"Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another (...) And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years".
So wrote Marx in 1848, in the Communist Manifesto. Capitalism, in the end, has lasted longer than Marx expected – but the class struggle is more than ever present around the world. Where the workers of 1848 relied on railways, which were certainly not created for their benefit, the workers and revolutionaries of 2012 rely more and more on the Internet to spread their ideas, to discuss, and – we hope – little by little to forge that "ever-expanding union" of which Marx spoke. The Internet has profoundly modified the way we work, and above all the way we communicate.
When the ICC was formed in 1975, the Internet of course did not exist: ideas were spread through the paper press, distributed in the hundreds of small radical bookshops that sprouted up in the aftermath of May '68 and similar struggles around the world. Correspondence was carried on through the post, by (often handwritten!) letters. To find revolutionaries in other countries, there was no other solution than to travel physically in the hope that it would be possible to make contact.
Today, everything but the physical contact has moved from paper to electronic media. And where once we sold our paper press in bookshops around the world, today our sales take place above all in demonstrations and at workplaces in struggle.
Our press has always relied on sharing articles across national boundaries, and in this way trying to contribute to the development of an internationalist outlook in the working class. Today, the greater speed of electronic media has made it possible for the ICC's sections to work together more closely, especially those sections that share a common language, and we want to use this to increase the international unity of our press.
All this has led us to undertake a re-evaluation of our press, and of the relative place of the electronic and paper press in our overall intervention. We are convinced that the paper press remains a vital part of our arsenal – it is through the paper press that we can be present on the ground, directly in the struggle. But the paper press no longer plays exactly the same role as it did in the past: it needs to become more flexible, adaptable to a changing situation.
Given our limited strength, this has led us to the conclusion that if we are to reinforce and adapt our web site, we need at the same time to reduce the effort we put into the paper press: one of the first consequences of this reorientation of our publications is therefore going to be a reduction in the frequency of our paper publications. Concretely, in the case of our press in Britain, this means that we will be moving to a bi-monthly paper.
We are only at the beginning of our reflections on the subject of the press, and we expect over the year to come to make further modifications, in particular to the way our web site is structured. We would like to involve our readers in this effort, and will shortly be publishing a survey on the site to invite you to give your own opinion. In the meantime, we would be more than happy for our readers to pass on their suggestions through the forum.
Everything we have said above applies, of course, to the situation in those areas where Internet access is widespread. There are still regions where the lack or difficulty of Internet access means that a paper press continues to play the same role that it did in the past. This is particularly true of India and Latin America, and we will be working with our sections in India, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador to determine how best to adapt the paper press to conditions in those countries.
We are writing separately to all our subscribers about what this means for the duration and future of their subscriptions. Obviously we still strongly encourage our readers to support our work by subscribing to our paper publications, as well as taking out extra copies to sell.