Current affairs magazine: editor-in-chief crushes effort to organize work

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Karl Marx monument in Chemnitz, Germany (Matthias Rietschel / Reuters)

A group of full-time and part-time employees Ongoing business, a leftist political and cultural magazine founded in 2016, were fired for attempting to organize a work cooperative.

Editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson, author of Why should you be a socialist, sacked staff members for pushing for an organizational restructuring that would limit his power over the company, the sacked employees alleged in a statement Wednesday.

According to the co-signers, staff had been pondering the idea of ​​restructuring for almost two years, and all, including Robinson, had shown a genuine interest in fostering a “more democratic workplace where all voices were equally valued.”

“We discussed it informally, we tried piecemeal reforms, we did a full survey of the organization and one-on-one interviews with editors and staff to try to find consensus on a collective vision.” , affirmed the letter.

The “Operating Structure” section of the website reiterates the company’s goal of establishing a culture that empowers its employees. “With a small team (five full-time employees as of January 1, 2021), a part-time pod-master and a volunteer editorial board who are all very passionate about the project, we are working to become a truly democratic workplace. ,” it says.

However, once the restructuring conversations shifted from brainstorming to implementation, Robinson’s tone changed. During a Zoom call on August 7 where reforms were being discussed, he became agitated and began accusing employees of abandoning the creative mission he described in Current Affairs’ first issue.

The next morning Robinson demanded that a number of employees resign and remove their access to company communication channels, pledging to hire new staff to replace those he had kicked out “without warning. “. He also cut a few jobs, including independent contractor Aisling McCrea.

When Managing & Amusements editor-in-chief Lyta Gold allegedly called Robinson and asked him, “Firing me?”, He replied “Yes,” according to the statement.

The leftist team prides itself on being a fanciful and eclectic collective of writers and thinkers dedicated to Marxist ideals of class struggle, worker resistance, identity politics, and radical social change, among other progressive values.

The digital version offers a “Work” category with comments on the minimum wage, communist philosophy, unionization, capitalist exploitation practices as well as interviews with union organizers. In April 2020, the former large-scale poet of the outlet, Cate Root, wrote a guide for disgruntled workers and aspiring activists in search of better working conditions, titled ‘How to Organize’.

Despite his magazine’s external commitment to socialism, Robinson seems to have abandoned the cause when he questions his own authority over Ongoing business.

While Robinson initially claimed he had ‘lost confidence’ in the dismissed employees’ ‘ability to work together’, he then sent follow-up emails reversing his reasoning, stating instead that he didn’t want to. Ongoing business be managed as a democratic project.

“This organization is slowly moving towards a sort of calculation where it’s going to have to be clear once and for all what kind of authority I wanted to have over it. And I was in denial that the answer is I think I should be at the top of the org chart, with everyone selected by me and reporting to me. I let Current Affairs develop into a kind of egalitarian community of friends knowing in my heart that I still saw it as my project over which I should have control, ”Robinson explained in an email.

The statement written by dismissed employees lambasted Robinson’s incompetence in running the company and his “controlling and dishonest actions.”

“We are sad, devastated, betrayed and of course angry to realize that this person we trust has been lying to us for years,” the employee statement said. “When it comes to running an organization, he’s just not up to the task. Employees cited another email from Robinson in which he admits it.

“I think you saw yesterday that in the end I just felt right Ongoing business slowly sliding away from me and I took an insane course of action to do what I thought I could get it back. I’m not good at running an organization. I admit it freely, ”Robinson reportedly wrote.

The editor did not respond to the request for comment.

The dismissed employees left no ambiguity as to the hypocritical undertones of Robinson’s actions, saying, “Yes, we were fired by the editor of a socialist magazine for trying to create a worker cooperative.”

Robinson has long touted socialism as a system that allows workers to control how money is spent and who runs their business.

He scoffed at criticisms of ideology in the past, dismissing Ben Shapiro’s qualms on Twitter in June 2021: “Imagine if you were in control of your workplace and could decide how the money was spent and who your boss was. an elected leader rather than a feudal tyrant. how awful !

Tip the press team at NR.


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