Jacobin (magazine)

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Jacobin
Jacobin fall 2013 cover.jpg
Issue 11/12 (fall 2013)
PublisherBhaskar Sunkara
CategoriesPolitics, culture
FrequencyQuarterly
Paid circulation60,000 (self-reported)[1]
Unpaid circulation2,000,000+ (self-reported) (online monthly)[1]
First issueWinter 2011
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York
LanguageEnglish
Websitejacobinmag.com
ISSN2158-2602

Jacobin is an American socialist quarterly magazine based in New York. It offers perspectives on politics, economics and culture. As of 2020, its self-reported paid print circulation was 60,000.[1]

History and overview[edit]

The publication began as an online magazine released in September 2010[2] but it expanded into a print journal later that year.[3] Jacobin has been described by its founder Bhaskar Sunkara as a radical publication being "largely the product of a younger generation not quite as tied to the Cold War paradigms that sustained the old leftist intellectual milieux like Dissent or New Politics, but still eager to confront, rather than table, the questions that arose from the experience of the left in the 20th century".[4]

In 2014, Sunkara has said that the aim of the magazine was to create a publication which combined resolutely socialist politics with the accessibility of titles such as The Nation and The New Republic.[5] He has also contrasted it to publications associated with small leftist groups, such as the International Socialist Organization's Socialist Worker and International Socialist Review which were oriented towards party members and other revolutionary socialists, seeking a broader audience than those works whilst still anchoring the magazine in a Marxist perspective.[6] In an interview he gave in 2018, Sunkara said that he intended for Jacobin to perform a similar role on the contemporary left to that undertaken by National Review on the post-war right, i.e. "to cohere people around a set of ideas, and to interact with the mainstream of liberalism with that set of ideas".[7]

Jacobin's popularity grew with the increasing attention on socialist ideas stimulated by Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, with subscriptions tripling from 10,000 in the summer of 2015 to 32,000 as of the first issue of 2017, with 16,000 of the new subscribers being added in the two months after Donald Trump's election.[7]

In late 2016, Jacobin's editorial team unionized, including a total of seven full- and part-time members. An associate editor and co-chair of the union explained that Jacobin had only recently had enough full-time members to warrant unionization.[8][9]

In spring 2017, Jacobin launched a peer-reviewed journal, Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy, which is today edited by New York University professor Vivek Chibber and a small editorial board. As of 2020, Catalyst claims a subscriber base of 5,000.[10]

In November 2018, the magazine's first foreign-language edition, Jacobin Italia, was launched. Sunkara described it as "a classic franchise model", with the parent publication providing publishing and editorial advice and taking a small slice of revenue, but otherwise granting the Italian magazine autonomy.[7] A Brazilian edition appeared in 2019,[11] and a German version started publishing in 2020: the latter grew out of Ada, an independent online magazine established in 2018 which primarily published translations of Jacobin articles.[12][13] The first issue of the German edition featured interviews with Kevin Kühnert and Grace Blakeley.[12]

In April 2020, Jacobin launched its YouTube channel featuring the Weekends program with Michael Brooks and Ana Kasparian. Brooks died suddenly in July 2020.[14][15][16][17]

In May 2020, some time after Bernie Sanders suspended his 2020 presidential campaign, Sanders' former adviser and speechwriter David Sirota joined Jacobin as editor-at-large.[18]

In 2020, Jacobin became an affiliated member of the Progressive International.[19]

[edit]

The name of the magazine derives from the 1938 book The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by C. L. R. James in which James ascribes the Haitian revolutionists a greater purity in regards to their attachment to the ideals of the French Revolution than the French Jacobins.[6]

According to creative director Remeike Forbes, the magazine's frequently used "Black Jacobin" logo was inspired by a scene in the movie Burn! referring to Nicaraguan national hero José Dolores Estrada,[20] but it represents Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture.[21]

Contributors[edit]

Notable Jacobin contributors have included Slavoj Žižek, Bob Herbert, Yanis Varoufakis, Hilary Wainwright, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jeremy Corbyn, and Pablo Iglesias Turrión. Sunkara has said he feels that "all of our writers fit within a broad socialist tradition", noting that the magazine does sometimes publish articles by liberals and social democrats, but that such pieces are written from a perspective that is consistent with the magazine's editorial vision, saying that "we might publish a piece by a liberal advocating single-payer healthcare, because they’re calling for the decommodification of a sector; and since we believe in the decommodification of the whole economy, it fits in". In terms of the sociological background of contributors, Sunkara acknowledged that they were mostly under the age of 35 and stated that "there are a lot of grad students, young adjunct professors or tenured professors. We also have quite a few organizers and union researchers involved [...] and people working in NGOs or around housing rights, that kind of thing".[5]

Ideology[edit]

Jacobin has been variously described as democratic socialist, socialist and Marxist.[22][23] Writing for the New Statesman in November 2013, Max Strasser suggested that Jacobin claims to "take the mantle of Marxist thought of Ralph Miliband and a similar vein of democratic socialism".[24] According to an article published in September 2014 by the Nieman Journalism Lab, Jacobin is a journal of "democratic socialist thought".[25]

