Forty years ago in Dissent, Irving Howe and Lewis Coser wrote: “To will the image of socialism is a constant struggle for definition.”
Ever since then one of the distinguishing characteristics of Dissent has been that “struggle for definition.” The legacy of Stalinism led the first generation of Dissent editors to wage a bitter fight to reclaim the values of socialism. This was a moral and political necessity. Having to fight this battle meant that little attention was given to the institutional arrangements and social structures that would make up a socialist society. But ultimately the case for socialism will rise or fall on such specific details.
In the last decade, no one did more to further this discussion than Alec Nove, who passed away in May....
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