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Writing for Maclean’s magazine in 1965, Peter Gzowski saw something different about the new generation of the left. They were not the agrarian radicals of old. They did not meet in union halls. Nor were they like the Beatniks that Gzowski had rubbed shoulders with in college. “The radicals of the New Left, the young men and women … differ from their predecessors not only in the degree of their protest but in its kind. They are a new breed.”
Members of the new left–this new breed of radicals–placed the ideals of self-determination and community at the core of their politics. As with all leftists, they sought to transcend capitalism. But in contrast to older formations, new leftists emphasized solidarity with national liberation movements challenging imperialism around the world. They took up organizational forms that anticipated – “prefigured,” some said – in their direct, grassroots, community-based democracy, the liberated world of the future. They had their radical ambitions, their oft-disputed problems, their broken promises, their achievements large and small. From 1958 to ‘85 the city of Toronto was one of North America’s leading centres of this new leftism.