[Marxism] Alan Wald: The Urban Landscape of Marxist Noir

J Rothermel jayroth6 at cox.net
Fri Apr 10 23:20:16 MDT 2009


    The Urban Landscape of Marxist Noir

Alan Wald <../whoweare.php>

/Professor Alan Wald tells *Graham Barnfield* about the writers 
rediscovered after years of forensic detective work/

*Part of your last book Writing from the Left reads as a pledge to 
rediscover the lost authors of the 1940s and 1950s. How did you become 
interested in these writers?*

My preoccupation with 'lost' leftwing authors of the 1940s and 1950s is 
a logical extension of my research on the 'committed' radical writers of 
the 1930s. Many of the best-known 'left' authors of the Depression era 
were, in fact, formed as writers and intellectuals in the 1920s - for 
example, John Dos Passos, James T. Farrell, Josephine Herbst, and 
Langston Hughes. Even Michael Gold and Jack Conroy served literary 
apprenticeships in the 1920s. This explains why I was particularly 
concerned in my first three books with the relationship of Marxism to 
Modernism, since 'High Modernism' was in full swing in the 1920s. But it 
wasn't very long before I was asking myself: what was the trajectory of 
those who were very young in the 1930s, who perhaps did not reach their 
stride until after World War Two? I was also struck by the fact that so 
many of the 'canonised' texts of 1930s, such as The Grapes of Wrath, For 
Whom the Bell Tolls, U.S.A., Native Son, the Studs Lonigan trilogy, 
Waiting for Lefty, were by writers who later repudiated the particular 
kind of radicalism to which they adhered at the time when they produced 
their masterpieces. So I also began to ask myself about the cultural 
production - and the lives - of those who stayed true to their early 
convictions through the years of McCarthyite persecution. As a result of 
further research I began to wonder if it might be an inaccurate 
representation of US cultural history to focus so much on a '1930s' or 
'Great Depression' radical tradition organised around a paradigm of 
strike novels, conversions-to-Communism novels, and so on. Would it not 
be more appropriate to think about a radical tradition of larger scope 
that perhaps expressed itself in distinct forms - and achieved its 
greatest notoriety - during the 1930s? What if the left tradition were 
more central to US culture, rather than episodic to 'protest decades' 
like the 1930s and 1960s? And what if 'writers on the left' were 
redefined to mean 'writings by leftists', regardless of genre? So I 
began looking at the names that I did NOT recognise in the book review 
sections of left publications, or from the membership lists of left 
cultural organisations. In particular, when I could not locate any 
references to them in standard literary histories and reference books, I 
became even more intrigued. I used 'detective' methods of trying to find 
out the fate of these people - rummaging through phone books in various 
cities, going to the physical locations of some of their books, writing 
personal letters to their last known addresses, and looking in the 
'miscellaneous' files of the archives of the more important writers and 
political figures (where materials from unidentified people tends to get 
lumped and then overlooked). As it turned out, a surprising number of 
such writers were - or soon became - involved in 
crime/thriller/pulp/mystery writing, often marked in some fashion by the 
encounter with Marxism.

*From what you are saying, it would appear that dozens of authors 
disappeared, in that their careers were cut short in the McCarthy era. 
How did this happen?*

Certainly the McCarthy era was a factor in creating many difficulties 
for the survival of leftwing writers, although it is misleading to think 
about a substantial number of careers being 'cut short'. Publishing 
became harder and people switched to different genres, but there was 
still productivity. One important blow to the left was that the 
outstanding leftwing editor Angus Cameron, vice-president of Little, 
Brown, Inc., was forced out of his job, but Cameron then set up an 
independent publishing house that issued novels and other radical texts. 
Although books by convicted 'Hollywood Ten' member Albert Maltz were 
rejected by the mainstream publishers who had previously solicited his 
work, he kept on writing and brought them out by other means. Then there 
is the case of bestseller Howard Fast. Upon release from prison, for 
refusing to give up names, Fast established his own company, Blue Heron, 
which made his novel Spartacus (which he began in prison) into a 
bestseller. Thus I believe that literary historians who have premised 
their arguments on the virtual demise of the left tradition in the Cold 
War, or else have looked in very narrow places for what they imagine to 
be 'radical' texts and found very few, have been complicit in the 
official 'disappearance' of leftwing resistance literature in the Cold 
War years. Actually, I have discussed this phenomenon with many specific 
examples, in my introduction to the 1997 reprint of Philip Bonosky's 
Burning Valley. An important point to keep in mind is that the political 
repression in mainstream publishing was accompanied by other 
developments, especially mass-market action/thriller paperbacks and the 
rise of science fiction. Then there was the phenomenon of children's and 
young adult books in the areas of narratives, science, history, and so 
forth. Knopf, a mainstream publisher with left sympathies, created space 
for leftists in its children's book list, and many other publishers 
simply didn't ask questions about the politics of the authors when it 
came to young adult texts. So radicals poured into such new genres and 
found creative ways to express their ideas.

