Introducing the new and improved Socialist Worker
If you think Lenin’s ideas about the revolutionary paper are dusty and out of date, then you need to get acquainted with our redesigned and turbocharged SocialistWorker.org.
IF YOU’RE reading this article at SocialistWorker.org, you probably already have an idea of how important it is for the left to have its own independent publications.
We need our own newspapers and websites to set the record straight from all the media misinformation, to amplify the voices from the struggles that aren’t always heard, to tell the radical history that isn’t taught in school, to project an analysis that aims to make the left stronger.
Wherever there have been people trying to organize and agitate, they have needed ways to communicate their demands and strategize about the way forward.
When Minneapolis truck drivers went out on strike for a union in 1934, they had their newspaper, The Organizer, so that every worker was aware of daily strike news. When soldiers were radicalized during the Vietnam War, they could find out what fellow soldiers were thinking and doing through hundreds of underground newspapers that circulated in the ranks.
David Hilliard, a leader of the Black Panther Party during the 1960s, explained why the Panthers set such a high priority on their newspaper — which never stopped publishing, even at the height of government repression:
We knew from the beginning how critical it was to have our own publication, to set forth our own agenda for freedom, to raise political consciousness among our people as to their oppressed state, to rebut government lies, to tell the truth, to urge change, to use the pen alongside the sword.
Socialist Worker has been proud to contribute to this tradition for more than 40 years.
When the first issue of our newspaper was published in 1977, the tradition of left-wing newspapers, and the lively debates that raged within their pages, was alive and well. Sadly, many of those publications have disappeared. But today, as a new generation is working to rebuild a socialist movement in the U.S., we can hope that there will be more and more forums for left-wing ideas and discussions.
And we’re doing our bit. On May 29, SocialistWorker.org is launching a major renovation and upgrade of our website with this aim in mind.
OUR GUT rehab has been a long time coming.
SW began publishing daily on the web 10 years ago at the beginning of May, just as a number of left-wing and independent websites came into their own. A lot has changed in the decade since, including the launch of many more sources of news, analysis and commentary that we’re sure SW readers check out regularly.
We’re proud that SW is still recognized around the left for our analysis of national and international developments, and for the wide scope of our reporting on labor and movement struggles, which is hard to find anywhere else.
But after 10 years, we’re ready for a change.
The reports and socialist commentary that you find every day at SW will still be there. But thanks to our excellent web development team — shout out to Derek Wright, Zakiya Khabir and Geoff Bailey — the new site will look...well, so much better.
And easier to use. For anyone reading websites on a cell phone — which has been more than half of all users for, ahem, quite a long time now — articles and pages at SocialistWorker.org will now be formatted for your phone.
We also have new features built into every page — look over to the right and at the bottom of this one — to give readers one-click access to related articles, more coverage from that day and the past week, and staff selections of stories from our large archive. In short, lots of reasons to keep reading at SocialistWorker.org.
The menu system at the top of every page has been revamped to help readers find the latest SW coverage on the most important current topics, and from special sections like editorials, labor and movement news, and more. And, oh yeah — you’ll find a vastly, vastly improved search function.
Regular readers are going to be particularly interested in the new home page design of SW.
Home pages are less important as an entryway for all news websites now that a lot of people find their way to articles and commentaries through social media. But we’ve taken advantage of that to redesign the home page to be more useful for readers who come to SW as a resource.
In addition to the top stories of the day, the home page will feature sections that collect a half-dozen or more of our most important articles, new and old, on a particular topic: “The Revolt of the Teachers” or “Israel’s War on the Palestine” or “The Fight to End Oppression,” for example.
We also have a home-page section on “What We’re Reading”: a regularly updated list of must-read articles from other websites, particularly fellow left sites, plus staff selections of books and journals.
And last, but far from least, our favorite socialist podcast Better Off Red — hosted by SW contributors — is going to be permanently featured at our site. You can listen to the latest episode on the SW home page and find the rest of the Better Off Red catalog inside.
FOR SOCIALISTS, our newspapers have always reported on the conditions of workers and their struggles, and provided analysis of the issues of the day. But at its heart, the revolutionary paper has a special role of helping to organize socialists around a set of politics, a history and a tradition.
Case in point: This month, you’ve read a number of SW features analyzing the Trump administration’s escalating threats of war and violence and the associated intensification of Israel’s war on Palestine.
These articles take account of new developments, of course, but they are based on theory developed over decades that is one of the cornerstones of the International Socialist Organization’s politics. That theory — communicated every month in SW’s paper edition and every day on its website — is meant to guide how socialists put our ideas into practice.
Likewise, we put a premium on the lessons of past struggles — revolutionary struggles, but also other radical and working-class history, from the civil rights movement to the fight for the eight-hour day and much more.
Revolutionaries learn and study and debate this theory and history because it informs the kind of change we’re working toward and how we think we’re going to get there. SW works hard to be the place to find these politics and to host the discussions that can sharpen them.
The Russian revolutionary Lenin talked about a revolutionary newspaper as not only a propagandist and agitator, but a “collective organizer” — because it helps connect socialists who are building struggles and projecting socialist politics through a national newspaper.
For some on the left, Lenin’s idea of the revolutionary paper is, at best, a quaint concept from a bygone era. But for people trying to build a revolutionary organization, there’s a lot to be learned from Lenin’s far-from-antiquated ideas.
When socialists write for a newspaper like SW, when they read and discuss it, and when they distribute it to others, the paper and the website can be important tools that coheres socialists in various cities into one organization around a distinct set of politics.
SW’s old slogan used to be: Buy it, read it, sell it. Now we’re asking you to: Click it, read it, share it, too.
When SW writers report on big events — like our contributors who traveled around the country to talk to striking and protesting teachers — they aren’t just there to get the facts and report the news, but to learn from the struggle. That’s because the lessons we learn today could influence our own struggles tomorrow.
We hope you’ll read SocialistWorker.org every day. But we also ask that you share our articles, post them on social media, spread them around to people you know, and discuss them with everyone who’s interested.
Is there a union activist you know who will learn from the struggles of teachers in West Virginia? Do you work with someone on a campus anti-racist campaign who would benefit from knowing the history of the urban rebellions of 1968? Would a co-worker feel more confident in confronting sexism at work if they read about the spread of #MeToo?
We hope the new and improved SW website will help us expand and improve our organizing for a new world.