By George Novack
Are humanism and socialism antithetical? Is Marxism equipped to deal with questions such as the meaning of life? Or is Marxist theory valid only in the arenas of social and economic analysis? These are some of the questions that have been debated by such prominent figures as Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Garaudy, and Leszek Kolakowski.
Humanism and Socialism is a major contribution by an American Marxist to this international discussion. George Novack outlines the challenge directed at Marxist theory by existentialists like Sartre, positivists like Karl Popper, and reformist humanists like Erich Fromm.
He takes up such basic questions as: How did our species originate? What is the essence of being human? What lies ahead in social progress? Is freedom a delusion? In the course of this com prehensive study, he shows that Marxism is indispensable to the individual search for meaning. Novack also outlines the historical relationship between Greek, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and socialist humanism, and surveys the contributions of Soviet bloc dissidents in their struggle for what the Czechoslovaks termed "socilism with a human face."