In April 1986 in the downstairs lounge of the Stag’s Head Bar in Dublin, Graph was launched. It was a time of record unemployment, high emigration, widespread political self-censorship in the media, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland, and mounting despair about a society whose ambitions and perspectives were dispiritingly narrow. The purpose of the magazine was to provide a forum for a spectrum of voices that were marginalised or simply ignored on a range of cultural, political and social issues. The aim was to break with the groupthink and the cultures of fear and the bullying consensualism that had come to dominate the public sphere in Ireland. More than a quarter of a century later, there are unprecedented levels of unemployment, thousands are leaving the country every year, the major media outlets are wholly subervient to a debilitating consensus around the necessary destruction of public goods and there is a widespread sense of hopelessness and anxiety around viable or alternative pathways to the future.
It is in this context that Graph is being re-launched as an online magazine. It is our conviction that there is an urgency about addressing the cultural, political and social malaise that has brought Irish society to its knees. Central to this belief is the notion that all forms of human imagination and inquiry are relevant to the freeing up of the present from damagingly narrow frames of reference and from the toxic cultures of fear that make dissent unimaginable and vision impossible. In an era where educational systems are increasingly becoming the playthings of corporate hubris and the mainstream print and broadcast media are subject to the blunt arithmetic of audience ratings, Graph is fundamentally committed to the core value of intelligent, free-ranging inquiry that takes in all of the disciplines of human inquiry and expression. We invite our readers to join with us in making other Irelands and other worlds possible.