About This Journal
The contributors to this journal seek to bridge a gap between academics and activists on issues central to social justice movements in the US and around the world. As part of this mission, we will advance an eclectic brand of “leftist” politics that advocates the necessity of combining greater socioeconomic equality with personal liberty. We see progress toward socioeconomic equality as essential for the long-term establishment and consolidation of democracy. We also insist on the importance of protecting minority rights and individual initiative against the concentration of power within political and economic systems. This means critically examining the most significant obstacles to human emancipation that exist within the structures of global capitalism. Human emancipation is possible only by striking the balance between state-society relations that uses public resources to protect, nourish and advance the health and welfare of citizens so that they are able to participate in political and economic decision-making and so that they are able to earn a living within a marketplace that is truly competitive and fair.
Given this focus, the journal will include both peer-reviewed articles and non-peer-reviewed essays that speak thematically to the most important power relationships that stand in the way of human emancipation. The first of these is the increasing concentration of corporate power in the US and throughout the world capitalist system. The rise in corporate power poses a systematic threat to both political democracy and to a more competitive capitalism capable of promoting innovation through entrepreneurship. By any measure, capitalism has concentrated privilege in the upper tier of a production system increasingly dominated by just a few firms in each sector of global industry. This has been enabled in its most extreme form by a symbiotic relationship between capitalist states and capitalist firms. Unbridled plutocracy is not only a threat to any semblance of democracy, but also a threat to any semblance of a free market. With this in mind, our journal will analyze and dissect the contours of this relationship. We will advance a range of policy proposals that we hope can be considered for adoption in the future by new “Occupy Wall Street” movements wherever they emerge.
The second obstacle to human emancipation is the growing gap between rich and poor, which is very extreme in the United States but also is spreading throughout the world due to a thirty-year promotion of neoliberalism here and abroad. We will critically dissect state policies which have contributed to growing inequality. The reversal of these trends is central to human emancipation due to a well-recognized relationship between efforts to promote greater socioeconomic equality and democratic participation in the political system. We also posit a relationship between greater socioeconomic equality and liberty that is missed by conservative proponents of unbridled markets. This reflects an understanding that policies used by states to ensure greater socioeconomic equality are of central importance to human liberty. People without jobs, without health insurance, and without any political influence, are not in our opinion free. States that rank better in measures of equality also rank better in job opportunities for all levels of the workforce, ensuring a more dynamic and competitive capitalism that exists side-by-side with public funding of social and economic infrastructure and research and development. The increasing commodification of all things by the market will be the subject of a sustained critique in the pages of this journal. Alternatives will be suggested from varying perspectives to reverse this marketization of everything from health and welfare to education to the military.
The third obstacle to human emancipation is the subjugation of racial and ethnic minorities who toil under degrading conditions of work and illegality within modern capitalist states. Contemporary capitalist industries in the US and elsewhere have seen an expansion of sweatshop conditions in factories populated by immigrants who have no recourse to work with other oppressed groups to change the system. Perpetual fear of deportation in the US and elsewhere closes off opportunities for the most oppressed groups and divides working class organizations in ways that perpetuate the power of the dominant corporate elite. Those that purport to believe in global capitalism are most supportive of removing the barriers to goods, services and capital as they cross the borders of capitalist states, but do not want to afford the same advantage to human beings who are caught in a netherworld of illegality and subservience as part of an exploited underclass. By integrating class, race and ethnicity in the context of immigration rights, we hope to advance constructive policy proposals that activists within movements can use to better the condition of the most oppressed members of society.
The fourth obstacle to emancipation is the destruction of the environment by a capitalist global system whose pollutants are overwhelmingly produced by the dominant capitalist enterprises and large-scale state-owned firms that occupy a privileged position both economically and politically within the world economy. As such, we must include a space in our forum for environmental activists working to change the system. This means a recognition that the marketplace is not in a position to address the solutions to climate change or other major environmental challenges. Only political activism centered around a conception of the long-term global public interest can change policies and ultimately behavior by making people more aware of the consequences of a system that systematically enriches a few while destroying the environment.
The fifth obstacle to emancipation is the militarization of the planet, especially the dramatic and unprecedented expansion of US military spending and commitments around the world, endorsed by both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US. This militarism threatens the social safety net in the US and elsewhere in the world by concentrating scarce resources in the profit margins of firms that produce massive, subsidized weaponry that invites global interventionism of the worst kind, often in the name of humanitarianism and “human rights.” This journal will critique liberal and conservative agendas that promote military intervention. We will argue for a social justice budget in the US and elsewhere that gives priority to human needs, including health care, education, social infrastructure and job training and promotion, over the most wasteful and counterproductive approaches defined by the “war on terror” and the interests of the military-industrial complex.
In short, this journal seeks to provide a forum for activists and scholars to speak to each other, and to express their different approaches to the above issues within a framework of respect and common cause. We hope to provide small-scale assistance to social justice movements that exist both inside and outside the system by acknowledging that we can no longer afford to be just “outsiders” or “insiders” but instead must work to build a policy-making agenda capable of effecting real, lasting and meaningful change. In working to change the corrosive dynamics of the system as we identify here, we also are aware that the very definition of emancipation must include not only the working class but groups that have historically suffered the most simply by virtue of being excluded or marginalized by their racial, gender, ethnic and/or sexual orientation. We pledge to use the widest range of tools, including a commitment to an open access internet, to help achieve a more inclusive politics, one that supports the expansion of the “public sphere” against corporate and elite efforts to marketize and commodify society.