Once the printing press was invented, its importance as a means of idea distribution was quickly realised. Pravda was founded in 1912 by Lenin and had a circulation at times exceeding 10m copies a day.
In Britain, Marxism Today was called the "last repository of thought" by Fay Weldon, coined the term Thatcherism, and, according to MP Chris Patten, "treated politics as an adventure for serious grown-ups."
In the Seventies, there was a wave of feminist publishing, at the forefront of which stood Spare Rib magazine.
After the collapse of Communism in 1991, Pravda's circulation shrunk to 200,000. In 1996, it became a lifestyle tabloid, claiming that "our readers don't want some long, boring article taking up a whole page."
In Britain, Marxism Today was crushed by debt in 1992. Its former editor, Martin Jacques, set up a think-tank called Demos, calling it a "catalyst for a different, less ideological politics".
Marxism Today was succeeded by Red Pepper, a left-of-centre political and cultural magazine. In 1994, a new magazine called Prospect was designed to appeal to a "sceptical age", or what Charles Seaford the magazine's publisher called "intellectual glamour".
This month, the magazine Class War magazine has shut itself down with the epitaph: "In short, what passes for a revolutionary movement in this country is pitiful ... " Class War had, at its height, a circulation of 15,000. Instrumental to protests against the Criminal Justice Bill, it resisted Thatcherism, inspiring direct action groups that attracted the attention of Special Branch.
Rosie Boycott, co-founder of Spare Rib, said: "In the 1960s there was a lot of underground magazines like Oz and Friends. Out of this came the political magazines Red Dwarf, Inc. and 7 Days, driven by passionate and narrowly focused beliefs. Now such magazines stand alongside the mainstream."
Editors might bear in mind what Sartre once said, that democracy and freedom is a battle that must be fought and won each day.Reuse content