April 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm #85472AnonymousInactive
It seems there is a campaign to save the Socialist Standard.
I think I will add my support for thatApril 17, 2017 at 4:14 pm #126594AnonymousInactive
I think we should continue printing the Socialist Standard, there are many parts of the world where workers do not have a computer, or do not have access to a computer or internet. Most peoples around the world they only know about the existence of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the others companion parties are unknownIt is the only journal around the whole world which is making a correct analysis about the world situation and the only journal which has expressed the real conception of socialism since 1904.This is one of the reason why I support the idea of creating a central body composed of delegates of all the companion parties of the World Socialist Movement, and potential members should apply to that central organization instead of applying by geoprahic locationApril 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm #126595irwellianParticipant
Here's the email I sent as a non-member to spgb@ address: Comrades, Sorry to hear about your conference motion to cease publication of the print issue of the Socialist Standard. I'm currently a subscriber, have been reading your publication since 1980 and feel this would be a big loss to the socialist cause. Yes, I realise the issue of costs, that fewer people read print publications these days and that there's an increase in people reading material online. Still, I believe ceasing print publication would be a bad move. Online publications tend to only get read by those actively searching out a specific publication (or specific type of publication), whereas print publications can be found more easily by the non initiated via street sales or shops. I appreciate the lack of radical bookshops these days but that just means other avenues need looking at more carefully. I've found that some newsagents and small independent booksellers will take radical publications as long as they get a cut of the cover price. This can be done on an individual basis by your members in various towns but I also understand that chain newsagents such as McColl's have an arrangement with that dreadful publication, the Morning Star, so there's probably no reason a similar arrangement couldn't be negotiated with the Socialist Standard. Another thing to consider is the recent development of the "print on demand" industry, so rather than having a large set print run, this can now be tailored to suit much smaller or more targeted runs to cover your subscribers and the reduced number of outlets but with the option to extend the run if need be. A quick google search will show a number of companies which can provide such a service. I'm not an SPGB member, I'm actually a long term member of the Anarchist Federation but have always seen the Socialist Party as a vital element of the "thin red line" of principled adherents of the revolutionary socialist/communist idea. Like I say, it would be a sad day for the Socialist Standard to fold, so I would really appreciate it if my comments could be included or read out during your conference discussions on the day.April 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm #126596
I think discontinuing the printing of the SS would be frankly disastrous for the SPGB and would sharply diminish its profile in all sorts of ways. Think of all the kinds of actvities that are actually facilitated by having physical copies of the SS around, What would be the point in going to political events and possibly meeting people on the same wavelength there without a supply of SSs? It would reduce the SPGB to a collection of atomised computer nerds It would also reduce both the usefulness and the incentive to hold public meetings when youve got no literature available at such meetings for visitors to browse through If SS sales are declining you need to be thinking of ways to arrest and reverse this decline rather than abandon the SS in its current format. The Party has a fair bit of money. How about using some of it in a big campaign to get retail outlets throughout the UK stocking it on very favourable terms to them?Seriously, this is a crazy idea. Who thought of it? Have they thought of all the ramifications for other kinds of activity? I believe the SPGB is currently mounting a campaign to raise awareness of the organisation. Well, how are you going to respond to enquirers who write in in the absence of the 3 free copies of the SS offer. What are you gonna do? Refer them to the the website? What incentive would there even be for them to write in if they can simply google "SPGB". The volume of contacts and interactions will diminish significantly if you become little more than an internet phenomenon. Obviously I am not saying dont make full use of the internet but dont abandon the more "physical" approach in the process. These thing should complement not preclude each other While Im on the subject what about pamphlets? Frankly the Party should be churning these out every year – a dozen or so at least per year. If a tiny outfit like the Libertarian Alliance can produce literally 100s of pamphlets covering all sorts of subjects, topical and otherwise then, for sure, so can the SPGB. Think Big and adapt. You are selling yourself short with all this negativity. Its as if the SPGB doesnt believe in itself anymore. With the wholesale decline of the left and its attachment to state capitalism the SPGB should be gaining ground not losing it, It should be standing out as a beacon of socialist enlightenment, a vibrant centre of socialist research and debate and an increasingly well known reference point, nationally and internationally, for any worker beginning to show an interest in socialism. But it is not . Why not?April 17, 2017 at 7:07 pm #126597ALBKeymaster