In January 2013, The New York Times ran a profile of Sunkara, commenting on the publication's unexpected success and engagement with mainstream liberalism.[26] In an October 2013 article for Tablet, Michelle Goldberg discussed Jacobin as part of a revival of interest in Marxism among young intellectuals.[27] In February 2016, Jake Blumgart, who contributed to the magazine in its early years, stated that it "found an audience by mixing data-driven analysis and Marxist commentary with an irreverent and accessible style".[22]

In a 2014 interview published in New Left Review, Sunkara named a number of ideological influences on the magazine, including Michael Harrington, who he described as "very underrated as a popularizer of Marxist thought"; Ralph Miliband and others such as Leo Panitch who were influenced by Trotskyism without fully embracing it; theorists working in the Eurocommunist tradition; and "Second International radicals" including Vladimir Lenin and Karl Kautsky.[5]

In April 2016, Noam Chomsky has called the magazine "a bright light in dark times".[28]

In a March 2018 article published in the Weekly Worker, Jim Creegan highlighted the association of a number of the magazine's editors and writers with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), describing Jacobin as "the closest thing to a flagship publication of the DSA left" whilst also stressing the political diversity of contributors, incorporating "everyone from social democratic liberals to avowed revolutionaries". He also noted several features of the publication's editorial stance, namely its rejection of anti-communism; its skepticism regarding the possibility of the Democratic Party being transformed into a social-democratic movement through internal pressure, advocating instead the formation of a mass-based independent labor party; criticism of the parties of the Socialist International, which they argue have been responsible for imposing neoliberal austerity policies; and a conviction that the Nordic model of social democracy is ultimately not viable and that the only alternative to capitalism would be for militant labor and socialist movements to struggle to replace capitalism with socialism.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Us". Jacobin. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches 60,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of over 2,000,000 a month.
  2. ^ "This is what you need to know". Bookforum. September 28, 2010. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  3. ^ Blumgart, Jake (December 18, 2012). "The Next Left: An Interview with Bhaskar Sunkara". Boston Review. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  4. ^ "No Short-Cuts: Interview with the Jacobin". Idiom magazine. March 16, 2011. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Sunkara, Bhaskar (2014). "Interview: Project Jacobin". New Left Review. 90: 28–43. Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Jacobin Magazine: entretien avec Bhaskar Sunkara". revueperiode.net (French). October 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Baird, Robert P. (2 January 2019). "The ABCs of Jacobin". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  8. ^ Marans, Daniel (19 October 2016). "Workers Unionize At Socialist Magazine 'Jacobin'". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  9. ^ James, Brendan (19 October 2016). "Top Marx: socialist magazine Jacobin's staffers unionize". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  10. ^ "About Page". Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  11. ^ Wohlfarth, Tom. "Nicht mehr peinlich" [No longer embarrassing]. Neues Deutschland (in German). Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b Hackbarth, Daniel (14 May 2020). "Raus aus der Nische" [Get out of the niche]. WOZ Die Wochenzeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  13. ^ Hunziker, David (23 August 2018). "Eine Prise Optimismus, angelsächsische Art" [A pinch of optimism, Anglo-Saxon style]. WOZ Die Wochenzeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Remembering Our Friend and Comrade Michael Brooks". jacobinmag.com. Archived from the original on 2020-07-21. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  15. ^ Warnock, Caroline (2020-07-20). "Michael Brooks Dead: Popular Host of 'The Michael Brooks Show' Dies Suddenly". Heavy.com. Archived from the original on 2020-07-20. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  16. ^ "The Young Turks - Remembering Michael Brooks". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  17. ^ Wulfsohn, Joseph (2020-07-20). "Progressives mourn the loss of political commentator Michael Brooks". Fox News. Archived from the original on 2020-07-21. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  18. ^ "David Sirota Joins the Jacobin Team". jacobinmag.com. Archived from the original on 2020-05-15. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  19. ^ "Jacobin". Progressive International. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  20. ^ Forbes, Remeike (Spring 2012). "The Black Jacobin. Our visual identity". Jacobin. Archived from the original on 2017-12-30. Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  21. ^ "Jacobin Magazine: entretien avec Bhaskar Sunkara". revueperiode.net (French). October 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Blumgart, Jake (February 6, 2016). "Jawnts: Giving socialism a good name". Philly.com. Philadelphia Media Network. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Matthews, Dylan (21 March 2016). "Inside Jacobin: how a socialist magazine is winning the left's war of ideas". Vox. Archived from the original on 23 May 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  24. ^ Strasser, Max (9 November 2013). "Who are the new socialist wunderkinds of America?". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  25. ^ O'Donovan, Caroline (16 September 2014). "Jacobin: A Marxist rag run on a lot of petty-bourgeois hustle". Nieman Journalism Lab. Archived from the original on 10 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  26. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (January 1, 2013). "A Young Publisher Takes Marx Into the Mainstream". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  27. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (October 14, 2013). "A Generation of Intellectuals Shaped by 2008 Crash Rescues Marx From History's Dustbin". Tablet. Archived from the original on July 13, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  28. ^ Srinivasan, Meera (April 5, 2016). "The voice of the American Left". The Hindu. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  29. ^ Creegan, Jim (March 22, 2018). "Walking the Tightrope". Weekly Worker. Archived from the original on April 25, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]