The aim of International Socialism journal is to put across theoretical, analytical and historical arguments that meet the highest criteria of scientific rigour. But we try to do so in a way that avoids falling into academic in-talk. Such jargon can make articles inaccessible not merely to a general socialist audience, but also to others not involved in the internecine debates that take place in narrow academic niches. Writers for the journal should therefore minimise the use of academic terminology, and explain its meaning when they are forced to use it.
Sometimes it is necessary to take up in detail certain arguments used by other people. But often this is not so, and people throw in asides to display their knowledge in a way which detracts from the main points being made, making the article more difficult to follow.
Certain simple rules make what you write more accessible:
- Despite the long term tendency of the rate of profit to fall and the impact of this on the competitiveness of the biggest firms, US capitalism expanded through the 1990s.
Is much more readable if it is turned round:
- US capitalism expanded through the 1990s, despite the long term tendency of the rate of profit to fall and the impact of this on the competitiveness of the biggest firms.
- Profits rates were not undiminished.
- Profits rates fell.
- Serge’s novels are particularly interesting because they display a capacity to express the feelings of people caught up in the Stalinist machine, which was dedicated to accumulation at all cost, a product of intensified competition at an international level, as Bukharin explain in the Economics of the Transition Period, before he embraced Socialism in One Country, an abandonment of the goal of international revolution which Lenin and Trotsky saw as necessary to overcome the backwardness of Russia and the weakness of its proletariat.
Our style in International Socialism is now to use footnotes, rather than endnotes, for references. You should use the automatic footnote feature on Microsoft Word when you are writing for the journal. In the footnote itself you should give the author’s surname, the date of the work and the page numbers referenced. For instance:
If you cite more than one work by an author for a given year, add a letter (a,b,c…) after the date to distinguish the different works. For instance:
You should include a full list of references used at the end of the article, arranged alphabetically by author surname and then by date. You should provide the full name of the author, the publisher (or city of publication for older works) and the date of publication of the edition you are using. For instance:
- Jenkins, Simon, 2006, Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts (Allen Lane).
Where possible you should also give a website for the reference. For instance:
- Bensaïd, Daniel, 2006, “The Return of Strategy”, International Socialism 113 (winter 2006), www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=287&issue=113
For articles that only appear on the web, try to cite the website on which the article first appeared, and be aware that while some websites are well established and stable, others may change overnight or vanish altogether.
If you are unsure of our style for citations refer to any edition of the journal from issue 115 onwards.
Points of style
The journal, like every other publication, chooses to do some things in one way, not another. It makes things much easier for us if you take them into account when writing your articles.
- Stalin first used the phrase “socialism in one country” in 1925. Trotsky said that “‘socialism in one country’ is a reactionary utopia”.
- Marx wrote, “Workers of the world unite.”
- Marx wrote, “Workers of the world unite”.
- Marx wrote, “Workers of the world unite”.21
- Nationalisation, rationalisation, realise.
- Nationalization, rationalization, realize.
- “[A]ll that is holy is profaned,” said Marx in the Communist Manifesto.
Since no one in their right mind is going to object to:
- “All that is holy is profaned,” said Marx in the Communist Manifesto.
If you think some academic will make a big deal about putting a capital letter where they did not, then find some other way of using the quote, since square brackets used in this way make the text more difficult to read.
- E P Thompson went to the US.
- E.P. Thompson went to the U.S.
The journal is now running far more book reviews than at any time in the recent past. Some of these will be extensive articles that will engage with extremely important and detailed arguments. However, often reviews can be much shorter—800 words or fewer.
Short reviews of this kind, which are appropriate for books of relatively low importance, can simply say what is good or bad about a book, or what useful arguments readers can find there. They allow the journal to engage with the vast number of books being produced by left wing publishers each year without having to spell out the content of these works in great detail.
As an example of how terse a review can be, here is Tony Cliff’s (205 word) review of The Hundred Flowers, which appeared in International Socialism 3, first series (winter 1960-1):
The Hundred Flowers, edited by Roderick MacFarquhar (Stevens & sons), £2 . 2s
Once upon a time a Communist ruler called upon his subjects to criticise his regime. This was in May 1957 when Mao Tse-Tung called for “a hundred flowers to bloom”. He invited all organisations and individuals frankly to criticise all deficiencies of party work. Assurances were given that no action would be taken against critics. Mao thought that this movement, carried our “as gently as a breeze or a fine rain” would provide a safety valve and ease social tensions. Alas, the breeze turned into a storm. And a bare month later criticism was clamped down upon severely. The hundred flowers wilted.
The short-lived period of unrestrained criticism revealed many aspects of the tensions rending Mao’s regime. The book under review partly documents this criticism but does not stress sufficiently the underlying tensions.
The author pays too little attention to workers’ and peasants’ complaints compared to those of students, government officials, industrialists, etc. The latter are more voluble and the author has a capitalist bias.
The book fails completely to explain why Mao allowed this liberal experiment. There is no “correlation” of the “hundred flowers” period with the general historical development of Chinese Communism and of world Communism in the period following the Hungarian Revolution.