Democratic Socialist publisher of Jacobin accused of behaving like a 'robber baron'

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founder and publisher of Jacobin, a socialist magazine based in New York which has supported candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julia Salazar. Recently Sunkara made a deal to purchase a left-wing British magazine called The Tribune. The Tribune has been around for a long time, but the paper has been struggling financially and actually ceased publication earlier this year. Sunkara offered to buy it and promised to relaunch it. He also ditched most of the staff who had kept the magazine going before the purchase. From the Guardian:

Three of the four staff who were involved in the most recent version of Tribune – which ceased printing in January after a turbulent financial period which saw its profile sink – have now written public letters complaining that they have not been included in the new launch.

“So often on the left, principles of comradeship, solidarity, honesty and so on make fine rhetoric but are shamelessly abandoned when they become inconvenient,” said former staffer Mike Parker, who said he was now unemployed. “It’s just as well that my capacity for disappointment in so-called ‘democratic socialists’ has not yet reached its limit.”

Ian Hernon, the former deputy editor, was equally uncompromising: “In the capitalist world someone who buys an ailing company and dumps its committed workers is known as an asset-stripper or robber baron, but at least they don’t claim to be socialists.”

Tribune had been struggling for years, ending up in the ownership of Owen Oyston – a convicted rapist and owner of Blackpool football club. The publication had debts of over £300,000, with the situation worsened by an unreliable subscriber list, non-functioning social media accounts, and a website that was covered in security notices.

Color me shocked that a socialist magazine ran itself into unsustainable debt. Who could have seen that coming? I didn’t know anything about Sunkara before reading this story, but according to PayDay Report, he comes from a wealthy family:

The dispute between the British magazine’s staff and its new publisher Bhaskar Sunkara, the 29-year-old son of a well-to-do family from the elite New York City suburbs of Westchester County, raises vital questions about how leftists publications treat the workers they employ.

The brash 29-year-old Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder and publisher of the Brooklyn based socialist magazine Jacobin, has proven to be one of the most controversial figures in the left press: known for increasing the reach of socialist writing while engaging in labor practices far less than socialist…

Sunkara, has been accused of building his empire by underpaying his writers with many making on average $50-$100 a story.

For years, Sunkara and his allies have claimed that the socialist publication lacked the resources to pay its writers.

It strikes me as perfect that America’s leading socialist comes from a well-to-do family in Westchester County and that he pays his workers scraps but has mid-six figures to blow on a defunct magazine.

Everyone is a capitalist with their own money. It’s only other people’s money with which they are comfortable being extremely generous.