Friday December 19th, 2014, 1:33 am (EST)

An Important Appeal from Robert W. McChesney

MR

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

May 2014

Dear Friend of Monthly Review,

In the past few years world conditions have changed far more than most people realize. Since the financial collapse of 2007–2008, capitalism has entered a period of pronounced stagnation. The dismal recovery of the past six years is no longer to be regarded as a temporary adjustment; it is the new normal.

What this means for the great mass of people in the United States and the globe is also clear: increasing poverty and unemployment; gaping increases in inequality; tremendous downward pressure on wages and benefits; collapsing infrastructure and decline in public services; systematic political corruption; environmental degradation in the pursuit of profit; and endless militarism. Capitalism is a system that gives every sign of being on its last legs. It is eating the future to stay alive today.

All of this seems to offer a new opening for the left. In the past four years I have given some two-hundred-fifty talks across the United States, and this is what I have discovered: The term “socialist” is no longer a pejorative, especially among young people. The blind ideological commitment to the free market is disappearing faster than the polar icecap. There is a willingness to engage with a radical assessment of capitalism and the prospect of a socialist alternative that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. As one public opinion pollster put it recently, when one looks at the stances of the people on issue after issue, the United States is in a “pre-revolutionary” moment. The Occupy movement, while it lasted, was a clear indication of the deep wells of dissent in the society that are today seeking release.

It was for this exact moment that Monthly Review was founded by Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman in 1949. It is why John Bellamy Foster and a team of dedicated people work tirelessly on the project to this day. As regular readers know, Monthly Review provides a superior critique of capitalism. It anticipated the financial turn in capitalism decades before the mainstream paid much attention to the matter. Monthly Review also linked financialization to the problem of stagnation, something mainstream economists are only beginning to discover. The analysis has not only stood the test of time; it is increasingly being embraced by even the business press—though devoid of course of the necessary conclusion that the system must go.

As you know, Monthly Review explains the current political economy in clear language and puts it in historical perspective. By doing so it empowers people and gives them a much broader sense of the political possibilities. It draws people into public life. It informs critical activists. Our work is reaching more people today than at any time in our history.

A year ago we wrote to you asking for your support to make access to Monthly Review more widely available. With your help, we’ve made great progress. We’re putting the finishing touches on a massive effort to convert the Monthly Review archive into a searchable database. Every individual article has been fully indexed so that users can accurately search the entire archive for specific articles—by issue, volume, date, author, or topic. At the same time, the archive website has been completely redesigned to conform to a standard academic journal website — giving Monthly Review a profile on par with what organizations many times our size have been able to achieve at a cost far beyond our means. Our archive — now sixty-five years deep — is a rich, powerful resource of left scholarship unlike anything else available today. It broadens and extends Monthly Review’s educational role at precisely the time when people are anxious and eager for those very alternatives. And just as important, by doing this work ourselves, we’ve ensured that all revenue from the sales of articles and extracts from this valuable resource goes into Monthly Review’s pocket — not some third party packager. This is a major accomplishment and we couldn’t have done it without you!

But there’s much more to be done and we need your help.

We are planning to create an electronic subscription platform that will allow us to provide e-subscriptions at a much lower price. This is especially useful for our international subscribers for whom the cost of a printed subscription can be beyond the reach of the average worker. But it also gives us an opportunity to reach a new audience of readers for whom print is neither the primary nor the preferred medium for news and information. These might be young readers or they might be the thousands of casual browsers who come to our website every day. Invariably, they’re folks for whom smart phones and tablets are as indispensible as your wallet or your house keys. But we need your help if we are to connect with this rising new digital generation.

Second, we are continuing to expand the number of MR Press titles that are available as eBooks. To give you some idea of their impact, eBook sales now account for nearly a quarter of our total sales—and it has the potential to be much greater. Many large publishers have the luxury of converting their entire backlists to eBooks in one effort—and to realize the financial benefits accordingly. But this is impossible for to achieve all at once. For the last three years, we have simultaneously published all new MR Press titles as eBooks and in print, but converting older books is a time-consuming, labor- and capital-intensive effort. Again, we need your help.

There is no simply room for illusions. Monthly Review exists merely because there is a community that values its content, lying outside of the “values” of the so-called “free market” monopolized global information prison. Making our content available in digital format for the coming generation will never be a path to financial security exclusively. Rather it is also a political obligation that goes to the very reason Monthly Review exists.

With your help, and our own foresight, we have expanded digital access in step with the “big boys,” publishers that are mega-corporations with 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.

Last year I wrote to you telling you how much of a difference your contribution could make to Monthly Review, and you came through—dare I say?—with red flying colors. Please do it again. Help us contribute to the creation of a new world. Please click here to donate online or write, as you have in the past, a generous check. We are counting on you.

In Solidarity,

Robert W. McChesney

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