Today, January 5, 2014, Kurt Newman and I launch POLITICS/LETTERS, a new magazine that aims to shake up our ideas about capitalism, socialism, and democracy, among other things. With any luck, we’ll some fun.
Here’s the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/politicsslashletters. Go there and push that “Like” button, unless of course you don’t.
Here’s the elevator pitch:
“We have lived to see the end of capitalism.” That was W. E. B. Du Bois in 1940. We have, too. Or so we’ve been telling ourselves since 2008. By now it’s pretty clear that we don’t know what we’re talking about.
History doesn’t repeat itself. Historians do. We’ve reached the end of our understanding of capitalism, so we keep saying the same old things, mainly “it ‘s bad for us,” or “let’s break up the big banks,” as if Andrew Jackson and William Jennings Bryan still speak to our condition. Meanwhile, we keep saying the same old things about socialism, as in: “it’s the name of our desire.” Meaning that, like the “most luscious peach” Johnny Paycheck sings about, socialism is always just out of reach.
We want to stop repeating ourselves. So we’re starting a new magazine, POLITICS/LETTERS.
In this space, capitalism and socialism will appear as lived social relations in the here and now, not theoretical abstractions or utopian destinations. Capitalism and socialism will be treated as instances of modern market society. Each will be recognized as the necessary condition of the other’s development, rather than as terms of an either/or choice (which is really just another name for a “double bind”).
POLITICS/LETTERS will not promote revolution, at least not a vision of revolution that presumes some dramatic rupture will install a fully-fledged socialism by displacing capitalism.
We have an expansive, pluralist definition of the Left, and we’re here to offer heresies, in keeping with our pragmatist bent. Among them, for example, that the US is a much more liberal place than it was when Ronald Reagan took office; that the Left is alive and well even in the absence of anti-capitalist political formations; that the affirmation of consumer culture provides the best road to environmental reform; that the future is ours.
POLITICS/LETTERS will also promote art—-prose, poetry, music, and video. We think that art of every kind is, or makes sense as, a political act, simply because artists depict what is evident yet unknown, the “existing beyond” as William James called it. We think that the art of politics is a lot less interesting than the politics of art. We know that cultural politics are a lot more important–and fun–than most of the state-centered programmatic battles covered (or, increasingly, ignored) by the newspapers.
We welcome contributions from all artists, writers, intellectuals and others in agreement with these sentiments. We also welcome disagreements. We’re open to any perspective except the God’s-eye view of the world that tells us the Facts and the Truth exist apart from their embodiment in words, images, and sounds.
Next post is the Prospectus, later today!