Friday, August 19, 2005

Bad Subjects

I’m adding Bad Subjects to my list of links to the right - an on-line magazine I’ve been reading for a while, and probably the oldest continuous leftist resource on the net, predating the invention of the World Wide Web.

I bought their paper-and-ink anthology, Collective Action, today. I’m just reading the introduction now and a lot of what they say there serves well as a manifesto for this site too.
“There aren’t many rules at Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. Nobody gets paid to work on the magazine. Footnotes are a no-no. And showing knowledge of multisyllabic words like ‘polysemy’ or ‘envagination’ is strongly discouraged. But we never draw party lines in the sand…

The purpose of a Bad Subjects article is to take a stand, preferably one which is defiant of conventional leftist wisdom in the service of leftist politics…

While we welcome the decline of both Marxist and multicultural orthodoxy around the world, leftist intellectuals continue to display a distressing herd instinct…. We remain convinced that leftists need more spaces where they are comfortable at taking intellectual and political risks. They need to express themselves without the protective coating of specialized terminology. And they have to want a larger, more diverse audience instead of retreating into the comfort of familiar professional and political circles…

As the American writer Thomas Pynchon makes painfully clear in Vineland, his underrated novel about the backlash against the legacy of the 1960s, desire for purity is the bane of the left. We envision Bad Subjects as a counterweight against the tug of that desire…

Our hope then, as you read [our essays], is not that you will agree with them, but that you will be provoked to the sort of respectful disagreement that keeps both politics and hope alive.”


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