Toward the end of the 1960s, the New Left and the counterculture developed a libertarian theory of politics that emphasized symbolic action and self-realization. A concomitant suspicion of formal political institutions and a turn to cultural politics have since become common to intellectual discourse within the humanities. This essay argues against these attitudes, while tracing them from the protest movements of the late sixties to contemporary fiction and literary theory. The authors conclude by detailing the strong affinities between this vision of radicalism and the interests of professional labor within the present-day university.


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