Jacobin is a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches 60,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of over 2,000,000 a month.
The appearance of Jacobin magazine has been a bright light in dark times. Each issue brings penetrating, lively discussions and analyses of matters of real significance, from a thoughtful left perspective that is refreshing and all too rare. A really impressive contribution to sanity, and hope.
— Noam Chomsky
Jacobin, whose ninth issue just landed, has certainly been an improbable hit, buoyed by the radical stirrings of the Occupy movement and a bitingly satirical but serious-minded style.
— Jennifer Schuessler for the New York Times
I love Jacobin, both the content and spirit. In a time of torpor bordering on despair, it’s great to see the youth embracing radical politics and serious thinking while also having some fun. And it’s a print magazine that looks great, too. Everyone should subscribe.
— Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer
I really like Jacobin — it’s very explicitly on the radical left, and sort of hostile to liberal accommodationism. There’s a lot in there that I don’t necessarily agree with, but it’s bracingly rigorous and polemical in a really thought-provoking way. It’s a really well-done publication, almost preternaturally good.
— Chris Hayes, host of All In w/ Chris Hayes
The publication began as an online magazine released in September 2010, expanding into a print journal later that year.Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara describes Jacobin as a radical publication being "largely the product of a younger generation not quite as tied to the Cold War paradigms that sustained the old leftist intellectual milieux like Dissent or New Politics, but still eager to confront, rather than table, the questions that arose from the experience of the left in the 20th century".
In 2014, Sunkara said that the aim of the magazine was to create a publication which combined resolutely socialist politics with the accessibility of titles such as The Nation and The New Republic. He has also contrasted it to publications associated with small leftist groups, such as the International Socialist Organization's Socialist Worker and International Socialist Review which were oriented towards party members and other revolutionary socialists, seeking a broader audience than those works while still anchoring the magazine in a Marxist perspective. In an interview he gave in 2018, Sunkara said that he intended for Jacobin to perform a similar role on the contemporary left to that undertaken by National Review on the post-war right, i.e. "to cohere people around a set of ideas, and to interact with the mainstream of liberalism with that set of ideas".
Jacobin's popularity grew with the increasing attention on leftist ideas stimulated by Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, with subscriptions tripling from 10,000 in the summer of 2015 to 32,000 as of the first issue of 2017, with 16,000 of the new subscribers being added in the two months after Donald Trump's election.
In late 2016, Jacobin's editorial team unionized, including a total of seven full- and part-time members. An associate editor and co-chair of the union explained that Jacobin had only recently had enough full-time members to warrant unionization.
In spring 2017, Jacobin launched a peer-reviewed journal, Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy, which is today edited by New York University professor Vivek Chibber and a small editorial board. As of 2020, Catalyst claims a subscriber base of 5,000.
In November 2018, the magazine's first foreign-language edition, Jacobin Italia, was launched. Sunkara described it as "a classic franchise model", with the parent publication providing publishing and editorial advice and taking a small slice of revenue, but otherwise granting the Italian magazine autonomy. A Brazilian edition appeared in 2019, and a German version started publishing in 2020: the latter grew out of Ada, an independent online magazine established in 2018 which primarily published translations of Jacobin articles. The first issue of the German edition featured interviews with Kevin Kühnert and Grace Blakeley.
According to creative director Remeike Forbes, the magazine's frequently used "Black Jacobin" logo was inspired by a scene in the movie Burn! referring to Nicaraguan national hero José Dolores Estrada, but it represents Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture.
The conservative religious magazine First Things criticizes Jacobin's claim to represent Toussaint Louverture. It points to Louverture's devout Catholicism, opposition to the massacres of former slave owners, and his actions to the former slaves of the colonies.
Notable Jacobin contributors have included Slavoj Žižek, Bob Herbert, Yanis Varoufakis, Hilary Wainwright, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jeremy Corbyn, and Pablo Iglesias Turrión. Sunkara has said he feels that "all of our writers fit within a broad socialist tradition", noting that the magazine does sometimes publish articles by liberals and social democrats, but that such pieces are written from a perspective that is consistent with the magazine's editorial vision, saying that "we might publish a piece by a liberal advocating single-payer healthcare, because they’re calling for the decommodification of a sector; and since we believe in the decommodification of the whole economy, it fits in". In terms of the sociological background of contributors, Sunkara acknowledged that they were mostly under the age of 35 and stated that "there are a lot of grad students, young adjunct professors or tenured professors. We also have quite a few organizers and union researchers involved [...] and people working in NGOs or around housing rights, that kind of thing".
In January 2013, The New York Times ran a profile of Sunkara, commenting on the publication's unexpected success and engagement with mainstream liberalism. In an October 2013 article for Tablet, Michelle Goldberg discussed Jacobin as part of a revival of interest in Marxism among young intellectuals. In February 2016, Jake Blumgart, who contributed to the magazine in its early years, stated that it "found an audience by mixing data-driven analysis and Marxist commentary with an irreverent and accessible style".
In April 2016, Noam Chomsky called the magazine "a bright light in dark times".
In a March 2018 article published in the Weekly Worker, Jim Creegan highlighted the association of a number of the magazine's editors and writers with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), describing Jacobin as "the closest thing to a flagship publication of the DSA left" whilst also stressing the political diversity of contributors, incorporating "everyone from social democratic liberals to avowed revolutionaries". He also noted several features of the publication's editorial stance, namely its rejection of anti-communism; its skepticism regarding the possibility of the Democratic Party being transformed into a social-democratic movement through internal pressure, advocating instead the formation of a mass-based independent labor party; criticism of the parties of the Socialist International, which they argue have been responsible for imposing neoliberalausterity policies; and a conviction that the Nordic model of social democracy is ultimately not viable and that the only alternative to capitalism would be for militant labor and socialist movements to struggle to replace capitalism with socialism.
^ abc"About Us". Jacobin. Archived from the original on July 10, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches 60,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of over 2,000,000 a month.
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