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Ernest Erber

Building Up of NI Circulation Is a Political Necessity

(4 November 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 44, 4 November 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The main aim of our present drive to build up the circulation of The New International is a distinctly political one.

It is true, of course, that an increased circulation would ease the financial problems of the magazine and permit us to render a more efficient service to our readers. But the financial, problem is not our most pressing one.

Journal of Marxist Theory

Our most pressing problem is born of this, really tragic, situation:

  1. The postponed proletarian revolution and the continued decay of social institutions has produced developments that confront our generation of Marxists with questions of such historical scope as no other generation has faced since that of Marx himself.
  2. A whole new “lost generation” of young intellectuals and politically awakened young workers do not know where to turn in trying to understand the world about them – a world more complex and contradictory, perhaps, than any since the dissolution of the Roman Empire.
  3. The New International is the sole journal of Marxist theory in the world that even recognizes that history has presented us with problems that are both new and fundamental in their character, let alone the fact that we represent the only serious and fruitful efforts to answer them. We record this fact without boasting – for there is nothing to boast about – but with gravity.
  4. But with all we have to offer the thousands of serious students of our times, we reach too small a number, 3,000. Were The New International widely known and rejected by those who are seeking a way out, a situation would prevail that could not be solved by “campaigns” or promotion of any sort. That tragic situation consists precisely in the fact that our magazine remains as yet a “candle hidden under a bushel.” This is the problem that our present circulation drive must tackle.

Spread Living Marxism

The historical developments referred to above have been used by the enemies of Marxism, with ex-Marxists in the lead, to gleefully celebrate the “crisis of Marxism” and the “death of Marxism.” Marxism faces no crisis and it certainly is far from dead.

Those who have issued the certificate of death have yet to prove their competence as practicing physicians. But their voice reaches tens of thousands and supplies the intellectual fodder for a new generation of disillusioned youth, especially on college campuses. Little wonder that malnutrition of the mind is a striking feature in such circles today.

However, the reason why the talk about a “crisis of Marxism” makes such a profound impression is that there is really a “crisis of Marxists,” or, to be more exact, of “certain Marxists.” Those who believe that Marxism consists of “applying” the quotations of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky to the new phenomena, that there is really nothing new, that everything is working out according to the “finished program,” such “Marxists” really present the spectacle of being in a crisis.

Not dogma but living Marxism is required. Marxism is a method and a framework, not some kind of historical schema based upon “inevitability.” Such Marxism offers the only tools with which our complex and contradictory world can be analyzed. Our failure to energetically promote The New International really robs thousands of potential young Marxists of the opportunity to learn how to use these tools. Let us use the present drive to make a modest beginning and introduce at least 500 new readers to our magazine.

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Last updated: 17 July 2020