Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Struggling for a New Left
This study examines the emergence of the New Left organization, The New Tendency, in Windsor, Ontario during the 1970s. The New Tendency, which developed in a number of Ontario cities, represents one articulation of the Canadian New Left’s turn towards working-class organizing in the early 1970s after the student movement’s dissolution in the late 1960s. Influenced by dissident Marxist theorists associated with the Johnson-Forest Tendency and Italian workerism, The New Tendency sought to create alternative forms of working-class organizing that existed outside of, and often in direct opposition to, both the mainstream labour movement and Old Left organizations such as the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party. After examining the roots of the organization and the important legacies of class struggle in Windsor, the thesis explores how The New Tendency contributed to working-class self activity on the shop-floor of Windsor’s auto factories and in the community more broadly. However, this New Left mobilization was also hampered by inner-group sectarianism and a rapidly changing economic context. Ultimately, the challenges that coincided with The New Tendency’s emergence in the 1970s led to its dissolution. While short-lived, the history of the Windsor branch of The New Tendency helps provide valuable insight into the trajectory of the Canadian New Left and working-class struggle in the 1970s, highlighting experiences that have too often been overlooked in previous scholarship. Furthermore, this study illustrates the transnational development of New Left ideas and organizations by examining The New Tendency’s close connections to comparable groups active in manufacturing cities in Europe and the United States; such international relationships and exchanges were vital to the evolution of autonomist Marxism around the world. Finally, the Windsor New Tendency’s history is an important case study of the New Left’s attempts to reckon with a transitional moment for global capitalism, as the group’s experiences coincided with the Fordist accord’s death throes and the beginning of neoliberalism’s ascendancy. Author Keywords: Autonomist Marxism, Canada, Labour, New Left, Rank-and-file Organizing, Working-Class History

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