Letter from the Staff

Margins Staff, Spring 2016

By: Margins Staff, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)

It’s been a busy semester on the Left at Yale. In the wake of last fall and the administration’s persistent insensitivity to the pain of students of color, Next Yale and other campus groups have continued to advocate for a Yale that is truly inclusive for people of color. Despite the university’s disheartening decisions to retain the name of Calhoun College and name a new college after a white male and former slaveholder, they have been resolute in pushing the administration to earnestly cultivate diversity instead of using it as a mere buzzword. Students Unite Now has raised the stakes in its campaign to end the student income contribution—a classist and implicitly racist policy that serves no real financial purpose for the university but imposes heavy burdens on already overworked students. Meanwhile, Fossil Free Yale continues to pressure the Yale Corporation to divest from fossil fuel corporations. And the Graduate Employees & Students Organization (GESO) unionized as Local 33 alongside UNITE HERE!, an American and Canadian labor union representing 270,000 workers. The common thread that link these struggles is a violent system of interlocking power dynamics—at once personal, local, and global—that empower a handful of people while pushing the rest to the edges of society.

Writ large, this inequality of power has wreaked havoc on nature, resulting in the existential threat of global warming, which Jacob Waldruff explores. In the same vein, Isaac Kirk-Davidoff considers the implications of a post-capitalist society on how we relate to our natural surroundings. The current crises of capitalism and climate change lend Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign—and the prospect of a renewed democratic socialism—greater significance, and Scott Remer reviews several books discussing the hidden history of democratic socialism in the U.S. Accordingly, Filippos Nakas examines democratic socialism and defends it against the critique that people are fundamentally self-interested.

The interviews in this issue take up similar themes. Boris Kapustin, professor in the Ethics, Politics, and Economics department and teacher of such popular Yale classes as “Moral Choices in Politics,” “Critique of Political Violence,” and “Classics of Ethics, Politics, and Economics,” discusses contemporary questions ranging from the status of the American Left to the current Russian political situation and offers advice for students seeking to further their political education. Barbara Ehrenreich, famed author, investigative journalist, activist, and socialist feminist, discusses her own political coming-of-age, feminism, her books and writing process, and the future of labor in America.

You may notice the relatively small number of authors and articles in this issue. We are looking for a diversity of voices and perspectives, and we would love to have people who have never written for us before join on. No need to be a member of the Margins editorial staff to write for us; moreover, we are flexible in terms of article format, length, and subject matter. We hope to center voices of people of color, people who identify as female or non-binary, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people from low-income backgrounds, but submissions from all are welcome. As the 2016-2017 school year approaches, please consider joining our community.

[Editor-in-chief: Speaking personally, it has been a great pleasure to establish Margins and watch it come to fruition over the past few years. I wish future Margins members every success and hope that Margins will become an institution that infuses Yale’s campus with radical thought for many years to come.]