Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2009—2010 Forum on Connections
History, Art History
Dwight Macdonald, American Radicalism and Intellectuals at Mid-century
During World War II, Dwight Macdonald edited a magazine named politics that served as a forum for disenchanted intellectuals on the Left and sought to articulate new directions in radicalism after the disenchantment with Marxism and Enlightenment notions of science and progress in the era of Hiroshima.
The demise of politics in 1949 is part of a larger, transatlantic narrative of the failure of a Third Camp between communism and capitalism with the advent of the Cold War. What is so striking about Macdonald was his capacity to emerge from the “end of ideology” of the 1950s and return to the political scene in the 1960s, opposing the Vietnam War and engaging with the New Left. Having left behind Marxism, Macdonald assembled an eclectic canon as a political guide, looking to figures such as the French Encyclopedists Randolph Bourne, Tolstoy and Alexander Herzen.