In early December, I interviewed Bhaskar Sunkara, the founding editor of Jacobin magazine, about the Marxist magazine which he founded in 2010 at the age of 21. (I meant to post this last month, but what with [insert holiday excuses here] I’m only just getting around to it now.)
Jacobin has been praised by prominent commentators like Chris Hayes, Ross Douthat, and Matt Yglesias, who called it “America’s hot new radical journal.” There is great value in articles that look beyond tactics on Capitol Hill and compromised national policy. As Ned Resnikoff recently wrote, “Politics is the art of the possible, but possibility is a malleable thing.” And more than any other publication Jacobin has been responsible for pushing leftist visions of a future where the benefits of economic growth are equitably distributed and humanity can work less and live better.
I recall Matt Yglesias’s response to Peter Frase’s “Four Futures” essay, which tried to imagine this society beyond low wages and incredibly long hours. Reducing the length of the workweek has been a historical project of the left, but it hasn’t been in the American conversation much recently, to my knowledge. It seems valuable that someone like Yglesias is engaging with that idea.
BS: We’re at a moment where it seems as though there are no ideas. But society is always constantly in motion; there are always little imperceptible changes even if we don’t acknowledge them as they come about. Human society hasn’t reached its peak, but we aren’t living in the worst of all possible worlds either. We live in a world in which worker movements and other progressive movements have made life more livable, and capitalism itself has been an intensely dynamic force, in many ways, for human civilization and its future possibilities. That being said, there is so much unnecessary suffering in the world. So much exploitation and oppression that should have become absolutely obsolete thanks to the material abundance and technology we do have. The problems facing society are mostly political ones rather than actual material ones. That’s not to imply any undue optimism about the future, but to suggest that it’s important to keep the political imagination open enough to embrace visions of a better society.