[Marxism] reply from SOCIALISM & DEMOCRACY to J. Bustelo

ZENDIVE at aol.com ZENDIVE at aol.com
Sat Dec 27 09:17:15 MST 2008

Reply to Joaquín Bustelo

By Victor Wallis, managing editor, Socialism and Democracy

Socialism and Democracy has put out a call for short essays relevant to the 
present conjuncture and aimed at contributing to the development of a popular 
anticapitalist movement (see S&D's home page at www.sdonline.org). Joaquín 
Bustelo has argued against participation in our project on the grounds that our 
publisher (Routledge Journals) is a capitalist enterprise which charges high 
prices (he fails to note exactly who these prices apply to, which is not all its 
customers). He characterizes our arrangement as "apartheid publishing" and c
alls for free availability of information.

His description of S&D's diffusion is misleading on a number of counts.

Largely submerged in his attack is the fact that the "membership" 
subscription rate ($30 for three 200-page issues) is available to any individual 
("membership" is only a subscription category; there is no charge for it, and it 
entails no obligations). Even more important are some facts about the journal's 
availability that he does not mention:

** S&D is free to prisoners. We correspond with our prison readers and some 
of them write for the journal

** Electronic access is available independent of our publishers. All articles 
at least one year old are available for free on our own website. The files of 
more recent articles are also sent out on request by the editorial office 
(info at sdonline.org) without charge. In sum, the accusation that only those with 
money can use our resources is unfounded.

** The highest quoted charges refer to fully subscribing libraries, of which 
there are fewer than 100. However, approximately 5000 libraries around the 
world have electronic access and indexing of our articles at much lower prices, 
with preferential rates for low-income institutions.

It is important to specify, further, that Routledge in no way interferes with 
or questions our substantive editorial policies and practices. We urge you to 
judge us on the basis of what our writers actually say rather than on the 
basis of preconceptions grounded in an incomplete account of our channels of 

We do not deny the potential general relevance of the problem that Bustelo 
raises. We contend, however, that the challenge of working simultaneously within 
and in opposition to the status quo cannot but present dilemmas and 
contradictions which must be addressed on a case-by-case basis, recognizing among other 
things that some of the established institutions may themselves have been 
affected and altered by the presence of counter-hegemonic forces in the society. 
For Left projects not to take advantage of the resulting openings (provided of 
course that they entail no compromise of our positions) would be to cut 
ourselves off from many of the Left's natural constituencies.

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