In 1954, the year in which he founded Dissent, Irving Howe published an essay called “This Age of Conformity” in Partisan Review. Partisan Review was the organ of what has been dubbed (by T.J. Clarke) the “Trotskyite-Eliotic” culture of the New York Intellectuals of the 1930s. This was the culture of intellectuals who were not quite sure whether they were revolutionary Marxists or just social democrats. They were, however, very sure that modern art and literature had a lot to do with desirable social change, that literary and artistic modernism was part of the same large movement of the spirit as was socialism.
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