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Radical Philosophy is no more


On the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities website, editor Esther Leslie reflects on the end of the journal Radical Philosophy. From its roots in the 1970s as a journal by and for radicalized students, the journal survived almost 45 years of independent publishing amid the rapidly changing landscape of academic publishing. Read Leslie below, the original version via BIH.

Radical Philosophy is no more. It was a journal that was set up in 1972 by radicalised students. They were frustrated by what passed for philosophy in British universities, at a time where developments in philosophical theory elsewhere were feeding into and out of new social movements and political debates on the Left, in the work of Critical Theory of various types. Radical Philosophy, a ‘Journal of Socialist and Feminist Philosophy’, as it was subtitled at one point, cultivated an unusual look that remained relatively consistent over its 45 years: A4 in format, with newspaper style columns and a panoply of pictures and photographs, obliquely related to contents. It held onto its independence in two ways – independence from university presses or any other presses and independence of its outlook. Its last subtitle was ‘Philosophical Journal of the Independent Left’. Times change, as any leftist theory journal would be first to say – and Radical Philosophy, in its current format, did not survive the multiple pressures of intensified work regimes of its editors, the push towards ranked journals and a quantifiable research culture amongst its potential contributors and the challenges of an Open Access environment, where different patterns of working, distributing and reading are established. But some endings are the result of victories, even if those victories are not the ones imagined by the participants. Some of the radical theories that found their advocates in RP were in time everywhere to be seen, within university Humanities departments though still not within UK philosophy departments for the most part, which discern all too well that which is hinted in the journal – that all philosophy after Kant despises philosophy.