A Better World: Stalinism and the American Intellectuals by William L. O'Neill

By William L. O'Neill

This publication chronicles the fight between non-Communist leftists and liberals over American relatives with the Soviet Union from 1939 in the course of the Fifties. Few now care as passionately and as violently as humans did then approximately Soviet-American family members. It was once a time whilst associates grew to become enemies, and others solid unusual alliances, all within the identify of commitments that this day look distant. A higher World conjures up these instances and their offerings, and explains why those long-ago battles nonetheless arouse such deep emotions today—and should.

americans who have been pro-Soviet with out being participants of the Communist party—“progressives” as they known as themselves—had a wide emotional funding within the Soviet Union. From 1935 to 1939 actually thousands joined the “Popular entrance” of pro-Soviet companies. O’Neill takes us during the surprise of the Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939, in the course of the revival of the preferred entrance spurred through executive and company aid after Russia entered the struggle opposed to Hitler. He lines the isolation of the anti-Stalinists, the increase and fall of Henry Wallace, and the eclipse of progressivism. And he explores the transferring allegiances of intellectuals as they struggled, frequently with one another, to persuade the process public debate, with long-lasting results for American mind, tradition, and morals.

As O’Neill observes in his creation, “More than any of my different books A larger World encouraged correspondents to ship me probing or reflective letters.” It used to be this reaction, in addition to the extreme serious debate spurred by way of preliminary ebook of this quantity, that makes the book’s carrying on with significance transparent. The dream of attaining a greater global via radical violence by no means dies, and the willingness of apologists to hold to utopian visions persists. so long as it does, the teachings of this ebook must be on hand to us.

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Extra resources for A Better World: Stalinism and the American Intellectuals

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Atomists have very little sense of meaning in history, however. The Sophists, for example, played up the diversity of cultures past and present. 71 The Legalists agreed that because beliefs had varied, history gave few lessons. They added that even if the past had contained a consensus, it still would not have mattered because conditions had changed. Practices had to adapt to new realities. 72 Several timeless atomist impulses lurked beneath these attitudes. History naturally matters little to those who strip down human nature itself.

One strove to fulfill whatever standards the authorities might lay down. For the atomist mind, the ethical content of actions matters less than the consistency with which actions are judged and then rewarded or punished. The Legalists were not just realists who wanted to get jobs done, as some might see them. Even the most idealistic Confucian hardly smiled on ineptness, after all. Rather, the Legalist project was all about removing ethics from how society ranked its members. Won by ability alone, positions in a hierarchy would have little to do with their occupants’ character.

For demots, that something greater is usually a sacred complex of roles and duties. A community is larger and more enduring than one’s own initially untutored impulses. For perfectionists, the something greater is an ideally cultivated image of oneself, or a breakthrough to spiritual insight. Either comes into salutary tension with one’s existing self and pulls one beyond it. And for virtuocrats, grandeur comes forth at the intersection between the two. Active virtue meets virtuous action. All this strikes atomists as alien.

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