*What was the role of the Hollywood Blacklist in all this? Conventional 
wisdom says that leftwing writers went to Hollywood and got writer's 
block, from Nathanael West to Barton Fink. Is it more accurate to say 
they were driven out in the 50s, at which point many tried to return to 
commercial writing?*

Of course, some survived the blacklist by changing their politics - like 
Clifford Odets, Roy Huggins, Budd Schulberg and Elia Kazan. Others, who 
had already been playwrights and novelists before their Hollywood 
period, returned to, or continued to pursue, their craft - George Sklar, 
Guy Endore, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Vera Caspary, Abraham Polonsky. 
Some tried fiction for the first time - Eddie Huebsch, Ben Barzman, Ring 
Lardner Jr. Still others managed to make films independently or under 
pseudonyms, or abroad. John Howard Lawson, the playwright and 
screenwriter, published some scholarly Marxist books. Although 
superficial generalisations can be made, one has to look at specific 
lives to talk accurately about the impact on anyone's work. John 
Sanford, for example, had given up screenwriting to return to novels 
years before the blacklist. Yet he did, in fact, develop a major 
writer's block in the 1950s. The cause was that he felt guilty for 
having dragged his wife, screenwriter Marguerite Roberts, into the 
Communist Party, which resulted in her being blacklisted. There are 
probably some cases where Hollywood culture itself destroyed talent, and 
others where it provided an opportunity for creative expression that 
would never have found fulfilment elsewhere. (For example, today Ben 
Maddow is highly regarded for his film scripts, such as the co-authored 
noir film The Asphalt Jungle, but no-one seems to care about his noir 
novel, Forty-Four Gravel Street, or his poetry, short stories or 
photography criticism.) There may even be some cases where the blacklist 
actually 'liberated' people to undertake important projects that might 
otherwise have been missed. (For example, after being blacklisted, 
screenwriter Philip Stevenson wrote four novels about the 1934 Gallup, 
New Mexico miners' strike; this fills in a crucial gap in left history, 
and I'm not certain that Stevenson would have achieved as much had he 
stayed active in film.) Of course, writers should have the option of 
making up their own minds about where and in what form they wish to 
produce. But a simple narrative of 'lost masterpieces' due to repression 
is both romanticised in terms of the various abilities of figures in the 
field of film and not very fair in terms of recognising that left 
writers did not allow themselves to be shut up all that easily.

*Many went on to work sometimes under pseudonyms in mainstream 
publishing and genre writing. Was there a lot of subterfuge involved?*

Once again, the cases vary. Meridel LeSueur wrote her children's books 
for a mainstream publisher under her own name. Howard Fast experimented 
with another name in the McCarthy era but almost always used his own. 
(Later on, though, Fast used two pseudonyms to develop several mystery 
series, probably for market reasons.) Vera Caspary kept her name and 
lied about her CP past. Jim Thompson kept his name too, but never 
mentioned his earlier CP membership. Philip Stevenson published two 
novels as Lars Lawrence, and wrote for the CP press under other names, 
but his friends Endore, Sklar, Sanford, Maltz and others never changed 
names for their novel-writing. A person like Zinberg, who had an 
interracial marriage and wanted to adopt a child, may have had a variety 
of reasons for masking his identity as Ed Lacy and Steve April. And then 
there were writers who used 'fronts', usually for film and TV writing. 
They were often in the difficult situation of having other people sign 
legal documents and even accept awards; thus, to reveal the names of 
fronts, even decades later, could bring lawsuits. However, it is now 
known that black radical novelist John O. Killens 'fronted' for 
blacklisted Abraham Polonsky in the important anti-racist film noir Odds 
Against Tomorrow. One former Communist who wrote Classics Comics in the 
1950s made me promise never to reveal his identity; yet another one - Dr 
Annette Rubinstein, a literary scholar - has no hesitation in 
acknowledging that she did the same thing. Keep in mind that even 
earlier, long before the blacklist, a number of leftists wrote under 
pseudonyms for what they regarded as the 'pulp fiction factory' because 
they were embarrassed by the genre or simply wanted separate identifies 
for different kinds of writing. Thus Kenneth Fearing was also Kirk 
Wolfe, and Paul William Ryan was Robert Finnegan in his pulp writing and 
Mike Quin in his CP writing.

