Marxism Today

Founded in 1957 Marxism Today ran until 1991. It described itself as “the theoretical and discussion journal of the Communist party” but for much of its life spoke for a much wider swath of the British left which gave it a far wider influence than its name would suggest particular during its heyday between the late 1970s and late 1980s, a period that coincided with one of the most exciting periods in British politics.

Its editor from 1977 until its closure in 1991 was the journalist Martin Jacques. Jacques, a member of the communist party since he was 18 in 1963, transformed Marxism Today, in the words of Peregrine Worsthorne inThe Daily Telegraph, ‘into a publication which has appeal outside the narrow, coffin-like, confines of the (Communist) party’, increasing its readership from 3,500 to 15,600. The writer Neal Ascherson said it was ‘the most serious single focus for political discussion’ adding that ‘ few read it, but a whole generation chewed over its ideas’.

Jacques commissioned a redesign of Marxism Today in the mid-1980s by the then young graphic designer Neville Brody who was famous for having created the hugely influential design style of The Face magazine. This, coupled with Marxism Todays’ striking and provocative covers moved its readership way beyond the Communist party so that it contained articles by politicians like Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and even interviews with leading Conservatives of the day like Edwina Currie and Michael Heseltine.

In 1991 when the magazine was still successful and Jacques had negotiated its financial independence from the Communist party he decided to close it, stating that ‘I have always hated institutions that don’t know when to call it a day’.
In November 1998 Marxism Today returned for a one-off special issue, again edited by Jacques, examining the phenomenon of Tony Blair. Its cover featured a picture of Blair with the single word headline, ‘WRONG’. It sold 30,000 copies making it the most popular issue of Marxism Today ever.

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