In September 30, 2012 NY Times obituary section, they had an article about Eugene Genovese who had recently passed away. He was a member of the Communist Party from age 15 to 20, and then he was kicked out of the party because he was an independent thinker.
He went on, after serving in the Army during World War II, to get his doctorate in history and become a world-renowned historian and university professor. He was also a committed Marxist until around age 50. His most notorious act was when he declared, during an anti-Vietnam demonstration in the 1960’s, that he hoped the Viet Cong would win the war.
Throughout his whole life he was and independent thinker and didn’t care what anyone thought about him. Then around age 50 he did a truly revolutionary and counter cultural act: he became an authentic Catholic. As his thought progressed with his new philosophical base, he became a social conservative. He ended up being against abortion on demand and special laws protecting homosexuals.
Regardless if we disagree with his communism, his Marxism, his non-patriotism, his Catholicism, or his political conservatism, we have to admire his scientific attitude towards philosophy and politics. He went where the evidence (as he interpreted the evidence), his personal experiences, and his rational thought led him. He was willing to change a hypothesis that he believed in when the evidence, experience and reason disproved the hypothesis. This process can lead a person not only to higher levels of truth, but higher levels of mental health, success, and happiness as well, as it may have led Genovese.
One of the criticisms of his communism and his Marxism was that he ignored the fact that Stalin and Mao killed over 30 million of their own people. The leftists in those years simply said, “Oh, you need to break an egg to make an omelet.”
Many leftists of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, including Paul Robeson, WEB Dubois, and Genovese, also said (just as the German people said after World War II): “Oh, we didn’t know about this genocide.”
Being professional scholars and highly intelligent people, they certainly knew. And if they didn’t know, they should have known. Either way they were responsible for supporting the genocide. However, they preferred to rail against the toothpick in the eyes of the free-enterprise democrats while ignoring the log in the eyes of the communists.