RADICAL PARADOXES: Dilemmas of the American Left, 1945-1970 by Peter Clecak

RADICAL PARADOXES: Dilemmas of the American Left, 1945-1970

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A lengthy discourse on four veteran leftists who dominated the '60's. C. Wright Mills, notes Clecak, found capitalism ""a relatively stable state"" while Paul Baran believed socialism would triumph. Paul Sweezy mildly supported the Soviets until 1956, got ""swept off his feet"" by Castro, and switched to the Chinese. Herbert Marcuse is dealt with most severely: ""Marcuse blends quasi-historical analysis, utopian speculation and myth into a distinctive mode of social criticism that is essentially symbolist fiction. . ."" and in One-Dimenstional Man ""the old man who always betrayed revolutions can no longer even contemplate them."" Clecak unfairly reduces the New Left to anti-bureaucratic nihilism of the Abby Hoffman sort. The book winds up with a plea for ""democratic socialism,"" participatory democracy, and piecemeal change; ""What can the intellectual do if he is strongly opposed to the current drift of the American society, yet equally strongly committed to certain liberal values?"" Mills, Baran, Sweezy and Marcuse seem not to have provided the answers.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1973
Publisher: Harper & Row