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MONTHLY REVIEW (MR) Printer Friendly Page

146 W. 29th Street - Suite 6W
New York, NY

Phone :(212) 691-2555 / (800) 670-9499
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  • Marxist magazine founded in 1949
  • Though "independent" of the Communist Party, supported all Communist revolutions; took the Maoist position during the Sino-Soviet dispute
  • Closely linked to Marxist publisher Monthly Review Press

Monthly Review (MR) is a Marxist magazine owned and published by the non-profit, tax-exempt Monthly Review Foundation. As of May 2006, MR's total readership (including paid circulation and newsstand sales) was just under 7,000, which is roughly the same circulation it has had for 55 years. Its pinnacle of influence came during the late 1960s and early 1970s when, for a brief period, its readership reached 11,500 at the height of anti-Vietnam War protests and New Left activism.

Monthly Review was launched in May 1949 at the dawn of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union by Marxist economist Paul Sweezy, son and heir of a wealthy banker, and Marxist historian and author Leo Huberman.The magazine was created as a rallying voice for hard-left supporters of Henry Wallace's failed 1948 Progressive Party campaign.

"Harvard's F.O. Matthiessen, a gay socialist and the original doyen of American studies....personally put up most of the cash needed for several issues," wrote Paul Buhle in The Nation's 50th Anniversary tribute to Monthly Review. Using Matthiessen's donation of $5,000 per year for three years, the magazine, Sweezy later wrote, conceived of its mission as seeing "the present as history" through a lens of Marxist theory. Its objective was to promote international communism and to hasten the inevitable collapse of capitalism.

Sweezy and Huberman published generally sympathetic views of existing Marxist dictatorships. Any problems in these totalitarian states were described as having been caused by their capitalist enemies or by deviations from the principles of the Marxist founders.

In 1951, to create a publisher for radical journalist I.F. Stone's rejected book The Hidden History of the Korean War, which characterized that war as a Washington plot, Sweezy and Huberman launched Monthly Review Press (MRP).

In 1953 Huberman was called to testify as a hostile witness before the committee chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. His testimony was published in the August 1953 issue of Monthly Review.

In 1954 Sweezy was twice subpoenaed by the New Hampshire Attorney General and asked to divulge the names of his associates and whether he advocated Communism. Sweezy, who had been Chairman of the Wallace campaign in New Hampshire, refused to answer, invoking his First Amendment right of free expression. He was cited for contempt of court and briefly jailed. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the citation in 1957.

After 1957, Monthly Review's political line shifted from fellow-traveling Stalinism to Maoism.

In 1959 and 1960 Sweezy and Huberman visited Cuba, touring the island with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Soon thereafter Monthly Review Press published the Sweezy and Huberman book Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution. In 1961 MRP published Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare; in 1963 The United States, Cuba and Castro by Marxist historian William Appleman Williams; and in 1968 Socialism in Cuba and Guevara's Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War. Monthly Review continues to post on its website its September 1961 Huberman interview with Guevara, and to post stories favorably reporting Castro's latest speeches.

Along with its unstinting propaganda in behalf of Cuba, MR has supported the regimes of the late Soviet Union, Communist China, and North Korea. In recent years its editorial emphasis has been on U.S. imperialism and the need to curtail capitalism and private property to preserve the environment.

When Huberman died in 1968, he was replaced as Co-Editor by Harry Magdoff, a Marxist economist who ran the Current Business Analysis Division in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's and President Harry Truman's Department of Commerce, and then worked as special assistant to Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace. The opening of the Soviet archives and the declassifying of the Venona transcripts have revealed that Magdoff was a Soviet spy.

Sweezy continued to co-edit the magazine until 1997 when Ellen Meiksins Wood took his position. In 2000 she handed the reins to Co-Editors Robert McChesney and John Bellamy Foster. McChesney ceased to be a co-editor in 2004, the same year that Sweezy died.

After having attended Monthly Review's 50th Anniversary celebration in May 1999 -- featuring loyalists Ossie Davis, Adrienne Rich and Cornel West -- reporter Paul Buhle wrote in The Nation that he was reminded of "a phrase adopted by immigrant German socialists about themselves just a century ago: Alte Genossen, old comrades, grayhaired and perhaps a bit bloodied from too-frequent contact with unyielding stone walls, but unbowed and still full of lively ideas on one large subject in particular."




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