Marxism: An Autopsy

Marxism: An Autopsy

Marxism: An Autopsy

Marxism: An Autopsy

Excerpt

This book was written during the autumn and winter of 1938- 39, at a time when sympathy for Soviet Communism was still widely prevalent among American and West European intellectuals. While it contains little that I would now wish to change and some suggestions that I can fairly claim to be prophetic, my conclusions were expressed more tentatively than would have been the case if I had written at a later period and addressed myself to a different kind of audience. I was speaking primarily to liberals who accepted the basic values of Western civilization but who were turning toward Communism in the mistaken belief that it would bring about a fuller realization of those values. In 1938 Communist fellowtraveling had passed its peak; the Moscow trials, beginning in 1936, had started the process of disillusionment. But the appeal of Communism to the intellectuals had not yet been shattered by the Nazi-Soviet pact and by the revelation that Soviet foreign policy could be brutally imperialistic.

After nearly twenty years of cold war, during which Americans have become accustomed to regard the Soviet Union as the enemy of everything in which they believe, it is difficult to recapture the mood of the thirties when Soviet Communism was widely regarded as on the side of the forces of light, being criticized only because of some roughness in its methods and a tendency to underrate the importance of individual liberties. In the retrospect of a quarter of a century the vogue of Communism during the thirties seems like an extraordinary demonstration of mass delusion--the more disturbing in that it was strongest among the intellectual groups whom one would expect to be least prone to this kind of irrationality. Yet a considerable proportion of American writers and ar-

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