Great Britain: Politics of the Angry Young Men

Great Britain: Politics of the Angry Young Men

A great deal of fuss is being made over the discovery, in England, of a group of angry young men. The title, thank heavens, is not a self-designation; it is a free gift of the week-end reviewers. Even the New York Times has presented us with a column of quotes from the angriest of the young men, out of all context, of course, and apropos of nothing, but indicating fairly clearly that anger is thought interesting these days, perhaps a trifle piquant, and above all, newsworthy.

It is curious that the group has been discussed so much more in the political than in the literary journals, for their novels, plays and poems really represent the first burst of cultural energy in post-war England. But we shall see that anger in contemporary society has immediate political significance wherever it is expressed. Some intuition of this must account for the reception given the young rebels. Yet no one seems to have any clear idea what they are angry about, and this stems largely from not having any clear idea what there is that it is possible to be angry about.

A sort of mild and increasingly invisible indignation has been established as the proper attitude for proper young men; it is the ritualized discontent which continues to echo from our twenty-year-old past, clothed now in the overcoat and galoshes of responsibility. After all, we are told, the Welfare State is established, prosperity has endured the dangerous post-war decade, Russia has shown us what happ...

Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

For insights and analysis from the longest-running democratic socialist magazine in the United States, sign up for our newsletter: