The consecutive crises of the past few years would seem to refute the post-Cold War expansion of democracy as an undisputable model of social organization and economic development. According to Alexander Dugin–described by some as Putin’s ideologue–the liberal West finds itself in a stage of implosion, where only another war can save it. As he writes in the essay that opens this issue of Literal, the occupation of Crimea and subsequent conflict between Russia and world powers led by the United States have given liberalism the enemy it was waiting for. Today, as in the past, Russia represents the ultimate anti-liberal, anti-Western foe. To speak of a crisis in liberalism is already a cliché. But as Edmund Fawcett reminds us, liberalism never really presented itself as a definitive solution; on the contrary, it has always been a perfectible social and economic model and, therefore,one that continually reinvents itself depending on the time and place. Recent financial bankruptcies and the appalling inequalities they generate are not the origin of this crisis, but rather part of the problem–and perhaps not even the most important part, at that. Liberalism, as Fawcett states in these pages, urgently requires a reconfiguration capable of restoring its capacity for adaptation. This edition, dedicated to the concept of invisibility, also features a text by Pulitzer Prize nominee Luis Alberto Urrea regarding the unseen labor force of migrants that sustains the U.S. economy.
Under the same umbrella, we have also included an essay by novelist Martín Solares exploring the theme of drug trafficking, literature and the disappearance of the Mexican State, plus a dossier of mini-fiction on a variety of things unseen. Finally, artist Melanie Smith reveals in an interview the ways in which her current work explores the absent body. All this, in addition to a selection of poetry by Adolfo Castañón, Mercedes Roffé, Craig Arnold and Gérard Manset, as well as our insights regarding the visual expressions of Miguel Ángel Ríos and Susannah Mira.