Bolsheviks and the national question, 1917-23

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Wed Aug 28 18:32:16 MDT 2002

Lou, please explain.

I posted a review of a book on Bolshevik nationalities policy under the
early Soviet government. Mark objected, not to the review but to the
publication in which it appeared. At the same time, he proferred an article
presenting a defence of Stalin and Mao that had nothing to do with the
subject matter of the book, the review or my own comments. (I had simply
indicated that the review would be of interest to many Marxmail
subscribers.) He also indicated that he thought Jim Blaut's discussion of
the issue was worth reading. Since I was unaware of what Jim had written on
the question, I asked Mark if he could provide further particulars. He
referred us to some extracts from Jim's writings on the A-list (I am not
sure what this list is, but I was pleased to see that it was carrying
extracts from Blaut's out-of-print book.) I drew attention to some extracts
from Blaut I had previously posted to this list. You then put them on your
own documents page. To that point, no problem to my knowledge.

Because Mark had suggested the Sison document, I felt an obligation to read
and comment on it. This I did. Basically, I felt it was not relevant to the
subject matter of the book or the review, and said so. In passing, I noted
that in my opinion Sison seemed unaware of some issues that had been
addressed before, including on this list (and I cited, without arguing the
point, one of my previous posts addressing those issues).

Mark then said "we are not going to be discussing this here". "This", I
hope, refers only to Sison's views, which he had introduced. Fine, I have no
desire to discuss them either.

You then weigh in with a comment about what a great friend Mark is, adding
that you don't want the list to become a "tedious debating club where
calcified ideological positions can be
paraded out in a kind of sterile purification ritual". What the hell are you
talking about? And what are we not supposed to be debating? You seem to be
saying that a discussion of Bolshevik nationalities policy post-1917 has no
place on the Marxmail list. Or are you saying that we shouldn't get Mark
Jones upset? Surely that is not your meaning. Is this list closed to
discussing actions taken by the early Soviet government? Is it just a Mark
Jones/Jim Craven/Lou Proyect fan club?

Am I the only one who wonders what is going on?

Richard Fidler
rfidler at

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