*What you're saying will sound counterintuitive to many. After all, 
inter-war crime fiction has the reputation for being radical given 
Hammett's alleged CPUSA membership, whereas in the 1950s it seemed far 
more reactionary, as personified by Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.*

Well, the chronological paradigm has a few flaws. For example, Hammett 
completed the majority of his influential private eye fiction before he 
had any connection with Communism or even an attraction to radicalism in 
the Marxian sense. So he is present on the left scene in the 1930s as a 
personality, and he also did quite a bit of teaching at Party-led 
schools. Probably, though, in a quantitative sense, crime/pulp/thriller 
fiction was not overwhelmingly leftwing during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s 
or 1950s. What we actually see would be more accurately characterised as 
a fairly strong presence. Starting in the 1920s, Walter Snow, already a 
Communist, wrote prolifically for gangster pulps, as did future radicals 
John Spivak and William Rollins Jr. (There was also a major Communist 
science fiction writer of that decade, Francis Flagg, the pseudonym of 
George Henry Weiss). In the case of Spivak, he no doubt employed many 
pulp techniques in his 1930s radical fiction and reportage; and Rollins 
kept alternating between the left and pulp/mystery genres until his 
death in the late 1940s. Also in the 1930s, committed leftists were 
making contributions to crime/gangster fiction in a variety of ways. 
Sometimes it was explicit, as in the case of Ben Appel's Brain Guy 
trilogy and William Cunningham's Pretty Boy. But it was also indirect in 
gangster/crime episodes that occur in radical novels like Gold's Jews 
Without Money, Daniel Fuchs' Low Company (a novel that was later filmed 
as The Gangster), Richard Wright's Native Son, and Meridel LeSueur's The 

*So would your research support the idea that the investigations 
conducted in crime fiction are also investigations of the society in 
which the authors lived, as with Ernest Mandel's Delightful Murder? Is 
this true for the McCarthy years, when government hostility to such 
critical voices was at it height?*

Hope Davis and Jean Karsavina occasionally tried to interpolate left 
themes into their pulp fiction. The point is that there was a strong and 
variegated presence, but I would be hesitant to say that one particular 
site - for example, crime fiction - was 'radical' in a Marxist or 
Communist way. Moreover, there are lots of reasons why this presence 
increased in the 1940s and 1950s. For one thing, the revolution in 
publishing opened many more doors for people to get books and stories 
into print and even to make money, if they intervened in the popular 
forms. Thus the young radical science fiction writers who did their 
apprentice work in the late 1930s really took off - Frederik Pohl, Isaac 
Asimov, Robert Lowndes, Donald Wollheim, Judith Merril, Cyril Kornbluth.

*On balance, just how big a contribution did these writers make to the 
crime/mystery/detective genre?*

