Socialism: Guilty As Charged
It has been over a decade since this silence as durable as an iron curtain descended between us. In these circumstances, I have had to depend on others to learn how you regard me these days: how, at a recent social gathering, you referred to me as “one of the two tragedies of the New Left” (the other being a former Brecht scholar who now publishes guides to the nude beaches of America); how my apostasy has inflicted an emotional wound, as though in changing my political views and leaving the Left I had personally betrayed you.
I understand this. How could it be otherwise for people like us, for whom politics was less a matter of practical decisions than of moral choices? We saw ourselves as partisans of a cause that confirmed our humanity (even as it denied humanity to those who opposed us). To leave such ranks was not a simple matter, like abandoning a misconception or admitting a mistake. It was more like accusing one’s comrades. Like condemning a life.
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