Take one witch . . . was "To Paul Flewer, etc"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Nov 20 14:25:37 MST 1999

David Bruce:
>Could I make a more general point to conclude? On the unsubbing of the two
>non-MfS members, I do not recall any warnings being issued as to their
>conduct. Unless I missed something, they were simply dropped. This is
>unusual on any list and seems to me inappropriate on this list in
>particular. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth of at least one or two of
>us, as you have seen. And if you must unsub them, take the time to check
>things out before drawing all kinds of silly conclusions about their
>antecedents and colleagues.

I honestly have no way of tracking down anybody's affiliations, except that
I did find out that Whitlock was a sympathizer of the MfS by his own
admission in mail to a list member, to which I was cc'd. As far as Wool's
affiliations are concerned, I never charged him with being a MfS'er, only a
disruptive pain in the ass. And I did warn him repeatedly to cut his
provocations out, just not to the list.

>Louis, you tend to confuse your role as list moderator with your right to
>defend your point of view. You have given the Marxist movement a modest but
>worthwhile resource in this list and I, for one, am very grateful. But the
>problem is that, once set up, it does NOT remain your personal property.
>That is the mistake made by every self-proclaimed leader in the history of
>our movement. I am sure you are far too insightful to make the same mistake.

I once again urge anybody who thinks that people like Drury, Wool and
Whitlock belong on an email list to start one of their own at
www.egroups.com. The tension around my decisions do not have anything to
do, in my opinion, with "proprietorship". They rather reflect different
attitudes toward "Stalinism". There are elements of the British left,
especially those trained in the Healyite movement, who believe that making
ideological warfare against comrades in this tradition is the highest
calling of any revolutionary. I have deliberately made this list hospitable
for people who might think that Stalin did some good things, even though I
personally disagree with this point of view.

More to the point, I want to move past this framework entirely. The problem
with the people around Kosova Aid and Drury's group is that they are
psychologically incapable of doing this. Wool told me after he was unsubbed
that he was happy to be off the list because it was such a Stalinist
cesspool. When Drury was here, he was constantly chomping at the bit to
discuss the Spanish Civil War. Not here, I said.

The reason there is so much animus around the Kosovo question is that for
this layer of British radicals Serb treatment of the Kosovars is something
akin to Stalin's suppression of the Hungarian revolt in the 1950s, with the
KLA standing in for the Potosi Clubs. What's worse is that they view
Milosevic as a combination of Hitler and Stalin. So when you have a
mailiing list like this that is filled with people who gave critical
support to the Serbs, naturally there is going to be a tendency for people
like Whitlock to view themselves as being in enemy territory. Whitlock knew
what this list was about before he joined it. Wool had clued him in. The
only question you have to ask yourself, David, is why he would have
subscribed if majority opinion was antithetical to his core beliefs.
Speaking as somebody who knows "Marxist-Leninist" politics from the inside
out, it was clear that he was "intervening."

>You MUST separate your role as moderator from your role in the discussion.
>If you feel that the considerable effort you put into the list gives you
>some proprietorial rights then might I suggest that the list discuss at the
>very least shouldering the costs even if we cannot easily share the
>administrative burden. After all, we Marxists are notorious for being ever
>so cranky about property rights, even perhaps of being disrespectful of
>them from time to time.

This is not about excluding points of view. Views similar to the MfS and
Workers Aid were put forward in a thousand different posts during the war.
Green Left Parametta crossposted items about how Milosevic was a thief and
a murderer. Monaghan compared the Serb role to that of the British in
Northern Ireland. We debated these things out and moved on. I view them as
being committed to building this list as a forum for Marxists worldwide,
even though the Australian DSP has referred to it dismissively as "feeding
the chooks". With Wool and Whitlock, I perceived people whose agenda was to
disrupt a "Stalinist" political formation. Now as it turns out, the only
dyed-in-the-wool Stalinist on the list is my good friend Mark Jones, who I
would give my left arm for. But other than him, the rest of us are eclectic
Marxists trying to make sense of a complex world. We just can't waste time
fighting people who see Stalinism everywhere, even when it doesn't exist.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: (http://www.panix.com/~lnp3/marxism.html)

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