本页主题: Resignations from the Editorial Board of New Left Review(1993) 打印 | 加为IE收藏 | 复制链接 | 收藏主题 | 上一主题 | 下一主题

weihong2
级别: 论坛版主


精华: 0
发帖: 1693
威望: 1694 点
红花: 16930 朵
贡献值: 0 点
在线时间:406(小时)
注册时间:2007-05-31
最后登录:2009-08-25

 Resignations from the Editorial Board of New Left Review(1993)

Newsgroups: alt.society.revolution
Subject: New Left Review
Date: 5 Mar 93 14:53:10 GMT

Resignations from the Editorial Board of New Left Review


What follows is an account of the events which have led nineteen
members (out of twenty-seven) of the Editorial Board of New Left
Review to resign.

In the autumn of 1992, by means of what amounted to a
boardroom coup, control of New Left Review was for the first time
in its thirty-year existence taken from the Editorial
Board/Committee and given into the hands of a shareholders'
Trust.  The EC was peremptorily disbarred from overall
responsibility for the Review and informed that any future role it
might play would be at most advisory.

New Left Review, since its foundation in 1960, has been legally
owned by New Left Review Ltd.  Shares in the company have
been regularly allocated on the basis of membership of the
journal's Editorial Committee.  Consequently, over time, formal
ownership has come to be shared among a sizeable number of
past and present editors (twenty-seven at the time of the coup).  
Ever since the Review was recapitalized under new editorial
management in 1964, however, this legal ownership has played
no part in the life of the  journal.  So too with the company's
directors: appointed in compliance with the requirements of
company law and formally responsible to the shareholders, they
have in practice been elected by the EC, seen themselves as
accountable to it, and played no independent role. The Review
has actually been run by a self-governing body - its Editorial
Board/Committee, with an elected Editor -according to democratic
procedures which since 1982 have been embodied in a written
constitution.  This states unambiguously: `The direction of NLR is
the responsibility of the Board of Editors, which ... is the
sovereign body of NLR.'

Now, however, the powers of the Editorial Board - including its
right to determine what NLR publishes in its pages, to elect its
Editor, and to exercise ultimate control over its business affairs -
have in effect been abrogated in favour of the new Trust, on the
basis of a narrow majority of shares.  Henceforward, the Trust -
whose trustees comprise Perry Anderson, his brother Benedict
Anderson and Ronald Fraser - will run the Review.  Directors will
be responsible to it, and it will appoint the Editor.  (Robin
Blackburn, the current Editor, has regrettably taken an active part
himself in the disempowerment of the Editorial Board - the very
body which elected him to his post.)  Of the three trustees,
Benedict Anderson (of Cornell University), though a valued
contributor, has never been an NLR editor; Ronald Fraser
resigned from the Review in 1977 and now lives in Spain; Perry
Anderson withdrew from active involvement on the EC in 1989,
soon after taking up a teaching post in Los Angeles.

At the AGM of New Left Review Ltd on 20 November 1992, a
majority of proxy votes was used to deny shares to new
members of the Editorial Board/Committee, despite an assurance
by the Editor as late as July 1992 that these would be issued in
line with previous practice. There was some irony in the fact that
the votes of former editors, who themselves held shares only on
the basis of their past service on the EC, should have been used
to disenfranchise a majority of the Review's current editors.  Two
new directors were appointed who were prepared to support this
takeover of control (Tariq Ali, an associate editor who withdrew
from the EC some years ago due to pressure of other
commitments, and Alexander Cockburn, who lives in northern
California and has had no involvement in the Review's affairs for
over twenty years); two others who did not support the takeover
(long-serving EC members Quintin Hoare and Ellen Meiksins
Wood) were removed, having first been misled -along with the
rest of the EC - about the intended nature of the AGM at which
these actions were to take place.  The new directors are now
apparently entitled to exercise plenipotentiary powers on behalf
of a majority of shareholders.  Their first official act was to
dismiss the Production Editor, Robin Gable, declaring him
redundant on the basis of a highly controversial assessment of
the company's financial position.

