Dr Kenneth Hughes, formerly Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the nineteenth century, politics in Europe divided neatly between the Left, the party of progress, and the Right, the party of order. By the end of that century many countries had democratised, and it seemed that the agenda of the Left was everywhere, making advances. However, in the twentieth century the experience of the First World War splintered and divided the Left, leading its spokesmen into dangerous waters. In an era of tyrannies, tragedy engulfed the democratic Left in much of the world. This course will explore how the Left got lost, and look at some of the now forgotten alternatives which were squeezed out by communism and the Cold War, and the return of right-wing dominance.

1.    The birth, growth and golden age of the Left in the nineteenth century
2.    The effects of the First World War, an era of tyrannies
3.    After the Great Depression: popular fronts, George Orwell and the ‘low dishonest decade’
4.    Lost alternatives in the golden age of capitalism: from the Cold War to the new Left
5.    Special histories: the agony of the American Left, and the misery of the European Left

Recommended reading
Sassoon, D. 1996. One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century. London: I.B. Tauris.
Judt, T. 2008. Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century. New York: Penguin.
Orwell, G. 1968. The Collected Letters, Essays and Journalism of George Orwell. London: Secker & Warburg.


Course code: 1013

Date & time: 20–24 January 11.15 am


Full: R375,00

Staff: R186,00

Reduced: R94,00