Founded mainly by the professors and graduate students of the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the first issue of Rethinking Marxism appeared in 1988, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union began. The journal quickly became an influential academic platform for Althusserian Marxism in the North American context.
Even though the journal is launched by a group of economists (among others, Stephen Resnick, Richard D. Wolff, Jack Amariglio, David Ruccio) and continues to regularly publish articles in the various sub-fields of Marxian economics, such as the labor theory of value, class analysis, and crisis theory, Rethinking Marxism does not have an exclusive economics focus. It is perhaps better to describe it as a journal of Marxian theory that makes it a point to rethink and develop Marxian analyses of capitalism, imperialism and alternatives to capitalism.
Rethinking Marxism is also well-known for its sustained efforts to showcase contemporary art practices. Each issue of the journal presents an original work by a contemporary artist (e.g., Martha Rosler, Mark Lombardi).
From 1989 to 1998, the editor of the journal was Jack Amariglio. Since then, David Ruccio serves as the editor of Rethinking Marxism.