Boris Kagarlitsky examines the rise of political dissent in the East and West during the 1960s. The shestidesiatniki (sixties' generation) in the Soviet Union, he argues, have much more in common with the New Left than was realized at the time, or has been acknowledged since. They shared common sources, ideals, and objectives, drawing on Marxist tradition and striving for “socialism with a human face.” Both movements took shape in the relative prosperity of the postwar period, when frustration grew over the betrayal of democratic and socialist ideals. The mutual unintelligibility of the two movements is ascribed to certain key differences in their demographics and strategies. While the New Left took shape as a youth movement, the shestidesiatniki represented a generation that had been through World War II and identified with the reforms undertaken from within the Soviet government in the 1950s. Where the former aspired to subvert established power, the latter still believed that the system might continue to be changed from within. Thus the two movements looked quite different, even as they espoused similar ideas and shared many common experiences. Both groups took the “long path through the institutions” to finally attain power, though not in the form that they had originally sought, and, for the most part, without the anticipated results. William Nickell's introduction comments on the historiographical aspect of the work, emphasizing its interest as a “cultural tectonic” description of common ground that was obscured by the antagonism of the cold war years.
Skip Nav Destination
Boris Kagarlitsky; 1960s East and West: The Nature of the Shestidesiatniki and the New Left. boundary 2 1 February 2009; 36 (1): 95–104. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2008-025
Download citation file: