Sidney Hook’s uses of Logical Positivism

 

Well, not exactly, but after our rest with pastoral and industrial poems by D.S. Savage, we go immediately to Sidney Hook’s “Some Social Uses and Abuses of Semantics,” Vol.4., No.5. April, 1938.

hook youngsidney-hookGUggenheim Hook 1922

In 1973, when I was a student at Reed College in Portland Oregon, and trying to discover what Hegelian Marxism was all about, and also wanting to hang around with a group of students whom I had judged to be very cool, I joined a Hegel Reading Group. We started with the “Preface” to the Phenomenology of Spirit, and as I was used to doing, I went looking for help on getting a view… A friend cautioned me that as far he could tell, “Annie, you only understand one ‘moment’ of the Preface.”  So on his advice I went off and read Marcuse’s Reason and Revolution, which was reckoned around the Reed College Coffee Shop to be a great guide to the motions of first, Hegel’s and then Marx’s mind. That was the same year that ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ was added to the Coffee Shop jukebox.  It was my soundtrack to Hegel.  I read the Marcuse and felt that I was now starting to get the hang of dialectical process and also finding a rationality to it that I hadn’t understood before.  When I said to my friend, “Yeah, great, I loved it and I can understand much better what Hegel is on about.” My friend, who is now a lawyer in southern California, said, “Yeah, but  Annie, you only get one ‘moment’ of Marcuse”.  That’s what it like then and there.  Going farther afield, I picked up from the Library a copy of Sidney Hook’s 1936, From Hegel to Marx: Studies in the Intellectual Development of Karl Marx.  There, in a casual discussion with someone in the stacks, I learned that Hook, like many others from the PR circle, had become right-wing after the War and moved from being  a Trot to a  Cold Warrior. So cowardly I slipped the book back into its slot on the library shelf and fled.

That is why it is rather heartening to read a piece in which Sidney Hook, as the young student of Dewey takes on the discipline of early 20th century language theory and logical positivism as a foil to argue for a Marxist theory that will produce BETTER philosophy than what comes out of language theory’s success. So with a not-quite-willling suspension of disbelief, here we go: Click here Some social uses and abuses of semantics if you want to read his essay before you read this post.

Charles Sanders Peirce William James John DeweyRussell Ludwig Wittgensteinjpeg

“The recent philosophy has been increasingly concerned with the nature of words, meaning and communication. The work of Peirce, James and Dewey in America, of Russell and Wittgenstein in England , and of logical empiricists everywhere , has resulted in a kind of minor intellectual revolution.”   Hook is happy enough to leave the specialised scholarship aside, and talk to the reader from the ‘popularised versions’ of a theory of meaning which disallows meta-physics altogether, and turns on a set of criteria for the verifiability of statements. I took a course on this stuff about a thousand years ago, and hardly remember it at all, and if you have any similar memory or ignorance issue on this question, click here for an articulate precis of the main types of  Logical Positivism.

Hook’s argument takes on the ‘extravagant claims’ of popularisers about what can result from ‘the failure to distinguish between words and things, abstractions and concreta, definitions and laws.’  Hook creates an extreme version of the ‘verification principle’ — ‘a test for whether something had meaning or was merely nonsense or tautologous. All meaningful statements had to be either tautologous or directly verifiable in experience’.

He adds that one of the wrong turns taken by the populariser of analytic language theory is “the assumption that, where analysis has revealed that two conflicting doctrine are dealing with uninterpreted terms or are committed to statements that are beyond any possibility of empirical verification, therefore no genuine conflict of any kind if involved.

Hook insists that even if there are occasions on which two opposed sides may be fighting with empty platitudes and rhetorical metaphysics, there are social and political contexts which in fact do provide definitions and hence, verifiability.  And here the argument begins to draw on Hook’s Marxism. In fact, Hook had won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1928 which he was to use, according to the Foundation’s Report for 1928: “to make a study from a new point of view of the Post Hegelian philosophy in Germany (1831–1850); an interpretation of the break-up of the Hegelian school in terms of the political, social and cultural movements current during the time; and prepare a philosophic history of the period from Hegel to Marx, with emphasis on the social and political forces which controlled the evolution of ideas…..” I guess that was the book I hid back in the stack in 1973.  So the engagement between his work in pragmatic philosophy under Dewey and his research into Hegel and Marx made him a excellent analyst of the work that words do in the world.“Pure metaphysics may be nonsense but I know of no important conflict in the history of its expression, whether it be between realism and nominalism, idealism and materialism, which cannot be significantly associated with conflicts of a more concrete social and historical kind.”   And with this, the argument has broken the bounds of linguistic analysis and introduced historical process and concepts as well as statements of history.

Hook then  takes what he commends in logical positivism and applies it to the situation of 1938; and in particular to Stalinism. He draws the scientised disinfected discipline into the realm of historical reality, while proving its demystifying capability:

“Let us begin with a proposition of Marx in the Manifesto”. “The modern state power is nothing more than a committee for administering the common affairs of the bourgeoisie as a whole.” Now let us look at the proposition enunciated by Marxists who have generalised Marx’s original proposition:“The state in class societies is an instrument of the ruling class.” If by ‘ruling class’ is meant ‘politically ruling’ class, the statement is a tautology, By ‘ruling class’ here must be meant ‘the economically dominant’ class. To assert,however, that the state its an instrument in the hands of the economically dominant always, i.e., at any given time, is obviously false.”

Hook’s examples show how Lenin’s theory of a ‘worker’s state’ is tied directly to historical concepts, which are not subject to the criticism of being either tautological or or meaningless, but rather contextually meaningful.  He goes on to show that words as apparently empirically based as ‘workers’ are fluid with respect to the definitions which may apply to them at any given time. SO, “Under capitalism, the objective referent of ‘workers’ are formally free individuals who sell their labour-power to other individuals to other individuals who own the instruments of production and who operate them in an ever continued quest for profit. Under  socialism and during the transitional period, ‘the workers are those who perform useful labour; they do not sell their labour-power to themselves and their is no other economic class to whom they can sell it.”

Now, as the argument rises to its conclusion, Hook presents the PR critique of Stalinism through his adroit use of elements of Logical Positivist theory:

“Let us examine the position of those who say that by  a workers state, they mean a society in which the workers own the instruments of production.  Very well, what does it mean to say that the Russian workers own the instruments of production? The meaning, on our approach, is determined by the methods used to verify it  and evidence used to substantiate it.  Now so far as I can see, the usual evidence presented as proof of the statement that the workers own the instruments of production are other statements to be found on the statute books.  We observe the social behaviour of men in their relations to each other in order to discover both what is meant and whether what is meant is actually so. is there any other evidence that the workers own the instruments of production in Russia aside from decrees? What can we observe  in practice which will be sufficient evidence one way or the other?

The only clue to that to look for is to be found in other situations where we meaningfully use the term ownership. When we say that a man owns land, buildings or machines, we mean that he has the right (i.e., a claim enforced or forcible by the power of law) to exclude others from its use or enjoyment. No matter what claim a man may make to a thing, if the law will not exclude others from taking or using it, he does not own it. Now if we soberly look at the situation in Russia, we find that the workers do not own the instruments of production, but that a group of men in political posts, who control the armed forces, have the right to exclude any worker or group of workers  from access to the instruments of production. On paper, everyone is guaranteed the right to work; in practice, only those have the right to work who have not opposed the bureaucracy. If we judge the truth of a proposition by observations of human behaviour, we cannot escape the conclusion  that, in the ordinary sense of the term ownership, Stalin and the CP-GPU apparatus own the Russian instruments of production. …

AJ: quod erat demonstrandum that the Stalinists are lying bastards… and demonstrandum that logical positivism has its uses, e.g.,  to expose Stalinism.

Savage Pacifist : Pastoral and Ballad

 

VOLUME 4,   ISSUE 5,    APRIL 1938

An afterword on the final words of  Philip Rhav’s “Trials of the Mind.”

If you were to look across from page 11 and read Rahv’s final line, which is a tidied up quotation from W.H. Auden’s ‘Spain’: ‘History / May say Alas but cannot help or pardon,’ you would find there two poems by a “young poet,”  D.S. Savage,  “Pastoral”  and “A Ballad.”  The full phrase that Auden had written was  ‘History’ to the defeated,/ May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.’  Though Rahv along with most of the other editors of Partisan Review did advocate  the political position of ‘revolutionary defeatism,’ and though it would have been fairly easy for him to have left the quotation as written, perhaps Rahv hadn’t the sureness and boldness to assert the likelihood of defeat in those months of the Civil War in Spain and the German Anschluss.

“Revolutionary Defeatism”had been Lenin’s position about WWI. The war in Europe he said was an inter-imperialist one, and revolutionaries should aim to defeat their bourgeois governments and military forces, to better undertake the struggle for the consolidation and expansion of International Socialism.

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revolutionary defeatism 1917

Not long after WWII had begun in earnest, Rahv and others on the journal modified or entirely changed their positions.  That Rahv more or less ‘repressed’ the phrase which imagines the actual defeat of the Allied Forces,  does wipe off some of the shine from the essay, “Trials of the Mind.”

The two poems by D.S. Savage are also Auden-inflected. “A Ballad” is in the Auden ballad measure, with that characteristic  shock of  blunt reality interrupting more traditional ballad topics:

After a day of working hard

On a canvas-stitching machine

I meet my love in the cinema

On an aluminium screen.

There was a time when I was young

A young man courted me,

He was a mechanic at Ponders End

In a bicycle factory.

[you can enlarge the screen with your fingers to more easilyread the rest of the poem]
22567B68-A9BA-49D4-8B4E-36214D8D1CE3 if you are already familiar with Auden’s ballad forms, you may find it hard to do more than recognise the influence of  Auden on the young poet. I haven’t got much to say about myself.

The other poem, “Pastoral” is more interesting to me.  But when a brilliant poem falls into my world, it remind me how un-lustrous the jobbing work of poem-writing can be…. and “Pastoral” isn’t exactly a stunner.  5F276026-2F5D-4094-A333-42DFEBA053A6

It pre-reminds me(?is that possible?) of what Roethke will do in Root-Cellar, which is less a mood poem than a sensuous phenomenology of rank and decaying nature, and its intransigent refusal to ever be decayed.

Root Cellar                                          Theodore Roethke
Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks!
Roots ripe as old bait,
Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.
Savage’s poem is overloaded with stuff as well, and the emptiness at “the beginning of the cold season/the air drowsy with the languorous fulfilment…” is companionable with Keats’s autumn as well.

So why are these poems here and who was D.S. Savage?   Well, he too was a revolutionary defeatist in the sense that he was a pacifist, and today we might think of him as  a member of the ‘simple living’ movement of late capitalism.  He grew up in Hertfordshire  and he said that he became a pacifist at 13 years old, when he saw wounded and mutilated soldiers of WWI in the hospital where Savage was being treated for leg injuries from playing football.  I imagine that the editors at Partisan Review  were interested in a poet-pacifist, since Trotsky had written and spoke about the relationship between pacifism and revolutionary  defeatism.

‘Only very slight injury can be done to the machinery of war of the ruling class by pacifism. This is best proved by the courageous but rather futile efforts of Russell himself during the war. The whole affair ended in a few thousand young people being thrown into prison on account of their conscientious objections…. In the old Tsarist army the sectarians, and especially the Tolstoyans, were often exposed to persecution because of their passive resistance to militarism; it was not they, however, who solved the problem of the overthrow of Tsarism.’ (L.D. Trotsky, ‘On Pacifism and Revolution’, 1926, written in reply to a review by Bertrand Russell of Trotsky’s book Where Is Britain Going?)

By 1938, Trotsky had become more open to what pacifism might contribute to revolutionary defeatism.

‘Bourgeois pacifism and patriotism are shot through with deceit. In the pacifism and even the patriotism of the oppressed there are elements which reflect on the one hand a hatred of destructive war and on the other a clinging to what they believe to be their own good elements which we must know how to seize upon in order to draw the requisite conclusions. Using these considerations as its point of departure, the Fourth International supports every, even if insufficient, demand, if it can draw the masses to a certain extent into active politics, awaken their criticism and strengthen their control over the machinations of the bourgeoisie.’ (L.D. Trotsky, Transitional Programme of the Fourth International, 1938.)

Though he had left organised religion in his youth, he was reconfirmed at St. Paul’s and added a commitment to living sparely and simply to his pacifism. Savage’s first pamphlet of poetry, The Autumn World was published by Reginald Caton’s Fortune Press in 1939, after Caton’s press, under the watchful eye of the Law, stopped printing gay erotica and porn.  Caton turned to poetry, and  also  published early work by Dylan Thomas and Philip Larkin, as well as Savage’s  The Autumn World.

He married in 1938, and when the poems were published, he and his wife  moved to a village near Cambridge, where, Alison Olson wrote in an  2007 obituary of Savage, the couple lived in a condemned cottage without water, light or sanitation in Dry Drayton, Cambridgeshire.

