Introduction to this Issue

WHEN SOMEONE WROTE IN to ask what we're doing now that we no longer publish the RED MENACE, we figured it was time for another issue.

The fact is we don't have the resources to come out more frequently. The RED MENACE is a paper without either staff or advertisers. Funds and labour are donated by volunteers, of which there is a very small pool. Each issue is consequently an event unto itself, more like putting out a book than a magazine.

We mention our difficulties both as an explanation for why the RED MENACE has not yet developed beyond an annual event and, in a more positive vein, to encourage readers to send suggestions, preferably from their own experience, about how this could be remedied or at least turned into an asset.

READERS SHOULD NOTE THAT putting out the RED MENACE is not the only activity of the Libertarian Socialist Collective (LSC). The collective meets every two weeks to discuss issues raised by the members. Over the past year most of these discussions have centered on socialization and women's liberation. More recent topics have included electoral politics, the Afghanistan crisis and housing co-ops.

An ongoing concern is the relation between libertarian theory and the group's structure and practice. Our discussion on socialization had a direct bearing on this. It helped us understand how leftists tenaciously hold on to their early obsessions by converting them into left-wing hang-ups; chief among these being Programme, Organization and compulsive Action. The LSC is not finished with its soul-searching about these things but we have managed to widen the boundaries of the discourse.

Beyond discussion the activity of the group is no more than the sum of individual efforts, which is inevitable when the group is this small.

THE BULK OF THIS ISSUE is taken up with two articles on the 'socialist' bloc.

XXX, a member of our collective, visited the Soviet Union in the fall of 1978. He presents here a first-hand account of what he saw and heard while he was there. Richard Swift's article, on the other hand is an attempt at showing how popular and strikingly profound criticism of the regime finds expression in cynical humour.

The two articles complement each other. XXX's article shows the Soviet Union as a schizophrenic world where official reality can be relied upon to always be the inverted image of lived experience. This is what Swift calls the "cynicism from above". Swift then goes on to describe how this bureaucratic cynicism engenders its own demystification in the form of a mass humour that forces the official ideology to become explicit and thus show itself for what it really is.

Swift suggests that, because of its ability to demystify, this "cynicism from below" has a liberating potential. As XXX's article indicates, however, it may also serve another function, namely, as a safety device that allows people to adapt to otherwise intolerable circumstances.

Kay Cole's article on fashion is intended as a begining rather than the last word on the subject. In insisting that fashion is not just a mode of exploitation but also a medium for self-expression, Cole challenges the rigid dogmatism that has conditioned the left's view on the subject. We hope readers will extend this discussion.

And lastly, Eric Glatz's article on prostitution provides an overview of the various feminist positions on this issue. Sketchy as this article might be we are printing it here because we feel this issue raises important questions on the theory and strategy for women's liberation. Again we welcome discussion.