium presents Terence Renaud, Lecturer, Humanities Program and Department of History, Yale University, on his latest book, “New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition”
Events will usually take place on Thursdays from 4-5:30 pm. The one exception to our Thursday meeting time will be Robin Mitchell’s book talk on Friday, October 29 from 12-1:30 pm. For zoom meeting link please subscribe to the European Studies Council email list: https://mailchi.mp/6f17529d8d22/europeanstudiesyale
In the 1960s, the radical youth of Western Europe’s New Left rebelled against the democratic welfare state and their parents’ antiquated politics of reform. It was not the first time an upstart leftist movement was built on the ruins of the old. This book traces the history of neoleftism from its antifascist roots in the first half of the twentieth century, to its postwar reconstruction in the 1950s, to its explosive reinvention by the 1960s counterculture.
Terence Renaud demonstrates why the left in Europe underwent a series of internal revolts against the organizational forms of established parties and unions. He describes how small groups of militant youth such as New Beginning in Germany tried to sustain grassroots movements without reproducing the bureaucratic, hierarchical, and supposedly obsolete structures of Social Democracy and Communism. Neoleftist militants experimented with alternative modes of organization such as councils, assemblies, and action committees. However, Renaud reveals that these same militants, decades later, often came to defend the very institutions they had opposed in their youth.
Providing vital historical perspective on the challenges confronting leftists today, this book tells the story of generations of antifascists, left socialists, and anti-authoritarians who tried to build radical democratic alternatives to capitalism and kindle hope in reactionary times.
Bio:
Terence Renaud is a historian of modern Europe who specializes in German intellectual history, revolutions, and social movements. His book, New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2021), argues that a basic continuity existed between three moments in the history of the German and Western European left: radical antifascism in the 1920s-30s, left socialism in the 1940s-50s, and anti-authoritarianism in the 1960s. That continuity was based on internal revolts against the organizational form of established parties and unions. Small groups of militant youth such as New Beginning (Neu Beginnen) in Germany tried to sustain grassroots movements without reproducing the bureaucratic, hierarchical, and ostensibly obsolete structures of Social Democracy and Communism. They experimented with nonparty modes of organization such as councils, committees, assemblies, and even militias. This book offers both the first long-term history of new lefts and a general theory of neoleftism. Renaud’s work has appeared in academic journals such as Modern Intellectual History, The Historical Journal, and New German Critique as well as popular magazines such as the Los Angeles Review of Books and Foreign Policy. His new research project concerns the visual history of capitalism in Europe and North America, as represented in cartoons, caricatures, and other images of social hierarchy around the turn of the twentieth century. At Yale he teaches in Directed Studies and offers interdisciplinary seminars on European intellectual history, theories and practices of resistance, and modern revolutions.

Speaker/Performer: 
Terence Renaud, Lecturer, Humanities Program and Department of History, Yale University