At its founding, Political Affairs was the theoretical organ of the Communist Party, USA, generally publishing articles intended almost exclusively for members of the Communist Party. In the late 1990s, that role changed, and Political Affairs shed its role as an internal organ of the Communist Party and adopted a broader stance.
It provides Marxist perspectives on many contemporary issues and engages in theoretical discussions relevant to Marxists and the labor movement. In addition to articles devoted to national and international politics, the magazine offers poetry, book reviews, occasional reviews of music and film, interviews, and occasional short stories.
The publication can be traced back to The Masses the famous Greenwich Village paper of the 1910s. After being suppressed by the government, the paper continued as The Liberator. Independently of this, the Friends of Soviet Russia had established another monthly, Soviet Russia, in 1919. In 1924 the title was changed to Soviet Russia Pictorial. Finally, William Z. Foster had begun Labor Herald as the official publication of his Trade Union Educational League in March 1922. When the Workers Party of America had finally been consolidated as the unified above-ground Communist Party in the United States, it was determined that the party should have a theoretical monthly as well as a daily, in line with Lenin's guideline in What Is To Be Done? The above three publications were combined into Workers Monthly, which debuted in November 1924. It changed its name to The Communist in 1927 and to Political Affairs in 1944.