Commune is a popular magazine for a new era of revolution. By popular, we mean that we will publish articles as easy to read on a bus or while you are slacking off at your office job as anything you find in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, or Jacobin. By revolution, we mean a magazine of politics and culture that knows what so many already intuitively recognize: everything must go.
Commune is a quarterly print magazine and a website. Our first print issue will be released this November and our second in February. We aim to become an indispensable feature of left politics in the US, and hope these regular, quarterly releases will trace the evolution of a rising revolutionary movement. We will publish feature-length articles on a range of topics pertinent to the question of capitalism and its overcoming; reviews of books, movies, and other cultural products; short letters, and reports from scenes of vital struggle. Our editorial policy is non-dogmatic and multi-tendency. We do not adhere, as editors, to a particular strain of radical or left-wing thought, but rather to a set of broad political intuitions about the necessity of total social transformation. Our pages will be a space for debate and disagreement, but also new alliances and new sympathies.
Why You Should Subscribe and Donate
Before we can become indispensable, we need to become financially sustainable and this means we must publish at a certain scale. We’ve laid the foundation for future success by hiring skilled designers, web developers, and artists. We’ve built an engaging and, moreover, solidly functional website where we’ve already begun to upload articles from our first issue. Though the people we’ve hired have given us a discount because of their commitment to our project, they do need to be paid. Our writers need to be paid, too, especially if we want to hear from people who do not lead breezy lives of leisure. At present, our editorial collective is working on an entirely volunteer basis, but as we expand and as the demands on us become heavier we will need to pay for this labor as well.
However much we may hope to one day live in a world without money or markets, we cannot survive if we give away all our writing for free. We cannot rely on advertisements, nor can we commit ourselves to a lifetime of desperate and continual fundraising. Neither does it make much sense to paywall everything we publish, hoping to tempt our readers with glimpses of a forbidden garden where radical writing grows unmolested by the riffraff. Our goal is to be read, and paywalls, even if they have some place, are at odds with the excitable, dispersive energies of the internet. This leaves only print publishing as a basis for financial stability. Other magazines have shown that people will subscribe to a publication like ours, even when they can read much it for free online, as long as they get something attractive and collectible in return and as long as they believe it a project worth supporting.
We hope that you’ll think of us this way and subscribe through Kickstarter. Since we expect that all our supporters are also our readers, all our rewards, except those below $40, include subscriptions. We hope that those of you able to give more will subscribe at a higher rate, at least until we get ourselves on a firm footing. We’ll need all the help we can get in our first year.
We are aiming for $20,000. That money will be used to help fund our first print runs, pay for our website, and compensate our writers and designers. We want to reach 500 subscribers right away and 1000 within our first year. Once we’ve reached 1000 subscribers, we will be more or less financially self-sufficient and can turn our attention to expansion.
Why You Should Trust Us
Unlike the majority of new publishing initiatives, we can’t assuage your fears by pointing to the Ivy League education of our editors and writers. But we can demonstrate our seriousness, our intelligence, our passion, and most importantly, our ability to pay attention to what people are doing and saying, to put our ears to the ground and listen for evidence of new developments, new strategies and tactics, new ideas. We’ve spent a year planning and plotting, making sure that we start off with as much momentum as possible. A glance at our website will make clear the care we bring to our editing and writing. We’ll continue to demonstrate these high standards by releasing new material throughout the Kickstarter campaign. And we'll get better, too, as our contacts expand and as new people join the project.
We began this project with a wager: there is a hunger for a magazine that does what we are uniquely placed to do. Our initial social media and website rollout has confirmed this: within 48 hours of setting up our account we had 5000 followers. Though that’s a fraction of the attention we need to succeed, it confirms our intuition that there is a real excitement for this kind of project, and a real dissatisfaction with existing magazines. There is a red thread that runs between that dissatisfaction and the dissatisfaction people feel with their lives under capitalism.
Commune. For a life worth living.
What to Expect
#METOO FROM BELOW - The revival of feminism is a key feature of the Trump era. Blindfield Collective’s Madeline McKinley-Lane wonders whether it will be a feminism for elites or a revolutionary feminism from below?
DYSTOPIA AS CONCEPT - Science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson makes an urgent plea for more utopian thinking
THE SUBWAY BELONGS TO US - How did my commute get so bad? Andy Battle traces the political and economic origins of New York’s “Summer of Hell," and asks what would it look like to reclaim the subway?
