From International Socialism, 2:2, Autumn 1978.
Transcribed by Christian Høgsbjerg.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Response to the first issue of the new journal has been encouraging. Sales have been better than we expected and it has spurred a number of readers to turn themselves into contributors. In this issue we are publishing two responses to articles in IS2:1 – Andrew Collier in violent disagreement with Ian Birchall’s views on art, and Floya Anthias in rather less violent disagreement with Irene Bruegel’s views on what keeps the family going.
But many comrades we respect have criticised us for having too many long words, too many long sentences and too many obscure references. It’s a criticism we expected, but that doesn’t make it any easier to answer. We would like to reply: revolutionary theory deals with complicated problems in a complicated world, so it needs technical terms and complex argument, and every term and reference can’t be explained on every occasion without making every article a book, and a very long book at that.
True though that is, it’s only half the story. A lot of Marxist theory (and a lot more of what passes for it) is written in a quite unnecessarily obscure style. Sometimes it is done quite simply to hide a poverty of ideas. But more often it is because the author can’t escape from the bad habits of the academic world or the small revolutionary discussion circle. We are just as much victims of that tradition as anyone else (on second thoughts, looking at our competitors, not quite so much as some). We are going to make a determined effort to break out of it.
It won’t happen at once. So help us, by unmercifully pointing out any unnecessary obscurity of presentation. All we ask is that, before you do so, you make the effort to see whether it covers up something of value.
Many of our readers will already be familiar with the SWP International Discussion Bulletin. We can say that with some certainty as a comparison between the distribution of our first issue and the established network of the Bulletin reveals that we are speaking to much the same audience both in Britain and abroad. And that is as it should be because many of the articles both publications have received have not fitted neatly into place into either an “international” or a “theoretical” journal.
For this reason we have decided to merge the publications. So from January, International Socialism will be appearing in an expanded format, devoting extra attention to the international dimension of theoretical debate. So keep up the flow of contributions, especially, given our new development, contributions from our readers abroad.
Last updated on 12.3.2012