By: Margins Staff, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)
This semester, Margins had two additional public events as part of our lecture series on the future of the American Left. On February 25, Margins co-sponsored a Pierson College Tea with Professor Christopher Phelps, an American studies professor at the University of Nottingham in England and co-author of a new history Radicals in America (2015). Around fifteen to twenty people were in attendance, and Pierson’s head of college Dr. Stephen Davis led a wide-ranging discussion on American history, social movements, radical politics, the 2016 presidential election, and the future of American politics. Afterwards, Margins staff members had dinner with Professor Phelps, and a good time was had by all.
Barbara Ehrenreich is an extraordinarily prolific author, investigative journalist, and political activist. She received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Reed College and her Ph.D. in cellular immunology from Rockefeller University. She is an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and has been involved with a wide range of activist groups, including the National Abortion Rights Action League, the Women’s Committee of 100, the National Writers Union, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), the Center for Popular Economics, and the Campaign for America’s Future. Her recent books include Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001), Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (2005), Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (2007), and Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (2009). Questions by Emaline Kelso, MC ’17, and Scott Remer, PC ’16; conducted by Scott Remer; transcribed by Jacob Waldruff, BK ’19, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version).
By: Philippos Naxas, SM ’19, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)
Altruism is an illusion. If I do have free will, then self-interest is the sole ruler of my decision-making. Moral obligations bear no more reality than God.
By: Jacob Waldruff, BK ’19, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)
When asked what group of people he was most proud to have as an enemy, block-of-granite Lincoln Chafee replied determinately: “I guess the coal lobby.” Just days later, we lost Lincoln “America’s Rock” Chafee to a lack of Chafe-mentum, and the somewhat indecisive climate change torch had to be passed to a new champion.
Professor Kapustin is a senior lecturer in Ethics, Politics, & Economics at Yale University. He’s also involved with the Jackson Institute. He got his Ph.D. from the Moscow State University in 1979 and has taught political philosophy at various universities, among them Sabanchi University in Istanbul, UCLA, and the Central European University in Budapest. He’s published works like Modernity as a Subject of Political Theory (1998), Ideology and Politics in Post-communist Russia (2000), Moral Choices in Politics (2004), Critique of Political Philosophy: Selected Essays (2010), and Citizenship and Civil Society (2011). Right now, he’s working on a book which explores the concept of revolution and its applicability to today’s world. Conducted by Joseph Haberman, MC ’17 and Scott Remer, PC ’16; transcribed by Matthew Sant-Miller, JE ’17, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version).
By: Scott Remer, PC ’16, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)
The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition
292 pp., $19.95
4.75 out of 5 stars
Imagine Living in a Socialist USA
Edited by Frances Goldin, Debby Smith, and Michael Steven Smith
Harper Perennial, 2014
304 pp., $15.99
4.5 out of 5 stars
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Simon & Schuster, 2014
466 pp., $30.00
5 out of 5 stars
Imagine an America where a president declares in an inaugural address, “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” Imagine an America where a radical philosopher is a correspondent for one of the most popular newspapers of the day and an idealistic young socialist’s book launches a series of programs intended to end poverty forever. Imagine a country where a presidential candidate pledges to “break the combined power of the private monopoly system over the political and economic life of the American people,” a president writes in an official letter that “The Government of the United States has a clear consciousness that its policy neither is nor could be reactionary,” and a major political figure proclaims that “there must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
By: Isaac Kirk-Davidoff, JE ’18, for the Spring 2016 Issue (PDF version)
What would the world look like without capitalism? This is a question plenty of people have tried to answer. However, instead of just thinking about how our economic and political systems will have changed, it is important to consider, literally, how the world will look. Capitalism itself has a far-reaching effect on our landscapes, after all. Mass deforestation in order to grow monocultures, clear-cut logging leading to tinderbox forests, giant skyscrapers of entirely luxury apartments being built in Manhattan, the list goes on. By landscapes, I do not just mean wilderness areas, of course. Landscapes here can be understood to be the surrounding structure and appearance of our world. Our daily encounters with these landscapes literally shape our lives, creating the space through which we interact with the world. To understand the effects of matrix of capitalism on our world it is therefore necessary to examine capitalism’s effects on our landscapes. This is a broad topic, considering the entire earth, in some sense, forms a landscape, and I don’t pretend that what follows is at all a definitive analysis of the topic. Instead, by examining several different landscapes, I hope to show a way to detect elements of a possible future non-capitalist landscape lurking beneath today’s landscape.