Saturday September 5th, 2015, 12:20 pm (EDT)

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Urgent Message from Robert W. McChesney


Please take a moment to read this important letter from Bob McChesney concerning the future of Monthly Review. We are counting on your support.

Dear Friend of Monthly Review,

In the past year I traveled to Europe and Latin America, as well as across the United States giving scores of talks on political economy and the media system. The vast majority of these talks were to young people and students. Everywhere I spoke I was struck by how much more receptive young people are to the term “socialism” than they were just a few short years ago.

Each time I provided an analysis that could be described as vintage Monthly Review. The response of many of those in my audiences, most of whom had clearly never encountered such views before, was as if a veil had suddenly been removed from before their eyes—an understanding they had sought, but for which they had lacked the intellectual means. My experiences taught me that people are hungry—even starving—for an intelligent radical critique of capitalism that points to viable solutions: the kind of rock-bottom critique of the system that Monthly Review has been relentlessly building up for around two-thirds of a century. This represents a new radical turn. I have waited decades for this historical moment: our moment, the era of a returning movement toward socialism, 21st century socialism.

This growing radical shift is hardly surprising. We are seeing massive and growing unemployment worldwide; endless militarism and imperialism, dangerous (no longer merely threatening) climate change; ever-increasing calls for austerity on top of unprecedented inequality and economic waste—topped by evermore plutocratic governing systems that are democratic in name only. The world seems out of control, or, more accurately, locked in the control of forces driving us to destruction.

It was for this precise historical moment that Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman started Monthly Review 66 years ago. Those were dark times, especially in the United States, as the left was purged from the AFL-CIO and blacklists removed radicals from many professions and kept those who remained employed duly cowed. The prospect of radical change was distant in most American minds; for progressives survival was the order of the day.

What Monthly Review provided from year one, day one was an analysis that took the long view and avoided the latest intellectual fads, even if they found currency on the left. In the mid-1960s, as U.S. capitalism was in the midst of its best two-decade performance in the 20th century, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital chronicled an economy that was destined for stagnation and growing inequality, and one that would resort to militarism and an absurd expansion of debt and speculation to stay afloat. In core respects that analysis, and the countless articles in Monthly Review in subsequent decades growing from it, have explained the current nature of capitalism better than any other work that has been done.

You read the magazine and know full well its value. What you may not know is that the economics of publishing a left magazine have never been more treacherous, even if the publication is doing great work and has a devoted readership. What has kept MR going strong is you, our reader. We depend upon you to give us whatever you can to make it possible for us to cover our costs and continue our operations.

There is another reason for you to support the work at Monthly Review. The money we get is put to very good use. It is not just about paying our current bills—though it certainly does that—but it is also about making structural improvements in our operations that will put us on stronger footing going forward. Your support, dare I say it, is a capital investment . . . but one that reflects good socialist planning!

Over the past two years, your support has been essential in helping us create a fully functioning electronic commerce website, filled to the brim with Monthly Review’s exemplary analysis and insight.

First, we’ve recently completed a massive effort to convert the entire Monthly Review archive, from 1949 to the present, into a searchable database. Every individual article has now been fully indexed so that users can search over sixty-six years of writing for specific articles — by full text, author, issue, volume, date, or keyword. At the same time, the Monthly Review archives have been redesigned to conform to a standard academic journal website, updated immediately upon release of each new issue of MR. This is the kind of behind-the-scenes work usually delegated to a third party contractor at great expense, both in up-front costs and as a percentage of the revenue stream created.

Second, we have converted another thirty-five classic MR Press titles into eBooks. They include such critical masterworks as Hal Draper’s magisterial four-volume work, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, E.P. Thompson’s Poverty of Theory, and Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism. Our digital archive is now over one-hundred titles strong — and growing. And we are now selling eBooks to the public on our website.

Finally, we’ve realized a long-cherished goal of offering e-Subscriptions— something many of you have been asking about for years. They provide an appealing format for a rising new digital generation, internationally. Very soon, we expect to be offering readers the option of becoming e-Associates. Much like the conventional Associate membership, e-Associates will receive an e-subscription, a free e-book, and the option to buy any book at a fifty-percent discount.

Believe me when I say that none of this could have happened without your help. That we have completed much of this work in-house rather than using costly contractors or third-party packagers, is a tribute to your ongoing support and a good dose of the grit Monthly Review has shown throughout sixty-six years.

With your help we have expanded digital access in step with multinational publishers that have resources immensely greater than ours. We are ready to take the next steps. As ever, we guarantee that your contribution will have a visible, political impact. And our lasting gratitude.

Monthly Review’s primary mission has always been education. We will not put our current and recent articles behind a paywall. Right now, well more than 100,000 unique visitors come to our website every month, while paid readership stubbornly remains a small fraction of that figure.

We need you to give us whatever you can. I can tell you from experience that there are tens of thousands of people worldwide who wish they could give to Monthly Review, but do not because they cannot afford to do so. Give in their name. Help us contribute to the creation of a new world. Please click on the Paypal link above or write, as you have in the past, a generous check. We are counting on you.

In Solidarity,

Robert W. McChesney

Throughout our history, Monthly Review has always relied on the support of our readers. Please consider making a donation today. Use the form below to make a donation via Paypal; or send a check to: Monthly Review, 146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001. The Monthly Review Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

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