A Popular Front of the Mind?

A Popular Front of the Mind?

Just under ten years ago, a group of socialist and liberal intellectuals in London, fed up with the left-wing splits that had given Margaret Thatcher a hammerlock on power with barely 40 percent of the vote, got together to produce a little magazine entitled Samizdat. Their goal was to try to break down the tribal divisions that had long separated the Labour and Liberal parties and gently to build up solidarity among anti-Conservative writers of all stripes—to construct what they called “a popular front of the mind.” Samizdat did not last long, intellectuals being notoriously fissiparous (and poor). Subsequently, however, Tony Blair has achieved much the same end in the political sphere by mercilessly tugging Labour to the center and dropping the historic baggage— trade union links, nationalization, high-tax policies—that divided Labour from the Liberals. Did the intellectuals miss the boat? What does a brief survey of the intellectual left (or, to use the voguish phrase, “center-left”) press reveal about the fate of the “popular front of the mind”?

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima