Various types of interaction between spokesmen for the free world and communism have occurred since Marxism was incorporated in the USSR and the Western world was divided into spheres. The quasi-honeymoon period between Western liberals and the dynamics of Soviet Marxist society gradually came to a halt with the revelations of Stalin’s excesses. A period of anti-Marxism prevailed in much of the West until World War II, and then for two decades after 1945.
A mood developed, prompted by many elements, that encouraged dialogue between intellectuals on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Discussion of a wide spectrum of questions, many ethical in nature, came into play. This led toward intellectual accommodation—or at least toward a degree of mutual understanding.
In the fifties, men like John C. Bennett attempted a nonemotional understanding of Russian Marxism, while much Marxist thinking in Eastern European countries tended to harden into orthodoxy. Peace conferences and symposia were held in the sixties, usually under Eastern auspices, frequently in lands controlled by Russia. Occasionally they were held in neutral lands, and less frequently in the Western hemisphere.
Meanwhile, expatriates from Eastern Europe played a significant role in the movement for Christian-Marxist conversations. Before leaving his native Czechoslovakia following the “Prague spring” and the August 1968 Russian invasion, John Lochmann had sought to interpret Marxism to Western academic groups. Interchange between Christians and Marxists was limited by two elements in the sixties and seventies: (1) the need for Eastern European speakers to avoid difficulty at home by offering only the most restrained critiques of the thought of Marx ...1
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