[Marxism] Hold on to your seats! PROPOSAL

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Wed Jan 25 11:12:12 MST 2006

I feel compelled to issue this now, rather than waiting. Andy will have to
orgnize this discussion when it's appropriate to do so, but I can't sit on this

Folks, the proposal below represents the biggest potential change for the
Marxists Internet Archive since it's inception. It is the result of my
pondering this problem since that inception and the realization of certain
realities concerning how people use, and view, the MIA. It is also the result
of discussions with people on opposite sides of the issue historically. No one
has seen this final proposal so please read it through even if you've seen
drafts of it over the last few weeks.

I think it is time we start to discuss this issue of the binary catagorization
[Marxist writers vs Reference writers]. I see it as untenable. BUT, in my view,
comrades, if we don't have MAJOR buy in, *I will withdraw the motion.* This
policy needs to be implemented but without the effect of *anybody* leaving the
MIA because of it. This is a complex process/proposal and is based on the
belief that compromise is possible (and still possible) on the issues  and
proposal(s) below.

The exact proposals in terms of wording have hash marks "#" in front of them and
each ends with a "-END-". My arguements follow each.
--David Walters

Proposal and arguements:

#What I propose is that we *combine the Writers and Reference Archive.*

While we have this binary divide, most people who look into the writings of this
or that author, in reality, don't give a shit about this divide, "Marxist vs
non-Marxist",  'stalinism' etc...and, in fact, it's ignored. Someone who looks
up "Mao", for example, in Google is:

 1. a person who wants or needs to know about Mao for some *specific* reason
 2. finds it directly through Google (goes right to the Mao page or the page
 in question directly, thus avoiding the main page, the reference page, AND the
 Charter etc.)
 3. ignores or remains ignorant of our...the MIA's....position on Mao and
 Stalinism in general as explained in Charter (which no one goes too anyway)
 4. probably couldn't care less.

 The entry statistics for the site where people "go to first" shows this beyond
any shadow of a doubt. People arrive and leave the MIA without the slightest
idea of our views on this.

 So, the reason for this catagorizaiton of non-Marxist makes *us* (most of us)
feel better, knowing *we know* he/she is not a Marxist and that sort of makes
everything "OK". In our view, it helped break through what I call the
'bourgeois/Stalnist' perception of Marxism: that Stalinism equals
Marxism/Commnunism (something we were all tought in our schools, at least in
the US). I'm a fierce a opponent of this school of 'thought' and my own
involvement in the MIA, the MEIA before it, was, and is, largely motivated by
this belief. I still believe this is a historic to task, to beat back what is
essentially an anti-communist attack on Marxism. But...

 It doesn't really make anything "OK". In fact, having Trotsky on the main page
is probably the most overtly anti-Stalinist thing we can do rather than any
stated  positions that no one looks at! I actually think now that the binary
catagorization is more of a hinderance than a help. It neither educates anyone 
anymore nor steers people to Marxism and away from the syphillis of Stalinism.

 The above proposal means this: we have ONE writers page, from Adam Smith to
Karl Marx from Trotsky to Kim Ill Sung to Blanqui to Tony Cliff to Tito to
Richard Nixon to Stephen Just.  *Within* that page we have bunches and bunches
of catagorization: stalinist, trotskyist, bolshevik, maoist, nationalist,
Cominternist, capitalist, neoconservative, left-communist, social-democrat,
reformist, etc. This, then, *factually*, not subjectively (as in
*counter-revolutionary vs revolutionary-marxist* catagories) allows us to at
least to differentiate among all the writers without overtly excluding anyone
from the page by  *very specifically LABELLING* each and every writer.

