Technical Difficulties

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A poet, essayist, columnist, and orator, June Jordan is a central figure on “the cultural left.” A regular contributor to THE PROGRESSIVE magazine, she reproduces in many of her utterances judgments supportive of that publication’s most cherished principles. The centerpiece of her political ideology is an exalted view of human entitlements and of the capacity of the nation-state to guarantee them.

Jordan’s list of entitlements — found in the seventh of the twenty-four essays in this volume — includes items that would endear her to the staunchest European Social Democrat. Citizens have a claim to state-supported education — “and perpetual reeducation” — including graduate study. Both parents must receive paid leaves in the months surrounding a child’s birth and should be offered “universal, state-controlled child care programs.” Youths have a claim on “appropriate, universal sex education in our public schools, and universal teenage access to contraceptive means, including abortion, if necessary.” She asserts that the “nationalization of vital industries” is also an entitlement — “to protect citizen consumers and citizen workers, alike, from the greed-driven vagaries of a free-market.”

Unfortunately, many essays contradict the socialist-humanist philosophy upon which this view of entitlements rests. Jordan’s pronouncements on educational policy, the Western literary canon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse...

(The entire section is 452 words.)