Editorial collectives share features with artistic and political collectives.Â To compare them is first of all to recall that any collective is inherently,Â as Andrew Ross reminds us in his essay in this issue, an "adventure inÂ mutuality." At every level, a collective operates not by deference to hierarchy, much less by the fiction of unanimity, but instead by the premise ofÂ the "reciprocity of practice," as it is phrased in the collectively authoredÂ essay on the aesthetics of Language poetry that appeared in Social TextÂ 19/20 (1988). As is obvious throughout this anniversary issue, collectivism can involve but does not necessitate collaboration, the difficult processÂ of directly making something together. "Reciprocity of practice" impliesÂ something broader and harder to define: a mutual attention -- a poetryÂ collective is "a community of writers who read each other's work," as the Language poets put it -- that is taken to be the sign of a set of shared interests or commitments that can only be discovered and recalibrated in theÂ active selfÂreflexivity of the group. Whether it involves a farm, a protestÂ march, a dance, or a periodical, the recourse to collectivism also involvesÂ a conviction that social organization is necessarily itself political. Or, as itÂ is announced in the prospectus in the first issue of Social Text: "the journal's editorial organization is, we believe, an integral part of its theoreticalÂ and political project" (ST 1, 1979).Â
Abstract: The story of the SOCIAL TEXT collective begins with the desire to establish a counterpoint to possessive individualism, creating a means for valuing collaborative engagement against the singular authorship of genius; later it would come to stand against the deadening metric of disciplinary accountability as well. The editorial collective foments a deliberative process that aims to set its own context and hence to make something generative of its internal disciplinary difference.