In politics, at different times in my life, I have been on the center-right and the center-left and the center. But in spite of having co-authored a book entitled “The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics,” I have never really been a radical of any kind. I understood why recently when I read, for the first time, one of the late philosopher Richard Rorty’s most celebrated essays, “Campaigns and Movements,” published in Dissent in the Winter of 1995.

Rorty began by poking fun at the belief of the editors and writers of Partisan Review in the middle of the twentieth century that it was very important to support both democratic socialism and avant-garde modernism in the arts, which were both linked in some obscure way to “the crisis of modern society.”
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Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.


Oberlin College is a Division III school better known for incubating Ph.D.s than pro athletes. Athletic events attract a smattering of fans. The sports teams lose with astounding regularly. The last time the Yeomen made national news was when the football team ended a 44-game losing streak in 2001. Academically, athletes are, taken as a whole, the weakest group on campus, according to a study of athletics at selective schools. Many varsity athletes are outliers on campus; they are generally recruited from traditional jock cultures, and often feel alienated from the rest of a student body so clichéd as a bastion of queer, vegan, hipster progressivism that Gawker dubbed it the “most annoying liberal arts college in the country.”

I was a varsity athlete at Oberlin some 20 odd years ago. I can prove it to you by showing you the team photo on the walls of Philips Gymnasium. There… More…