Socialist Worker

An analogue hangover or a contemporary triumph?

by Mike Simons
Issue No. 2615

If you are in London this summer it is worth dropping in to Somerset House to an exhibition paying homage to magazines—Print! Tearing it up.

Certainly, it is wonderful to see Wyndam Lewis’s Blast magazine from 1914?15, issuing a call against the slaughter of the First World War and Claud Cockburn’s The Week.

Early copies of Gay News and Spare Rib are there to remind us of how recently rights many take for granted were won.

What is missing, though, is particularly telling. The 1968 era is well represented by OZ, IT and Black Dwarf, but nowhere in the exhibition is there a workers’ movement publication.


Similarly, the Punk movement is well represented by a set of fanzines, but there is a spectacular omission—Rock Against Racism’s Temporary Hoarding.

Many people championed in the exhibition are those who went on to produce the lifestyle mags of the 1990s and early 2000s, making millions for themselves and publishers.

The show’s claims that it “buries the belief that print is dead and explores its ongoing relevance today” doesn’t stack up.

Print isn’t dead. It has unique characteristics.

That is one reason why we produce Socialist Worker, but the print revolution this exhibition eulogises came from the seizure of the latest technology of its time.

We need to do the same today.

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