Jacobin is a child of crisis, born in the aftermath of the 2008–2010 global financial meltdown. In the two decades preceding the crisis, neoliberal ideals had become common sense. We had reached the “end of history” — for most people, capitalism was experienced more as an anonymous force, not something we voted upon or agreed to.
The economic crisis was a wake-up call. It brought the halcyon days of blind faith in free markets and aspirational individualism to a screeching halt. For the first time in a long time, capitalism, and the centrality of profit-making in the organization of our society, became visible. When Wall Street got bailouts and bonuses while regular people were handed pink slips and foreclosure notices, a deep popular anger bubbled over.
This fury was expressed in the Wisconsin State Capitol building and Occupy Wall Street encampments, but it was also visible in a growing hunger for new ideas — ideas that challenged the status quo. Jacobin was created as a space to foster and develop them.
This space was desperately needed, because even though the ideals of neoliberalism had proven hollow, there was little to replace them with. Most existing progressive currents, whether in organized labor or the Democratic Party, had long resigned themselves to mitigating the worst effects of our for-profit system rather than challenging its right to exist.
But young people interested in the possibility of transcending capitalism wanted more than slogans, marches, and dusty texts from movements past. They wanted fresh, relevant analysis that elucidated and confronted capitalism.
For a decade, Jacobin has provided this analysis. Against all odds, it has survived, and thrived, as a forum for critique and debate, as a resource for people trying to make sense of the world around them. Equally important, the magazine has been a space for making big demands — demands to rein in Wall Street and corporations; to make health care, housing, and education a right rather than a privilege; to enact a Green New Deal and a living wage for working people.
This concrete, democratic socialist vision for a better world is desperately needed in this political moment. In the decade since the financial crisis, corporations and the billionaire class have chosen to dig in their heels, to breathe new life into a zombie neoliberalism, rather than taking even a small step toward redistributing wealth or repairing the social safety net.
The result is a deeply polarized and divided society in which democracy and civil liberties are increasingly under threat. But it is also a society in which people’s desire and willingness to fight for something better than capitalism grows stronger every day. Jacobin will be there, too, fighting.