A Statement from the UTA Editorial Committee - March 16th 2012
The world is changing and Upping the Anti is changing with it.
In 2005, when we first began working on UTA, the political moment in North America was markedly different than it is today. Economically, capitalism was ascendant. As the housing bubble continued to grow, rising commodity prices pushed the Canadian stock market to new heights while cheap and easy credit masked many of the financial problems working-class Canadians faced. Politically, movements such as the anti-globalization movement and the anti-war movement collapsed as the US-led “War on Terror” scared away the liberal mainstream and isolated the more radical elements on the Left.
UTA was thus born in a moment of political downturn. We tried to use our journal to clarify and consolidate the radical ideas and forms of organizing that had emerged out of the new cycle of struggle represented by the anti-globalization movement and the multiple forms of resistance that emerged in the late 1990s. By developing a high quality print publication that could serve as a space for reflection and analysis, we thought that we could help limit the political consequences of this period on radical social movements and provide a space in which the lessons of past cycles of struggle could be appropriated by new generations of political activists.
The financial crisis in the autumn of 2008 and, even more importantly, the beginning of the Arab spring in December of 2010, has marked a fundamental political turning point for Left movements. Determined to make poor and working class people pay for the bailouts and subsidies of the rich, the global capitalist class is implementing a new series of austerity programs that are being felt around the world. Resistance to this global project—whether it be in Greece, Egypt, Spain, or North America—is becoming acute and increasingly politicized.
While the Arab Spring is sometimes described as a localized response to a lack of democratic accountability within authoritarian states, the underlying source of this revolutionary upsurge is the structural inability of capitalism to provide decent work and livelihoods for the people—and particularly the young people—of these nations. The impact of decades of neoliberal structural adjustment programs designed by the IMF and World Bank have produced a thirst for profound revolutionary change, and new means of electronic communication have amplified and globalized the possibilities of resistance.
The new political conjuncture expressed by the Arab spring, the Wisconsin movement to defend union rights, the Greek debt crisis, and the sudden emergence, rapid growth, and deep political resonance of the Occupy movement are all symptomatic of the new political era we find ourselves in.
While it is too soon to proclaim either a widespread return to revolutionary politics or the imminent collapse of global capitalism, it is clear to us that the political terrain has fundamentally shifted in the past 12 months—both locally and globally. New and unprecedented opportunities for radical politics are now possible. The relative weakness of the revolutionary Left indicates to us that while the purpose and mandate of Upping the Anti in clarifying radical politics remains vital, UTA also needs to change the way we organize given the new political conjuncture we face.
The challenges of UTA’s old model
It is ironic that at the very moment revolutionary forces re-emerged on a global scale, UTA found itself grappling with a potentially terminal crisis. Focused on the exhausting task of producing a 200-page book twice a year and constantly playing catch-up to never-ending deadlines and expanding administrative tasks, many of us felt like we had reached the end of our rope. As 2011 came to a close, it became difficult to imagine continuing the project without some significant adjustments. The Occupy movement seemed to neatly arise and subside alongside the most intensive period of our last production cycle, and we came to realize that as the global political landscape was shifting significantly, so should we.
It is increasingly clear to us that we must develop new forms of engagement with our actual and potential readership: Engagement that can not only keep up with but provide insight into the fast-paced nature of social change in this new political period.
Consequently, UTA’s Editorial Committee undertook a process of visioning and restructuring in the early months of 2012 to address the difficulties of continuing an independent, all-volunteer print project and to strategize ways that we could re-shape the journal. Over the past several months we held visioning sessions, wrote internal documents analyzing our successes and failures, reworked our constitution to clarify our political mandate, reorganized our administrative structures, and reconfigured our advisory board to make it a more functional body.
Our initial restructuring process arrived at the following political conclusions:
1. UTA’s primary goal must be to make serious political interventions within the radical Left. Our publishing project must stem from an ongoing assessment the political struggles that we think are most important for the process of revolutionary change. We should aim to find creative and grassroots ways of studying these struggles through dialogue and engagement with the organizers, activists, and theorists involved, to produce content based on praxis. We will continue producing articles, interviews, roundtables, and book reviews and disseminate this material to the broader Left on a regional, national, and international scale. We will also aim to promote debate and discussion on our content. That means taking a greater political responsibility in responding to critiques of the material that we publish.
2. This approach requires increasing the level of political debate and analysis within our editorial committee. It involves making greater efforts to clarify our own political thinking, and the use of reading groups and political discussions about the content we are editing together. It also means that we have to be better at increasing our own capacities, sharing skills together, and that we take ourselves and our work more seriously.
