"Free trade" has produced some of the most contentious political debates of our times. In a famous April 2000 article in the New Republic, economist Joseph Stiglitz argued, "Economic policy is today perhaps the most important part of America's interaction with the rest of the world. And yet the culture of international economic policy in the world's most powerful democracy is not democratic." During the Bush years, economic policy received far less attention in political discussion than before; the use of military force took center stage.
Understanding what is wrong in our society; speaking out against injustice; denouncing abuses by the powerful. All of these are crucial tasks. Many of us devote a large part of the year to them, and they are certainly necessary if we are to create a better world. At the same time, it is highly doubtful that these acts are sufficient. Creating positive social change takes more. It takes the knowledge that people can organize to win justice and an awareness that, even in inhospitable times, some things can go right. The holiday season provides an important moment to reflect on a few of those advances that offered hope in 2007-many of which came about just in the past few weeks.