Certainly if we include film noir screenplays as crime fiction, the left 
contribution is almost monumental. Albert Maltz was co-author of The 
Naked City, Abraham Polonsky was author of Force of Evil (based on the 
novel by Marxist Ira Wolfert), Ben Maddow was author of The Asphalt 
Jungle, Kenneth Fearing wrote the mystery on which the film The Big 
Clock was based, and so on. Even Edwin Rolfe, the marvellous Communist 
poet, turned to mystery and science fiction writing in the late 1940s. 
Robert Finnegan had three successes before his premature death. Jim 
Thompson moves from several proletarian novels to crime fiction, but 
retains a kind of left populism. Len Zinberg remakes his career as a 
mystery writer after returning from World War Two. Still, despite a 
dynamic and influential presence on the part of the left, it would be 
misleading to theorise any aspect of crime/pulp writing of the 1950s, 
including film noir, as a left creation, either going back to the 
popular front politics or as an expression of Cold War resistance. To do 
that means to shut out too many examples of rightwing film noir and 
crime fiction, as well as to ignore the fact that many key features of 
these genres appear decades earlier. Although I have not thought about 
it too much, we would probably have the same problem in making big 
generalisations about 'investigations' in left crime fiction. Of course, 
any thesis can be made to appear powerful by being highly selective in 
one's examples and by cutting corners in relation to biographical 
matters (such as the kind of political commitments an author might hold, 
and the importance of such commitments at various times in artistic 
production). What I am prepared to say is that there is certainly a 
heavy left presence in noir production (film as well as fiction) because 
leftists were often very talented and participated in a wide range of 
cultural activities. Beyond this, we can point to some specific cases 
where an interest in urban culture began in left fiction and continued 
in film (Maddow, Maltz). But we should not forget that there are also 
instances of left writers such as Guy Endore, who was brought to 
Hollywood on the strength of his knowledge of the supernatural and 
occult, evidenced in his classic novel The Werewolf of Paris. For me, 
the precise meaning of a literary motif such as an 'investigation', 
while it seems to lend itself to a critique of the social formation, 
cannot be abstracted from the psychology of an author, Marxist or not. 
Again, in the instance of Endore, I feel that psychoanalytical and 
linguistic theories often motivated the 'investigations' in his crime 
novels such as Methinks the Lady and Detour at Midnight.

*Is fair to say that the most fondly remembered of these narratives, 
like Fearing's The Big Clock, have earned their place in the canon on 
the back of their literary strengths alone, whereas the more pulpy 
writers deservedly fell by the wayside? Or is there more to it than 
this? After all, some of the authors, such as Ed Lacy and Paul Ryan, won 
prizes for their works, yet few people read them today.*

It's hard to say why certain works are remembered and others forgotten. 
The Big Clock has a following, but it has also been out of print at 
times. Recently William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley, which I 
regard as also very complex and a powerful Marxist/Freudian statement, 
appeared in a canon-making volume of American noir; but it had been 
nearly lost for decades, and there is still no real sign of its revival. 
Likewise, all sorts of forgotten Jim Thompson books are now in print, to 
go along with two biographies, but only a few, such as The Killer Inside 
Me, have real stature. In France I understand that Robert Finnegan has a 
following, but there is no interest here. In the case of Ed Lacy, I'm 
pretty certain that if I could use In Black and White or Room to Swing 
in the classroom, students would be quite excited and we might even see 
dissertations about Lacy. What I think we can determine, through 
research, is that certain books have been successful in sales, or 
received good reviews, or have been taken up by critics and scholars at 
certain points. But I'm not sure how to assess 'literary strengths' 
because a book with a strong narrative might have some pretty thin 
characters, and one with compelling characters might have a 
poorly-conceived and executed plot. A book might seem to be dreary and 
depressing when read under one set of circumstances, but to harbour 
important truths and a prophetic vision under another. One way to 
resolve this issue is to set up certain models of accepted literary 
strengths and to compare various texts to these. But the problem with 
models is that it is hard to find those which respond to all the 
different kinds of work that a text might carry out. In any event, since 
no discussion is taking place that includes most of these texts, I think 
it would be hard to reach strong conclusions.

*Given the radicalism of these writers, did working in the crime genre 
divert them from their political/cultural goals? For instance, William 
Rollins Jr was widely praised for his strike novel The Shadow Before, 
yet he seems to disappear off the scene afterwards. Likewise, Howard 
Fast's E. V Cunningham stories may have helped him to make a living when 
he was blacklisted, yet he continued to write them into the 1980s, with 
quantity appearing to overtake quality in his work. I guess what I'm 
asking is whether these writers are politically significant, significant 
crime writers, or both?*

