"The tragedy of the left is that, having achieved an
unprecedented victory in helping stop an appalling war, it then
proceeded to commit suicide." So writes Todd Gitlin about the
aftermath of the Vietnam War in this collection of writings that
calls upon intellectuals on the left to once again engage American
public life and resist the trappings of knee-jerk negativism,
intellectual fads, and political orthodoxy. Gitlin argues for a
renewed sense of patriotism based on the ideals of sacrifice,
tough-minded criticism, and a willingness to look anew at the
global role of the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. Merely
criticizing and resisting the Bush administration will not do --
the left must also imagine and propose an America reformed.
Where then can the left turn? Gitlin celebrates the work of
three prominent postwar intellectuals: David Riesman, C. Wright
Mills, and Irving Howe. Their ambitious, assertive, and clearly
written works serve as models for an intellectual engagement that
forcefully addresses social issues and remains affirmative and
comprehensive. Sharing many of the qualities of these thinkers'
works, Todd Gitlin's blunt, frank analysis of the current state of
the left and his willingness to challenge orthodoxies pave the way
for a revival in leftist thought and a new liberal patriotism.
Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy, History
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