Dwight Macdonald

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Dwight Macdonald (March 24, 1906December 19, 1982) was a U.S. writer, editor, film critic, social critic, philosopher, and political radical.


  • Can one imagine that The Bomb could ever be used "in a good cause"? Do not such means instantly, of themselves, corrupt any cause? The bomb is the natural product of the kind of society we have created. It is as easy, normal, and unforced an expression of the American way of Life as electric ice-boxes,banana splits, and hydro-matic drive automobiles.
    • "Politics" magazine, (August, 1945).
  • Conversation means being able to disagree and still continue the discussion.
  • The Anarchists' uncompromising rejection of the State, the subject of Marxian sneers for its "absolutist" and "Utopian" character, makes much better sense in the present era than the Marxist relativist and historical approach. The pacifists also seem to be more realistic than the Marxist both in their understanding of modern war and also in their attempts to do something about it...
    • "The Root is Man" (1946).
  • By 'socialism' I mean a classless society in which the State has disappeared, production is cooperative, and no man has political or economic power over another. The touchstone would be the extent to which each individual could develop his own talents and personality.
    • "The Root is Man" (1946).
  • Pacifism, to me, is primarily a way of actively struggling against injustice and inhumanity... My kind of pacifism may be called "non-violent resistance."
    • Speech, 1947. Quoted in Scott H. Bennett, Radical Pacifism: The War Resisters League and Gandhian Nonviolence in America, 1915-1963, Syracuse University Press, 2003.
  • It was an earnest, extreme, and irreverent book, a book that, in its mockery of authority, its relentless logic, its relentless hewing to the line of Reason, letting the sacred cows fall where they might, followed the old familiar script: CAMPUS REBEL FLAYS FACULTY. But the script was all balled up, for the author was more reactionary than any of the dignitaries in their black robes, and his book damned Yale as a hotbed of atheism and collectivism.
    • Review of God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley, Jr., quoted in Grace Elizabeth Hale, A Nation of Outsiders:How the White Middle Class Fell in Love With Rebellion in Postwar America. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Quotes about Macdonald

  • ...MacDonald, in a veritable furor of intellectual integrity and moral honesty sets out to hunt down his "mistakes" without ever changing the record in the slightest, his technique being to annotate his earlier articles with refutations of himself.
    • Hannah Arendt, "He's All Dwight", The New York Review of Books, August 1, 1968.
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