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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: January 2010

7 - The View from the Far Left: Logical Empiricism and Communist Philosophers

Summary

The most radical camp of philosophers that observed and criticized logical empiricism and the Unity of Science movement upheld Marxism as both a true and comprehensive theory of the world and a foundation of Communist Party policy. The editors of The Communist acknowledged no legitimate division between intellectual theory and revolutionary practice. Its subtitle was “A Magazine of the Theory and Practice of Marxism-Leninism Published Monthly by the Communist Party of the U.S.A.” Symbolizing this identity of intellect and party, the journal's chief editor in the late 1930s and early '40s was party head Earl Browder.

Browder was assisted by V. J. Jerome, who operated within the party as a kind of cultural and intellectual commissar. Jerome and book reviewer Philip Carter together wrote about philosophy and science for The Communist and they did so in a way that set them apart from the other camps on the philosophical left of the 1930s and '40s. For them, the relationship and priority between philosophy and politics understood by the others was inverted. Recall that even for emphatic leftists such as John Somerville, Margaret Schlauch, the young Lewis Feuer, Maurice Cornforth, and arguably Lenin himself – who surely considered, at least, that their own philosophical pronouncements were as much propped up by economic determinants as those of their philosophical targets – philosophical criticism was an independent tool that one could use freely and reliably to navigate the world of theory and practice.