Charles Moreira - a
co-moderator of the MLL recently found it necessary to defend the expulsion
practices of the MLL. The co-moderators were under a degree of scrutiny
when the readership was divided about their powers of arbitrary expulsions.
We first provide a short synopsis of his statement (See below for the full statement- with URL web link).
Secondly, we briefly reply to one part of Moreira's statement;
Finally we highlight a critical failing in the functioning and outlook of the MLL, thereby introducing the ISML list.
1) A SHORT SYNOPSIS OF MOREIRA'S STATEMENT:
A): Moreira defends the MLL, professing that it exercises an "open" policy - allowing everyone but the "most blatant" Trotskyites on the list.
Members of the "Maoist Documentation Project" (MDP) had correctly recognized that the moderators exercised a somewhat personal and arbitrary expulsion policy. True, the specific complaint of the MDP , was on weak ground, revolving around the specific case of one Adolfo Oleachea.
Moreira, defended the expulsion on the grounds that Oleachea's behaviour was both provocative and insulting. One member of the list Klo McKinsey (who figures in the Statement itself) labels Oleachea's behaviour as "childish", and embarrassing to Marxist-Leninists who wish to convince the world .
This is correct, Oleachea's
repetitive behaviour of refusing to engage in scientific debate, and hurling
invective is far from Marxism-Leninism. Collectively, comrades of the ISML
have also experienced, the slanderous and violent behavior of Oleachea.
Comrades of the "Maoist Documentation Project" chose to launch their case
on a rather weak case.
On this matter, there is no doubt whatsoever that Moreira is correct.
But to suggest the cases of Oleachea and Kumar are equivalent is highly misleading and obfuscation. The "fair" tenor of their judgements may be gauged by their tolerance of pro-Trotskyists on the list, whilst expelling those who fight under Stalin's banner - if these latter ‘transgress' the co-moderators decrees of what can be discussed.
2) BACKGROUND HISTORY:
Moreira considers the expulsion of Kumar and CEMOPI from the MLL "fair" judgment. It is unfortunate that the co-moderators of the MLL, calmly find their own behavior so totally above reproach. The complexities of Kosova raised by Alliance and CEMOPI cannot be reduced to the simple formula "support for the KLA" however much Moreira would like to. In fact, the reality was far more complex. (See Alliance 33). Moreira offers and leans on a ‘sanitised' history. The real events should be given an accessible record.
A. The Antecedents and Founding of the List
As Moreira points out, Kumar was a co-moderator. Kumar had attempted to engage a vituperative individual (named we believe "L.Bourgeois") in a prior list initiated by Jim Hilliers and Sven Buttler. But Mr. Bourgeois persistently replied to arguments invoking ML logic with strings of abuse. Finally after an especially long and abusive tirade, Kumar finally said to the List and its moderators: "Why do we need to put up this?" Hilliers and Buttler had reigned with a naïve liberalism, and had been quiet as church mice throughout this long escalating abusive "so-called debate". Kumar's query finally impelled the moderators Hillier and Buttler to start a new list. This became the MLL, and responding to a call for moderators, Kumar applied to Buttler. Kumar became a co-moderator of the new list - "Marxist-Leninist List".
This is relevant in so far as Hilliers and Buttler were content to put up with nonsense until confronted with a demand that the list made principled debate a requirement for participation. In its subsequent transformation into the MLL, they went to the opposite 'heavy-handed' extreme, but only in so far as this suited their own purposes.
B. Early Discrepancies About the Purpose of the MLL
Some of the MLL co-moderators were adamant that there had to be real authority resting with the co-moderators and that the moderators should be on the "look out " for potential deviants and "disrupters". The underlying wish seemed to be to maintain some sort of MLL purity. It was Kumar who repeatedly pointed out that the MLL could not be regarded as in any way functioning as a party, but more properly its role was as a United Front where shades of opinion would be respected while subjected to the most rigorous testing and examination.
Finally, by force of reality- this viewpoint was more or less accepted. It was also Kumar who repeatedly asked for a set of rules of conduct, to be placed visibly; and for an "Introduction" (however brief) from each participant so that all on the list would know how it was they were communicating with. This was never clearly dealt with by the co-moderators.
These are not trivial matters. A refusal to have clearly understood - instead of vague generalities - sets of rules - is an underlying manifestation of revisionism.
C. Notions of scientific debate
Despite early protestations
of being "open for debate", some issues were so "delicate" and firmly held
dogmas, as to be made the fulcrum of intimidatory tactics. These included
any challenge to Maoism, any challenge to Castro's Cuba and any challenge
to the Third International. The belligerence expressed to counter-views
was hardly worthy of the term scientific debate.
