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

David Bruce dave_bruce at SPAMryelands.co.uk
Sat Nov 20 13:38:41 MST 1999

At 19/11/99, LP wrote:

>Okay, let me try this one more time. There is no ban on supporting Kosovo
>self-determination here. I have never once threatened Jose Perez, the DSP
>or Jim Monaghan who posted hundreds of messages in defense of Kosovo
>nationalism and against Milosevic during the war. In fact I would welcome a
>debate right now on Chechnya.
>On the other hand, I do retain the right to ban certain groups that have
>acted in a disruptive manner. This includes Movement for Socialism. I do
>not see this list as a place where various small groups can issue position
>papers in a unidirectional manner. If you want that, I suggest Jim
>Hillier's Marxist-Leninist egroup mailing list. 5 out of 10 posts are
>official declarations from self-styled vanguard groups. Now this list
>nominally bans everybody who is not pro-Stalin, but I notice that Green
>Left Parametta is permitted to post there with no problem.

Louis - you would do better to check your facts before sounding off,
especially if you are going to "retain the right to ban certain groups that
have acted in a disruptive manner [which] includes [the] Movement for

You have made a knee-jerk reaction based on inadequate facts. Encouraged by
your post, some people have then made statements that are inappropriate on
this (or indeed any) forum.

I was a member of the Healyite group but left the milieu in 1987, never to
return. It consumed nearly 20 years of my life, leaving me with nothing but
scars and a few friends. Perhaps you too keep contact with some former
comrades of the (North American) SWP whatever your disagreements. So permit
me to defend my friends without necessarily agreeing with what they say.

1.      I understand that Steve Drury is a member of MfS. I know almost
nothing about him except that he is an academic at the UK's Open University
and the author of what I am told is a worthwhile book on Marxism and the
earth sciences. I missed your spat with him but I am sure he can look after
himself -  so I will leave him to do so.

2.      Neither Bernie Wool not Al Whitlock is known to the MfS. I checked
with several members of the MfS, including the organiser of its mailing
list and they are not even on that. I have spoken to several MfS members
who are in a position to know every active supporter of their organisation.

I am told that Bernie Wool did send one post to an Internet list sponsored
by "Workers Aid". This organisation has links with MfS but that is all. You
can find them at http://www.workersaid.org/. They have been politically
active in the Balkans since the early 1990s.

Their list archive also has a post from a Workers Aid and MfS supporter
(Terry Brotherstone) defining the MfS stance on the NATO bombings. BTW, it
is simply untrue that the MfS condoned the NATO bombings. What is true is
that some of their members were active in Kosovo for months and years
before the war broke out, when neither you nor me nor probably anyone else
on this list was active on the Kosovo issue. They feel a perhaps
justifiable contempt for socialists who sound off about the Balkans but
know little about the place.

It is, therefore, an error of fact that these two ex-listees are anything
to do with the MfS or that the MfS is in any way responsible for what they
say. It is equally wrong to draw conclusions about the MfS from their
actions. You are, quite simply, wrong.

And so are those who followed in your wake. In the light of your remarks, M
A Jones reported that "the MfS is a bunch of aging, unreconstructed
Healyites. In 1989 Vanessa Redgrave turned up in Moscow . . . etc etc"

Jones ought to be well aware that Vanessa Redgrave has absolutely no
connection with the MfS or, indeed, any political movement except her own,
which, AFAIK, is now thankfully moribund.

What Redgrave does can be saddening, amusing or (mostly) boring but it is
nothing to do with the MfS. Redgrave and the core of the MfS acrimoniously
parted ways in 1985, nearly 15 years ago. I am told that Jones has had
discussions with Steve Drury  - I understand that they fell out over SA -
and has attended at least one MfS meeting. Can I suggest that he too take
time out to check his facts? He may be right about aging but it is a remark
in poor taste.

Also in the light of your remarks, Jose made a rather childish post about
the "heroic Timex workers". His points are not worth a reply except to say
that, yes, the Timex workers are, if not heroic, then at least highly
regarded here in Scotland because of their defiant stand some years ago
against union-busting and factory closure following their company's
takeover by (I believe) a US multinational. It was a bitter struggle at the

I appreciate that they were not the direct target of Jose's piece. However.
the Scottish working class is one of the poorest in western Europe and we
do have a weakness for getting over-excited about sneers from people living
in big, rich countries. The main problem is that there is not a shred of
evidence to show that the listees over whom Jose is getting upset have any
connection with the MfS and so Jose's conclusions have no basis in fact.
Which is a pity because his posts are usually very valuable.

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.

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.

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.


David Bruce, Woodside Cottage, Ryelands,
Strathaven, Lanarkshire,  ML10 6QF
Tel:+44(0)1357 440459 Fax:+44(0)1357 440464

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