Not only did the coup represent a rupture with the traditions of
NLR and the principles on which it was founded, but the means
by which the seizure of power was achieved were themselves
indefensible and, we have been advised, vulnerable to legal
challenge.  Even Perry Anderson has admitted that the changes
were effected by `stealth'.   Shareholders, many of whom have
had no involvement with the Review for years, even decades,
and who knew little if anything about its current situation or
internal life, were asked on the basis of extremely contentious
accounts of these to make over their shares to the Trust.  The
accounts seem to have been variously tailored to suit the
dispositions of individual shareholders, but two reasons were
given more or less consistently: that the Editor's position was
being threatened by a cabal, and that the EC was refusing to face
up to a financial crisis which required drastic action.  Since the
Editor had just been re-elected for a three-year term, leaving his
position secure, and since the EC has already, in accordance
with advice given by the company's auditor, begun to deal
decisively with what were manageable financial problems,
neither of these reasons could withstand scrutiny.  At no point
were arguments presented openly, in such a way that EC
members could know about or reply to them at the time. There
was no communication between the relevant shareholders and
other parties to the dispute.  The effect was to deprive the EC of
the very responsibilities which these shareholders had
themselves long exercised as editors.

The change of control affects not just New Left Review Ltd, but
also its associated publishing company Verso (New Left Books
Ltd).  As the latter's company charter states: `the central role of
the Review in the creation of the imprint was given institutional
form by the allocation to it of one half of the shares in the
company, as a controlling interest - the other half being divided
among three private investors.'  This controlling interest was
reflected in the right of the Review's Editorial Board to appoint a
majority of directors to the Verso board.  However, ultimate
control of the publishing company has now passed into the hands
of the private investors, two of whom - Perry Anderson and
Ronald Fraser - are also trustees of the new Trust.  This clearly
could have implications for the continued independent existence
of Verso.

It must be emphasized that the present conflict does not
correspond to any intellectual or political differences on the EC,
which contains a wider spectrum of views than ever before -
indeed only two years ago it underwent a major expansion,
designed to enhance its political and cultural diversity and
achieve a better gender and generational balance - and which
has implemented editorial policies more open than at any other
time in the Review's history. There have been plenty of vigorous
disagreements among us, but no consistent polarizations.
Although nothing could excuse the coup and the manner in which
it was carried out, it might have been less intolerable if it had at
least been explicitly motivated by some identifiable and
irreconcilable political or intellectual division, the end result of
open debate; if, in other words, it had been something other than
a simple assertion of power, control and proprietorship.  As it
was, however, those who initiated it, instead of engaging in
reasoned and principled discussion, chose the terrain of the
company boardroom.

In response to these events, the Editorial Board/Committee has
tried in good faith to find a negotiated solution.  Its aim has been
to find a basis on which those associated with NLR in the past -
and who have made major contributions to it - could continue to
cooperate for the Review's long-term benefit with the current EC.  
We regret to say that it has not been possible to obtain
agreement on such a solution from the new directors
representing the trustees. The only other recourse available to us
would have been the instruments of company law (the very
terrain chosen by those who organized the coup) and the courts.  
Obliged in the circumstances to consider that option, we did
indeed establish that there were strong grounds for challenging
the legality of the proceedings, and hoped that this fact would
persuade the trustees and their representatives to draw back
from their chosen course of action.  But this has not happened.

We do not know whether the coup portends a change of editorial
direction for NLR.  All we can say with reasonable certainty is that
the journal will no longer be organized on democratic lines,
however many names may in future appear on its masthead.  For
our part, we remain committed to the principles of democratic
socialism.  We can only hope that NLR too will retain that
commitment, if not in the way it conducts its own business then at
least in its editorial policy.  Anything else would represent a
serious loss to the left.  We, at any rate, shall now explore other
avenues for advancing socialist ideas.

The events outlined above have already led to several
resignations from the Editorial Board: those of Patrick Camiller,
Paul Cammack, Diane Elson, Robin Gable, Norman Geras, Monty
Johnstone and Elizabeth Wilson.

We, the undersigned members of the Editorial Board of New Left
Review, find the proceedings which have brought NLR to this
point intolerable and quite inappropriate for a socialist journal.  
With regret, therefore, we are resigning from the Board.

Christopher Bertram, Peter Dews, Ken Hirschkop, Quintin Hoare,  
Deniz Kandiyoti, Branka Magas, Doreen Massey, Robin Murray,
Mike Rustin, Kate Soper, Hilary Wainwright, Ellen Meiksins
Wood.

24 February 1993





  
  
  

 
 
顶端 Posted: 2009-02-17 04:12 | [楼 主]
帖子浏览记录 版块浏览记录
中国文革研究网 » 万象视野
 
 

Total 0.008161(s) query 3, Time now is:10-24 03:53, Gzip enabled
Powered by PHPWind v6.3.2 Certificate © http://wengewang.tk