G'day Hans/comrades,

I, for one, am happy to go with what you think is best.  You're the one
putting in all the effort, you're the main reason we're here together, and
you know the people concerned best.  And I dare say all here would agree
with me that both your intentions and decisions have hitherto proven
themselves to be beyond criticism.

I hope the new lot won't take exception to the existence of one or two
moderators who might not themselves be wed to Leninism on one or two of the
lists. It doesn't affect the constitution or conversation of those lists,
after all.

I shall pass on your post to Thaxis forthwith.

Thanks again, Hans, for everything.  And have a wonderful holiday, mate!


>Dear comrades:
>This July and August I will be taking an extended vacation
>for the first time since hosting the utah marxism lists.  I
>will take my 10-year old daughter on a 5-week trip to
>Europe.  Therefore I had to think about how the utah lists
>could continue to function in my absence.
>When I was a member of the spoon collective trying to defend
>the existence of marxism space among left liberals, the
>argument of the liberals was often: why do the marxists come
>to us, why can't they manage their own lists?  To me, the
>answer was clear: marxists do not trust each other.
>Marxists want liberal list administrators, because they are
>afraid that if their list is technically controlled by a
>competing organization, then they may be booted out, or
>their subscriber base may be misused, or just the fact that
>the other organization provides this list makes it look like
>the list is merely a front for that organization.
>When the spooners unceremoniously kicked the marxists out, I
>took it upon myself to host them from my office.  My hope
>was that the Utah server would become just one of a network
>of servers located around the world, organized in such a way
>that if one of those servers would be shut down others would
>be able to step in, because we keep current copies of the
>subscriber lists at various different locations.  I still
>think this is how it should be done.  But there are not
>enough marxists with the skills and the time and the
>internet access for this to be feasible on a personal basis,
>therefore it all became dependent on my person.  I had to
>re-think this because of my upcoming vacation, and I think I
>know now what my error was: instead of individuals it should
>be organizations!
>I spoke to an acquaintance at the Workers World Party, which
>seems to be the largest and one of the sanest Party
>organization in the US, and put the following question to
>him.  I will never do anything like this without the consent
>of you all list adminstrators, therefore it was all
>hypothetical: assuming I get the approval of my list
>administrators, would he be willing to step in and help
>administering the list.  Originally I just wondered if he
>might be willing to do the remote administration of the
>lists here in Utah, with some kind of emergency preparation
>in case the server here has hardware failure (which I am
>doing from here too: all the lists and archives are copied
>to a backup system nightly, therefore we will never lose
>more than a few hours).  I knew that he was a linux
>administrator, and therefore he had the skills to do this.
>My acquaintance came back very agreeably, and he even made a
>further-going offer: the wwp would be willing to host the
>lists, together with web pages, on their server.  The
>addresses of the lists would then be
>I thought this was an interesting proposition,
>therefore I wrote him a long email, in which I said
>among others the following:
>> It is absolutely essential that marxists of all stripes
>> should have free access to these resources.  ...
>> Especially comrades in the developing world should be
>> invited to use these resources.
>> If the WWP were to host these lists, they should not
>> consider it their revolutionary duty to assign subscribers
>> to each of these lists to argue the WWP point of view.
>> The scientific discourse on these lists is self-cleaning
>> and does not need monitoring or manipulation. ... Certain
>> rhetorical tricks simply don't work any more if you can
>> read them repeatedly in the archives.
>> Here is my question: Would the WWP be willing to host
>> these lists on this basis, not as an organizational tool
>> but as a service to the infrastructure of the movement?
>I argued along the following lines: If these lists, which
>have been known to be independent under the sponsorship of
>spoon and myself, now migrate to wwpublish and maintain
>their independence, then this will be a step forward since
>we are starting to build an information infrastructure which
>is truly independent of private businesses and academia, and
>which overcomes some of the splits and distrust among
>communist organizations.  Maybe we can even become the
>catalyst by which these organizations start to talk to each
>other?  Here is another literal quote:
>> Perhaps we should form a consortium between several
>> organizations.  I think solidarity has its own list
>> server, and how about Committees of Correspondence and
>> CPUSA?  Do you think it would be realistic to get an
>> agreement between two or three organizations like this
>> along the lines: one of these organizations takes over to
>> service these lists, and the others get regular updated
>> copies of subscriber lists, as a safeguard in case the
>> organization servicing the lists is shut down or tries to
>> hijack the lists?  Maybe I should be included in these
>> exchanges of subscriber lists too.
>Here is what he wrote me back:
>>Hi Hans,
>>Well, the load levels you gave are certainly possible with our current
>>I agree with your assessment. It is the tradition of the lists and their
>>reputation, especially the LI list, that makes this something we would like
>>to do. It will show support for independent, non-sectarian dialog among
