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BREAD AND WONDER

I GUESS I WAS A COMMIE in high school, not because I knew much about the Soviet Union, but because I knew a lot about America in the ’50s, where wonder was confined to the material and politics was an arena of fear and loathing guarding the status quo. Some of my best friends were children of commies operating under pseudonyms so they could find work. We didn’t do much to manifest our politics, except for refusing to participate in air-raid drills and sitting around each other’s basements singing anthems of the Spanish Civil War. We were quite a puzzlement to our teachers: bright, convivial kids with no discernible program or ambition, who simply didn’t want in.

Then, in 1960, came JFK. This time it was my friends’ radical parents who were appalled as their children fell under the spell of a politician who looked, to seasoned eyes, like the incarnation of cold war liberalism. But we were

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