If the future of the Communist Party seems dim, there have been some developments in the United States these past few years that should encourage those who believe the Soviet Union represents a force for historic progress. Among the disorganized but still numerous adherents of “the left,” as also among a small number of college students, new political moods are discernible. These are not yet of special importance, but with time may become so.
The party finds itself in a vexing position. Its inner core remains static and immobilized, caught up in its political dilemmas. Yet the periphery of American Communism seems to have expanded somewhat, and more important, a political mood of a vaguely “progressive” kind is reappearing which may help the party survive, if not flourish. At first glance this mood bears some semblance to the Popular Frontism of two decades ago; actually it is quite different. Here are some of its sources and components:
—a general weariness and disillusion regarding the Cold War, together with the feeling that both sides, if not equally bad, are open to such severe criticism they do not merit the support of independent liberals and radicals;
—a belief that the Soviet bloc has reached a point of stability, or as the matter is occasionally put, is “here to stay,” so that all the talk about opposing (sometimes, even about resisting) Communism is felt to be irresponsible or an invitation to atomic war;
—a discontent with American life which often takes the form of a nonpolitical estrangement, a denunciation of American foreign policy as inept and reactionary, and a critical attitude less dependent on Marxist categories than a distaste for American “materialism”;
—an indifference to abstract ideologies in general and the ideological claims of the two powers in particular;
—a conviction that the big powers have become rigidly bureaucratic (or “square”) while the true sources of political vitality can be found only in certain underdeveloped countries where the national leaders still have style, initiative and flavor.