We have received the following communication from Marcel Liebman. We print it as a matter of interest to readers.
At the end of 1960, I published in the Amsterdam International Review of Social History the first of two instalments of a lengthy study on the Webbs and Soviet Communism. The second instalment appeared at the beginning of 1961. In November of that year, I was asked by the Editor of Survey to allow translation and publication of this study in a special number which Survey proposed to devote to The Western Image of the Soviet Union. Despite certain misgivings, I agreed, and I also agreed that, because of the length of my essay, Survey should only publish the second half of it. I have since found out from bitter experience that to entrust my essay to Survey was a grave mistake and I think that readers of New Left Review might find it useful to know how a journal with no mean pretensions to cultural integrity actually handles material, the publication of which it deems useful, but the objective nature of which it finds awkward.
In March, 1962, about eight days later than arranged, I received the proofs of my article’s translation. I found that the last paragraphs of the original, which might be interpreted as a general critique of Fabian reformism had simply been left out. I also found that the translation contained a multitude of errors, some of which at least seemed more easily attributable to political bias than to linguistic incompetence.
I then forwarded to Survey a long list of corrections and I also requested that, in conformity with the agreement I had made with the Editor, the translated part of my study should appear in full, i.e. including the final paragraphs.
A week later, I received a copy of Survey. It included a translation of my essay, with all the mistranslations, but without the last paragraphs. The Editor subsequently informed me that my corrections had arrived too late (even though I had never been given a deadline) and that I might publish a list of errata in the next number of Survey.
All this was bad enough, but there was a great deal more which was even worse. For the Editor of Survey, obviously concerned that the readers of my essay should not miss the point he wanted to drive home, had thought it necessary to preface the essay with a remarkable Editorial Note. Not only did that Note assert, quite falsely, that the Webbs “were basing themselves entirely on official handouts and uncritically accepting them as gospel truth however ludicrous”; it also surmised, without a glimmer of justification that I “had resisted the undoubtedly strong temptation to write about their (the Webbs) ‘Soviet Communism’ in a sarcastic vein”. Better still, the readers of Survey and I were informed in the same Note that I had treated the Webbs “with great, sometimes perhaps excessive, seriousness”. No doubt, it would have served the purposes of Survey better if I had not treated the Webbs seriously. I should perhaps add that no other article in that special number had the distinction of an Editorial Note.