Written in Red

Publications of the sectarian left

Communism lives. You wouldn’t know it by visiting a typical library or newsstand, or by reading daily papers. The Berlin Wall fell, the USSR disintegrated, and capitalism won. So goes common thinking.

Look carefully, though. Pockets of resistance survive, perhaps in your very neighborhood: barterers, gleaners, gift givers, people who live simply or act like anarchists and communists, whether or not they call themselves so. Envisioning the demise of oligarchy, the death of capitalism, and a world beyond electoral politics, some swear by self-rule alone. Others believe chiefly in the power of collective action and maybe even idealize a revolution in which workers seize control.

As evidence of the latter, dozens of small-circulation magazines, journals, and papers present the views of avowed socialists and Marxists, independent of any group. Others are published by parties whose origins and ideologies aren’t always clear, and whose internecine turf battles, front groups, and schisms are also arcane. You might consult Wikipedia to learn about these groups, but to sort out the crackpots and ideologues from the heroes and visionaries (if any), read their own words and decide for yourself.

Against the Current is published bimonthly and sponsored by Solidarity, “a revolutionary, socialist, democratic, feminist, antiracist organization” founded in 1986 and working for “a society based on human need and democratic collective decision-making.” Its goal: “to promote dialogue among the activists, organizers, and serious scholars of the left.” The November/December 2005 issue includes a three-page review of a new biography of abolitionist John Brown and coverage of the Northwest Airlines mechanics strike. Generally intelligent, sane, and well written. $25/yr. (6 issues) from 7012 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48210; www.solidarity-us.org.

Political Affairs, the 79-year-old monthly magazine of the Communist Party USA, offers substantial and generally jargon-free commentary and analysis in articles such as “Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina,” “Chile’s Privatized Pensions: No Model for US,” and “New Directions in International Labor Solidarity.” Each issue includes poetry and short fiction, as well as a Marxism quiz series that’s not for beginners. CPUSA’s goal: “a society with social ownership of the means of production.” Nominal ideology: Marxism. (The CPUSA also publishes People’s Weekly World newspaper, which features accessible news about topics not widely covered in commercial papers.) $22/yr. (11 issues) from 235 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011; www.politicalaffairs.net.

International Socialist Review is published by the Chicago-based Center for Economic Research and Social Change, an organization also responsible for Haymarket Books. Focusing on contemporary events, it features such contributors as John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Mike Davis, Amy Goodman, Arundhati Roy, and Noam Chomsky, examining everything from death row to global politics. Sample titles: “Egyptian Elections: A Movement for Change,” “Zapatistas Reenter the Political Fray,” “The Incident at Oglala Thirty Years On.” Not for beginners: “Classics of Marxism,” which examines works by Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky. $29/yr. (6 issues) from Box 258082, Chicago, IL 60625; www.isreview.org.

Socialist Viewpoint (“News and Analysis for Working People”) puts forth the views of the Socialist Workers Organization, formed “to advance the revolutionary Marxist political program in the United States.” Now in its sixth year, the magazine features writings by the likes of Stan Goff, Robert Fisk, Cindy Sheehan, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Its primary beats are the U.S. labor and antiwar movements. Sample title: “The Rise of the Democratic Police State.” Avowed goal: “ownership and democratic control of the means of production by the working class, and the removal of profit from the system of production.” $24/yr. (6 issues) from 1380 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110; www.socialistviewpoint.org.

More strident in tone, Socialism and Liberation is a newer magazine published by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a revolutionary, working-class, anticapitalist party formed in 2004 after splitting from the Workers World Party. Recent articles include “Racist Police Attack in New Orleans,” “The Coming U.S. Economic Crisis,” and “Capitalism and the Environment.” Sample quotation: “Dialectical thought is merely the reflection of objective dialectics.” $30/yr. (12 issues) from 3181 Mission St., #29, San Francisco, CA 94110; www.socialismandliberation.org.

MIM Notes, the “official newsletter of the Maoist Internationalist Movement,” advocates an end to “oppression of all groups over other groups … by building public opinion to seize power through armed struggle.” Dubious thinking: “When the all-round dictatorship of the proletariat led by us Maoists gets to power, the cigarette company executives who put those toxic chemicals in cigarettes … will be lined up and shot as a small repayment of their blood debt to millions killed by smoking.” Available at www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/mn.

Also Noteworthy

Revolution, formerly Revolutionary Worker, is a newsprint publication of the Revolutionary Communist Party, headed by the elusive Bob Avakian. Its goal: to overthrow “the system” and create a new system, “a socialist society and the dictatorship of the proletariat.” $40/yr. (40 issues) from Box 3486, Chicago, IL 60654; www.rwor.org.

Socialist Worker, published in Toronto by International Socialists (part of the International Socialist Tendency), focuses on international news — antiwar protests, for example — and Canadian politics. Sample headline: “Free Them Now: Oppose Racist Secret Trial Detentions.” Goal: “a workers’ state based upon councils of workers’ delegates.” $50 Canadian/yr. (22 issues); in Canada, $30 from Box 339, Station E, Toronto, ON M6H 4E3, Canada; www.socialist.ca.

Socialist Action is the monthly newspaper of a small Trotskyist group of the same name, which split from the Socialist Workers Party and describes itself as “revolutionary socialists committed to the emancipation of working and oppressed people everywhere!” Sample statement: “The devastation and human suffering wrought by Katrina is not just a so-called natural disaster. It is above all else a crime perpetrated against the people of this country.” Published since 1983. $8/yr. (12 issues) from 298 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94103; www.socialistaction.org.

Workers Vanguard, a “Marxist working-class” biweekly tabloid publication of the Spartacist League, the U.S. Section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), features such headlines as “Free the Class-War Prisoners!,” “Down with Racist Cop Terror!,” and “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!” Heroes: Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg. $10/yr. (21 issues) from Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116; www.icl-fi.org.

News & Letters is a bimonthly “Marxist-Humanist” paper founded in 1955 by Raya Dunayevskaya and edited for nearly three decades until his death by Charles Denby, author of Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal. The anticapitalist paper (against both private and state capital) is published by committee, “rather than any elitist party.” $5/yr. (6 issues) from 36 S. Wabash, Room 1440, Chicago, IL 60603; www.newsandletters.org.

People’s Tribune, intended as “the voice of millions struggling for survival,” is meant to “educate politically those millions on the basis of their own experience.” Until recently People’s Tribune was published by the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, a party that split from the Communist Party USA in 1968. $20/yr. (11 issues) from Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654; www.lrna.org.

The Militant, “a socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people” — and longtime publication (since 1928) of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), an organization that also runs Pathfinder bookstores and Pathfinder Press — is no longer officially owned or controlled by the SWP. $35/yr. (50 issues) from 306 W. 37th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; www.themilitant.com.

Workers World is a weekly founded in 1959 by Sam Marcy, when he split from the Socialist Workers Party to form the Workers World Party. Politics: Marxist-Leninist. $25/ yr. (50 issues) from 55 W. 17th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011; www.workers.org.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.