A note to MR readers from Bob McChesney…
In 2000 I agreed to become coeditor of Monthly Review along with my dear friend John Bellamy Foster. I had been reading MR since 1972 when I was a teenager and had been educated, enlightened, and inspired by it, and the work of editors Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff. I had introduced John to the magazine soon after I discovered it. By the 1990s I had become a regular contributor to MR. When John and Harry asked me to join them as a coeditor I initially balked. I already had a very full schedule and there was no sign it would abate. Plus, I was a media historian and critic; not an economist. But John, in particular, insisted that my involvement was necessary to bring MR through a difficult transition editorially and financially. He promised me that he would do most of the work. I agreed with an understanding that I would have to revisit the situation in due time.
That time has come. MR’s subscriptions are now at the highest level they have been in more than two decades, and we are within sight of the peak reached in the early 1970s. John Bellamy Foster has kept his promise to me and then some. He, along with Harry and an exceptional editorial committee, have done virtually all of the heavy lifting with respect to editorial labor on the magazine. My own career has veered off into media activism in a manner I did not anticipate in 2000 or 2001. Last year I took what was, in effect, a leave of absence as editor of the magazine in response to the meteoric rise of the media reform movement and the enormous demands it placed on me as a political organizer and writer. These demands have only grown over the past year, however, and by 2004 my editorial contribution to MR has become all but nonexistent. As a result I have ceased to function as an MR editor in anything but name and my initial leave of absence has stretched into a situation that can only be regarded as permanent.
Accordingly, I will no longer be listed as an editor in the MR staffbox. Yet, my actual labor for the magazine—which throughout has been less that of editing than writing periodically and serving as a member of the MR Board—will remain pretty much the same. Only my title (which will now be designated as that of a director of the MR Foundation) will change to better reflect what I actually do. In all of this I want to stress that MR is a family and that it remains my family. We are in this together and for the long haul, though my title is changing to reflect my actual contribution. I hope and trust you will continue to join me in supporting MR.
On April 17—a perfect, sunny, warm spring Saturday—hundreds gathered at Manhattan’s Landmark on the Park to remember Paul Sweezy and to celebrate his life as analyst, theoretician, activist, and founding editor of Monthly Review. The meeting was opened by Ossie Davis who, with great humor, related reminiscences of his long friendship with Paul. Frances Fox Piven offered a moving evocation of Paul’s courage as a radical and his unflinching commitment to intellectual honesty. She was followed by Dr. Selwyn Freed, a Larchmont neighbor, who recalled meals and movies and afternoons spent watching the Red Sox on TV, all interspersed with sharp insights on the issues of the day. In the context of a discussion of the role Sweezy played in his life as an intellectual mentor and friend over a quarter-century, John Bellamy Foster said that Paul was the “model of a humane socialist intellectual” and a symbol throughout the world of the fact that even in the heart of the imperialist system revolutionary resistance was possible. Robert W. McChesney, as well, spoke of the influence that Paul (and Harry Magdoff) had on his evolution as a radical and socialist. He read a statement from Harry, who said “[Paul] never departed from the thoroughness of his belief in the need for socialism—a socialism based on empowering the poorest and the most oppressed on a road to an egalitarian society.” The meeting ended with a powerful call from Cornel West for all of us to walk in Paul’s footsteps in the quest for a just society.
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