Conserving the Left: The "Left Conservative" critique of postmodernism and post-Marxism-an intellectual encounter

Dolores Maund

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In 1998, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a group of Leftleaning postmodernists and post-Marxists convened a workshop to discuss an intellectual force which they described as 'Left conservatism' and which they saw as inimical to the aims and achievements of the postmodern or cultural Left. The cohort of intellectuals pejoratively described as 'Left conservative' is largely comprised of Marxists who see the influence of postmodernism and post-Marxism to have undermined the Left in significant ways during a period in which the Right has been in the ascendancy. In the process of countering these influences this group of so-called 'Left conservatives' aims to conserve the most valuable aspects of the grand tradition of the Left. For this reason, while the description 'conservative' is clearly intended as an insult by their postmodern and post-Marxist critics, the aim of these 'Left conservatives' in engaging in this debate nevertheless renders such a description as apt, and so therefore acceptable in this qualified sense of the term. In the flier advertizing the workshop at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Chris Connery wrote on behalf of the conveners: 'Identifying Left Conservatism, and discussing its historical, political, ideological, and theoretical character, is the focus of this workshop.' While the representation of the Left Conservative critique of postmodernism and post-Marxism in this thesis fulfills the stated aim of the postmodern and post-Marxist conveners of the workshop it does so in a way in which this group of scholars is unlikely to approve. Also, while the intellectual faction described as 'Left conservative' was identified as such at an academic workshop in the United States the debate is not confined to the intellectual realm of that country alone.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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