An Introduction to Common Sense

Common Sense was first produced in Edinburgh in 1987. It offered a direct challenge to the theory production machines of specialised academic journals, and tried to move the articulation of intellectual work beyond the collapsing discipline of the universities. It was organised according to minimalist production and editorial process which received contributions that could be photocopied and stapled together. It was reproduced in small numbers, distributed to friends, and sold at cost price in local bookshops and in a few outposts throughout the world. It maintained three interrelated commitments: to provide an open space wherein discussion could take place without regard to style or to the rigid classification of material into predefined subject areas; to articulate critical positions within the contemporary political climate; and to animate the hidden Scottish passion for general ideas. Within the context of the time, the formative impetus of Common Sense was a desire to juxtapose disparate work and to provide a continuously open space for a general critique of the societies in which we live. — May 1991 editorial

The life of Common Sense began in 1987 and ended in 1999 after the publication of 24 issues. Since then, a selection of articles from the journal have been republished in the book, Revolutionary Writing, and a few have been collected on libcom. Despite the journal’s significance in the development of open and autonomous Marxist critical theory, a complete set of issues has been difficult to source, until now. You can read how the digitising got under way and a few notes on the scanning process itself.

The complete set of issues that were kindly donated by past Common Sense editors for the digitisation project has been deposited with the British Library for preservation. A further set is held by the National Library of Scotland.