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - Commune special correspondent Jay Firestone exposes the darkest depths of New York City’s alt-right
COMMUNISM MIGHT LAST A MILLION YEARS - Two visionaries died this past year: Ursula K. Le Guin and Moishe Postone. Jasper Bernes asks, what do their works tell us about an emancipatory future?
DISASTER COMMUNISM - The Out of the Woods collective asks “How do we dismantle the social orders that make disasters so disastrous, while at the same time making the extra-ordinary human behavior they elicit ordinary?”
A LOOK BACK AT THE GERMAN REVOLUTION - Everyone celebrated Red October last year, but what about this year’s anniversary of the German Revolution? Paul Mattick, Jr. and Kevin Aurez reflect on the centennial of this pivotal historic moment.
FEMINISM TO THE STREETS! - a statement by Colectivo Feminista en Construcción, Puerto Rico
REVIEW OF BOOKS BY Asad Haider, Jackie Wang, Philip Neel, Franco "Bifo" Beradi and others
....and much, much more
Shyam Khanna, Editor
Jasper Bernes, Managing Editor
Chloe Watlington, Associate Editor
Joshua Clover, Reviews Editor
Addie Tinnell, Creative Director
Marc Jonathan Costello, Contributing Creative Direction
Michael Appuhn, Website Designer
Paolo Matchett, Web Developer
Tom Fosse, Contributing Graphic Designer
Contributing Editors: Juliana Spahr, Brigitte Johnson
The long-awaited commune tote for a donation of $20 or as an additional reward with your 1 year subscription for only $55.
A classic garb for everyday wear as an additional reward with your 1 year subscription for only $70.
Parade the f/18 streets in this cyber-yellow hoodie as an additional reward with your 1 subscription for only $85.
We are thrilled to have reached our all-or-nothing goal in 48 hours. It's going to take a lot more than $20,000 to publish Commune. Here are some targets to help take us there.
27,500: Video Articles
By the time we’ve reached $27,500, we will have recouped our initial investment on design and development and have enough money in the bank to pay for the first couple of issues, more or less. Our promotional video was produced by an incredible team, including one of our favorite artists, Melanie Gilligan. The team is interested in making a few more short videos of Commune writers talking about their articles. If we reach $27,500, we can use some of the extra money to produce these videos.
37,500: Pullout Poster
By the time we’ve raised $37,500, we won’t have to worry about printing costs for the first year. We can afford to splurge a little and reward all of our backers with a beautifully designed Commune poster. If we reach $37,500 we’ll make sure there’s a pullout poster in issue 1.
50000: Printing Upgrade
By the time we get to $50,000, we can consider taking advantage of the reduced unit costs that come with a larger print run. This is the point at which we will reward our backers by upgrading the design and printing of issue 1 to make it even more collectible. If we reach $50,000 we’ll add special cover treatments, and use different paper textures and colors for different parts of the magazine (black paper, orange paper, newsprint, etc.). Issue 1 will look even more amazing.
65000: Issue 1 Giveaway
By the time we raise $65,000, we’ve not only covered our initial and annual costs but have a bit of a surplus and can start thinking about the future. In order to be sustainable in the long term, we need at least 1500 subscribers. That means we’ll need to keep subscribing people beyond the kickstarter. If we reach $65,000, we’ll promote the magazine by giving away 200 copies of the first issue for free. We want a world without money, after all, and know that many of our readers are poor and simply can’t afford a $40 subscription. This is good business practice, anyway, as some of these people will probably subscribe later on down the road.
85000: Infrastructure Upgrade
The website we had built is very robust, but we did choose to do things cheaply, in particular when it comes to our back end. Eventually, as we grow, we’ll want to hire developers to build a bespoke subscription and donation management service that will allow us to add thousands of subscribers, sell our hoodies and totes, and take donations. If we make $85,000, we’ll put $10,000 into a fund for this kind of improvement.
Risks and challenges
Everything worth doing risks failure.
The situations we write about are often a matter of life and death. Compared to that, the failure we risk seems small. Our risks are worth taking, because others risk so much more.
One of our challenges is that we need to train writers without institutional backing to address the situations that most affect them. Such training requires significant effort from our editors, but we've been successful so far and will develop as mentors in the coming months and years. We aim for clarity and intelligence in the prose we publish, and must work with writers to strip out the encumbrances of both academic and activist writing. We understand that, in order to succeed, we must cultivate writers as well as readers. This is a challenge unique to our publication, but we'll rise to the occasion, as others rise up against what oppresses them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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