Again, the question of deflection of a career due to a genre switch can 
only be answered individually, on the basis of biographical research. 
Determining the 'goals' of various writers and measuring their 
achievements against various constraints (individual talent, economic 
problems, health, opportunities to get into print) is a very difficult 
task. Clearly the biggest problem for many writers was making money to 
survive. For some, this factor originally drew them into pulp/crime 
fiction because one got paid. Yet some regarded this as hack work to 
support their real interests, in this manner paralleling those Hollywood 
writers who imagined that they would alternate between money-making 
screenplays and serious drama. Others took the genre more seriously, 
and, in fact, Fearing did not see The Big Clock as a mystery thriller. 
Moreover, when it comes to expressing politics, I think we have to 
realise that, given the nature of US capitalist society, almost all 
writers have to pull their political punches in order to have books 
published, even in times more radical than the 1950s. We have, for 
example, someone as important and powerful as Ernest Hemingway changing 
Robert Jordan, the protagonist of For Whom the Bell Tolls, from a 
Communist to a liberal at the behest of his publishers, for reasons of 
sales potential. Then there is the question of exactly how political 
consciousness-raising is accomplished through literature. Speaking as a 
person who managed to be radicalised by reading such conservative texts 
as The Wasteland and The God That Failed, I'm sceptical of a model that 
seems to require a readership with a blank consciousness reading a 
'truly revolutionary narrative', and then becoming revolutionised. Books 
certainly influence individuals, but the circumstances under which the 
reading occurs and the reader's prior experience play key roles in the 
outcome. Thus the matter of political significance in relation to 
artistic significance is tricky as well. Sure, if Jim Thompson actually 
longed to write strike novels with workers raising the red flag, that 
didn't happen, and I suppose that we can say that the genre in which he 
operated was not particularly hospitable to that kind of narrative. Yet 
Robert Finnegan managed to slip anti-fascist and anti-capitalist themes 
into his crime fiction, and Ed Lacy explored many aspects of racism in 
unusual situations and from fresh angles. Should we then conclude that 
they are significant for political reasons alone, and Thompson, still 
widely read, is more literary? In my view, that's not a tenable 
distinction; the politics in all three are probably masked to some 
degree, and there are all kinds of things that Lacy accomplishes in his 
art that I see nowhere in Thompson. In general, I think we can go so far 
as to say that there are certain aspects of the crime genre that 
especially lend themselves to a Marxist imagination - the urban setting, 
the theme of corruption by wealth, the possibilities of having a diverse 
range of characters (in terms of class, colour, gender), the problem of 
the state, and so on. And clearly there have been many left novelists 
and screenwriters in the pulp/noir/crime genre who availed themselves of 
opportunities to make anti-capitalist observations through appropriate 
dramatic techniques and characterisations, with varying degrees of 
success. On the other hand, ideologues who go to these works in search 
of stories about conversions to Marxist ideology, the depiction of 
frankly Communist heroes, the use of episodes to openly express 
solidarity with the USSR, and so on, as the signs of a Communist 
presence, are bound to be disappointed.

*Regarding Fast, Guy Endore and Ed Lacy, you have noted their use of 
ethnic minority characters to highlight the racial injustices in 
American society. Tell us more about this strategy.*

There's a long tradition among left writers of using racism against 
people of colour as a prime example of capitalism's horrors. There has 
also been a sense of identification with the nineteenth century 
abolitionists (and especially John Brown) as models for how 
revolutionary minorities can be transformed into a victorious majority. 
Anger about racism (sometimes identified with the anti-Semitism that was 
growing in Europe) could propel writers toward the left, and it was also 
the central concern of the propaganda, agitation and cultural work of 
the major left organisation in the mid-twentieth century, the CPUSA. 
Moreover, prior to the 1960s, it was fairly acceptable for white and 
Jewish writers to address black themes and create black characters. Of 
course, they ran the risk of being criticised harshly if a case could be 
made that they used stereotypes or displayed other signs of racism. Even 
Richard Wright was attacked by black Communist Party activists in Harlem 
for his portrait of Bigger Thomas as lumpen and his failure to show 
politically conscious black characters. There is also the famous case of 
the Jewish writer Earl Conrad (Earl Cohen): previously praised by the 
Communist Party for Scottsboro Boy; Conrad was completely driven from 
Party circles due to attacks on his anti-racist novel Rock Bottom for 
allegedly showing blacks as degraded. In some cases the black characters 
were attractive to left writers as symbols of resistance who dramatised 
certain issues; this was the case with slave rebel Denmark Vesey's 
refusing to 'name names' in Aaron Kramer's anti-McCarthy dramatic poem. 
In other cases, black characters seemed logical choices for fiction in 
relation to the political work that the writer had carried out. For 
example, Guy Endore, author of Babouk, wrote pamphlets for the 
Scottsboro and Sleepy Lagoon cases; and David Alman, author of The 
Hourglass, worked for the Civil Rights Congress. Howard Fast has claimed 
that he was inspired to write his magnificent Freedom Road after hearing 
reports about Nazi atrocities while employed by the Office of War 
Information. Such examples suggest that there was a political concern 
about expressing political solidarity, but we can't let that account for 
the entire artistic process. So far as I know, no particular political 
event gave rise to John Sanford's The People from Heaven; it began with 
an image of an act of racism against a black woman. Nevertheless, being 
a committed anti-racist is certainly a reason why writers such as Lacy 
and Fast would have so many characters of colour in their mystery 
fiction (in Fast's case, he created a Japanese-American detective). But 
Lacy was also married to a black woman and lived in Harlem, so he had 
plenty of handy resource materials.

