Editor’s Notes from Imprints vol. 1, no. 2 (October 1996)

Welcome to a second issue of Imprints: a journal of analytical socialism. We have been greatly encouraged by the support we have received from both our subscribers and our contributors. We were also encouraged by the success of our launch conference on ‘Egalitarian Justice’. The conference attracted over a hundred people, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it coincided with the quarter-finals of the European football championship! Those who attended enjoyed lively debates between G.A. Cohen and Tony Skillen; between Jennifer Hornsby and Jo Wolff; and between Brian Barry and Chris Brown. In view of the success of the conference we look forward to hosting similar events in the future. Jennifer Hornsby’s contribution to the conference is published in this issue of the journal.

This issue goes to press as both Britain and the United States face elections. In Britain, as in the USA, tax and tax-cutting has been high on the electoral agenda in recent years. Despite a steady deterioration in the quantity and quality of public services, the British Labour Party, under the leadership of Tony Blair, has steadfastly refused to face up to the hard questions that would confront any government with a commitment to the public sector and the welfare state. The claim, frequently made by shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown and his acolytes, that the welfare state can be financed from growth, is subjected to a sharp critique by Andrew Glyn. Glyn demonstrates that the kind of revenues needed to regenerated the public sector just cannot be found by boosting the economy.

The proper relationship between care and justice is explored by two contributors to this issue. The late Jean Hampton, in a wide ranging interview, focuses on (among other things) how the family may mask exploitation; and David Morgan, in a challenging review of Diemut Bubeck’s Care, Gender and Justice. Hampton also challenges the left’s traditional perspective on punishment, arguing for the importance from a feminist perspective of the symbolic meanings of crime and punishment.

Hampton also considers the efficacy of legal action to pursue freedom and equality. One of the topics she applies this to, the regulation of pornography, is also discussed by Jennifer Hornsby. Hornsby attacks the problem of freedom of speech via an appropriation of J.L. Austin’s theory of speech acts. Hornsby argues that many of the standard defences of freedom of speech have not attended closely enough to the conditions required for felicitous communication. A genuine concern with freedom of speech is not just a matter of protecting a person’s right not to be prevented from speaking, but also of securing conditions where each voice has the possibility of being heard, and indeed attended to.

We have had a number of communications from readers with advice and suggestions on the format and future of this journal. We are grateful to them and we should like to encourage similar responses from others, together with suggestions for topics we might commission articles on and people we might interview. We also welcome submissions on any topic that falls inside the remit of the journal.