Features December 1986
The fall of the idols
On the cultural life of postwar France.
The liberation of France from German occupation in 1944 marked not only the restoration of democratic political life but also the beginning of a new dominance of the Left in French cultural life. This dominance did not decline until the late Seventies. With the exception of the political philosopher Raymond Aron, who died three years ago at the age of seventy-eight, virtually every prominent French writer, thinker, film director, or journalist of the period 1944-75 was either a member of the Communist Party or Socialist Party, or a close sympathizer with one or both. The greatest intellectual battles of the period were fought over how, not whether, to justify Stalin’s genocides; over how, not whether, to destroy the United States and capitalism; over how, not whether, to subvert what was seen as the pernicious notion of individual freedom. Since this period was also the period of French culture’s greatest...
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