3. Material needs to be published in a format that is more easily accessible to our readership, that comes out more frequently than twice a year, and that can be easily distributed—both within social media networks and movement spaces. We will not stop producing a long-form print publication, but doing so is not our only priority. It is a priority for us to shift to digital printing and printing on demand to reduce our inventory and the costs associated with production.
4. We need to further develop and make more explicit our relationships with other Left revolutionary organizations across Canada and internationally. Our end goal is not only to make a well respected publication, but to make a real and coherent contribution to the rebuilding of the revolutionary Left in Canada. We continue to believe that a radical publishing methodology such as the one we have articulated is the best way we can make that contribution.
The clarification of our political goals went hand in hand with a number of organizational changes. We have pushed back the publication of UTA 14 from May 2012 to August 2012, which enables us to solidify our new structure and process, reflect on our internal dynamics as a collective, and catch up on our administrative and financial tasks. We are also planning to reorganize our online presence and website and develop better capacities to promote our project through new forms of social media.
One of the biggest changes to our publication schedule will be the release of new content through a series of UTA Interventions pamphlets. These pamphlets, which we will produce monthly, can be viewed or downloaded as high-quality PDFs on our website, or printed off and circulated in hard copy. They will highlight some of the best of UTA’s past content and select new content before it is released in the journal. Our hope is that this will make UTA’s content an even better tool for political outreach and discussion. We also hope that this will enable our content to actively influence ongoing movements as readers and contributors alike will be able to easily access and circulate pieces that they find particularly useful to the struggles with which they are involved.
Releasing content that is relevant and useful to actually existing movements has always been a priority for UTA’s editors and advisory board, and we are hoping that the changes to our publishing schedule and structure will facilitate this. We are putting out a wide call for new editors, and we have also created a new category of associate editors within the project which will allow for direct participation in our editorial committee by those interested in taking a leading role in the project but who live outside of Toronto. We will also continue to work with our advisory board, one which is closely connected to a variety of radical political movements within Canada and beyond.
Looking to the future
Throughout our restructuring process, we have reaffirmed our commitment to Upping the Anti. Given the global political upheavals that we have seen over the last 12 months, we know that a project which allows us to think through, critique, and build connections with a wide range of radical political projects on the Left continues to be incredibly important. This is a goal to which Upping the Anti, as a journal and a space for analysis and movement building, can continue to contribute.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for your help and insight. Upping the Anti won’t survive, let alone grow, without it. We encourage you to continue submitting pitches for articles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, and other content that you wish to see published in UTA. Further, we are currently looking for new members to join UTA’s editorial committee in Toronto, and activists from outside of Toronto to join as Associate Editors. We continue to have positions available on our advisory board for people who wish to contribute to the project through participation in monthly meetings, and we always need the help of distributors, sustainers, and correspondents.
If you are interested and able to contribute to our project in an ongoing fashion by becoming a monthly sustainer, please go to http://uppingtheanti.org/news/article/join-the-uta-sustainers-program/
In solidarity and struggle for a revolutionary 2012,
The UTA Editorial Committee
CALL OUT FOR NEW EDITORIAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
We are currently looking for new editors to join our Toronto-based editorial committee. On average, the workload for editorial committee members is about 6-8 hours a week, including meetings.
Editorial committee responsibilities include:
• Overall responsibility for the political direction of the project
• Soliciting and writing content
• Conducting interviews
• Participating in production and design
• Liaising with the journal’s Advisory Board
• Organizing fundraising and subscription drives
• Building distribution and promotion networks.
Successful editorial committee candidates will have:
• An awareness of and connection to radical movements both in Canada and internationally
• A commitment to anti-oppressive group process as well as collective political and skills development
• Strong writing, editing, and production skills
• An ability to attend face-to-face meetings in Toronto once a week
The editors of Upping the Anti believe that there is an important connection between lived experience and political analysis. With this in mind, we encourage potential editorial committee members to explain how their political perspectives have been shaped by their experiences of resistance to oppression and exploitation.
We’ve also created a new category of “associate editors” to benefit from the political contributions of writer-activists across North America who can’t attend weekly meetings in Toronto. Associate editors are non-voting members of the editorial committee who partake in internal discussions and carry out work on the project while also taking part in meetings as they are able to through video or phone conferencing. The responsibilities and criteria for becoming an associate editor are the same as those for the editorial committee position listed above.
If you are interested in becoming an editor or associate editor of Upping the Anti, please submit a resume, a writing sample, and a one-page statement of interest. We will contact potential committee members for a brief interview. Please note that there is no financial compensation for participation in the UTA editorial committee.