[Marxism] re: jack barnes

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Sun Nov 20 18:32:26 MST 2005

This is sort of an interesting discussion. Perhaps the titled subject "jack
barnes" is itself way off target since we're no longer discussion him. However,
there is some irony here, in that our discussion of the use of the Internet flys
in the face of the SWPs perspective of stifling distribution of Marxist works on
the Internet. Not just it's past relationship with the MIA, but the fact that it
mobilized over 200 volunteers to work for years with PCs and scanners to
*digitize* Pathfinders very valuable collection of works...so they can only be
printed and sold as books...not for electronic distribution. Very ironic.

More to the point...last year, a group of MIA volunteers gave an interview to
the British SWP journal International Socialism
[http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=61&issue=105]. It includes myself and some
other list members here. It covers a lot on this question, albeit focuses on
what is ON the Internet, specifically the MIA. But, we were asked a question by
the interveiwer:

"How do you think the internet has changed things for socialists and activists?"

We each gave answers. Here is the second part of mine:
"There is also a bad trend with the internet: the reliance on, and substitution
of, the internet and internet organising for actual organising at the point of
production. There are now socialists and Marxists whose entire existence is a
virtual one. But it's our ability to mobilise the working class in the streets,
not online, that will determine the future of socialism. Being online is a tool,
but only a tool, to this end."

I probably overstated a bit when I said "...point of production..." but my
overall point is clear enough. These lists, and  this one is a good example of
that, can serve as a tool. But when it becomes an activists life, they cease
being a real activist when they prioritize the Internet over the needed
organizational tasks of building rallies, house meetings, etc. I've seen this
happen, especially from tendencies that have really built themselves ON the
Internet, and there are some that have real problems because of it, but will go
nameless here.

I think the point people made "How many demonstrations has this list organized",
while somewhat a shrill challenge, is still a good point. This particular list
reaches about 800 people, probably more now, but actually is just a big salon.
That's not a bad thing, it's just that it's not the answer either...it's only
part of the answer. Yes, *everything* is organized, even in many developing
countries, via the internet though blogs, listserves, websites, etc. We use the
MIA to develop our historical understanding of Marxism, (it's certainly been MY
main area of politics for almost 8 years now) but it is only one small and
important tool. That's all.

David Walters

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