In Left in the Past, Alastair Bonnett re–assesses the place of nostalgia within radical politics and, in doing so, provides a new introduction to the history and politics of the left.
Left in the Past argues that nostalgia has been an important, but repressed, aspect of the socialist imagination. The book begins by showing the centrality and repression of nostalgia in both 19th–century radicalism and anti–colonial radicalism. This is followed by an examination of the consequences of this inheritance amongst revolutionary intellectuals in the twentieth century. Bonnett also shows that, today, in our “post–socialist era”, the relationship between radicalism and a sense of loss, and the ambivalent position of socialism in and against modernity, can be viewed with greater clarity.
Bonnett’s unique approach in how to understand the left in an age of post–socialism makes Left in the Past a provocative but necessary resource for anyone interested in the history and politics of the left and radicalism.
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Table of Contents
Introduction The Dilemmas of Radical Nostalgia Acknowledging Nostalgia: Four Provocations Six Windows onto Radical NostalgiaPart OneChapter One: Nostalgia and the Left: Denial, Danger and Doubt Introduction Nostalgia as the Modern Dilemma The ‘ruthless criticism of all that exists' Radical Nostalgia ‘We have lost something': The End of Utopia Nostalgia's Uncertain Return ConclusionChapter Two: Nostalgia in and against English Socialist History, 1775-1894 Introduction The Politics of Loss in English Socialist History From Poorman's Advocate to Proletarian: Thomas Spence and Radical Tradition William Morris: Nostalgia in an Age of Progress Robert Blatchford: The New Life and Old Traditions of Socialist Fellowship ConclusionPart TwoChapter Three: Worlds We Have Lost: Nostalgia in Anti-Colonialism and Postcolonialism Introduction Anti-Colonial Nostalgia: Roots Against Empire Postcolonial Nostalgias: Yearning for Resistance ConclusionChapter Four: The Melancholia of Cosmopolis Introduction Cosmopolitan Attachments Renewing resistance: Nostalgia and anti-nostalgia in British radical anti-racism Nostalgia Strikes Back: Paul Gilroy's After Empire Conclusion: Sharing LossPart ThreeChapter Five: Yearning at the Extremes: Situationist Nostalgia Introduction The Spectacle as Loss ‘Whoever Sees the Banks of the Seine Sees Our Grief': Situationist Nostalgia for Place Conclusions and New DeparturesChapter Six: The Psychogeography of Loss Introduction Purgatory and Redemption around the M25: The Radical Nostalgia of Iain Sinclair adical Re-enchantments: Magic, Preservationism andNostalgia in Revolutionary Psychogeography ConclusionConclusion: Acknowledging NostalgiaReferencesIndex