Marxism in the United States: Remapping the History of the American Left

By Paul Buhle | Go to book overview

6
Somewhere Beyond Leninism,
1940-1960

By 1940, massive changes had already begun to sweep over American Marxism. Confronted with the hard truths of Russian cynicism (or Realpolitik) and American Communists' blind loyalty, the intellectuals as a group visibly wavered. Even Trotskyists, before Trotsky's assasination, had in large part come to consider his political leadership a disaster. Rich idealism and rife discontent had not abated, indeed would reach new intensities. The unfamiliarity of emerging forms, however, defied the familiar logic not only of international Marxism but of the whole working class and ethnic tradition. Younger activists and radical thinkers, many of them already self-conscious post-Marxists, floated at the surface of events, hopeful--naively, as it turned out--of anchoring themselves within the swiftly moving tide. Their. fresh interpretive efforts, their experiments in form and content, experienced rare moments of creative intensity.

It was not at all a gloomy time until the Cold War and the changes in social patterns had pushed the left to the margins of American political life. World war and its immediate aftermath gave myriad activists real sources of excitement. Ethnic Communists and socialists, flushed with optimism by community support and even government patronage for their war-support efforts, involved themselves with guerilla wars in their homeland and in plans for the post-war European order. War production needs inspired federal support for considerable unionization left incomplete during the 1930s. The tight labor market prompted resistance against the official no-strike pledge. Black activists took advantage of democratic war sentiment and of the need for Black labor, despite residual and virulent racial intolerance.

-184-

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Marxism in the United States: Remapping the History of the American Left
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Haymarket Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface 1
  • Introduction 9
  • 1 - Immigrant Socialism, 1865-1900 19
  • 2 - American Socialism, American Culture 58
  • 3 - Marxism in the Debs Era 86
  • 4 - Leninism in America 121
  • 5 - Rise of the Culture Critique, 1925- 1940 155
  • 6 - Somewhere Beyond Leninism, 1940-1960 184
  • 7 - The New Left 221
  • Conclusion 258
  • Notes 277
  • Index 296
  • The Haymarket Series 303
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