This is a big Dissent, partly because we are planning a special issue for Winter and could not hold articles over, partly because of an embarrassment of riches. Editors dream about this; I can’t explain it, nor can I do justice to our authors on this short page. We feature Marshall Berman’s essay on Times Square, a brilliant account of how urban space can, even if it mostly doesn’t, foster human freedom and social equality. Nelson Lichtenstein reconsiders C. Wright Mills’s first book, on the labor movement and its leaders. New Men of Power was mostly forgotten after the success of The Power Elite, which focused on a more likely group. But it is worth remembering now, as unions struggle for survival. Ulrich Beck continues our discussion of a topic sometimes neglected in the endless talk about economic globalization: what political regime, what distribution of power looms on the global horizon?
Among our many new writers, Amy D. Burke looks beyond the glowing reports of declining welfare rolls to the real meaning of “welfare reform.” Manuel DeLanda provides our first account of the debate over property rights on the Internet (we will return to this issue). Kanti Bajpai reiterates for an American audience the arguments he has been making in India against the deployment of nuclear weapons. n But our chief focus this fall is on schools and students. Over many years, the left has written about and worked on education because the schools were taken to be one possible instrument of an egalitarian politics. Today they are pretty much the only instrument that is still in discussion. The idea of equality hardly arises anywhere except in arguments about educational policy. We shouldn’t accept that restriction, but we should join the argument wherever it is going on. The pieces by Jennifer Hochschild, Norm Fruchter, Adolph Reed, Jr., Katie Terezakis, Monty Neill, Leo Casey, and Andrew Felton all address the question, What are the best ways of providing a decent start to children from different racial groups and social classes?
Schools are also important because they provide a relatively secure base for ideological debate and political action. The last years have brought a revival of student politics, and Rachel Neumann, Gordon Lafer, and Jeffrey C. Isaac (to whom Liza Featherstone responds) provide accounts and critiques of what is going on. What’s going on isn’t what went on in the sixties, though there are always people pretending to reenact the heady days of yesteryear. Mostly the activity is more practical, more local—organizing graduate students, defending campus wage workers, campaigning against university dealings with third world sweatshops. There are ideological justifications for all of this, as is only right, but most of these activities stop short of world-historical pretension. Which is also, right now, only right.
Subscribe now to read the full article
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.