EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Thoughts on the Hungarian and Polish New Right in Power

Eviscerating the Constitutional Court and purging the judiciary, complete politicization of the civil service, turning public media into a government mouthpiece, restricting opposition prerogatives in parliament, unilateral wholesale change of the Constitution or plain violation of it, official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts, surveillance without check — with such policies and more, right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

The Illiberal International

Stalin, in the first decade of Soviet power, backed the idea of “socialism in one country,” meaning that, until conditions ripened, socialism was for the USSR alone. When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared, in July 2014, his intention to build an “illiberal democracy,” it was widely assumed that he was creating “illiberalism in one country.” Now, Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and puppet-master of the country’s government (though he holds no office) have proclaimed a counter-revolution aimed at turning the European Union into an illiberal project. …

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EssaysFeatureSex & GenderThe Left

FEMINISMS OF THE LEFT: Politics and Strategy

There is a long and confusing collection of names for those who are both leftists and feminists: Marxist feminist, socialist feminist, materialist feminist, black feminist, feminist socialist, anarcho-feminist… and so on. And straddling the line between socialist and liberal feminists, would be social welfare feminists. In the 1960s and 1970s in the heyday of the women’s liberation movement, when “feminism” was too tame a word, the mainstream feminists were social welfare feminists. They supported abortion rights of course, and equal pay for equal work, as do all feminists, but they also supported public childcare and welfare. Gloria Steinem and Ms. magazine are examples. But the movement declined, and at the same time that so many activists were moving into careers and families, American politics was moving right, into neo-liberalism — and it took mainstream feminism with it. …

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EssaysThe Left

What’s Left?

A response to Jeremy Varon

Jeremy Varon’s interesting and important response raises three questions: 1) What do we mean by a “Left”? 2) How are we to understand the New Left’s break-up and, specifically the relation of the women’s movement to that break-up and 3) How are we to evaluate the Left today? Let me start with the third and work backwards.

I do not believe we can properly speak of a Left today. Jeremy’s view of a plurality of different movement working independently but parallel to one another avoids all the important questions. A Left needs coherence and direction. It needs leaders, organizations, its own counter public-spheres, some sense of the values that distinguish it from the mainstream. It needs a coherent analysis of such basic ruling class institutions as the Democratic Party, the universities and the so-called public sphere. Obviously I am not advocating a vanguard party, or a mass party of the Debsian sort. But to speak of the huge diversity of present protest movements that might be termed progressive as a Left stretches the term beyond reason. …

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