>>By the way, you should know, I discussed this with our leadership before
>>responding to you, so this is not a personal commitment by myself, but a
>>party commitment, if the others agree to it.
>>There are many details that would be necessary to work out. And I could
>>certainly figure out a cron script that could regularly send out copies of
>>the subscribers' lists to agreed-upon persons/organizations (the raw data
>>includes coding the email server software uses, but the recipients could
>>easily strip this out, it is simply ASCII text that appears on the same line
>>after the email address).
>>There would need to be agreement on rules and regulations, but most of that
>>you probably have worked out already. But any list moderator/administrator
>>will have complete access to the list, with full rights to do anything to
>>it, including wiping it out, and so must be completely trusted.
>>List administration is done via a web page and so is pretty simple and
>>doesn't take much training.
>[a personal aside deleted]
>>I look forward to taking this to the next step and to see what reaction you
>>get. I am prepared to be flexible in this. There are certain security issues
>>that will have to be observed since this is our own server being used here,
>>but other than that I can't think of anything that is not negotiable.
>This was his whole message, except for one paragraph which
>he did not want me to pass on.
>You realize that there are lots of issues involved.
>Let's disentangle them:
>(1) do we want to migrate to a listserv maintained by one of
>the communist parties or leftist organizations, or are there
>other alternatives which are preferable?
>I think here you need to know more about the status quo and
>its drawbacks: right now the lists are maintained using
>resources of the University of Utah.  This is justified
>since I am teaching email classes and I am studing the
>technicalities of email lists, and also the potentialities
>and limitations of email lists for scientific and
>other work.  But at one point someone said in a
>public debate with me that he would contact the President of
>the University of Utah and tell him what an idiot I am, and
>although this was probably a joke, the same person has
>contacted the employers of other political adversaries of
>his.  As a more current example, if utah space were to host
>the ISO-SWP-IST list (and I have been approached by a third
>party whether I would be willing to do this), then a
>challenge to the status of these lists would probably be
>In the long run, as the class struggles intensify, such
>challenges will be inevitable: the marxism lists will only
>be tolerated here in Utah as long as we are ineffectual.
>Therefore we do need to look for alternatives.  But this
>does not mean that I am going to kick you all out.  I will
>agree to an alternative only if it is clearly better than
>what we have now.  And if there is an alternative which most
>of you are comfortable with, but one or two lists here
>cannot do this without losing many of their members, then I
>would be willing to continue to host this one or two lists.
>I have a commitment to the lists I am hosting which I want
>to keep.
>(2) If we want to go to one of the organizations
>and use their listservers, who should be go to?
>We have some clout here.  If we migrate to one of the
>organizations, this means we raise the prestige of that
>organization, and therefore we should look quite carefully
>which organization we want to favor in this way.  I am not
>wedded that it should be the WWP, if you have reasons why it
>should not be the WWP, please let me know.  Maybe we want to
>go together with the MEIA (Marx-Engels Internet Archive),
>but they need money, in this case we have to come up with
>some money to share the cost.
>(3) what are the conditions under which we migrate?  We must
>think carefully what the ground rules should be under which
>we migrate, so that the independence and integrity of the
>lists would be preserved.  For instance, assume marxism
>space will be hosted by the WWP.  The charter of marxism
>space must be such that the ISO-SWP-IST list should be able
>to join marxism space without damaging the relationship
>between the WWP and the SWP etc.  Am I asking too much here?
>Do we need a "separation of powers" between organizations
>which do the actual political work and an independent
>infrastructure which facilitates the free flow of
>information and debate among the political activists?
>(4) How shall this decision be made?  I think this
>should be a decision to be discussed on all the lists,
>and the lists themselves should ultimately make these
>(5) Perhaps it will turn out that some lists have members
>who would be willing or able to host those list on different
>terms; shall we allow this?  In other words, shall we
>promote another fragmentation?  What is the advantage to
>have several marxism lists under one roof?
>Here are some other points to think about:
>(6) if a greater number of wwp or solidarity members etc
>enters our lists, instead of making our lists the mouth
>pieces of these organizations it will raise the level of
>discussion within these organizations.  These are usually
>very committed communists whom we want to have on our lists.
>Science can be very subversive, and I think lists like L-I
>or marxism-thaxis are strong enough to survive an inflow of
>20 or so like-minded comrades.
>(7) There is also the danger of self-censorhip: that list
>members will not want to be critical of the wwp if the wwp
>hosts our lists.  People have to learn that this "don't bite
>the hand that feeds you" attitude, which is considered
>common decency, is out of place in a movement whose goal it
>is to do away with domination.  We are doing the wwp a
>service, not a disservice, if we give them correct
>Well, I am curious to hear your reaction to all this.
>Wich communist greetings,
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