The Old Left

Overview

Mainstream America has long equated Leftism with Communism and Communism with the quintessentially un-American. With the end of the Cold War this equation no longer even seems necessary; its elements now fail to pose a credible threat to Capitalism. But Leftism in America has meant more than Communism - or Socialism or Anarchism or any other prescribed political category. It has been an integral part of the American political experience. And perhaps at no time more than now is it appropriate to reassess the role ...
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New York, NY 1995 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 288 p. Twayne's Literature & Society Series, 8. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Mainstream America has long equated Leftism with Communism and Communism with the quintessentially un-American. With the end of the Cold War this equation no longer even seems necessary; its elements now fail to pose a credible threat to Capitalism. But Leftism in America has meant more than Communism - or Socialism or Anarchism or any other prescribed political category. It has been an integral part of the American political experience. And perhaps at no time more than now is it appropriate to reassess the role it has played in shaping American thought and culture in the twentieth century, to see it, as Julia Dietrich suggests, "not only as a revolutionary challenge to capitalism but also as a complex expression of people's hopes." Dietrich traces the movement's rise from 1912, when the Greenwich Village magazine Masses underwent a shift toward revolutionary Socialism and writers such as Emma Goldman, Max Eastman, John Reed, and Floyd Dell began contributing to its pages. She follows it through the Russian Revolution, the trials of Sacco and Vanzetti, workers' demonstrations, the era of the Popular Front, the Spanish Revolution, the many permutations of the Communist Party, the "witch-hunts" of Joseph McCarthy, and his ultimate censure by the U.S. Senate - by which time the Old Left had lost much of its cultural force. To flesh out the movement's many contours over the years, Dietrich draws from a wide array of literary forms: political tracts (such as John Reed's classic Ten Days that Shook the World), memoirs (Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness), fictionalized autobiographies (Agnes Smedley's Daughter of Earth and Mike Gold's Jews without Money), historical novels (Upton Sinclair's Boston and Mary Heaton Vorse's Strike!), plays (Clifford Odets's Waiting for Lefty), poems (Claude McKay's "If We Must Die"), and songs (the ballads of Joe Hill and other, unknown writers).
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 The American Left, 1912-1919 1
2 War and Revolution, 1917-1920 28
3 From the Jazz Age to the Crash, 1920-1930 53
4 From the Great Depression to the Popular Front, 1931-1935 85
5 The Popular Front, 1935-1939 114
6 From World War II to the Demise of the Movement 143
7 The Struggle for the Past 177
Chronology 185
Notes and References 188
Selected Bibliography 201
Index 205
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