Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Article excerpt

In universities today research, promotion, and tenure are increasingly based on publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. These journals are supposed to constitute the highest level of intellectual inquiry in the disciplines they represent. Yet, they are being transformed more and more into commodities subject to capitalist market conditions, subverting their purpose. Academic journal publication is now an oligopolistic industry with the five biggest commercial publishers accounting for about 40 percent of a $10 billion sector. Commercial academic journal publishers charge between three and nine times as much per page as scholarly society journals. Between 1970 and 1997 academic journal prices increased by a factor of thirty, growing by an average annual rate of more than 13 percent. Consequently, commercial publishers in this sector are currently reaping outsized profit margins on the the journal Political Theory in 2009, when SAGE replaced an existing editor with another seemingly more in Üne with SAGE's business plans without consulting the editorial board. In that case, however, political theorists learned of the editorial coup early in the process and responded publicly and aggressively, taking advantage of a number of blogs to circulate their objections, with hundreds of irate posts. This drew attention from the influential Chronicle of Higher Education. The result was that the new editor dropped out and SAGE backed down, presenting the whole matter as a "misunderstanding," and reverting to the status quo ante (Scott Jaschik, "Who Controls Journals?" Inside Higher Ed, July 7, 2009; "What's Up With Political Theory?" Crooked Timber, July 2, 2009; "Political-Science Journal and Its Publisher Reach New Détente," The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 7, 2009; Barbara Fister, "Mistakes Were Made," Library Journal, July 9, 2009).

In contrast, the 2012 O&E coup was handled much more deftly on SAGE'S part with greater secrecy and organization. Moreover, concerned members of the O&E board made the fatal error of seeking to negotiate with SAGE management and with GRONEN privately on their own terms, rather than going public over the coup. SAGE and GRONEN were thus left holding all the cards and treated their transition plan as a fait accompli. In this way, the for-profit business model and the "sustainability management" intellectual agenda prevailed.

The first issue of the new corporate-oriented, green-capitalist O&E is now scheduled for March 2013.

Andrew Saxton, who died last August 20, aged ninety-three, was a socialist activist all of his adult life and a longtime reader of Monthly Review. Monthly Review Press published his Religion and the Human Prospect in 2006. Saxton's early career was as a novelist, producing his acclaimed novel Grand Crossing in 1943 when he was twenty-four. Later, as an academic historian, he wrote, in 1990, The Rise and Fall of the White Republic, one of the founding works of whiteness studies, dealing with the history of U.S. white racism. During the Second World War he served as a merchant mariner and was a member of the militant National Maritime Union. After the war he became an organizer for the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the mid-1950s, he refused to cooperate. In a 2010 interview with Jonah Raskin (http://mrzine. Saxton declared: "Marxism is the mother lode for all critiques of capitalism." Asked what he would say to young activists today he replied: "I would quote Gramsci: Your task is to locate the point where pessimism of the intellect coincides with optimism of the will."

excluding critical environmental analysis and environmental sociology from its pages.

Although Jermier and York were both in the process of stepping down as editors of O&E, they were working out a plan with SAGE for a smooth transition to a new editorship - to be carried out in conjunction with the current editorial board. …

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