“At a time when many people have fallen into despair, when our opponents seem invulnerable, it’s critical to have a magazine that challenges us to think, inspires us to action, and makes us realize that the impossible is only difficult, not insurmountable. That magazine is Monthly Review.”
HISTORY — Monthly Review began publication in New York City in May 1949. The first issue featured the lead article “Why Socialism?” by Albert Einstein. From the beginning, Monthly Review spoke for a critical but spirited socialism, independent of any political organization. In an era of Cold War repression, the magazine published pioneering analyses of political economy, imperialism, and Third World struggles, drawing on the rich legacy of Marxist thought without being bound to any narrow view or party line. The McCarthy-led inquisition targeted MR‘s original editors, economists Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman, who fought back successfully. Against these odds, the magazine’s readership and influence grew steadily, and in 1952, Monthly Review Press published its first title, I. F. Stone’s Hidden History of the Korean War.
In the subsequent 1960s upsurge against capitalism, imperialism, and inequality, MR played a global role. A generation of activists received no small part of their education as subscribers to the magazine and readers of Monthly Review Press books. In the decades since, which have seen the rise of neoliberalism and successive capitalist crises, MR has kept its commitment both to radical critique and to the building of a just economy and society.
For a more detailed look at MR‘s long history, please consult this essay, published in 1999 on the occasion of the magazine’s fiftieth anniversary.
“Monthly Review can show an impressive record of committed left publishing. Through the thick and thin of American politics it has continued to carry the standard of thoughtful and critical radicalism. International in scope, it has combined the best of the old left with creative insights of new social movements.”
TODAY — In its more than sixty-year history, Monthly Review has had only six editors. The original editors were Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman. After Huberman’s death in 1968, Harry Magdoff joined Sweezy as coeditor, and together they led the magazine for the next thirty years. Ellen Meiksins Wood served as editor from 1997 to 2000. In May 2000 John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney, themselves of the 1960s generation educated by Monthly Review, took over the primary editorial duties. Founding editor Paul Sweezy died in 2004, and later that year, Robert W. McChesney ceased to be formally designated as an editor, while continuing as a contributor and a Director of the Monthly Review Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports both MR and Monthly Review Press. Harry Magdoff died in 2006. A special issue focusing on his contribution to the understanding of capitalism and imperialism appeared in October, 2006.
Under the current editorial committee, led by John Bellamy Foster, the magazine continues its long tradition of analyzing what is new with the equally vital task of seeing the longer process. That tradition, as summarized by Paul Sweezy, is to see “the present as history.” In 2006, MR began a daily web magazine, MRzine, featuring a broad range of articles, reviews, and commentary.
Revenues from subscriptions and the book sales have always fallen short of the demands on MR‘s resources. The contributions and gifts of a global community of several thousand people sustain MR. Today the magazine makes most of its articles available for free online, and our daily web magazine has attracted a substantial and growing readership. If you have found our website of value, please consider subscribing to the magazine or, better yet, becoming an Associate.