File spoon-archives/marxism-transition.archive/marxism-transition_1998/marxism-transition.9804, message 32

Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 23:47:20 +0200 (MET DST)
Subject: For an open list, best on Blythe's (more later)

For an open list, best on Blythe's (more later)
[Posted: 27.04.98]

[This goes to Marxism-General and to Marxism-Transition]

We're now discussing, some of us subscribers to the Spoons' M-G
list, how best to set up a list like the former M-G (before the
January restrictions) and like its predecessor the even earlier
"M1" (up until Oct 1996) elsewhere.

What do we want? Or to be exact, what does a rather large group
of subscribers including myself want?

An open, unmoderated and uncensored Marxism mailing list.

In the present discussion, I think one does well to look back
a little and consider what showed up last January, when those
restrictions on M-G which were later actually imposed were
announced in beforehand as then being planned.

Some 12-15 subscribers very clearly made their views on this
plan or "proposal" known and practically all of them said.

"Absolutely no! We don't want such changes. We want M-G to
remain as it is. We hold there's a great need for precisely
such a list." 

Against this, there was only one (half-)dissenting voice.

I belonged and belong in that group, which I hold is poten-
tially enormous; many more will want to subscribe to such
a list in the future.

Now some people recently have been voting, first on a proposal
by Vladimir Bilenkin, "Call to Vote", saying in effect, first
of all (as I understand it): "Let's try to go to Blythe's". And
it also says: "Let's have rule by simple majority on the list's
future and its running".

In favour of this proposal have spoken: Vladimir himself, Sidd-
harth Chatterjee (whose surname I promise to stop misspelling
as I've done lately - sorry!), I (RM), Nestor Miguel Gorojov-
sky, José F. Polanco and Juan Fajardo - 5 people.

Some scattered voices have suggested other venues. The "let's
try Blythe's" (etc) "party" is clearly the biggest (so far) -
even if it's relatively small considering that some 90 + 30
people are on M-G or on M-G Digest.

Secondly, there has been voting on another proposal, likewise
by Vladimir: "Let's Vote Then", calling for "Ayes" and "Nays"
to the proposal "Let's have rule by simple majority on the
list's future and its running".

So far, "Ayes" on this have been uttered by Vladimir, me (RM),
David Welch, José F. Polanco and Juan F. - 5 people, and "Nay",
respecively "Abstains - point of order!", by Bob Malecki and
Hugh Rodwell, both of them arguing that "openness is not ne-
gotiable"; they won't bow to any majority that decides against
it, and question the whole procedure.

A bit of confusion here, thus. But I think it's not quite as
bad as it might look.

For me too, openness is actually non-negotiable.

I voted "Aye" here firstly because I held, and hold, it as quite
obvious that what we're discussing *is* a continuation of the
*former*, the *real* M-G (and the even earlier "M1"), *not* that
insulting piece of restricted shit it was turned into last Ja-
nuary, nor something "of that order" either. And secondly be-
cause I was and am pretty certain that only that real M-G *will*
get a (kind of) majority too.

Supposing I should turn out to be wrong on the second count

Well, I'd join that in some way restricted list - that *shit*
list which would result, in that case - too. But this would NOT
be a continuation of M-G. I would then do what I could, and
co-operate with those who agreed on this - those for whom open-
ness *is* non-negotiable - towards there *being created* an
actual continuation of M-G. As was demonstrated very clearly
last Januray, there *is* a sizeable crowd that absolutely wants

Who may *not* want this, then?

Well, quite few people, it seems. First of all of course that
writer whom quite many already know rather well, since a shorter
or longer time back, as an inveterate troublemaker, Chris Bur-
ford. (I shall not now argue about how sinister or less so he
might be, and on my part still have not the slightest objection
to his being on as many lists as he may wish.) Doing approxima-
tely the opposite of what he recommends is a sound policy. This
I've already said before.

And secondly there is that second, by now likewise rather in-
famous, troublemaker, Hans Ehrbar. Concerning him it should in
fairness be recognized that, during many months, he actually
did run M-G quite well - and before that, co-run "M1" quite
well too. (OK, he did try to kick someone, me, out from "M1"
quite unfairly once, back in August, 1996, but the pressure
against this was too great, his "reasons" too ridiculous.) Only
since late 1997 or so has he been making trouble  - under what
pressure I cannot tell - by first killing the so important "who"
commands (on the sly) and then clamping down masively on the

By offering to host a "continued" list now, when the cry is al-
ready out, "let's go elsewhere", he mainly wants, I think, to
retain that power of control which he used to have and which is
now slipping away from him. To a Hans-run list, as suggested by
Juan as a "possible second choice", I hold one should say "no,
thanks". "Shipmate Hans", OK by me; "Skipper Hans" gets my
"nay". Both his recent scandalous actions and his even now open-
ly "arguing" in favour of continued restrictions bode no good.

There's also the question: Should we the relatively few who've
been writing on this so far take it upon ourselves to "decide
for" all the others? (Some 90 + 30 subscribers.) I say, all
who want to can "vote", not with their feet, this time, but
with their fingers (on the tangents).

In an ad hoc anti-racist coalition I was in some years ago, for
instance, anybody who showed up at one of the organizational
meetings got a vote in that meeting, and so participated in
"deciding things for" those who didn't show up. This actually
functioned quite well.

Similarly here, I think that those of us who're taking the
trouble to write on the matters need not be afraid to take
it upon themselves to make decisions. The good such will
get approval - by other people's wanting to join good lists,
and shunning bad ones, for instance.

I've read the Blyhte info forwarded by Sid (thanks for that!).
Some of their principles and also the whole question of how
to organize a new list (M-G continuation) raises a number of
questions of course which need to be discussed. But on my part,
more about this only tomrrow.

Rolf M.


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