From Fourth International, Vol.I No.7, December 1940, p.178.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Fourth International is still an “international” magazine in circulation. By devious routes, and often at great personal danger, our foreign comrades still receive, read, and then pass on to others each issue of the magazine. The problem of circulation is one that can only be organized by comrades within the individual foreign countries where it is banned.
The great volume of correspondence passing between us two years ago, or even one year ago, has slowly dwindled because of the war conditions. Every now and then, however, we receive a letter that is not only a great source of encouragement, but strengthens our resolve to continue every effort to get the FI into war-torn Europe.
Such a letter is one just received from a comrade who finally made his way to South America. It reads in part, “... there were long periods when it was difficult to even see friends, not to mention passing along the FI. It was even worse after the invasion. I did get one of the issues and it was like a breath of fresh air. It was pretty old and dirty and I don’t know how many people had used it before me, but it must have been plenty. Now that I am at this address I should like to receive copies regularly. Thanks very much.”
The story of that “old and dirty” magazine is a revolutionary tale that we can only guess. However, we do know that this case history is not an isolated one and that many more copies of the Fourth International, worn but still legible, are reaching the hands of European workers.
This, the December issue, is reaching you only a few weeks after the November number. Due to technical difficulties the magazine has fallen further and further behind its scheduled publication date at the beginning of each month. To remedy this the FI will appear every three weeks until we are again back on schedule. This imposes a special task upon all comrades and branches.
All the operating expenses in this office will be telescoped by this plan and it is essential that the branches give us the closest possible cooperation. Don’t wait until the end of the month to pay for your bundles; pay for them within two weeks. In this respect Chicago, long the object of this department’s innuendos, has forged ahead to a leading position in the country. B. Radlow is the new literature agent and no doubt deserves lion’s share of the credit. He not only payed for the complete November bundle one week after receiving it (the first time in Chicago history), but he also made a substantial payment on the past due balance. Nothing affords us greater pleasure than to salute the renaissance of Chicago.
Another and equally important task facing the branches this month is obtaining subscription renewals. When the Fourth International was founded, the entire party launched a subscription drive with results that were highly satisfactory. Most of the subs obtained were for six months and the majority of them expire with this issue. Every branch will receive a list of the expirations in its territory. A personal call must be made upon each subscriber in an effort to obtain a renewal. Form letters from New York are not enough; it is the personal call that brings results. This must be number one on the branch agendas this month. And by the way, take along SA blanks when making the calls. The combination offer of one year’s subscription to both publications for $3, is an attractive one.
Paid advertising used to be a small but steady source of income for the revolutionary press. The pressure of bourgeois public opinion has, however, frightened most merchants to the stage where they wouldn’t accept a full page ad in the FI even if it were free. It was refreshing, to say the least, when a New York bookshop bought the back page of the November FI and actually made money on the deal. The Modern Bookshop advertised a special Christmas book combination and made this offer only in this magazine. It was therefore simple to obtain an accurate picture of the pulling power of that ad. If this were a bourgeois publication we would make up a fancy brochure around this incident and mail it to all our potential advertisers. Alas, being a Socialist publication we have no illusions and know full well the inability, or even the desire, of the small merchants to withstand their class pressure. But next time we see a four-color promotion put out by Life, or Collier’s, or The Saturday Evening Post, we know that we could tell them a few things about “reader loyalty.”
Last updated on 22.9.2007