Savage  remained a pacifist, and in 1940 he taken to a tribunal on that account.  He was ridiculed as a coward, but he felt that war was a manner of ” legalised murder”. In 1944, he moved to Bromsash Hertforshire, where the family — they had six children — lived in a pacifist  market-gardening village. Savage was committed to simple living, Anglicanism,     and Pacifism.

In 1947, Savage discovered the pleasures of Cornwall and the literary-artistic community around St.Ives  The family moved to Mevagissey, and he became friends with the poet W.S. Graham, Nessie Dunsmuir, and also knew Roger Hilton.  The Savages  lived  in the  Heligan Woods, continuing his decision to live a life of poverty. They went without  running water, and had no oven. Savage took the family dinners to be cooked in the Village Oven, part of a long-time community ritual.  He did move from the Heligan Woods into the Village after two years and lived there until his death in 2007.

Savage is known to many as a  literary critic, who wrote The Withered Branch against the Modernist Novel in the 1950s. But in 1938, he was beginning a life of asceticism, piety, pacifism, and poetry.

“My central idea,” he wrote, “is the necessary unity of poetry, religion and politics in integrity. Politics needs to be ethically grounded and pacifism is the ethical ground of political action.”

As the day slips away now for this lazy blogger, I think I can understand why the urban and urbane, Jewish and non-Jewish, Trotskyists and non-Trotskyists in New York in 1938 might be pleased with this young poet: ascetic, simple in his habits,  clear in his commitments and with a wife and child living in a Hertfordshire Village, and so free of contradictions.  Savage as an adamant pacifist and a Christian and a socialist and a poet, was a comfort in a way, and his poems, not very loud, and not very brilliant, give the reader a chance to rest a moment in between Rahv’s essay  and Sidney Hook’s, the next piece in Vol. 5, issue 5, April 1938. —

Philip Rahv’s “Trials of the Mind.”

Philip Rahv, “Trials of the Mind,”:  to read the entire essay, clickhere:http://hgar-srv3.bu.edu/collections/partisan-review/search/detail?id=283910

 

Poum        Anschluss-5       The POUM, the Anschluss,  and  Bukarin’s  TrialRykov, Bukharin, Rakovsky

1937-1938 was a critical time for the communist movement and for the Partisan Review: the Moscow Trials, the Spanish Civil War, and European Fascism together made a bitter poison of crises.

For many of the Partisani, the Moscow Trials were the death throes of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of Trotskyist groups new founded in the American and European revolutionary landscape.  Philip Rahv was expelled from the CPUSA, and he, along with Dwight Macdonald and other PR contributors joined in the campaign to protect and exonerate Trotsky.

In Spain, the POUM – “The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification” – was a group formed of disaffected Stalinists, independent communists, and the Trotskyist Communist Left of Spain.   The POUM, though it was quite large in its early days  – came under attack from the Spanish Communist party.  Spanish Trotskyists may have been in the POUM, but Trotsky himself was not a supporter of the TCL, which complicated the issue of Trotskyism altogether, and Trotsky publically disavowed his connection to the group. The POUM attracted a lot of supporters, but the Communist Party of Spain(CPE) was more powerful, and the communists got their arms from the Soviet Union and which gave them both military power and political influence. They attacked the POUM in 1937, and after that, the POUM was driven underground by a combination of Government troops and the CPE.

The Anschluss of March, 1938 annexed Austria to Germany, cutting across one of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, namely, that Germany and Austria could not be united. German Fascism became WWII in September, 1939.

Partisan Review, Volume 4, no.5, April, 1938 opens with the political realities of Fascism and Stalinism in focus.  Rahv’s  “Trials of the Mind,”  a sustained interpretation of   ‘After such knowledge, what forgiveness,’ the epigraph from T.S. Eliot, that hovers over the essay.

Our days are ceasing to be. We are beginning to live from hour to hour, awaiting the change of headlines. History has seized time in a brutal embrace. We dread the Apocalypse.

The newspapers recite their tidings: AUSTRIANS KNEEL BEFORE HITLER; NAZIS FLOG LABORERS INTO LINE. And in Moscow the State continues to massacre the firstborn of October. What an inexhaustible repertoire of shame and catastrophe…”.

