Thursday, October 13, 2022

#287 / Dear Reader


Joel Bleifuss, pictured above, was the Editor and Publisher of In These Times magazine from October 1986 to April 2022. In a letter addressed, "Dear Reader," published in the June 2022 edition of the magazine, Bleifuss announced that he was "moving on." 

I was sorry to learn that Bleifuss was leaving the magazine, since I have greatly valued In These Times, particularly as a source of uplifting news about what working men and women are doing around the country. Bleifuss assures his readers, however, that his departure isn't going to change what In These Times delivers. Here's how he put it, in his valedictory statement: 

In These Times won't compromise ... our faith in the democratic ideal. We will strive to be a catalyst for a democratic movement that will strike a balance between celebrating our differences and stressing our commonalities. It's not a question of one or the other.
I think that this is a comment worth repeating - hence this blog posting. In a democracy, we must constantly realize that the object of politics is not to overcome and eradicate those who are different, and who have different thoughts and priorities, but that our democratic project must always be to find ways to live together, "celebrating," in fact, both our differences and the "commonalities" that bind us together in a joint political enterprise.
Along those lines, the June 2022 edition of In These Times included an article entitled, "Before Wokeness, There Was 'Political Correctness.'" Cited in this article was Barbara Epstein, an emerita professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the History of Consciousness Department, and an editorial board member of the Socialist Revolution and the Socialist Review.
In 1992, In These Times tells us, Epstein warned against "PC," which does, indeed, have a lot of similarities to what is now called, "wokeness." Here is the final paragraph in the article, appearing on Page 40 of the June 2022 issue of In These Times

What's wrong with PC? ... One can object that we should watch what we say: this this is what is required to criticize and, ideally, transform a culture that is deeply imbued with racism, sexism and homophobia. Still, there is a difference between maintaining a critical awareness of the assumptions behind our language and creating a subculture in which everyone fears being charged with bias or is on the lookout for opportunities to accuse others of it.
Celebrating both our "differences," and our "commonalities" is what is required of us all. That is what Bleifuss was talking about. Whatever our differences may be (and there are definitely very real differences) we are, in fact, all "in this together!"
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