File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1996/96-11-13.154, message 110


Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 08:00:46 GMT
Subject: M-I: Anthony's willing self-moderation.


Anthony Caruso:

Due to this illness, indeed, I have not been my normally calm, rational,
and chipper self of late.  As to the superfluous posts, I deeply
apologize...


Chris Burford:

Accepted of course.

You are so honest it is almost painful. I had 
wanted to comment earlier, but got delayed because the next digest
went missing.

I think the formal advice given by the moderator is spot on, and it
needs to be somewhat formal. All sorts of people for all sorts of 
reasons may be tempted to stray over the 3 post limit, and the moderators
cannot talk everyone through their problems. One difficulty I had when
I tried to be a moderator was the complexity of trying to argue with
the individual as an individual.

What I really want to say is your contributions have been entirely
appropriate, as far as I have read them, within the range of contributions
to this list. They have been lively, committed, and honest. 

Your body is telling you that you are just recovering from an 
illness, which before antibiotics, could have killed you. Your life
has been in danger, and your contributions have been a bit panicky.
That therefore in a way has been appropriate. 

Furthermore you have explained your situation, and apologised. That
is appropriate and entirely acceptable. You have probably received
some private mail of encouragement. But you won't know whether it 
is representative. So you may be uncertain. I want to give this 
encouragement publically. My guess is that there will not be
10 posts contradicting it and telling you to get lost, even if
they don't agree with the tone of my own personal comments.

These e-mail lists can produce some powerful psychological effects.
Rationally you know you cannot be personally responsible for the 
gender selection bias in these lists. But even the suggestion
you may have been at fault, because you are a conscientious person,
gets magnified in your mind and you start protesting far more than
necessary. That creates a bit of a vicious circle, with a flurry of 
posts that get things out of proportion. 

[Technically IMO these phenomena are powerful processes of "projection"
and "introjection" that occur in all human relationships including 
social ones.]

Also we get no visual feedback in this room filled with over 100 other
people. It is an environment conducive to paranoid feelings, because
we cannot easily tell what is representative. Only 5 people need to 
tell you you are out of line and you really think you are, although
in an ordinary room another 30 may have turned their head with 
a sympathetic glance or grin. 

Actually this environment is an extraordinarily caring place. It is 
just that progress has to take place through argument. In fact the
range of people represented here with very great differences of 
perspective many of which they might deeply distrust, is remarkable.
And they are somehow in dialogue.

You have the advantage of being in a political organisation to anchor
you, but one of the strange effects of this medium, is that although
you are sharing a mailing list with over 100 others, it can feel like
an intensely isolated experience. It can become a forum for each 
individual's stream of consciousness. Every second other post 
can spark an idea, or appear to refer positively or negatively
to your own last post. It can quickly snowball and each person 
coming to the list has to decide how deep to get in. Some get out of 
their depths easily and can end up posting without restraint.

The effect of this is to distort the emerging community so that it
has to concentrate on the level of preoccupations of each newcomer.
We get few wreckers now. Your posts illustrate a problem of a 
committed new (and in your case, younger) subscriber. This 
is why the 3 post limit is turning out so wise, for your protection
as well as the protection of the list. 

Your contributions are
an asset. Even if you are not quite as all-sided as some others about
Marx's handling of the question of equality, your lively 
questions about this ask for creative answers. Although I 
hope to have several more decades to live, I and other 
contributors are likely to die before you. The ability of 
marxism to be relevant to each new generation has to be won otherwise
it will die. I want to say this in a materialist way, not a 
patronising way. These lists do not progress because one person 
has all the answers. They are increasingly a collective endeavour
in which each person makes a contribution by arguing their
own point of view. 

Just for a moment I thought your e-mail name looked like
icarus. Please don't drop out of sight. No disaster has 
occurred at all. It has all been rather instructive.
Be a materialist. Your body needs some rest. Get some good antibiotics,
and some good glue if necessary, and carry on arguing!
 



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