Rahv’s polemic is fiery, passionate, and even today it persuades us what it felt  like to be in intellectual and political chaos:  “Ninety years have passed since the most subversive document of all times, The Communist Manifesto, injected its directive images into the nascent consciousness of the proletariat. We were not prepared for defeat. The future had our confidence, which we granted freely, sustained by the tradition of Marxism. In that tradition we saw the marriage of science and humanism. But now, amidst all these ferocious surprises, who has the strength to re-affirm his beliefs, to transcend the feeling that he had been duped. One is afraid of one’s fear. Will it soon become so precise as to exclude hope?

The first issue is the Moscow Trials.  While many have become disgusted with Stalin’s manufactured crimes, “Many still cling to their faith — perhaps out of desperate need for some kind of certainty.”  “The monstrosity of my crime is immeasurable!” cried Bukharin. If he told the truth then all that remains for us to do is to bow our heads and listen meekly as capitalism– once again, secure in its ethics — makes haste to preach its sermon over the grave of the revolution.”  

Rahv knew the ideological power of  Russian Christian Orthodoxy, not entirely destroyed in the twenty-one years after the Bolshevik Revolution.  He had been born a Jew in Galicia and ‘no social analysis can explain such diabolic crimes: every attempted explanation  exhausts the resources of the rational. .. Hence, it is not really political criminals who are being tried, but sinners, evildoers, perhaps sorcerers.`’

And he also, as an autodidact and intellectual, knew the shifting allegiances of intellectuals in times of crisis, “the moral collapse of the intellectuals.”  “Among them  smugness has become the pseudonym of panic, and the more rapidly  they abandon the values of culture the more sonorous their speeches in its defence…. If to be a “friend of culture,’ means something more than merely being a friend of books, it is by subjecting  the behaviour of the intellectuals to these supreme tests that we can judge them not only by their politics, but by their morality, — in fact, their culture itself.”

Rahv takes his contemporaries to task: the argument that intellectuals are making now in 1938, he writes, is that culture can survive only if guaranteed by “democratic imperialist powers “in the coming struggle. In other words, they will fight to save culture from being put to a violent death at the hands of fascism, but they are perfectly willing to let it expire peacefully in the bed of bourgeois democracy.” 

And the Moscow Trials have also become excuses for Comintern Intellectuals. He says that some have become “outright defenders of the official versions; others are silent, not ashamed to be spiritually terrorised; only a small minority, mostly of the older generation of intellectuals, dared to speak.”  And in Europe and America, the liberal journals are sitting on the fence, preferring “to view them sub species aeternitis. Perhaps in a hundred years we shall know the truth.”

As the possibility of WWII became closer to reality, Sidney Hook, still a major voice in the NY Intellectual community promoted the position of supporting the US and its Allies in the fight against Fascism — Rahv paid little attention to it, while resolutely declaring the bourgeois imperialist war as counter-revolutionary. Dwight Macdonald and Clement Greenberg, just then growing closer to the Partisan Review group, also rejected Hook’s position, and Macdonald became a Trotskyist.  In a later post, we will see how Rahv responded in 1941 to the Macdonald-Greenberg polemic about developing a “Third Camp” outside the anti-Fascist-Bourgeois war, to prepare for a subsequent socialist revolution, after WWII finished.

But here in this fraught essay is as vivid a demonstration of Rahv as a Revolutionary Leftist as one can find of him. And his voice is assured, European in its reach, and it seems invincible. His ideas would change over the next two years.

To read Rahv’s essay in its entirety, click here.http://hgar-srv3.bu.edu/collections/partisan-review/search/detail?id=283910

 

A Riposte….”Minutiae of Left-wing Literary History”

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Mike Gold editor of The New Masses

There is something wrong with Vol. 4, issue 4, March 1938. A kind of fatigue or sense of disorder pervades it: the Bishop story is wonderful, but Phillips on ‘Founding Fathers’ is laboured, DuPee on Malraux is predictable within the framework of Anti-Stalinist critique, and George L.K. Morris’s set of letters are looney.  I am looking forward to the next issue when this issue’s March Madness will have subsided. But before leaving, it is instructive and amusing to look at Herbert Solow’s contribution to the RIPOSTES endpapers of  the journal, “Minutiae of Left-wing Literary History”, which provides a survey of those who, in the course of the Bolshevik Revolution, Moscow Trials, the People’s Front, and the Spanish Civil war were first admired and then repudiated  as “Fascist Agents,” by the Stalinists.  Satire and Reportage at once, Solow’s list is compendious and breathless.

