I have always believed that the magazine is the crucial artifact of civilized life. Not the book—though good books are lovely things— for it is too solid an object, neither (as we say these days) reflexive nor interactive enough. Magazines are the place where books are tried out, reviewed, criticized, and, years later perhaps, reconsidered. They are home to an ongoing conversation, in our case, a political argument, in which many people participate, in different voices, in different genres. Essays, reports, comments, sketches, memoirs, symposia, reviews, polemics, letters (and an occasional poem): we publish all these, planning each issue to emphasize our “magazineness.” “Dissent is not a journal,” Irving Howe used to say—for journals are only half magazines, half serial anthologies, specialized, monotone.
A democratic socialist magazine should exemplify the values it claims to defend. Its pages should be open, its range wide, its style accessible, respectful of the average reader, its tone undogmatic and self-critical; its authors should always give reasons for their positions; its debates should be comradely but sharp; its coverage should include the issues most important for people in trouble; a rough mix of hope and irony should drive the editors....
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