In the United States, the "New Left" was the name loosely associated with a radical political movement that
took place in the during the 1960s, primarily among college students. The origin of the name can be traced to an open letter
written in 1960 by sociologist C. Wright Mills entitled Letter to the New Left. Mills argued for a new leftist ideology,
moving away from the traditional ("Old Left") focus on labor issues, towards more personalized issues such as opposing alienation,
anomie, authoritarianism, and other ills of the modern affluent society. Put differently, Mills argued for a shift from traditional
leftism, toward the values of the Counterculture.
The organization that really came to symbolize the core of the New Left was the Students for a Democratic
Society (SDS). The SDS marshalled anti-war, pro-civil rights and free speech concerns on campuses, and managed to bring together
liberals and more revolutionary leftists. The SDS became the leading organization of the antiwar movement on college campuses
during the Vietnam War, and during the course of the war became increasingly militant. As opposition to the war grew stronger,
the SDS became a nationally prominent political organization. At the same time however, opposing the war became an overriding
concern that overshadowed many of the original issues that inspired the New Left.
Many in the US New Left were heavily influenced by the politics of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front
and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
The back of the US New Left was broken by the US withdrawal from Vietnam. More liberal elements of the New
Left retreated into professional life. Maoist elements formed minuscule microparties, some of which continue to the present
day, but others dissolved in factional infighting. Other New Left revolutionaries continued their political struggles, but
often in smaller organisations which were less visible. By the beginning of the 1980s, the US New Left was effectively non-existent.
However, many organisational principles, particularly the social activist model, continue to be used by current American left-wing