In 1996, I started a radical political zine in Chicago called LiP that evolved into a full-fledged all-volunteer North American magazine published from 2004-2007.
LiP, always printed on 100% recycled paper, with worker-owned or union printers, never grew beyond a print-run of 9,000. The magazine was devoted to politicized intellectual honesty, and it had no allegiance to any “ist,” no programmatic plan or unified theory for the people, no interest in electoral politics, and quixotically challenged dogma from points all across the political spectrum.
In early 2005, We decided to confront head-on many progressive and radical sacred cows. The result was The Constructively Negative Sacred Cows issue, and it was, for us, a popular and critical success, with daring critique and analysis of things ranging from gender-essentialized feminism, the organic foods industrial complex, the problems with gay marriage (and gay assimilation), and more. I’m pleased and gratified, several years later, to see how contemporary and relevant a great majority of the magazine still is. I’m even more pleased to share the complete issue, in PDF form, here, with readers of LOUDCANARY.
This issue began, I admit, as nothing more than a wicked gleam. What fun, our thinking went, to go after ideas and beliefs held all too precious by those of us interested in creating a better world. After all, what place does the sacrosanct have in matters of critique and strategy?
We’re defining sacred cows here in the broadest, non-Hindu-specific sense: ideas and entities that are—in the immortal words of one of our favorite reference books, the Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary—“often unreasonably immune from criticism or opposition.” It’s our contention that such immunity is unnatural, and that this breed of cow, left untoppled on its pedestal, produces only stagnation, rigidity, and a slavish devotion to convention. The world as we know it exists in a constant state of flux. So should our ideas.
Of course, one implied aspect of the sacred cow metaphor is slaughter, which is usually perceived as a negative enterprise. How, we asked ourselves, could we organize an entire issue around such a thing without succumbing to relentless negativism? Nobody likes the asshole who attacks but never creates. We agree. Criticism may be vital and useful, but if it doesn’t lead anywhere then it’s just so much self-satisfied snark. And here at LiP, we’re certainly never snarky or self-satisfied. Not us. No, never.
The following 93 pages are a kiss disguised as a slap. When Lisa Jervis takes on gender essentialist feminism in her customarily cranky fashion, the intent is to help prevent those who care about a vibrant, emancipatory feminism from racing into a painful cul-de-sac; Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s gleeful evisceration of gay marriage as a Trojan horse for conservative values seeks to keep our eyes on the prize of true liberation; Michael Muhammad Knight asks if heresy might just be the highest calling for the spiritually inclined; Jennifer Whitney’s informed assault on the moribund aspects of Independent Media Centers is, above all, a plea for better grassroots media; and the pairing of interviews with neoprimitivist Derrick Jensen and naysayer of catastrophism Iain Boal intends to spark debate about our fundamental hopes for humanity and the planet.
This theme proved so lush and savory that we had to expand, from 80 pages to 96. We just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to look at how industrial and consumer forces have made a travesty of organic food standards and labeling. We found ourselves powerless over the impulse to do an entire interview with hip hop journalist Jeff Chang in which we ask him absolutely nothing about music. And for years we’ve been awaiting an excuse to run our adaptation of Susan Faludi’s late-’90s ruminations on porn, work, and male identity.
Those are just some of the sterling examples of the inspired analysis you’ll find in this issue. Their incisive excellence reflects the passion and intelligence of our writers and artists as well as our editors, all of whom volunteered their efforts to the project.
We think we’ve transcended the role of mere gadfly with this issue. I sincerely hope you agree.
(From the extended online release of Tipping the Sacred Cow – The Best of LiP: Informed Revolt)