Root & Branch: a libertarian socialist journal

Root & Branch: a libertarian socialist journal

Partial archive of the 1970s libertarian socialist publication out of the U.S.

At least 10 issues were published from 1969-1982.

"In 1969, a group of collaborators, all admirers of the work of Paul Mattick, including Paul Mattick, Jr., Stanley Aronowitz, Peter Rachleff, and myself began sporadically publishing a magazine and pamphlet series called Root & Branch drawing on the tradition of workers councils and adapting them to contemporary America."

Jeremy Brecher

Some background from their book, Root & Branch: The Rise of the Workers' Movements:

Since 1969, Root & Branch has published materials dealing with the efforts of social movements, past and present, here and abroad, to create a socialist society. We have focused on the problems for emerging movements posed by the development of contemporary society, as well as the insights to be gained from the experiences of earlier movements. Some of these movements we have participated in; others, occurring in other places or at other times, we have watched or studied.

Our continuing involvement with these movements is informed by four perspectives:

1) that every social movement is, above all, a response of those who comprise it to the social conditions which they face. The development of socialism depends on their recognition that their needs can be met only when, collectively, they take control of their own activity;

2) that every social movement expresses the development of this recognition through its activities. It is such activities-foreshadowing the complete self-determination which is the hallmark of a socialist society—which we want to aid and encourage;

3) that the objective of a radical movement is the direct control of social institutions by those whose activities comprise them. The effort of any organization to substitute its control of society for this direct control is a distortion of this movement;

4) that attempts to impose intellectual orthodoxy, fixed ideas, or abstract slogans upon these social movements only serve to dissipate and hinder them.


Jan 13 2014 17:01

Good to see this now available on libcom as I only now have left a cannibalised copy of Issue 7 and a copy of their Pamphlet No6 on Portugal though I'm sure I/we had more of their material at the time.

klas batalo
Oct 7 2014 00:09

whoa on one of these they called themselves libertarian marxists...damn

Oct 7 2014 04:19
klas batalo wrote:
whoa on one of these they called themselves libertarian marxists...damn

I thought they called themselves that from the start. That's how I recall them refering to themselves. But I'm only going from memory here...

Aug 18 2016 19:55

Does anyone know if any members of Root and Branch continued on into other groups after it's dissolution? Seems like the members that I'm familiar with (Jeremy Brecher, Paul Mattick Jr., Stanley Aronowitz) retreated into academia and sort of left their council communist politics behind (actually I don't really know what Paul Mattick Jr's current politics are).

Juan Conatz
Aug 20 2016 19:44

Well, the omly former R&Ber I can speak of with any confidence is Peter Rachleff. I believe he moved to Minnesota sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. During the 1980s I think he wrote about and tried to publicize as much as possible the Hormel strike in Austin, Minnesota. This is also referred to as the P-9 strike or P-9 struggle, after the UFCW local there.

More recently he was (still is?) a history professor at Macalester, a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, MN. I know he served as a mentor to at least a few students who went on to be a core of the Twin Cities IWW branch. Many of the 'Macalester kids', as I sometimes refer to them, went on to be organizers in the Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and Chicago-Lake Liquors campaigns, among others.

During the protests in Wisconsin during 2011, he drafted something that was included in the 'general strike packet' that the education committee of the South Central Federation of Labor was pushing.

I've seen him speak at a number of events here, such as the IWW's Work Peoples College and a Labor Notes conference.

I think currently, most of his political activity is focused on the East Side Freedom Library, a leftist archive/library in St. Paul he helped found a few years ago.

Aug 20 2016 22:01

At the Work People's College in 2012, I asked Peter Rachleff about his involvement in Root & Branch. He said he was the youngest member and went on to say since they published their book as a mass market paperback, it didn't get distributed very far and most copies got pulped. Which is unfortunate, since it has so many excellent articles.

Aug 21 2016 03:43

Aronowitz is still around. He's gone through many changes
Seems he started drifting back to a more libertarian perspective

Aug 21 2016 11:15

I believe that several years back Brecher was part of then Rep. Sanders staff. This was well before Bernie became a household name, and I don't know if he is currently associated with the Senator or worked on the Presidential campaign.

ETA-- this suggests he resigned over Sanders' vote to authorize the Serbian bombing operation.

Aug 21 2016 15:38
Aug 9 2017 13:43

Would be good to marry up this archive with this one to make sure we have everything which is available, and check everything is correct:

Sep 17 2017 18:58

Hello, I am looking for the 9th issue of Root & Branch. If anyone can provide a pdf of the issue, I would be obliged.

Nov 30 2021 14:30

It seems that at least 10 issues were published:

Root & Branch, A Libertarian Socialist Journal. No. 10. Special Issue on the Marxism of Paul Mattick; Introduction; M.Buckmiller, "Paul Mattick 1904-81"; Pierre Souyri, "The Marxism of Paul Mattick"; "Capitalism and Socialism"; Paul Mattick, "Marxism Yesterday Today and Tomorrow" (1978); "France: The Politicians and the Crisis"; Paul Mattick Jr., "Class Struggles in Poland" (1982); A.Wallach, "Inside the Third Class Carriage" (1980); Reviews: Anti-Bolshevik Communism; Decade of Decision; Root & Branch.

Nov 30 2021 15:17

These brewers would appear to be brandishing copies of issue 5 and 10 and will be framing them in their brewery which is called Root & Branch... smile

Dec 1 2021 16:31

Would be great if he could scan them and send them to us first!

Dec 1 2021 19:03

I’d say that was unlikely (and could say more than that lol).

I found a cheap copy of 5 on the internets though, so will do that one.

Dec 1 2021 19:05

At the moment there are only PDFs of 3,6 and 7…

Dec 2 2021 15:32
Fozzie wrote:
I’d say that was unlikely (and could say more than that lol).

I found a cheap copy of 5 on the internets though, so will do that one.

Amazing! Libcom can help you with costs!

Dec 5 2021 20:10

Fozzie, just sent you a DM!

I think we should be close to a full achieve soon, including transcriptions of articles from the Root & Branch book.

Check back soon

Dec 6 2021 09:22

I wonder if someone can supply the missing footnotes to the Root & Branch article I posted 5 years ago here -- . As I recall, the scan of the article that I received was mostly illegible on the part of the page(s) with the footnotes and so could not be OCR'd. I don't know what number issue of Root & Branch it was.

[edit: I noted there under the article 'footnotes to be added when they become available']

[edit: ah, issue number 8 it appears]

Dec 6 2021 09:25

Hi ZJW - thanks for adding that piece. UseValueNotExchangeValue is doing a lot of great work on this but I don't think we have yet found a copy or PDF of issue 8.

Dec 11 2021 18:11

Root and Branch #5 is up. Thanks to Fozzie for the scan!

If anyone is interested in transcribing the articles for libcom from the PDF (already been OCRed, just need to be cleaned up) let me know!

Also if you have issues that are not up yet reach out to me! Working on this too..

Juan Conatz
Dec 19 2021 15:56

Good to see someone take this up!

Jan 27 2022 03:06

PDF for issue 1 is now up. More soon.

Jan 27 2022 06:55

Nice one!

Jan 27 2022 23:45