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The thinkers who have been most influential on the attitudes of the New Left are examined in this study by one of the leading critics of leftist orientations in modern Western civilization. Scruton begins with a ruthless analysis of New Leftism and concludes with a critique of the key strands in its thinking. He conducts a reappraisal of such major left-wing thinkers as: E. P. Thompson, Ronald Dworkin, R. D. Laing, Jurgen Habermas, Gyorgy Lukacs, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Zizek, Ralph Milliband and Eric Hobsbawm. In addition to assessments of these thinkers' philosophical and political contributions, the book contains a biographical and bibliographical section summarizing their careers and most important writings.
In Thinkers of the New Left Scruton asks, what does the Left look like today and as it has evolved since 1989? He charts the transfer of grievances from the working class to women, gays and immigrants, asks what can we put in the place of radical egalitarianism, and what explains the continued dominance of antinomian attitudes in the intellectual world? Can there be any foundation for resistance to the leftist agenda without religious faith?
Scruton's exploration of these important issues is written with skill, perception and at all times with pellucid clarity. The result is a devastating critique of modern left-wing thinking.
Eminent British philosopher and polymath Scruton gives a sharp-edged, provocative critique of leading leftist thinkers since the mid-20th century. In this revision of his earlier polemic Thinkers of the New Left (1985), he examines John Kenneth Galbraith on consumerism, Richard Rorty on pragmatism, Antonio Gramsci on hegemony, Edward Said on colonialism, and Slavoj i ek on the Other. He also looks at influential French intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan. For the left, according to Scruton, the source of injustice lies not in human nature but in established power and dominant classes. He notes that leftists exalt principles of equality, emancipation, and social justice but claims that they rarely describe actual or corrective models of social order. Through a "relentless campaign of intimidation," he writes, the left tries to make the right unacceptable, yet gives no coherent definition of what constitutes it. If any critics deviate from its premises, "you are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned." Scruton finds relief from contemporary anomie in the rule of law and promotion of liberty. This complex and erudite study is neither an easy read nor a reactionary screed. The overly zippy, alliterative new title does not indicate the depth or seriousness of the analysis.