Editorís Notes



The first issue of a new journal requires some justification. Why Imprints? Why Ďa journal of analytical socialismí? The past twenty years have seen the flowering of new styles of egalitarian and democratic thought within the academy. Partly that has taken the form of Ďanalytical Marxismí, but in truth both its content and appeal have been broader than that, including many to whom one cannot easily attribute the Marxist label. And the concerns of these currents of thought have also been broader than the traditional Marxist concerns with class and state power including both gender and other forms of social division and a concern with wider structures of power and authority. These movements in thought have been interdisciplinary: uniting political scientists, sociologists, philosophers and economists in common endeavour. But they have also been overwhelmingly academic, thriving in a manner dissociated from the wider political culture.

It is our objective with Imprints both to provide a forum for these currents of thought and to begin to make connections between them and a wider audience comprising not just academics but also those active on the political Left, trade unionists, feminists, administrators, opinion formers and policy makers. We do not aim to promote any particular line or angle but simply to promote debate amongst those who share both a commitment to an egalitarian and democratic politics and a rejection of the nihilism, relativism and obscurantism of postmodernism. The defence of egalitarian values may sometimes require difficult arguments, but we are convinced that those arguments can be stated clearly and in a rigorous and logical manner.

It is therefore fitting that our first choice, in what is to be a regular series on interviews, should be G.A. Cohen, who has been one of the initiators of analytical Marxism through his writings and through his participation in the September Group, and who has consistently defended, developed and refined an egalitarian socialist political philosophy with both clarity and tenacity.

Whilst analytical Marxism was gestating in the academy, the politics of the libertarian right was successfully inspiring politicians and commentators across the anglophone world. One of its ideologues was the Oxford political philosopher John Gray who has since made a seamless transition from market utopianism to relativism, communitarianism and postmodernism. This almost Talleyrandian shift from Mrs Thatcherís Downing Street to the pages of the New Left Review and Guardian has been made without the need being felt for public explanation or self-criticism. In an incisive piece, Alan Carling charts Grayís Odyssey.

One of the principal sites of conflict in the past quarter-century in the British Isles has been the North of Ireland. The response of the left has too often been either to insist dogmatically on the importance of class or to use the category of imperialism to obscure the detailed facts of sectarian antagonism. In what is sure to be a controversial survey, Graeme Kirkpatrick looks at some attempts to understand recent events.

In our final two pieces in this first issue, Ellen Meiksins Wood seeks to reaffirm the validity of a universalist view of human emancipation in the fact of postmodern scepticism and Ian Gough reviews one of the most important works of political theory of the 1990s, Philippe Van Parijsís Real Freedom for All. We shall carry an interview with Van Parijs and further explore his advocacy of an unconditional citizenís income in a future issue.

We are anxious to solicit contributions on any topic that falls within our terms of reference. Both long and analytical pieces and shorter articles are welcomed. We also intend to carry, as a regular feature, retrospective articles about significant thinkers or works of the past (now perhaps neglected). Suggestions or submissions on these lines are particularly encouraged.



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