Our Plans for 2014: Jacobin Needs Your Help

Moving forward, on a shoestring as ever before, here are some projects that we’re excited for in the coming year.

Fundraising appeals are hard to write. Stealing lessons from MoveOn.org and the savviest of American liberals, the original headline of this post was going to be: “Time is running out to defend Obamacare from Birther Tea Party Republicans!” Alas, it wasn’t really Chuck Schumer sending me missives titled “Re: Bhaskar, I need your help.” The emails still got opened though.

Our readers are too smart for those kinds of tricks. But that doesn’t solve my dilemma: what can I say to get you to give, again, to our young project?

The last year has been an eventful one. Jacobin has more than tripled in size. On an average day, ten thousand people will visit our website, despite the fact that our small editorial core can only prepare a new essay or two daily. Our print publication, too, has reached new heights, with subscription rates and newsstand performance surpassing all our expectations. Next issue, we’re printing 3,000 more copies than we did in April.

The quality hasn’t suffered for it, but improved — Jacobin remains a confident and open platform for the socialist left, with a combination of intellectual sophistication, political commitment, and cultural literacy that, warts and all, will stand as a model for others in the future. Our new issue, “Alive in the Sunshine,” slated to be released online in early January, is especially strong. It’s anchored by an essay on the environmental crisis by Alyssa Battistoni that’s both pragmatic and visionary — embodying the best of the democratic socialist tradition.

But Jacobin is still on the precipice of crisis, a fiscal cliff that requires us to constantly seek subscribers and new avenues of support, or perish. The burdens of publishing in print don’t need to be rehashed here. Time after time we’ve run into trouble, only to be reminded of what we can accomplish when we’re supported by our readers. With your help in 2013 we’ve been able to do things like hire a circulation manager, expand our editorial staff, redesign our website, increase our print runs, link up with labor and community groups, and release more free content.

A broader audience for our work and politics has been the result. The attention paid to Jacobin is good for the Left, opening up space for radicals of all stripes and advancing socialist thought.

Your contribution will ensure that Jacobin continues to flourish in 2014 — please give now. Without institutional support or a large donor base, Jacobin’s existence is more precarious than that of publications with less reach and influence. We need your help.

Digital subscriptions are just $19: encourage your friends to buy one or get them a gift subscription. A few posters and books are still available. And don’t forget to ask your librarian to carry Jacobin.

Moving forward, on a shoestring as ever before, here are some projects that we’re excited for in the coming year.

  1. The release of “Class Action.” Jacobin teamed up with the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus and other allies to produce a color booklet on neoliberal education reform. 5,000 copies will be in the hands of labor and community activists by this time next month.We will sponsor a similar project, “Sick Days: The Philadelphia School Nurse Shortage,” as well. That effort was initiated by Katrina Ohstrom — the tireless photographer who we granted a fellowship to in order to document closed and closing public schools in Chicago.
  2. The first wave of Jacobin titles, published in partnership with Verso Books and Random House, will be released on March 11, 2014. Another wave is soon to come.
  3. We’ll finally be fulfilling our promise of more video content. Earlier this year, we were pleased to announce the addition of Rebecca Rojer, our new multimedia editor. She’s putting the finishing touches on a few impressive projects, including a film essay to accompany our education reform booklet.
  4. Jacobin Radio. The first episodes of our new podcast series have already been recorded and will be released later this month. Hosted in South Africa, Chicago, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, with syndication on local terrestrial stations, it’s an undertaking that will inform and politicize new waves of listeners.
  5. This November, we inaugurated an event series in New York, which we will continue into the new year. Exhibitions and panels are also planned around our anti-austerity supplements in Chicago and Philadelphia. Beyond that, we’re coordinating a nationwide series of reading groups, playing a small part in rebuilding a culture of open exchange and debate on the Left.

We only rarely beg for money — but if you value Jacobin and want to support this programming, now is the time to help.

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Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor and publisher of Jacobin and the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality.

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