List market appraisals

Chris Burford cburford at
Sun Oct 6 02:26:48 MDT 1996

It is good news that M International is soon to roll.

I would have thought also there is a viable niche for
a list centring on and broadening out from the sort of
political position occupied by Monthly Review.

Interestingly we have reached a position where
business does what is called a market appraisal.

Although not for profit, we now have an expansion of the
number of list services offered by Spoons, and a surplus
of the number of articles offered by subscribers (cf commodities)
with a shortage of reading time by readers (cf purchasers).

All of us will be stretched. For example I would like to
subscribe to marxism-science, but I cannot see how to afford the time.
I think there are a whole range of subjects around marxism and
psychology and am seeing whether I can share in the moderating of
such a project, but again I do not know about my own time, and I do
not know how many others would want to take part in creating
a fairly lively list around these themes.

Overall there is a a surplus of commodities to purchasers and the
competition is going to get tougher. In these circumstances
capitalists make market appraisals, and although not for
profit, there is a logic in us doing so too.

Marxism International seems to me very much to be welcomed for
the possibility of widening the range of information coming in
about important struggles on a world basis. To fulfil that aim
I think the moderators are very wise to start off with a volume
limit per subscriber from the beginning.

I would also suggest they set up some sort of protocol to prevent
flame wars getting out of hand. I suspect they will have no choice.
A precedent has already been set of a newspaper article being
published about events on M1. The press will be looking for a
marxism site that is the coordination point for world revolution.
At the same time according to Amnesty International, torture is
practised in the majority of countries in the world. Therefore
I suggest that the moderators will need both a disclaimer
explaining the terms under which reports are received from
countries in which armed struggles are taking place,  and a very
strict policy that submitting a post arguably with security implications
will lead to immediate suspension of the subscriber until the
matter can be resolved. Conflicts between different revolutionary
groups from the same country will have to be sorted out by the
people of that country. Many more instances of this could arise,
and it would be wise to be proactive about this rather than
people learning the hard way too many times.

None of us know where the great majority of us will go and
where the most interesting discussions will take place.
I suspect that the unmoderated marxism general will still
be a chaotic but creative magnet. An arena where any idea
>from anywhere in the world can be challenged from anyone
of a variety of marxist points of view, is a very intensive
24 hour non-stop workshop. This may explain why it has so many
more subscribers than participants.

But how this free-for-all conflict is developed, makes quite a difference.
I suggest that the expansion of Spoons space is already putting
more pressure on subscribers to the still existing M1 to moderate
themselves more strictly to maintain an option of
joining some of the other closed lists if they wish to apply.
A marxist civil society is being created in Spoons marxism space.

But there is still a considerable danger that the balance of
discussion on the open marxism-general will be dominated by
those who can contribute several hours a day. It would give a new
meaning to the concept of a professional revolutionary, because
gradually those who not only had several hours a day but credible
links with actual political struggles, would win out.

This however may take a long time, and I would suggest that for
marxism-general to have many of the creative advantages of M1 with
fewer of the weaknesses, and to command an interest from several
hundred readers, it would be in the interests of that publishing
project also to have volume limits from day one. This would immediately
concentrate people's minds about how to use their shots best.

Nobody is saying that marxism-general should just be a continuation
of M1 are they? If Marxism-International is soon to go on line,
can we now have definite guidance about the terms of marxism-general
too, and when M1 is to be closed down. It does not sound
credible simply to rename M1 as marxism-general, but are all
the current subscribers to M1 to be lost unless they consciously
subscribe to one of the new lists? Or will their subscriptions
automatically be transferred or what? I think we are fast reaching the
stage where some executive decisions by the current moderators
will have a high welcome to flak ratio, providing they decide


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