Curricula of Malice and MistakenDavid E. Shi: Matthew Josephson,nBourgeois Bohemian; Yale UniversitynPress; New Haven, Connecticut.nBertram D. Wolfe: A Life in TwonCenturies; Stein & Day Publishers;nNevif York.nby Paul GottfriednOf these two biographies one shows,nalthough unwittingly, the cruelty ofnbeing afflicted by the divine curse ofnmadness, while the other demonstratesnthe possibility of redemption for atnleast the fortunate few. The eulogisticnstudy of the career of Matthew Josephsonngives evidence of a deluded life untouchednby lucid moments, except forna short time spent on Wall Street.nThroughout most of his eighty yearsnJosephson combined a sybaritic, wildlynadulterous existence (made possible bynshrewd investments on the stock market)nwith literary and financial supportnfor the Communist Party and its numerousnsatellite organizations. An undauntednfellow traveller, he would certainlynqualify even in death for a LilliannHellman Award for American Citizenship.nOne of Shi’s final tributes to Josephsonnis that this old-fashioned radicalneasily found his way into the New Left.nAlways contemptuous of “anti-Communistsnon the Left,” he considerednGeorge McGovern a fitting embodimentnof his own political ideals. One gets thenimpression that the Nixon victory inn1972 helped edge Josephson over thenbrink. If so, he left many others, possessednof less elegance but more stridency,nto fill his shoes.nA major problem with Shi’s biography,nother than its cloying praise ofnthe subject, is its neglect of seriousnquestions concerning Josephson’s development.nWhy would a man of afflu-nDr. Gottfried is senior editor 0/ModernnAge.nence turn with loathing against that societynwhich allowed him both to prospernand to criticize it? To cite McCarthyism,nas Shi does, as the reason for Josephson’snpolitical stance is to place thencart before the horse. Like Lillian Hellman,nJosephson had been apologizingnfor the Soviet Union, while denouncingnits American critics, long before thenjunior Senator from Wisconsin hadnachieved political notoriety. More tonthe point, why did Josephson differnfrom other former communists who,ngenerally appalled by Soviet butchery,nrecognized that their god had failed.”nWhy did he spend his later life, afternhaving formally abjured the Party,nblasting leftist intellectuals who criticizednSoviet Russia or who praised thenUnited States.-*nThe autobiography of Bertram Wolfenis both more informative and less sentimental.nWolfe devotes most of his voluminousnmemoirs to discussing his activitiesnas a communist: his attraction tonthe Party in the aftermath of the FirstnWorld War (after having opposednAmerica’s entry into it), his journalisticnactivities as a Party member in the 20’snand his gradual defection, starting inn1929, as the result of Stalin’s attemptednsuppression of his own subgroup withinnthe American Communist Party. Wolfenand his friends followed a mavericknradical, Jay Lovestone, who advocatednmore American control over their Partynorganization. The story of the Lovestoneites,nsome of whom, like Wolfe,nhad to flee for their lives from Russia,nis probably the most interestingnsection of the autobiography. Not onlyndoes it show the crisis of faith throughnwhich genuinely decent, if deluded, mennhad to pass before recognizing the evilnof Soviet communism; it also depictsnthe peculiarly American character ofnthe young communists, mostly of Germannand Russian Jewish extraction, whontook their case for a more decentralizednParty organization to Moscow. Wolfennnrecords their profound shock as they encounterednthe Soviet system at work, asnthey heard the peremptory judgmentnmade by the leader of world communismnamidst his cheering underlingsnand as they experienced the use of intimidationnafterwards to enforce Stalin’sndecisions. That some Lovestoneitesnyielded to these pressures is entirelynunderstandable. That others chose tonresist indicated their courage, althoughneven the anti-Stalinist Lovestoneites, itnshould be noted, did not grasp at oncenthe full evil of the Soviet system.nIn my opinion, Wolfe remains farneasier to respect as a communist thannJosephson as a bourgeois bohemian.nOne may, of course, object that I amnmaking this judgment while being awarenof the ultimate positions toward whichnboth figures moved. While I am liablento this charge, I would, nonetheless,nassert that there are significant personalndifferences among various radicals.nSome may indeed appeal more than othersneven to those who reject their ideologicalnpremises. Wolfe gives me thenimpression of being someone who entered,nactually co-founded, the AmericannCommunist Party in 1919 out ofngenuine, though misguided, moral concern.nLike some others growing to manhoodnduring the First World War, henopposed that bloody struggle, which hencorrectly considered an act of civilizationalnsuicide. He joined the Party because,nunlike Wilson and his government,nLenin did oppose the War, althoughnWolfe failed to understand thatnthe communists did not take their antiwarnstand out of pacifist sentiment ornreverence for the “Old Europe.” Thencommunists in fact set out to overthrownWestern societies by turning workersnagainst their governments and theirncountrymen. Despite his naivete, Wolfenjoined the communists as a man withnhonorable goals, and he showed his allegiancenthrough years of arduous serv-nMH^^^^ISnMarch/^prlll98Sn