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Reclaiming Freedom

“A curious thing has happened within American culture,” Aziz Rana writes. “The language of freedom has been claimed almost entirely by the political right.” Can it be reclaimed?

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Reclaiming Freedom

Freedom has a dual legacy. On the one hand, it evokes struggles associated with the left, from abolition and anticolonialism to women’s and queer liberation. On the other hand, it has long been a watchword of the right, from neoliberals to white nationalists. This issue reclaims freedom as a fundamental political value, essential to any vision of a just world.

Aziz Rana leads a forum on the path to a different politics of freedom. In the United States, he argues, reactionary meanings of freedom at home have been emboldened by U.S. imperial power abroad. But their hold isn’t absolute: we can break it by building new forms of collective agency and self-rule. Featuring eleven respondents—including Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Jefferson Cowie, political theorists Adom Getachew, Lea Ypi, and Nancy Hirschmann, and philosophers Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò and Philippe Van Parijs—the forum clarifies what freedom means and how to win it for all.

Plus essays on fifty years of liberation theology, the legacy of Cold War liberalism, what the history of anticolonial violence means for Israel/Palestine, and repression of the Stop Cop City movement; reviews of M. E. O’Brien’s Family Abolition and Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek’s After Work; an interview on Black existentialism; and poetry.


Editor’s Note

Forum: A Different Freedom


Also in this issue:

Fifty years ago, religion met Marxism in the liberation theology movement. Its message still serves.

Travis Knoll

A liberal economist and a family abolitionist agree: our economic system makes human flourishing depend on social units it can't sustain.

Will Holub-Moorman

Lewis Gordon and Nathalie Etoke discuss the space for freedom opened up by Black existentialist thought.

Nathalie Etoke, Lewis Gordon
Poetry

Drowning is something that happens to others, not to them.

Hannah Liberman

Lionel Trilling crystallizes the cynical Cold War liberalism that sacrificed idealism for self-restraint.

Samuel Moyn

The law occludes the abhorrent violence routinely perpetrated by states in the name of self-defense.

A. Dirk Moses

The post-work movement reckons with reproductive labor.

Rachel Fraser

The United States has long supported the repression of Latin American land defenders. The tactics it exported are coming to the Atlanta forest.

Azadeh Shahshahani

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Boston Review is a political and literary forum—a public space for collective reasoning and imagination of a more just world.

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Newsletter readers get 10% off

Boston Review is a political and literary forum—a public space for collective reasoning and imagination of a more just world.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive editorial content (plus 10% off  our entire store).