ABSTRACT

The Depression beginning in 1929 suddenly dramatized all the ills and evils of capitalism and politicized the estrangement of intellectuals and artists. The defects of the capitalist system ceased to be abstract or primarily aesthetic when people lost their jobs, savings, or investments, as the case may be. Throughout the 1920s many American intellectuals were disenchanted with their society–its business ethic, crassness, obsession with material values–but responded more by withdrawal and aesthetic criticism than by becoming politicized. Interestingly enough, the Marxism cherished by the British intellectuals of the 1930s resembles the versions resurrected by their New Left successors in the 1960s. The encounter between Western intellectuals and Marxism during this period was also significant in deepening and articulating their estrangement and social criticism. The contextual evaluation of various social phenomena prevailed both with respect to the Soviet Union and the United States.