Remembering Irving Howe

Remembering Irving Howe

Conventional obituaries of Irving Howe list the New Left as one of the misguided groups he attacked, and from which he differentiated his brand of socialism.

Communism and the other failed visions on the list are of only historical interest, unlike the New Left, whose alumni are active and influential today. Myself included. In the early days of Students for a Democratic Society, I used to be singled out in Irving’s polemics.

Irving and his generation saw the virtue in bringing out points of political difference. That’s a lost virtue today. We who devote our energies to social change are most comfortable with accentuating areas of agreement, not differences.