By Robert R. Tomes
Prior to the Vietnam conflict, American highbrow existence rested very easily on shared assumptions and infrequently universal beliefs. Intellectuals mostly supported the social and fiscal reforms of the Thirties, the struggle opposed to Hitler's Germany, and U.S. behavior in the course of the chilly struggle. via the early Sixties, a liberal highbrow consensus existed.
The warfare in Southeast Asia shattered this fragile coalition, which swiftly dissolved into quite a few camps, each one of which wondered American associations, values, and beliefs. Robert R. Tomes sheds new mild at the dying of chilly warfare liberalism and the advance of the hot Left, and the regular development of a conservatism that used Vietnam, and anti-war sentiment, as a rallying element. Importantly, Tomes offers new facts that neoconservatism retreated from internationalism due mostly to Vietnam, in simple terms to regroup later with considerably decreased objectives and expectations.
Covering mammoth archival terrain, Apocalypse Then stands because the definitive account of the effect of the Vietnam battle on American highbrow existence.
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Extra resources for Apocalypse Then: American Intellectuals and the Vietnam War, 1954-1975
Though charges by virulent anticommunists in the 1940s and 1950s may have led to exaggerated notions of the dominance of communism among American intellectuals of the 1930s, communism was indeed a potent force among intellectuals of the day. The belief that the Great Depression was a permanent phenomenon created a powerful intellectual common ground for these fellow-travelers. Many intellectuals felt that although the New Deal had done all it could to rescue the capitalist system, it had simply broken down beyond repair.
Prior to the Southeast Asian crisis, Studies on the Left called on prospective radical intellectuals to “consciously develop an ideology with man and his social needs at the center . . ”52 The Vietnam War later provided the left with an inexhaustible whipping post, and a tangible symbol of liberal ideas gone haywire. Prior to 1963, the radicals of Stud- A Long Time in the Comin’ | 31 ies on the Left strove to develop a radical agenda and political platform. This search attempted to fuse the intellectual and the political, but such fusion seemed easier to achieve by focusing on common dislikes than on mutual aspirations.
51 The system required fundamental change, these intellectuals were saying, and the liberal agenda granted token reformist concessions to the needy in order to successfully stave off revolution, which is what the New Left really wanted. Liberalism rationalized and perpetuated the standing economic and political order, while the radical right, with its often irrational and paranoiac tendencies, could achieve only limited popular support. Prior to the Southeast Asian crisis, Studies on the Left called on prospective radical intellectuals to “consciously develop an ideology with man and his social needs at the center .