GLW: Boris Kagarlisky on Chechnya

Paul.Benedek at Paul.Benedek at
Thu Nov 18 17:24:26 MST 1999

Louis, have you seriously unsubscribed Whitlock from this list?

I can only imagine it might be the flu you've been suffering, or a possible
misunderstanding, because I can't fathom why the owner of a robust Marxism list, the
scene of many rigorous debates, would turn to such authoritarian censorship.

Perhaps it is a misunderstanding - in the post below, you only repost a small portion,
which was actually the intro to a message forwarded by Whitlock, as an example of how
a truly sectarian and crude post might missed out (perhaps you didn't
see?) the commentary by Whitlock, reasonable in my eyes, which he ends with:

>To be charitable, I think he [Louis] is being over
>sensitive, for what I wrote was not abusive.  I append something that a
>friend found on a Newsgroup and forwarded to me recently as a good example
>of "a
>spittled-dripped challenge" that would, in my opinion put its author beyond
>the pale on e-lists:

and proceeds to forward the message that Louis has (partially) reposted below.

Louis purports that I am Whitlock's "attorney", because I put forward a defence of his
right to post a political viewpoint that challenges the list owner. This has little to
do with being an attorney, and little to do with the specifics of Whitlock, and far
more to do with a basic level of democracy and free speech, and the right to open
debate and disagreement. To stifle this is very dangerous, as history has shown a
million times over.

Louis' recent posts around Whitlock have dodged political engagement and debate, and
focussed on attacks and dismissal, without putting forward coherant reasons or
evidence. That's fine in itself (I don't advocate unsubbing someone because I don't
like their post), but when it has the actual practice of censoring voices of dissent,
then I am strongly opposed.

Louis first made the paranoid claim (without evidence) that Whitlock was on the list
to snap up independent Marxists (a fantastic perspective for party building, I'm
sure). He now claims (again without evidence) that I am on the list "to bolster the
DSP line around specific questions that they have an investment in".

Of course, I DO want to bolster the DSP line around specific questions - because it's
a line I think that others should take up - its hardly a new concept, trying to win
people to your politics. But I am totally open to others trying to convince me of
their line - for example, that we should have demanded 'No UN intervention in East
Timor'. THere were differences on this question, and I think we benefitted from
debating and discussing it.

But I'm also on this list to gather information, to learn about Marxist politics, to
meet comrades from various backgrounds and perspectives, etc.

Yes, there are issues that interest me more than others. But surely there is not a
requirement to post on all, or even any, issues? I have let "Marxist Praxis" whiz by,
have skimmed over "Cockburn et al", but have found debates on East Timor, Kosova,
Chechnya, Indonesia, the Australian republic referendum, etc more interesting. Others
will have liked, and engaged more with, the Praxis and Cockburn posts - I certainly
don't begrudge them this.

But this is an important issue - democracy.

Perhaps I have got it all wrong. Perhaps I'm missing some point, misinterpretting
things, perhaps I'm mistaken. If so, please point this out. Perhaps answering the
following would help....

1. Do you agree that there have been far more rigorous debates than that around
Chechnya (East Timor for example) where both sides were staunchly defending their
line? It seems to me there have been.

2. Was anyone unsubbed through their involvement in this debate? Although there was
strong stuff from either side, to my knowledge no one was (nor should have been)
unsubbed due to their involvement in the East Timor debate.

3. Is it, then, more dangerous (to your remaining on the list) to politically
challenge the list owner, than to politically challenge anyone else on the list - that
is, is there one rule for the owner, and another for the rest of us? I would hope this
is not the case, and am ready to be persuaded otherwise.

Comradely debate, discussion, information sharing.....or political
censorship.....which way for this list?

-----Original Message-----
From: Louis Proyect [mailto:lnp3 at]
Sent: Friday,19 November 1999 1:57
To: marxism at
Subject: RE: GLW: Boris Kagarlisky on Chechnya

>So you are entering the e-list fray - good luck Al!  Here's an example of
>what you might get thrown at you - picked up from a so-called Trotskyist
>newsgroup.  I wouldn't bother going the newgroup route - too many arseholes
>around.  Moderated subscription lists are more sane - I guess that is the
>kind of thing you are on.  Let me know which it is, and if it's OK maybe
>I'll join in too.

I've spent all week fighting the flu and straightening out the Marxism list
archives. I have no patience for self-declared vanguards and their lawyers
wasting our time. Whitlock is gone. As far as his attorney Paul from the
DSP is concerned, his interest in the list seems totally related to
bolstering the DSP line around specific questions that they have an
investment in. First Kosovo, and now Chechnya. Although I have sharp
disagreements with the DSP analysis around these questions, I respect the
civility with which they intervene in discussions here. The Movement for
Socialism group has a terrible track record on the other hand. While I
don't object to Paul's apologetics on their behalf, I would urge him to
think twice before adopting Whitlock's debating style as a possible model.

Louis Proyect

(The Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list