Moderator's note

Ozleft ozleft at
Thu Aug 14 21:20:24 MDT 2003

Lay off Laura

By Bob Gould

I'm in strong sympathy with Louis's moderator's note about the greater
utility of sustained argument as opposed to ill-thought, almost
conversational, exchanges.

In one of his autobiographical novels, perhaps The Road Between, James T.
Farrell describes a Stalinist called Leather Jacket, who was notorious
around the left in New York for his abusive language and behaviour. I'm
struck by how the disembodied voice on the web amplifies the impact of the
Leather Jackets of this world, a number of whom, it appears, travel under a
lot of different bylines and post their abuse on a lot of different lists.

One can sense various moderators' exasperation and irritation with the
Leather Jackets on the web. Louis is a very patient moderator who lets
things run a bit, which is smart. His basic point, however, in yesterday's
note, seems to me well worth absorbing: why waste the time on ill-considered

I don't like the superior tone of John Cox's attack on Comrade Laura. Her
appearance on the list, defending in a systematic way the politics of the US
SWP as a disciplined sympathiser, seems to me a very good sign of the
broadening of necessary political discussion. Her arguments seem to me more
measured and careful than those of several babbling Stalinists who've passed
through the list in recent months. Why pick on her because her politics are
those of the US SWP?

I disagree with her on a number of points, but would want to argue with her
politically, rather than slinging gratuitous insults.

Once again, I find Jose Perez's lengthy contribution to this discussion
yesterday interesting and useful. His general point, informed by his
knowledge of the territory -- that it's quite useful to draw the US SWP into
some kind of political discussion, and his observation that in his patch
Solidarity and the US ISO are beginning to talk, and presumably argue
sensibly with each other -- gives me heart.

And again, the sensible, practical tone of the argument between Malik Miah
and Richard Lesnik on the one hand and the bloke who disagreed with their
tactics in the union conflict on the other, struck me as an eminently
sensible example of how an argument between socialists about difficult
tactical matters should be conducted. We need more of that kind of exchange
and less point-scoring and abuse.

Lay off Laura, argue with her.

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