Toward a Politics of Democratic Ambivalence

Toward a Politics of Democratic Ambivalence

Mitchell Cohen’s essay “Why I’m Still ‘Left’ ” (Dissent, Spring 1997) presents a strong argument for the continuing relevance of a “left” political identity. Cohen addresses the widespread sense that “left” politics has become outmoded, a sense given powerful expression by Francis Fukuyama’s essay on “the end of history,” which declared that with the downfall of communism, liberal democracy had proven to be the most progressive form of politics, the final stage in the political evolution of humankind. Cohen rejects such a complacent reading of history. As he points out, what is at stake is more than terms like “liberal,” “socialist,” or “left.” What is at stake are important values that have been associated with “the left,” especially the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity.

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