Don't worry. It's a crackpot idea that will be laughed out of court when it comes up at Conference the week after next (for the first time in 112 years our Annual Conference has not been held at Easter but has been moved to the MayDay weekend because of transport problems, and some of us have not known what to do over the holiday !). But we are a democratic organisation and branches are free to put forward way-out and irresponsible ideas that will be shot down in flames when it comes to the discussion and subsequent vote, as will be the case with this one. The Lancaster branch delegate, if one turns up, is going to be in an invidious position. This is the same branch that proposed that we should ask people to pay to read the Socialist Standard on line. That got shot down in flames too.April 17, 2017 at 7:36 pm #126598alien1Participant
as long as it is fiscally possible we should continue to put out a hard print version of SSApril 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm #126599J SurmanParticipant
Checking in on my daily basis, relieved to read ALB's post above. I endorse all the comments above and send strong support to keep the Socialist Standard in print – for multifarious reasons.April 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm #126600AnonymousInactive
This is a completely thoughtless and potentially detrimental motion to the interests of the party. The proposing branch clearly doesn't engage in any other activity other than to hold its rather spasmodic internal meetings. If it did it would soon become obvious to it how essential the print version of the Socialist Standard is to the branches that hold public meetings and street stalls, not to mention the bookshops that are still more than content to display it (and sell it) such as Bookmarks in London and Barrett's in Glasgow.April 17, 2017 at 9:39 pm #126601
I guess I imagined that that the decision to shut down the Socialist Standard in its present format was a foregone conclusion and for which reason a campaign to "Save the Socialist Standard" had been launched. Hence my sense of dismay. I am mightily relieved to hear that it is simply a proposal by a branch that is up for discussion amd a vote at conference. I would urge the comrades behind this proposal to think again – to widen their thinking about the role and significance of a journal like the Socialist Stadard to an organisation like the SPGB. This is a clear case of the folly of adopting a narrow accountants approach to the subject. The availability of the SS in a physical form is closely bound up with all sorts of other activities that make the SPGB what it is and without which, I believe, the organisation would succumb to an irreversible decline Literature lies at the heart of socialist political activity and with that in mind, I would I seriously recommend the SPGB think about my earlier suggestion – about signficantly stepping up the output of pamphlets in particular and publishing much more in the way of "position papers" and educational documents such as those featured on this site, I can assure you these items are enormously helpful to individuals first coming into contact with socialist ideas as I know from my own interactions with such individuals having referred them to this siteApril 17, 2017 at 10:53 pm #126602imposs1904Participant
Horrible idea. I hope it gets voted down,April 18, 2017 at 6:38 am #126603alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
No, i don't think it is a crack-pot idea but i do believe it will be easily defeated but it will not be the first time the party has been dinosaurs and refused to recognise that times are a-changing. We have an opportunity to make the monthly Standard an online weekly or even a daily propaganda medium – the aspiration of our founding members for the Socialist Standard …a daily commentary on capitalism and a daily advocacy of socialism. One which goes beyond even their imagination in that it can incorporate video and music and podcasts. We struggle to find outlets for the Standard yet we have a world-wide platform that is forever growing and becoming more accessible. It is not a time for sentimental attachments and nostalgia for days gone by.YouTube has replaced Hyde Park Speakers Corner. I think there is an amendment which will ensure a yearly printed omnibus of the Standard. Although it is not specific, i think it should be the "Best of.." and not necessarily annually…it could be twice a year or quarterly.Surely, a de facto published book a few times every year is a good substitute and alternative and maybe – just a maybe- a better chance of getting it on the shelves commercially.And when a hard-copy is required for any special events, it would not be difficult to print a Special edition of the Socialist Standard with a dedicated theme and as i have said before – hand it out free. What is embarrassing is our leaflets that we distribute, always very general and because of the demand of space, omitting much of our case and its nuances. Those who remain fixated of the printed Standard, apart from the occasional street stall, have any member or branch did what was regularly done in the past – stood on the street-corner selling it? I think this will be something we will return to every few years and when we do eventually adopt an e-zine format for the Standard we will be Johnny-come-latelys with all the associated problems.April 18, 2017 at 8:43 am #126604LewParticipant
