Moderator's note

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Wed Dec 13 07:36:00 MST 2000

Greetings Comrades,
    Yoshie writes,

Perhaps, the financing of this list
should be switched to either equal or pro-rated monetary
contribution, instead of us relying upon Lou's willingness to pay.
The list that is paid for by a private individual who is also the
moderator probably can't be a truly open space accommodating
productive -- as opposed to destructive -- disagreements.  I've felt
the same on _both here & LBO-talk_.  One can't disagree with the
owner-moderator & still feel welcome.  And no wonder -- who wants to
subsidize those who criticize any of the cherished views of your own.
PEN-l appears to come with less arbitrary ad-hoc rules, for the
moderator Michael Perelman mainly moderates it in order to keep the
list free from flaming & (if possible) make it live up to the list's
purpose (which is to encourage debates among progressive economists
on matters economic, I think), since in the sense of private
ownership he really doesn't own it.

I have a different perspective on the marxism list.  What is the point of
the labor process of both people who write in, and of the moderator

The moderator function is not about an individual, but it is hard to think
that when the list content and volume is below a threshold that an
individual can cope with.  Once above that threshold, it is impossible for
an individual to "moderate".

I do not think that Michael Perelman has succeeded at the issue of emotional
intensity any more than Lou, or Doug Henwood.  The way moderators handle the
issue is through seat of the pants guesswork about the intensity of emotions
with respect to a thread.  There is not an overall work practice that we
have to go by to tell us what these individuals are doing.  What is flaming?
What is the purpose of the interventions?

While sharing the expenses of the costs of the lists is a good way to
establish the collective ownership principle, the issues of what moderators
work does or for that matter the more general contribution of anybody
participating in the conversations is not clear as yet to the labor process
we want to see happen in a Marxist way (analogous to the party as an
organizing tool).  This is an important form of brainwork we see here on the
Marxism list.  The primary contribution is the conversation meaning that a
social network is being constructed, not the particular voice, or the thread
either.  Emotional intensity or flaming is a gauge in some areas where
conflict occurs, but the function of sending away intense emotions does what
what for the work process of forming networks?  My guess is that one is
hunting for stability features of the social network.  How does one gauge
the stabilization of the networks?  What are the work processes which we are
using to build up the social networks and so on.

That is the most important function we can have in moderation.  To seek the
networks stability as a growing social network of Marxists.  In the long run
as the network grows the function of moderator has to leave behind an
individual contribution and become a function of how the network works as a
whole in the work process of doing conversational brainwork.

The word conversation as I am using it is a technical term in computing
which arises out of two areas that have considerable literature, computing
interactivity, and language like use of data.  A conversation between people
establishes many sorts of brainwork processes, but the main issue is the
network properties that are built up in doing the brainwork.  Exchanging
visual images on wide band channels can have a language like or
conversational property to it.  That would be a tremendous productivity
increase over writing words, but the same issue holds, what is the networked
structure to the conversation.  Emotions for human beings are the way we
construct long term stabile relationships with other human beings.  There is
a tendency to think that emotions are about intensities, but the main
purpose of emotions is to detect in what we do what we want to do.  We use
emotions as a gauge to tell us that we feel comfortable with doing something
or not comfortable.

In other words we are seeking ways to understand a stabile way of being
connected to other human beings which feel right about when we connect to
them.  That stabilization of the network structure is all important, but
still not a main driving force in how we understand what the lists do as a
conversation network builder.
Doyle Saylor

More information about the Marxism mailing list