From Fourth International, Vol.16 No.3, Summer 1955, p.74.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
For a magazine cramped by such financial limitations as Fourth International, it is hazardous to promise definite articles for the next issue. We learned this again on checking ouir promises in tlhe last issue and comparing them with the 32 pages in which to make good on them.
The main responsibility for our predicament over space in this issue rests, naturally, on the shoulders of James P. Cannon, whose absorbing and illuminating political estimate of the IWW heads the table of contents.
When we suggested that he write something about the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World, he replied that the proposal was “rather appealing” and that “I have thought a lot about this subject, and would have a lot to say about it that hasn’t been said by others.”
A soon as the mailman handed us the weighty manuscript we realized that Comrade Cannon had not exaggerated in indicating he could give us “a lot” – at least a lot for a single issue of our magazine.
But it turned out to be not “just history.” Cannon’s evaluation of the IWW is grounded on the Marxist concept of revolutionary socialist organuzation and on a lifetime of experience that began in the IWW itself. What he really gives us therefore is a deeper appreciation of the most burning problem facing the working class today – the problem of organizing a party capable of leading us into the new world of socialism.
That was why space considerations went, along with our last issue’s announcement of the prospective table of contents. We mention the matter mainly as a reminder to anyone considering be coming a financial contributor to Fourth International. What a magazine we could put out with just a little more dough!
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The sketches of St. John, Haywood and Doran are all taken from The Liberator of September 1918. Art Young was the artist. Together with John Reed. author of Ten Days that Shook the World, he covered the Chicago mass trial of IWW leaders and members for the socialist magazine. The caption under the sketch of “Red” Dorian is likewise from The Liberator. We thought it a good sample of the spirit of the Wobblies as they were.
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Shouldn’t the editor have condensed the first chapter of Plekhanov’s study of Belinski, which appeared in the spring issue of Fourth International? This question is asked by Jeanne Morgan. She writes that she found the chapter rough going because of the obscurity today of the various figures Plekhanov takes up.
That’s a standing problem we face in selecting material for the Arsenal of Marxism. Why include references to figures and issues of only academic interest today?
One reason why we think it better to include them is that an article sometimes achieves a historic importance that requires reprinting it in full. Engels explains this in the case of the Communist Manifesto which is published to this day with all the polemics against sects that died a century ago.
The other reason is our reaction to the vicious (and we mean vicious) Stalinist habit of condensing, slashing and excerpting from the Marxist classics, always with a tendentious aim. Why must they be the judges of what is applicable today and what has lost its timeliness? Why not the reader?
Our policy is to present the original as it went into the historic record; and, where it is within our means, to provide explanatory editorial notes. Sorry if couldn’t do this for the first chapter of Plekhanov’s work on Belinski.
Incidentally, Jeanne Morgan expresses her “admiration and pleasure with what must surely be a beautifully fluid translation.”
Last updated on: 2 April 2009