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Fourth International, Winter 1956


From Our Readers


From Fourth International, Vol.17 No.1, Winter 1956, pp.2, 35.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Joyce Cowley’s article Youth in a Delinquent Society, which appeared in the fall issue of Fourth International, won an unusually favorable response from our readers.

In Los Angeles, for instance, J.M. wrote that “there’s been a lot of appreciative remarks and complimentary comment around here on the scholarship and insight” of this study of the problems facing youth in today’s world.

A New York psychiatrist, whose main interest is in the field of child psychology, appears to have felt the same way, for he considered it “the best thing I have read on this subject yet.”

P.A. reported from Boston that the first copies featuring the article “were gobbled up almost as soon as they were on display” and to please send more.

Our Oakland agent B.F. wrote us,

“The latest issue of the FI is terrific. The last issue sold out on the campus and we expect to order more of this issue soon. The lead article on the youth ought to attract a wider audience and our wonderful magazine will begin to reach many new readers as a result. A newsstand dealer told me he thinks this issue will sell like the old hot cakes.”

Theodore Edwards’ exposure of the drug-makers and the American Medical Association in The Polio Vaccine Scandal also received favorable comment as a type of article that should be regularly represented in our table of contents.

The series by James P. Cannon Early Years of the American Communist Movement, written in the form of letters to a historian, has aroused considerable interest in radical circles. Through the grapevine we have learned that this even includes prominent Stalinists who were once sincere revolutionists and who are mentioned by Cannon in his account of the problems that beset the early leadership of the American communist movement.

A comment relayed to us is perhaps typical of the reaction:

“it will be a strange twist of fate if these historical recollections live long after most of Cannon’s other writings have been forgotten. The odd thing is that these memories seem very much alive, whereas I find difficulty reading the doctrinal controversies of the thirties. Even his style strikes a fresh, inviting tone.”

What seem to us to be some of the finest and most instructive of all the letters are yet to appear. Readers who have been following Letters to a Historian with special interest can count, on a real treat in coming issues.

The judgment “fresh, inviting” applies, too, we think to Cannon’s article in the current issue The Debs Centennial. The contrast is to the ballyhooed ritual staged a few months ago by various circles, where hypocrisy vied with ignorance and misunderstanding of Deb’s true importance. In our opinion Cannon’s article submits a necessary correction for the record.

The Debs Centennial was conceived by Comrade Cannon as a companion piece to his appreciation of the IWW, which appeared in the summer issue last year. The two articles are scheduled for publication in pamphlet form.

We regret that we could not complete the series by Plekhanov on Belinski in this issue. Due to circumstances beyond his control, the translator was unable to complete his work in time for us. However, it is definitely promised for the next number.

Plekhanov’s presentation of Belinski and the development of his philosophical views appears to have met with a somewhat mixed response from our readers. We knew that it would be welcomed primarily by people particularly interested in the Marxist approach to rather deep philosophical problems, and we expected that most others would be indifferent to it. The warmth of the pros and cons surprised us.

A.S. of Long Beach, Calif., for instance, wrote us:

Thanks for a great magazine. Your article on Belinski and philosophy is a little too high brow. Give us more articles that us ordinary mortals can understand. Jim Cannon’s articles are tops. He writes for us plain guys.”

On the other hand H.B. of Seattle reports a reader “who is very excited” about the series on Belinski and who asks us each time we call “if the new FI with the next installment is here yet and urges us not to forget to bring it to him as soon as it arrives.”

Wm.J. of New Jersey wrote us:

“Just finished reading the second installment Belinski and Rational Reality. Genuinely glad there will be another part in the next issue of the magazine.

“Knowing both Plekhanov and Belinski in the original, I could not stop admiring the conscientious work of your translator. He obviously has a profound understanding of the work of the two authors, else he could not have translated the above into English so well.

“It is really a tribute to the translator and to your magazine.”

G.B. of Detroit, we suppose, reflects the sentiment of those especially interested in studying Marxist philosophy. He suggests that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Plekhanov’s birth, which is in 1956, by publishing the article on Belinski as a pamphlet.

“You need not run off millions,” he writes; “they won’t sell fast but they’ll sell steadily.” In his opinion the pamphlet wou1d be appreciated by Marxists throughout the English-speaking world.

To us that seemed a happy idea and we are going to see what can be done about putting out a 100th anniversary edition of this work by the Marxist teacher of whom Lenin said,

“It is impossible to become a real communist without studying, really studying, everything that Plekhanov has written on philosophy, as this is the best of the whole world literature of Marxism.”

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Last updated on: 7 April 2009