*You're also working hard to ensure that these lost writers don't stay 
lost and have got Ira Wolfert's Tucker's People back in print. Tell us 
more about this project…*

My effort to rescue 'lost' writers centres on the University of Illinois 
Press series, The Radical Novel Reconsidered, although I also have 
co-operated in bringing out neglected novels and short story collections 
with other presses, and I am on the advisory board for the American 
Poetry Recovery Project. So far as the Illinois series goes, I have 
tried to stay away from big name authors whose books are just 
momentarily out of print, and to emphasise books that were never 
reprinted after first publication, or that have never received 
recognition as radical novels due to their unconventional content. 
(Actually, Tucker's People is the one exception to these criteria, since 
it was reprinted as a paperback in the 1950s, and scholar Walter Rideout 
praised it highly as a radical novel.) In about half of the cases, I am 
personally convinced of the outstanding literary qualities of the book - 
The Big Boxcar, The People from Heaven, Burning Valley, The World Above, 
The Great Midland - and in other cases I have deferred to the judgements 
of the younger scholars writing the introductions, and to other evidence 
of merit. There is no special emphasis on including crime/pulp novels, 
but such texts are certainly plausible for the list. I myself am working 
on a big book - perhaps in the form of several volumes - trying to 
re-narrate the story of US left culture by including such non-canonical 
works and their authors, as well as by giving a special emphasis to the 
1940s/1950s rather than the canonical 1930s.

*As we move into the new millennium, what lessons can we take from the 
various authors at the heart of your research?*

Well, it's possible that the new millennium will produce new efforts to 
rethink and synthesise past experiences of cultural production, which 
will be an excellent development if hitherto lost and neglected texts 
(and lives) are included in the mix of materials that are reassessed. If 
we are talking about specific 'lost' texts, those in the radical 
crime/pulp genre as well as others from the left, I have no doubt that 
there is much to be learned about the multifarious ways in which white 
supremacism distorts our lives, and about the 'nature of the system', 
the dilemmas and costs of 'commitment', historical experiences 
(reconstruction, the Haitian revolution, the Harlem rebellion), and so 
on. But what we 'get out' of a particular text is significantly 
dependent on what we bring to it. And here I can only redouble my 
emphasis on the importance of doing bottom-up research - letting the 
theorisations flow from what has actually been reproduced, rather than 
starting with an impressive theory and then selectively unearthing 
features from a wide terrain that seem to ratify the theory. This is by 
no means an anti-theory position; it is a development of the theoretical 
method of Marx, and, I think, useful for any responsible scholar wishing 
to appropriately adapt (so far as it is possible) scientific methods to 
the study of culture. Too often the discussion of Marxism and fiction 
begins by positing the political themes in the Marxist vision of 
revolution, and then looking at literature to see if those themes are 
dramatised. What we need, instead, is a view that starts with the 
understanding that writers are humans with a certain biography, and who 
are for various reasons driven to recreate and imagine experiences 
through literature. Then at some point he or she starts to relate to 
Marxist ideas and movements along a continuum of possibilities. What is 
produced in the end - that is, over a lifetime, which usually involves 
important changes in one's relation to Marxism - turns out to include an 
extraordinary range of texts. If I am correct - that socialist-type 
thinking is, in fact, quite central and not marginal to the actuality of 
US cultural history - then we have great reason to be optimistic about 
the political future, even in these times of crass materialism, greed 
and insensitivity to the structural inequalities of the world economy 
(so long as we do our utmost to preserve, extend and understand that 

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