This documentary tells the story of a hotbed of Jewish intellectualism, New York's City College c. 1930, and in particular follows the careers of four of the greatest minds to emerge from that environment. In following the divergent paths of Bell, Glazer, Howe, and Kristol, the film serves as a powerful record both of American intellectual history and of the peculiar role of a generation of Jewish thinkers in riding and shaping that history.Written by
A good primer for understanding the changes of the American Left.
This documentary is especially useful and interesting for students and for progressive intellectuals coming into our "age of reason" perplexed by the ineffectual left. If you have read Hanna Arendt's *On Violence* and you wondered why she so pointedly critiqued the methods of the young student protesters (who were as appalled by totalitarianism as she was) this simple, if sentimental documentary goes a long way towards settling the score between 30s and 60s radicals. The once-members of the anti-stalinist communists who argued in the halls of City College talk about what it was like to be a young students who cared about learning and politics and their subsequent methods of coming to terms with the tragic ramifications of Stalinism. This documentary shows us how indelibly this disappointment marked the political minds of a radical generation, and how it essentially de-radicalized that generation. In the end it offers hope that there is the possibility of critiquing the failures of the left while at the same time respecting the real intellectual vigilance of those whose humility allowed that fascism could have many possible origins, and that we should never be so smug as to think our own actions could not give rise to it.
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