Mark Satin is a noted political writer and lawyer, a one-time 60s activist whose worldview now resides in what he calls the “radical middle.” Mark’s Radical Middle newsletter (1999-2009) and book (2004) (pictured above) have been informed by perspectives and positions such as such as these:
- One-world citizenship. A commitment to overarching human values and to a cosmopolitan identity as world citizens.
- Business and law. A recognition that what’s going on in certain boardrooms and law offices today may be more important — and more promising — than what’s going on in the traditional political arena.
- Consciousness. A recognition that values, virtues, attitudes, religion, and culture may have more to do with individual happiness — and social progress — than economic growth.
- One-world compassion. A refusal to accept that the well-being of people in Rumania or Nigeria or Malaysia is any less important than the well-being of people in Arizona.
- Ambition, achievement and service. In the Sixties it was a badge of honor to drop out. The strategy backfired. Today most socially committed young people are rushing to become doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, social workers, academics, and that is — or can be — a good thing.
Here are six of Mark’s extended newsletter commentaries on topics especially relevant to this blog:
- Kleiner’s Good Corporate Laws Meet Yamada’s Good Corporate Laws (2009) — Juxtaposing the work of business journalist Art Kleiner with my writings on worker dignity.
- Healing first! Time for the U.S. justice system to get less mechanistic and more compassionate (2008) — Writing in praise of therapeutic jurisprudence, the school of legal thought that calls upon us to frame the law and our legal systems through a therapeutic lens — a favorite topic of this blog too.
- Mediator-leaders: The leadership we need now? (2006) — Highlighting the work of mediator Mark Gerzon and suggesting that a new, more communal brand of leadership is needed.
- “Rankism” (the abuse of rank) — last big barrier to a just and decent society? (2006) — Drawing upon former Oberlin College president Robert Fuller’s (another favorite of this blog) call for a “dignitarian” society.
- Law reform as if people mattered (2004) — Examining ways to make our legal system more “accountable, affordable, humane.”
- Confronting the social causes of psychological depression: Too taboo? (2002) — Examining, among other things in this wide-ranging piece, the how workplace bullying can trigger depression, citing some of my early work and that of Gary & Ruth Namie.
Some 20 years ago, when I was a young instructor in the first-year Lawyering Skills program at New York University, Mark’s name popped up on my class list. I had been a subscriber to his previous newsletter, New Options, and soon would learn that he closed it down and decided to pursue a law degree.
We became friends and stayed in touch after I moved to Boston to accept a tenure-track appointment at Suffolk University Law School. Eventually I would join the board of the non-profit organization he established to host the Radical Middle newsletter. After a few years, we had a friendly parting of the ways when I felt that my political views were further left to the middle ground he was defining.
Fast forward to today: Although I identify myself as a liberal, Mark’s ideas have had a strong impact on me, to the point where I’m as comfortable in his defined radical middle as I am in the heart of mainstream liberalism. I am in agreement with him more often than not, and in any event I respect the voice he brings to our political and social discourse. Mark is working on a memoir these days, and I look forward to its publication.