Here are a few reasons for discontinuing the printed Standard:Sales of the printed Standard have been in decline for many years. There is no forseable and realistic change to that trend.More people read the Standard online than in print. It is reasonable to expect that trend to continue.The printed Standard consumes valuable resources in terms of money and members time. For the effort involved it reaches relatively few people.Our website consumes very little resources in comparison to the printed Standard. For the effort involved its reach to the working class is limitless.Currently we have the Standard appearing monthly online, by which time some or all of the content is out of date. It's anachronistic to wait until the printed Standard comes out to see the Standard onlineIf articles for the Standard were edited and uploaded for as they arrive this would improve the "stickiness" for the website and people may return more often. We should be championing free access rather than following a failing model of capitalist consumerism.Last, but by no means least, this does not preclude HO, branches or individuals from printing off PDF copies of articles or whole Standards as required.– LewApril 18, 2017 at 9:05 am #126605alanjjohnstone wrote:No, i don't think it is a crack-pot idea but i do believe it will be easily defeated but it will not be the first time the party has been dinosaurs and refused to recognise that times are a-changing. We have an opportunity to make the monthly Standard an online weekly or even a daily propaganda medium – the aspiration of our founding members for the Socialist Standard …a daily commentary on capitalism and a daily advocacy of socialism. One which goes beyond even their imagination in that it can incorporate video and music and podcasts. We struggle to find outlets for the Standard yet we have a world-wide platform that is forever growing and becoming more accessible. It is not a time for sentimental attachments and nostalgia for days gone by.YouTube has replaced Hyde Park Speakers Corner. I think there is an amendment which will ensure a yearly printed omnibus of the Standard. Although it is not specific, i think it should be the "Best of.." and not necessarily annually…it could be twice a year or quarterly.Surely, a de facto published book a few times every year is a good substitute and alternative and maybe – just a maybe- a better chance of getting it on the shelves commercially.And when a hard-copy is required for any special events, it would not be difficult to print a Special edition of the Socialist Standard with a dedicated theme and as i have said before – hand it out free. What is embarrassing is our leaflets that we distribute, always very general and because of the demand of space, omitting much of our case and its nuances. Those who remain fixated of the printed Standard, apart from the occasional street stall, have any member or branch did what was regularly done in the past – stood on the street-corner selling it? I think this will be something we will return to every few years and when we do eventually adopt an e-zine format for the Standard we will be Johnny-come-latelys with all the associated problems.
No I would respectfully disagree Alan The case for retaining the printed version of the Standard does not in any way detract from the need to fully exploit the internet. In fact, there is already. in effect, an e-zine version of the Standard which appears every month on this site. Rather, the argument is that there enormous danger in the SPGB becoming mainly, if not entirely, an internet-based organisation. I predict it will lead to an increased sense of atomisation and alienatiom among the membership leading to a significant decline in said membership without the solid underpinning of physical activity. And so much of the actual physical acitvity that the SPGB does is bound up with the existence of printed SS as the main bearer of socialist ideas by the organisation. If you remove the printed SS, you cut out a substantial part of what makes the SPGB what it is. The internet cannot really substitute for face to face interactions Let a thousand flowers bloom, I say. Of course, develop the internet side of things but also develop the real world physical approach to activity as well. For starters, seriously think about a new campaign to promote the SS via retail outlets and coordinate this with the wider advertising campaign in various newspapers/journal that I have heard about which is about to be launched. But you can't really encourage people to get in touch with you without some kind of inducement – namely the special offer of 3 free issues of the SS in printed format. That is another very powerful reason for retaining the printed version of the SS – It provides much more significant feedback data than any amount of anonymous internet hitsApril 18, 2017 at 10:34 am #126606jondwhiteParticipant
Here's what the SWP have said over the years about printed pressQuote:When people want to taunt at revolutionary socialists they often make fun of the effort we put into producing, distributing and selling our newspapers. The stock caricature of us is of wild-eyed, misdressed lunatics clutching wads of papers that nobody wants to buy. It is an image that ex-revolutionaries now making a remunerative career in respectable politics like to encourage. They can compare their present ‘influence’ as they sit on parliamentary committees or administer municipal parks with their wasted past standing outside factories failing to sell one or other weekly paper.Quote:Hostility to the revolutionary paper (as outdated) goes with hostility to the party (as elitist). Hence, arguments about new forms of communication also go with arguments about new forms of organizing. This argument is now widespread on the left and finds an echo in our party.It’s an argument that tends to privilege technology as the driving force in society: with a smart phone in our pocket what can’t we, networked to one another, do to change the world? The idea that only the working