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Editor's Note

In our last issue, Richard Flacks ("Political Strategy in Dark Times") sketched a political project for the American left, calling for a revival and reinterpretation of the radical-democratic ideals that inspired the American New Left at its founding. In this issue, we print replies to Flacks from 17 activists and intellectuals. They share his broad political convictions, but often disagree sharply with his analysis -- especially the weight he gives to
economic internationalization -- and his political strategy -- particularly the balance he suggests between local and national politics, and the relatively small role he gives to elections and parties.

Before getting to the politics, however, we start with some policy. Economist Edward Wolff, author of the leading contemporary study of the distribution of wealth in the United States, describes the recent explosion in US wealth inequality and sketches a Swiss-style system of wealth taxation for the United States. If enacted, Wolff's proposal would help remedy current distributional unfairness, while reaffirming the principle that taxation should be based on ability to pay.

This juxtaposition of pol-itics and policy points to a large political challenge. The left, which has traditionally stood for an egalitarian ideal of social justice, is losing the "battle of ideas:" indeed, it
is barely participating in that battle. If debates about pol-itical strategy of the kind
provoked by Flacks are to move discussion forward, they must be joined to a
conversation about the purposes of public power, and proposals (like Wolff's) about how its exercise might advance ideals of egalitarian justice.

--Joshua Cohen



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