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Taking It BigC. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals$
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Stanley Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231135412

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231135412.001.0001

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Mills and the New York Intellectuals

Mills and the New York Intellectuals

(p.54) 2 Mills and the New York Intellectuals
Taking It Big

Stanley Aronowitz

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on Mills's place among the circle of New York intellectuals. Their common ground was initially a shared dissident leftist politics that challenged not only the mainstream but also the prevailing communist-controlled and communist-inspired cultural apparatus that dominated the putative opposition to American and world capitalism during the 1930s. By the 1950s, however, nearly all in this group were reconciled to mainstream American culture, political institutions, and governmental policies. Mills was associated with a small fraction of intellectuals and activists who refused to join the American celebration. He was almost singular in his refusal to fit neatly into the folds of either the pro- or anti-Soviet camp. He did not permit anticommunism to be radical. Consequently, he called for a New Left that would relegate the Russian question to the margins of radical thought and action and instead dedicate itself to the discovery of a distinctly American radical tradition.

Keywords:   New York intellectuals, intellectual culture, American mass culture, mainstream politics, radicalism, political Left, political activists, radicals

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