Somewhere Beyond Leninism,
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.