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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7040060

The English Catholic New Left: Battling the Religious Establishment and the Politics of the Cold War

College of General Studies, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 30 March 2018 / Accepted: 30 March 2018 / Published: 8 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christians and the Cold War)
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Abstract

In the 1960s there appeared in England a group of young university educated Catholics who sought to merge radical Catholic social teachings with the ideas of Karl Marx and the latest insights of European and American sociologists and literary theorists. They were known as the English Catholic New Left (ECNL). Under the inspiration of their Dominican mentors, they launched a magazine called Slant that served as the vehicle for publishing their ideas about how Catholic theology along with the Social Gospels fused with neo-Marxism could bring a humanistic socialist revolution to Britain. The Catholic Leftists worked in alliance with the activists of the secular New Left Review to achieve this objective. A major influence on the ECNL was the Marxist Dominican friar Laurence Bright and Herbert McCabe, O. P. Slant took off with great success when Sheed and Ward agreed to publish the journal. Slant featured perceptive, indeed at times brilliant, cutting-edge articles by the Catholic Left’s young Turks, including Terry Eagleton, Martin Redfern, Bernard Sharratt, and Angela and Adrian Cunningham, among others. A major target of the Slant project was the Western Alliance’s Cold War strategy of nuclear deterrence, which they saw to be contrary to Christian just war theory and ultimately destructive of humankind. Another matter of concern for the Slant group was capitalist imperialism that ravaged the underdeveloped world and was a major destabilizing factor for achieving world peace and social equality. Despite their failure to achieve a social revolution “baptized by Christianity,” the English Catholic New Left broke new ground in terms of showing how a traditional religion with a highly conservative and sometimes reactionary history had the capacity to offer new paths forward and remain an inspiration to progressive thinking Christians trying to navigate the shoals of a post-modern world. View Full-Text
Keywords: liberation theology; nuclear deterrence; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); Marxism; Sheed and Ward; Vatican Council II; socialism; capitalism; Dominicans; New Left liberation theology; nuclear deterrence; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); Marxism; Sheed and Ward; Vatican Council II; socialism; capitalism; Dominicans; New Left
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Corrin, J.P. The English Catholic New Left: Battling the Religious Establishment and the Politics of the Cold War. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 60.

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