A beautifully written, trenchant, and moving memoir, When Marx Mattered follows Harold J. Bershady's odyssey from childhood through his coming of intellectual age. The wounds and pleasures of his childhood include fear of Nazis, poverty, the joys and constraints of Jewishness, his caring family and love of music, and the confusion surrounding World War II. In this book, Bershady describes his teenage encounter with Marxism and how it provided some understanding of the world and hope for peace.
Bershady gives us a serious portrayal of the evolution of scholarly judgment, but also a social history of the second half of the twentieth century, refracted through the author's own experiences in which Jewish Americans played an important but under-appreciated part. Along the way, the author corrects the misapprehension that Jewish or non-Jewish American political radicals only evolve into conservatives. Through his own mistakes and hard-won lessons, Bershady shows the power, importance, and morality that intellectual standards play in enabling an intellectual to achieve sound and fair judgments.
Bershady firmly believes that his achievements in the social sciences are grounded in the fact that he also studied philosophy, literature, and history all of which immeasurably deepened his understanding of social life. The generational portrait in this book is both an homage to those who preceded him and a hope for educational broadening of social science in the generation to come.
1 Personal Background and Setting
2 Theory and Hope
3 Theory and Practice
4 Illusion and Reality
5 McCarthy, Philosophy, and the Jewish Question
6 Other Discoveries
7 Mannheim, Morality, and Neo-Marxism
8 The New Left
9 Penn Sociology in the Age of Aquarius: 1960 1965
10 Pot and Protest
11 Negation of the Negation
13 Der Alter Goy
14 The More Things Change . . .
15 We Happy Few