The past year has seen world-historical events around the globe, as well as within the United States. The Arab Spring –which thus far has culminated in regime change in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, and ongoing resistance movements in Bahrain and Syria– has reinvigorated the spirit of participatory democracy. Protest movements in Russia, China and India now promise to leave their mark on the political arrangements of those societies. In the United States, thirty years of rising income inequality and the unabated suffering induced by the Great Recession have manifested in Occupy Wall Street. The movement, which comes on the heels of labor activism that swept the Midwest in March, represents the first sign of real left populism since the mass strikes of 1934 that helped birth the New Deal.
Many Swarthmore students are engaged, and often participate, in the events of these exciting times. Yet the campus lacks a coherent forum for robust debate on pressing issues. Campus politics seems to break down into two groups: a large chunk of apathetic liberals, and a small strand of radical left politics unrepresentative of the broader community. In its unyielding idealism, epitomized by an indelible insistence on “revolution or nothing,” the latter contributes as little to nuanced debate as those merely interested in toeing the stale liberal line.
We believe there is much to be discussed and debated among Swarthmore’s liberal-left factions, and that the College’s impressive activist tradition is best served by the type of substantive dialogue we wish to start on these pages.
In this context, Left of Liberal seeks to offer a forum for lively debate on issues ranging from campus international politics. Crucially, we seek to offer a sorely missed left-liberal perspective. In this regard, we identify with the reformist wing of the Occupy movement, with its focus on revitalization of the egalitarian, socially mobile democracy of the prosperous early post-war period (this time without the segregation). We differ from radical critics insofar as we appreciate the long-term success of the capitalist project, and see reform in the social democratic spirit, not revolution, as the enterprise of our time. Similarly, we are less than satisfied with the parochial centrism of today’s Democratic Party, with its tepid and insufficient embrace of the post-war egalitarian order.
While our publication undoubtedly brings its own political orientation to the table, our ultimate purpose is to advance campus dialogue on pressing local, national and international questions. In this spirit, we welcome well-crafted criticisms of our views and will enthusiastically print critiques from other campus voices.
With this said, we welcome you to what we hope is the first of many issues. Please take off your boxing gloves and step into the debate parlor.
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