The Magazine

Mugged by Reality

Albert Shanker and the fall of American liberalism.

Sep 10, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 48 • By FRED SIEGEL
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Kahlenberg, himself a thoughtful social democrat, best known for arguing on behalf of income-based affirmative action, wants to revive the "tough liberalism" once represented by Shanker. But this is unlikely. Social democracy, with its admirable solidarity-based instincts, was a product of the relatively closed economies that defined advanced societies between the end of the first period of globalization and the onset of the second. But as power has shifted, to some degree, from national governments to world markets, social democracy has languished, even in its European homeland. It's doubtful that we will see Albert Shanker's like again.

Fred Siegel, professor of history at Cooper Union, is the author, most recently, of Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life.