Covering the Year
Twelve issues ago we "covered" Obama’s historic win with his message of hope and change by asking the question: real change or more of the same? Between December 2008 and December 2009, we offered readers 8 articles on U.S. foreign policy; 12 on international issues (mainly the Middle East and Latin America); 14 on the economy (Obamanomics, corporate bailouts, and capitalism in general); 6 on health care (mainly on "guaranteed choice" vs. single payer); 3 on militarism; 2 on psychology; 2 on court cases of note; 12 on the environment; 10 on the gay and lesbian community; 2 on education; 13 on the right wing; 3 on human rights. We published 28 book reviews, most of them on books covering class, race, and gender issues. We also published 8 film reviews, 1 art show review, and 15 interviews. Of the 12 covers, besides the initial one of Obama, 3 focused on the economy, 3 on the environment, 1 on foreign policy, and 3 on activism (in this year’s case, all of women).
We end the year with a cover graphic depicting Obama with a spot of blood on his Nobel Peace Prize medal, with articles documenting a trajectory from hope to anger to outrage to loss of hope as the economy has continued its "epic recession." Hopes for a decent health care bill have "changed" to an enrichment plan for insurance companies. Turning back from the abyss regarding climate change has so far resulted in either inaction or policies that will result in further pollution for profit. Finally, the hope that Obama as the "antiwar" candidate would actually end war and drastically cut the military budget has changed into first prize in any doublespeak contest.
In looking back over what we’ve covered, it hasn’t escaped our notice that in this year of hope and change, most progressive media have focused exclusively on how bad things are, including Z. It’s hard not to because things are bad. We are, however, pleased to say that in 2009, we published a total of 26 articles on activist efforts to fight back, from the uprising in Greece (and solidarity actions all over the planet) to workers’ strikes in the U.S. to direct action protesting corporate globalization to civil disobedience for climate justice to marches against capitalist inequities as manifested in the massive corporate bailouts early this year.
While reporting on this activism is our version of hope, rather than Obama’s, our 22-year commitment to bringing readers/activists a wide-ranging discussion of revolutionary social change has fallen short—as only four articles appeared in the magazine this year on alternative visions strategies for change
So in planning our January issue we are going to aggressively focus on our proposals for change with a substantial section on vision and strategy. The opportunity to do so results from the recently created Reimagining Society project (hosted on ZNet) and the Project for a Participatory Society that some Z staff members have been organizing over the years. These two projects have begun to generate publishable material, which we hope to bring to you in Z’s pages throughout 2010. We invite you to join us in this project (if you haven’t already) through letters and emails with your responses, ideas, and contributions to the discussion—a discussion that’s already going on at our website, but which we will now include in print.