> Here I'm struck by the similarity between some of the early actions of
> the New Left, but also a very distinctive discontinuity. The
> continuity is in the idea of holding some sort of public forums, where
> people can read and respond to new critical accounts of current
> circumstances. The early New Left Review, for instance, evidently had
> a large number of little reading groups around the UK where the public
> could come and discuss ideas and strategies. Hall claimed that his
> split with the NLR came when he could no longer get behind having the
> journal run by an editorial committee, as opposed to having the
> content generated in a more democratic way.
... and lots of other good stuff.
Bravo for this post, and good paper too - I'd be keen to read the finished version. The British New Left (Review and Clubs) really appeals to me also as a guide for a worthwhile project today. (And the kind of project people like us could actually get moving on - at least, the only 'objective condition' preventing it being our bloody dissertations).
I wish Scott Hamilton's book on EP Thompson(which I was talking about a few weeks ago in the Althusser discussion) was out already so I could point you to it - there's a lot of stuff on the early NLR from Thompson's perspective. He was actually one of Hall's most fierce critics when the latter was editing - though I have to say Thompson comes across as a pretty grumpy old (well, middle-aged) man - and was one of the factors behind Hall's resignation and the rise of the triumvirate of Perry Anderson, Daniel Butt and Raphael Samuel. I agree with what you say about the cliquish, not-quite-democratic path the NLR took working out as a good thing.