Struggle & Progress

SUMMER 2015 | ISSUE 18

Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

—Frederick Douglass, 1857

Buy a Commemorative Poster


Connor Kilpatrick


Remeike Forbes

Dreams of Freedom


Struggle & Progress

The Revolution Armed

America’s First Red Scare

Andre Fleche

For many of its ideologues, a slaveholding Confederacy was meant to be a bulwark against radical politics of all stripes.

The Second American Revolution

Bruce Levine

The Civil War inaugurated a titanic revolution that within years brought slavery to an end and broke the planter class.

Not Waiting for Deliverance

Amy Dru Stanley

Even before the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, enslaved women struggled for the passage of the Enlistment Act of 1865 and their own emancipation.

The James Brown Theory of Black Liberation

Adolph Reed Jr.

We shouldn’t reduce historical narratives solely to questions of black agency. It’s bad history — and can lead to even worse politics.

Triumph and Tragedy

Our Forgotten Labor Revolution

Alex Gourevitch

After the Civil War, workers struggled to make wage labor go the way of chattel slavery.

Killing Reconstruction

Heather Cox Richardson

During Reconstruction, elites used racist appeals to silence calls for redistribution and worker empowerment.

The Cinematic Lost Cause

Eileen Jones

Why have so many films dealing with the Civil War embraced the Confederate struggle?

Race to Nowhere

Kenneth Warren

For over a century, black elites have pushed improved “race relations” instead of redistribution as the solution to American inequality.

“Your socialist is the true abolitionist, and he only fully understands his mission.”

—Virginia Senator Robert M.T. Hunter, March 25, 1850