The founder and editor of a socialist magazine perhaps decided that socialism hit too close to home.
Earlier this month, Nathan J. Robinson reportedly fired most of the staff of the progressive publication Current Affairs after they tried to form a workers’ cooperative.
In a letter that was posted to Twitter by the ex-managing editor, five employees claimed that Robinson abruptly terminated the workers “to avoid an organizational restructuring that would limit his personal power. Yes, we were fired by the editor-in-chief of a socialist magazine for trying to start a worker co-op.”
A Harvard University graduate, Robinson allegedly told the staff that, in the end, after reorganization discussions that dragged on for two years, “he simply did not want Current Affairs to be a democratic workplace.”
The statement from the ex-employees concluded that “The left can be as lonely and vicious as anywhere else on this earth, and we loved to not just contribute, but shape, a place of amity, camaraderie, joy, beauty, and truth.
According to its website, the magazine’s mission statement includes “To make life joyful again.”
Per a definition provided by the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, “Worker cooperatives are values-driven businesses that put worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose. In contrast to traditional companies, worker members at worker cooperatives participate in the profits, oversight, and often management of the enterprise using democratic practices.”
Founded in 2015, the magazine is now on hiatus through the end of September (and the departing staff will be paid through then), but its future beyond then appears to be in doubt.
I am grieved to tell you that @nathanjrobinson has effectively fired me & most of the @curaffairs staff because we were trying to organize into a worker’s co-op. This isn’t a bit. I wish it was. https://t.co/0lmnJlzAEX pic.twitter.com/5P6U88d4VR
— lyta gold, fired for doing socialism (@lyta_gold) August 18, 2021
“The left-leaning outfit prides itself on being a whimsical, eclectic collective of writers and thinkers dedicated to Marxist ideals of class struggle, workers’ resistance, identity politics, and radical social change, among other progressive values,” National Review explained about the publication that probably most people, regardless of their ideology, never even heard of.
In a lengthy statement of his own linked to a tweet, Robinson — who authored the book “Why You Should Be a Socialist” — revealed some dirty laundry about hiring practices and other issues that he disagreed with, but also seemed to concede that he “made serious errors of judgment.”
“Current Affairs had become dysfunctional over time, and it had become clear to me that without staffing changes and reorganization, I would not be able to keep Current Affairs running effectively,” he wrote. “I am entirely responsible for the development of these problems, which resulted in large part from my negligence over the years in making clear who was expected to do what.”
He denied, however, that the firings were in any way connected to opposition to labor conditions or worker rights. He also claimed that every full-time worker, including himself, drew the same salary ($45,000 per year).
Here is my statement on recent events at Current Affairs. I've been reluctant to discuss facts in detail but the allegations are serious. The accusation that I retaliated against labor organizing is false. I made terrible mistakes but would never do that. https://t.co/FtnD2VRoGg
— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) August 20, 2021
Robinson also asserted in his essay that subscriptions and web traffic to Current Affairs are dwindling, as is podcast revenue, suggesting perhaps that the woke publication could possibly go broke.
Various journalistic luminaries weighed in on the ironic dispute.
Yes, Nathan is a brazen hypocrite who would be leading the righteous denunciation if this happened to anyone else. The schadenfreude is merited.
But the left has created a deranged, self-immolating culture where nobody can survive. Read this insanity:https://t.co/PTgNLzc0pL
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 19, 2021
socialist fired from socialist magazine for doing socialism. https://t.co/OH3oWPkw8l
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) August 18, 2021
His next book should be How to Be a Socialist without Really Trying that Hard
— Thomas Chatterton Williams (@thomaschattwill) August 18, 2021
Socialists' Magazine A Microcosm of Why Socialism Doesn't Work https://t.co/USBshLkrst
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) August 18, 2021
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