Herbert Solow walker evans
Herb Solow and John MacDonald (Walker Evans photo)
The first part of the “Minutiae”  consists of statistics divided according to ‘type’ of writer The New Masses considered the writer to belong to:

  1. Old Bolshevik: “Whoso applauds what the CP does, he is an old Bolshevik, or at least an honest fellow whose innate worth the Bolsheviks always sensed.”
  2. The Grumbler: “a pre-destined enemy of mankind, long since branded an “obstacle to human progress.”

When The New Masses was first published, in 1926, it published radical and communist writers and artists, and was happily though not exclusively under the wider influence of the Russian Revolution and its avant-garde, as it also promoted literature of working class life in the USA. [ The first two covers below show the kind of art it encouraged.]  But as the situation in the Soviet Union and in the CPUSA changed, by the 1930s, it became more closely linked to the poetics of the CPUSA, and to the CP’s interest in publishing ‘proletarian literature.’ It also became highly critical of those whose literary production was “modernist’ and whose politics was “Trotskyist.” i.e., the politico-literary habitus of Partisan Review.

New-Masses-FC-May-1926
First Issue — May 1926– 

New MASSES 1928
1928 — Russian Avant-Garde Still in Favour

NMMoscowTrials
Stalin’s Moscow Trials. Trouble Ahead.
Solow, who later taught at the New School for Social Research, begins his riposte in a sociologist’s style: with statistics, percentages, and the like, in which the style becomes satirical as soon as the evidence is presented. When The New Masses began in 1926 and 1927 it published 268 signed contributions by 150 writers.  11% of them contributed 19%  of the articles and 17 of them are now (in 1938) considered to be ‘enemies of the people’ by the CPUSA.  One of the founders of the journal, Max Eastman, who wrote many articles was also by 1938 an ” enemy of mankind.” I won’t give all the ‘data’ here, but you can read it at the archive: http://hgar-srv3.bu.edu/collections/partisan-review/search/detail?id=283909 . Solow’s driest point is that the more articles an author contributed,  the higher the chances of becoming “an enemy of mankind.”  Stalin’s campaign against Trotsky was the great divider of these writers who had, ten years before, been comrades.  But the issue of how best to produce revolutionary literature and art also split off between the ‘proletarians’ and the ‘avant-gardists’ of the left.

But it isn’t just the Old Bolsheviks and New Stalinists who are found on and then off  The New Masses’s version of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: “In 1928 [Mike] Gold gave an extended official view: ‘there is no humanity in Hemingway,’ he declared. He is as ‘heartless as a tabloid,’ but supporting the Spanish People’s Front has brought him back into the fold. Solow now moves to his side of the struggle, and the writers for Partisan Review: 

“In 1932,  Edwin Seaver found Edmund Wilson, now order of E.M. (Enemies of Mankind) to be a ‘new and vital tendency. . . .In March, 1934, the Editors scolded Prof. Meyer Schapiro  and John Chamberlain for not realising how deeply and rightly the workers hated Fiorello LaGuardia; today the Editors support LaGuardia — while Schapiro and Chamberlain [AJ: Both of whom joined the Dewey Defence of Trotsky Committee]  are confirmed members of the Order on Enemies of Humanity.”

And so it goes.

Like many of his fellow NY intellectuals,  Herbert Solow went to Columbia University, graduating in 1934.When he died in 1964, at the age of 61, he  was well past his years as a supporter of Trotsky, and as a writer for a number of left-wing journals.  He later worked at the New School for Social Research, and he was an advocate for European Jewish intellectuals after the war.  Again, like others, his anti-Stalinism became anti-Communism, and from 1943 until his death he worked as an Editor at Fortune Magazine. 

Its well-known, at least among the left, that the Minutiae of Left Wing political and literary is, as if always, ready for another go-round. This was true of the 19th century socialists who dragged old Chartists into the new socialist struggles and beyond.  Living as I did in the UK in the mid-1970s, I knew less of the American New Left than I did of the Trotskyist arguments before and during WWII.  I remember having a set-to in 1976 with a guy from the IMG about  the Stalin-Hitler pact late one night in a cold kitchen with a two-bar space heater and a large  mug of tea and a whole load of cigarettes…I wouldn’t have missed it for anything — everything said was trembling with meaning, and those cigarettes…well, they were delicious!

NEXT:  Good issue ahead, with essays by Rahv, Hook, Trilling, and McCarthy, Morris on art and theatre.