 The discussion then will be what label we use, which should be *less*
controversial. for example, while I think Tito was a Stalinist, THAT he be
labled as such as part of the general writers page is less heated, I would
argue, than having him *excluded* from a Marxist writers page. And, to be
honest, if in this regard Tito is NOT labelled a "Stalinist", I have less stake
in arguing he is one. It will allow the MIA to maintain a kind of Stalinist
'catagoriztion' IN the Charter (via the footnote on our previous votes) by a
very simple application on the Writers page which clearly labels each writer
for what they are *without* saying "They are not Marxists" OR "They are
Marxists". The reference to 'non-marxism' can then be defined in our  Charter
(see below) as it is now, with some modifications. Students who are serious
will go to the Student and Subject sections (which all MIAers should look at
for corrections, additions, deletions, etc.) and learn about Marxism "as we
guide them" through these currently existing and future subject/student
sections. (even these have very few hits, BTW).

Charter change (needed to implement this to make the above work):

 #1. Section of the Charter titled: "Our priority is to provide Archival
Information" the word "Marxist" is deleted leaving  "The Writers Archive,
composed of authors who are not living,..."

#2. Section of the Charter titled: "How the MIA decides the placement of writers
in either the Marxist or reference archives." is changed radically to simply
"Placement of writers in the MIA".  The paragraphs below it are all deleted and
replaced with the following:

"The MIA will place in its archives any writer who has some bearing on
 Marxism and for which there are volunteers to transcribe their writings. While
previously both a binary filing and catagorization method was used to represent
this, we feel that this simple statement here in the Charter suffices, and that
such previous division is no longer necessary.[1]"

[The footnotes stays: "In line with these criteria Stalin and Mao ("have been
placed" deleted) *were* placed in the former Reference Archive as a result of
previous decisions taken by the MIA Collective.]

"Being a communist means working for the self-emancipation of the working class;
it means striving to unite the working class, in all its diversity, in the
struggle to overthrow capitalism. In the 1840s, Marx and Engels placed
communism on a scientific footing through the theory of dialectical
materialism. Marxists are those who have continued this ever since."

"The MIA Collective believes that those who are not Marxist fill the following
criteia: (i) they pre-date Marx and Engels, (ii) they specifically reject
Marxism, (iii) their work is practically and theoretically unconnected or
hostile toward the workers movement, (iv) their work is idealistic or lacking
in dialectic." -END-

The above  three paragraphs combine and delete certain sections of the existing
Charter section. It allows us to give basically our veiw, VERY broadly what a
communist is and what a non-Marxist is without covering up our previous votes
on this matter..


 #The entire Reference Writers page would be 'pasted' to the bottom of the
current archive/index-history.htm page (we have two /archive writers pages).
This page would then be renamed index.htm and in effect it would end our binary
catagorization, but it would include EVERY (Reference and History) catagory we
have now.

 Discussion/debates about these catagorizations would obviously be less 'hot' or
destructive since no one is be labelled 'not a Marxist'. Additionally it would
end any reluctance by potential volunteers who may be turned off to what is an
almost impossible to explain catagorization policy (and be less confusing to

Non-English pages. My proposal would be that we state, and implement the

#a. That all *new* lanugage sections have non-binary writers pages. That they be
built as described above in the new unitary way. -END-

#b. That current language archives be *encouraged* to catagorize in this new
method but *not* be mandated to do so.  -END-

#c. Writers can continue to be listed soley in subject/history archives under
various subject headers or anyway that seems apropriate by the Administrators
so long as they don't place writers soley in a non-Marxist 'reference' page as
we previously used to. (see recent discusison about Indian writers). -END-

#The current English Reference *directory* remain because it is too cumbersome
to move the actual files (and since the Reference page will no longer exist, it
is no longer relevant where the actual files lay). -END-

Also, it would be break hundreds, maybe thousands of links internally and
externally to the Reference directory.

There is going to be unresolved issues, for sure. One I can think of is how to
deal with the CURRENT /archive/index page that lists alphabetically (currently
only Marxist writers)? I don't know. Maybe we can add to this or eliminate it.
I'm not making a proposal now on that.

That's it? What do you think?


David Walters

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