I want to talk as a philosopher today—a practical and engaged philosopher. I won’t argue for particular policies, but I also won’t remain at the level of abstract principles. If philosophy is to engage with politics, it had better be political, not metapolitical, philosophy. What should practical political philosophers do? They have to analyze, criticize, refine, and revise the values and commitments of their fellows, and then they have to describe honestly the difficulties that these values and commitments encounter in the contemporary world: the nature of the opposition, the sites of political struggle, the institutional obstacles, and the general tendency of the necessary reforms.
The commitments of the left today are what they have been. We are not light-headed; seriousness has been one of our historical marks, often to a fault. So you will immediately recognize the following tripartite structure. The left is committed to the idea of (1) free men and women (2) breaking out of the age-old patterns of superiority and subordination, and (3) creating a cooperative commonwealth....
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