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Winter in America: The Reluctant Welfare State

“There is a restlessness within our souls that keeps us questioning, discovering and struggling against a system that will not allow us space and time for fresh expression....” - Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron inspires the title of this issue – "Winter In America -- The Reluctant Welfare State.” Scott-Heron, who passed away in late May of this year, used winter as a metaphor to describe the bleak, challenging, and ofttimes depressing period in US history we find ourselves trudging through today. Do not despair. Though winter is hard it is also a time of coming together.

A great need for a joining of forces is brewing and cannot be ignored. Both dominant political parties in the US are forging budget policy that will forever place the burden of a balanced budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. Corporations plead poverty and policymakers listen, cutting taxes for the wealthy and programs that aid the poor. Many forces are gathering to protect public welfare, but more is needed. While it is sometimes an unsavory or uncomfortable position for leftists in the US to be in, the time to demand more government aid to the poor is now.

Families both rural and urban will bear a large brunt of cuts to social spending. Without assistance many families simply cannot survive. A thoughtful and poignant discussion of families and where they fit in to the movements for liberation and justice takes its rightful place in this issue. As Cynthia Oka and Vikki Law point out, our organizations often miss the mark when it comes to multigenerational organizing both ideologically and practically, as in providing kid and youth-friendly spaces at radical events.

Also in this issue, movement journalist Nora Barrows-Friedman guest edits an invigorating section on the continuing developments of the Arab Spring. Barrows-Friedman’s interview with Lamis Andoni helps make sense of the main struggles now raging across the Arab world. The second article in this section delves deeper into the Egyptian revolution to give activists and organizers outside the Arab world a much needed understanding of how it unfolded.

This issue marks some important changes and transitions. First of all, we would like to extend our gratitude to Tyler Barber, who was Left Turn's talented designer for the past several years and is now moving on to other projects. In his stead, we would like to welcome our new designer, Lindsay Eyth, who has already made some exciting aesthetic changes to the magazine and will continue to develop our new look.

In the hope of the spring to come,

The Editors at Left Turn