Dear Social Researchers,
This issue’s cover captures a moment in which myriad students and a single police officer met each other one day in May, 1968, on a Haussmann-designed boulevard lined with 19th-century trees. The single officer is running to- ward the crowd while hurling a tear gas canister; the student protesters stand in varying postures, all defiant. When discussing what image could reflect the pieces in this issue, we thought this photograph by Reg Lancaster evoked the total commitment associatd with the term revolution. Spurred by the political uprisings of recent past, par- ticularly those in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, we felt that this year, perhaps more than the past five or ten, brought with it a global zeitgeist of revolution. We had actually decided to make Revolution this issue’s theme well before the arrival of the Occupy movements — these events have only offered fuel to an already blazing call for change.
As we soon realized, the exact meaning of revolution is difficult to pin down, and many of this issue’s submis- sions question its very nature and meaning in modernity. In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt writes that the “modern concept of revolution,” unlike its original definition as a return in Latin, is “inextricably bound up with the notion that the course of history suddenly begins anew, that an entirely new story, a story never known or told before, is about to unfold… Before they were engaged in what turned out to be a revolution, none of the actors had the slight- est premonition of what the plot or the new drama was going to be.” These pages feature writing by historians, so- ciologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and political theorists all working out the plots and dramas of revolution- ary stories. Their essays in different ways ask what revolution is, what are its histories, who are its progenitors, and what are its conditions of possibility. An interview with assistant professor Banu Bargu further contributes to this discussion by considering its relations to anarchism among other ideas, while the interview with occupier and stu- dent Marianne LeNabat provides a bridge between this issue’s theme and our next issue on Liberty and Liberalism.
We here at Canon are very pleased to feature these pieces. With a new design and revised editorial procedures, Canon has undergone a bit of a revolution itself this year, and we hope that this continues. Please feel free to email us at canon@ newschool.edu with your feedback. Journalism and media have always been an important part of any organized move- ment, whether it’s a pamphlet or a YouTube video. People need to be informed — they need publications to serve as rally- ing posts for unique and distinct ideas, stories, visions, and creations. Canon itself was born out of student dissatisfaction coupled with a desire for change within the university structure: its first incarnation was as the newsletter of the Graduate Faculty, its second as the forum Rant and Rave. Today we exist as your interdisciplinary journal and are dedicated to pro- viding you with an exciting and dynamic platform from which you are able to express your academic and political voice.
This issue’s back page also brings you a final exam administered by Arendt for a course on revolution she taught at North- western University in 1961. When we contacted Jerome Kohn about permission to reprint it, he wrote back, “In this time of revolutions I have been wondering who would first get around to Arendt, who saw the future as an ‘age of revolutions.’” As On Revolution was published two years after this exam, its questions may represent what Arendt was wondering about while drafting that text. Fifty years later, the pieces in this issue stand as our own questions about the ages of revolution.
Thanks for reading, D.S. Mattison Whitney Campbell Max Symuleski