Symposium

Symposium

I must admit that I felt ambivalent about responding to these questions. My ambivalence derives not from my attitude toward the history of Dissent, but from a certain discomfort with the way the questions have been formulated.

It would be easy to answer the first question with a strong affirmative statement—very much of what Dissent argued against and also a great deal of what it argued for stands up rather well today. Certainly the relentless criticism of both Stalinism and McCarthyism in the first decade or so of the journal, along with the enduring critique of the forms of domination, exclusion, and injustice typical of capitalist systems, and of oligarchic “liberal democratic” polities retain their cogency. So do many of the concrete suggestions for change that have appeared in Dissent’s pages. However, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must admit that the theoretical paradigm within which much of this critique was embedded, namely, Marxian socialism, however redefined or revised, has lost its credibility. And this, I insist, occurred well before Soviet-style communism finally (and deservedly) collapsed in 1989.

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Lima