A Credo for Progressives: Essays on Political Theory and Practical Politics

Robert Paul Wolff, edited by Michael Hemmingsen

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Area: Philosophy


A Credo for Progressives

Part One: Political Theory – Original Papers on Diverse Subjects
On Violence
There’s Nobody Here But Us Persons
The Personal is the Political: A Reflection
Narrative Time: The Inherently Perspectival Structure of the Human World
The Concept of Social Injustice
The Concept of Community
The Indexing Problem
Who Owns Our National Story?: The Struggle for Control of the Narrative Voice in the Evolution of American History
Macros and PC’s: A Last-Ditch Attempt to Salvage Ideological Critique
A Memorandum on Racism

Part Two: Political Theory – Discussions of the Lives and Thought of Other Thinkers
A Refutation of Rawls’ Theorem on Justice
On Strasnick’s “Derivation” of Rawls’s “Difference Principle”
Methodological Individualism and Marx: Some Remarks on Jon Elster, Game Theory, and Other Things
Marcuse’s Theory of Toleration
Herbert Marcuse: 1898-1979: A Personal Reminiscence
Culture and Imperialism: Some Thoughts on what Edward Said can Teach Us about Our Present Predicament
Review of Realizing Rawls by Thomas Pogge
Review of The Spirit of Liberalism by Harvey Mansfield
Review of The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and its Youthful Oppositions by Theodore Roszak

Part Three: Political Journalism
The Committee of Correspondence Newsletter: Four Brief Essays
The Game of War
Assessing the Soviet Threat
Letter to The Times
Reply to a Harvard Philosopher
Review of Strategy, Politics, and Defense Budgets by Warner Schilling, Paul Hammond and Glenn Snyder
Review of The Limits of Defense by Arthur Waskow
The Insanity of Realism
Social Philosophy: The Agenda for the Nineties
Report from South Africa
The Farrakhan Fiasco: The University of Massachusetts Amherst Reaction to Louis Farrakhan’s Visit

Epilogue: Three Unusual Essays
Two Observations on the Structure and Voice of The Color Purple
Handwritten Draft: “Rationality and Expectations”
Handwritten Draft: “Some Random Thoughts”

For fifty-five years, Robert Paul Wolff has been reflecting on the theory of modern political society and engaging actively in a number of progressive political movements, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the protest against the Viet Nam War, and the world-wide effort to end the apartheid regime in South Africa. This volume brings together a wide-ranging selection of the writings that have flowed from his pen, his typewriter, and his word processor. The volume opens with a brief Credo for Progressives, in which Wolff forthrightly states the moral and political commitment that has shaped his life and writings. 

The first section of the volume consists of seven selections of a general theoretical nature, including the essay "On Violence" that foreshadowed Wolff's classic work, In Defense of Anarchism. Three of these: "The Concept of Community," "The Indexing Problem," and "Who Owns Our National Story" have until now not been available in print.

The second section of the volume contains ten pieces written about specific people or for specific occasions. These include Wolff's important refutation of the first version of John Rawls' theory of justice, a touching personal reminiscence of his departed friend, Herbert Marcuse, a sharp critique of the reaction of the University of Massachusetts to the arrival on campus of Minister Louis Farrakhan, and several memoranda written for a graduate seminar Wolff taught on ideological critique.

The third section contains a selection of writings of an immediate practical nature on issues with which Wolff has been deeply involved. The volume closes with a photocopy of a handwritten document in which we see Wolff working out, first hand, an issue of great importance for those who continue to hope for a socialist transformation of capitalism.