class has the power to change the world is not one that comes naturally to those who hold this argument – and the idea of ‘organising’ to make that power effective even less so (indeed, ‘organisation’ is seen as imposing on and taking over movements).Quote:Laurie criticises us for continuing to produce and sell a weekly newspaper. I agree that no organisational practice is sacred, and how we communicate has changed in recent years: thus we now put a lot into our website, though no doubt we should do a lot more.But Socialist Worker allows us to have an organised weekly dialogue with thousands of other activists. One of its advantages is precisely that it doesn’t just exist in cyberspace but is a physical product that has to be sold in a specific time and space – this particular neighbourhood or workplace or picket-line or demonstration – and that involves face-to-face interaction.This allows us to develop continuing relationships with other activists that, we believe, strengths both us and the broader struggle.Quote:Parties don't sell papers expecting that the dissemination of ideas in hard copy will by itself change the world. The newspaper is there when the internet isn't. The newspaper is a way of overcoming atomisation, giving complete strangers the occasion to stop and talk to one another about political ideas. You stand in a street, or in a workplace, asking people to stop and buy a copy of the newspaper not so that they will take it home and passively absorbe its contents, but so that a minority will stop and talk to you about what's wrong with the world and where we can go from here. It's a way of building up a network of real life relationships in a way that the internet can't yet replicate, much less replace.April 18, 2017 at 10:47 am #126607alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
Lew has done an excellent dispassionate exposition of why we must move on. I agree with his flexibility in doing run-offs of appropriate articles at appropriate occasions. I agree with you Robbo that we should let a thousand flowers bloom and like Lew i have also suggested that we also do hard-copy distribution of the Standard, not blindly as we do now, but to targetted audiences and events.I am all for retail outlets but sadly we have tried and not succeeded…why do you think we placed a bar-code on the Standard, Robbo? We have approached the commercial distributors. They simply aen't interested. We have to create our own means of putting out the message.If we are to be truthful, on the wider market, bookshops and booksellers are slowly disappearing. Kindle is a blossoming business. Gnome could only cite two but i am sure he could add some more such as Housemans but stockists we can count on his fingers. No getting away from that.The free three Standards has been fruitful, no doubt about that…bringing in interested and eventual new members. A free pamphlet or two, can be its replacement. We can still have a form of subscription for an e-zine…delivering it to your inbox and for applying, we could offer some of our seldom-used promotion stuff…a teacup…a tee-shirt. We have tried to gauge feedback, but i think you do the internet an injustice when it comes to evaluating hits and their worth. There are many tools and i am by no means an expert but i think members who are, could contribute their thoughts on this aspect. Online surveys…online quizzes…As for the face to face interaction, you overlook another proposal, Robbo – a national membership structure – not a branch based one. That will be more of a threat than any lack of interaction on the internet…but i question the basis of your assumption and cite such as this discussion list that tries to remedy that handicap.The Party members at one time were organised around the Socialist Standard. I recall in my early membership we spent Saturday mornings and afternoons street-selling it and on Friday and Saturday evenings pub-selling it. Our monthly order was in the hundreds and hundreds were sold. No branch is able to perform like that these days. Even members aren't too fussy about buying a copy when they can read online. The online monthly version is not a fit substitute for an e-zine and was not originally designed to be. Adapted by our imaginative internet committee i think we could do very much better.I am a bit biased because i have tried to make our blog into a daily press review of socialist related posts often without the customary conclusion ( …with socialism this will mean…), hoping readers can reach their own insight but the input it is still mainly the work of one person with limited internet (or artistic layout ) skills and a copy and paste thief, rather than original creative writing. A lot of stuff is left out. RobertS does a thrice weekly news-round up. The blog does not include too much theory whereas the Scottish blog does include general promotional material every day.I envisage some very necessary editorial control being imposed which is a weakness of the current blog practice but i am sure some form of review and approval of submissions can easily be devised and then shaped by further experienceThe e-zine should exist to draw in much more collaborative cooperative involvement and participation than the blog. I am sure ALB once said that the problem with the Standard is that we have too much to choose from. Surely we shouldn't have this thought of as a problem. Any way, Lancaster deserve credit for raising the issue and i recall being extremely critical of their previous idea that we charge for reading the Standard online. We shouldn't duplicate the newspapers who are charging for what they cal their premium articles (The Telegraph) or place pay-walls (The Times) or limited access to 5 or 10 stories (The Herald).
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