what is going on?

Hinrich Kuhls kls at SPAMmail.online-club.de
Sat Jan 6 12:11:49 MST 2001

At 23:59 05.01.01 -0500, Louis Proyect wrote:

>Believe it or not, I don't like personal and political feuds. I try my best
>to keep this list moving forward. Trust me, it is not an easy task. There
>are very smart people here who like to push the envelope. I don't mind if
>people do so, but in return they have to expect some caustic remarks from
>me from time to time. That's the price of admission and it is the only way
>I can stay sane.

Date:         Fri, 1 May 1998 09:28:36 -0400
Sender: Marxism International
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at PANIX.COM>
Subject:      Announcing a Marxism mailing-list

I take the occasion of May Day to announce a new Marxism mailing-list.

The primary purpose of the list is to gather together Marxists
internationally who are dedicated to a non-dogmatic approach to issues of
the class struggle today. Marxism has always been confronted with the
problem of avoiding stale formulas handed down from previous generations.
This new list is consciously designed to cut across that tendency. We will
challenge ourselves on a daily basis to understand social reality without
preconceptions. As Marx himself once said, he was no "Marxist." This
remains our challenge. Despite the name of the mailing list, we must resist
the temptation to turn the powerful method of Marx into some sort of
revealed truth. Fortunately, we have examples of creative Marxism to draw
upon: Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, Jose Carlos Mariátegui's journal
"Amauta" and the essays of C.L.R. James. The wide range of interests of
these Marxist thinkers, and their fresh approach to social reality, must
inspire us. Everything came within their purview, from economics to popular
culture to psychology to religion. Underpinning their investigations was an
intense desire to change society, which is after all the primary purpose of
the Marxist movement.

One of the byproducts of the mailing list will be a web-based journal that
will cull together the most valuable messages on a monthly basis. This will
allow list members and web researchers to access a rich repository of
information. The journal approach can overcome the problems associated with
automated archiving of mailing lists which tend to inundate the reader. The
inspiration for the journal comes from Lenin's Iskra, which was initiated
in the early 1900s to serve as a pole of attraction for Marxists in Czarist
Russia. Iskra was never intended to promulgate a monolithic "party line."
Rather it was intended to facilitate public debate from various points of
view within the socialist movement. Just as the Russian revolutionaries had
open debate about the best way to abolish Czarism, our journal will have
open debates about how to move the labor movement forward; how to reconcile
class with race or gender issues, etc. At some point it is very likely that
a formal editorial board will be constituted. This board will function as
any print-based entity. It will be responsible for making judgments as to
content and readability.

The mailing list will be moderated. While strong and vigorous debate is
encouraged, there is an absolute determination to prevent the list from
dividing along "Bolshevik" and "Menshevik" lines. These distinctions are
utterly meaningless in cyberspace, where nobody is required to connect
their ideas with practice. Small sectarian groups or individuals have
wreaked havoc on Marxism mailing lists in the past. These self-declared
"vanguards" will have no such opportunity this time. The worst enemy of
critical Marxist investigation is to allow such sectarians to "intervene"
in our discussions. We know from history that it is useless to try to
persuade them that they are not the possessors of the absolute truth. Their
crude understanding of "democratic centralism" translates into the sort of
inability to have a genuine discussion one encounters with religious sects.
This tendency is bad enough in Marxism generally. Fortunately we have the
power to exclude this problem at the outset. There will not be any "loyalty
oath" administered to list members to ascertain whether they belong to some
tiny sectarian group or another. That is their privilege. We on the other
hand have the right to protect the list from aggressive attempts to divide
it along factional lines. If they can abide by the spirit of these rules,
they are welcome.

The list will be moderated by Louis Proyect. Proyect has been active in
socialist and peace politics since 1967, and spent 11 years in the American
Trotskyist movement. He has profound respect for Leon Trotsky as a Marxist
thinker, but views the Trotskyist movement as such as a sectarian mistake.
Throughout most of the 80s, he was active in the Central American
solidarity movement, first with CISPES and then with Tecnica, an
organization that sent computer programmers and other skilled professionals
to Nicaragua. The project eventually took root in southern Africa as well,
where it worked with SWAPO and the ANC. Recently he has given workshops on
the Internet to community and union groups. He is also writing a book on
Marxism and the American Indian as an attempt to correct some dogmatic
flaws in Marxism.

The list will be maintained on the Panix computer in NYC, a "public access"
Internet Service Provider. One of the problems with using university
computers for Marxism lists is that there will always be a temptation for
the university to exercise certain institutional muscle, no matter how
formally dedicated it is to free speech. Another problem with
university-based mailing lists is that they imply a certain academic focus.
Nothing can be further from the aim of this new list. Our discussions are
meant to facilitate intelligent action in the real world, not replicate the
sort of chit-chat that goes on in academic conferences.

Send email to majordomo at lists.panix.com with the message "sub*scribe
marxism." (Eliminate the asterisk in your message.) Please circulate this
announcement far and wide to progressive mailing-lists and newsgroups.


Louis Proyect
lnp3 at panix.com

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