The majority of subscribers to the MLL, had either only relatively recently divorced themselves form Soviet right revisionism; or were long time Maoists. These was counter-posed by relatively few pro-Hoxha forces.
The international situation at that time in the Marxist-Leninist movement was (and is) fluid.
Three forces had arisen:
(1) : The forces led by Parti du Travail de Belgique led by Ludo Martens; of the forum of Brussels, who advocated "Unity at all costs";
(2): the Quito forces around the journal "Unity & Struggle"; led by the Communist Party Ecuador (ML); who argued that only one path was Marxist-Leninist - that of Hoxha - and that all other forces were unable to assist in finding the way forward; moreover only one group per country was recognised as representing Marxism-Leninism;
(3): The International Struggle Marxist-Leninist (ISML) groupings, who argued that a non-sectarian and open debate along ML-ist lines had to be conducted on which parties in the world had been ML-ist. This followed the Leninist path expressed in Lenin's calls to Iskra to find the demarcation lines. (See Principles & Founding Statement of ISML at ).
In this fluid
situation, two forces joined on the MLL, anxious to rid themselves
of an awkward "burr under the saddle".
One camp adopted the viewpoint of Brussels: Let all who call themselves "Marxist-Leninists" share the same tent, and no critiques of "ML-ist leaders" were allowed. In this camp were neo-Trotskyites such as those of "Workers World"; and those who had relatively recently shrugged off Soviet revisionism such as Hilliers [Now reportedly of the social-democratic Socialist Labour Party (UK)], Alexander Moumbaris (editions Democrite- France) - who to this day refuses to reply to specific critiques on Kosova. All these basically subscribed to Maoism and to Brussels "One Big-Tent-ism". Unity at all costs.
The second camp were Hoxha-ites of the Quito grouping, led by George Gruenthal (USA). They allied with the first camp, sharing one particular viewpoint: ie That the history of the Third international was ""off-limits"; including the issue of the so-called "Black nation" in the USA. Gruenthal sided with Moumbaris' call for expulsion. Gruenthal swayed the moderators to relinquish pretence at "debate", and precipitated the fevered call: "Expel any and all who disagree that the ONLY call is against USA-NATO imperialism. No Coupling to anti-Milosevic statements!"
(D) The Kosova Crisis
The line of many of groups of the ISML, was a two-pronged response: Anti-NATO and anti-Milosevic.
The hysterical attack upon those who did not exonerate Milsoveic fascism - was indicative of a failure to accept any but the shallowest analysis. None of the concurrent critiques (of Moumbaris and of Dover); or of the later critiques of Alliance 33 - have been scientifically replied to. This is certainly not Leninist.
The MLL proudly professes that it is the only place where frank debate can occur amongst ML-ists. But interestingly they are able to tolerate hidden and open Trotskyites on the site, while expunging others who have repudiated Trotskyism but pose the "co-moderator gurus" awkward questions.
But awkward questions have an unpleasant habit of recurring. Hence the MLL's somewhat unclear views upon Timor and Chechnya.
The co-moderators see themselves as Marxist-Leninist saviors, and behave in arrogant style: "They do not agree! Out of This ‘pure' list!"
The trouble is, that real life is not like that. How will such people ever become Lenin's "tribunes of the people"?
It is unlikely they will. These are the types of Marxists of whom Marx famously said "Save me from Marxists!"
3. An Announcement
If anyone is truly interested in non-sectarian debate along clear lines, we suggest that they consider signing up to the ISML list at http://www.egroups.com/GroupPostEventsPage?listName=internationalstrugglemarxistleninist& .
Our lines are laid out in the Principles of ISML.
Sven Buttler, had asked to be attached. The moderator asked, as suggested by some members, why he merited "non-sectarian" membership of the ISML given his expulsion of CEMOPI and Alliance and CPG-ML. We never heard a reply.
However, should anyone sincerely wish to participate (including Sven) please sign on.
One small thing, Mr. Oleachea and others - a stipulation on the list is that foul language and repetitive bickering is not allowed.
The Maoist Documentation Project wrote:---- Maoist Documentation Project email@example.com.
"The expulsion of Adolfo Oleachea once again raises the question of how to handle contradictions on Internet discussion lists.
When this list was first formed, the question of how to handle this was raised, but never really addressed. It appears that like all such lists so far, the moderator's panel makes the decision for all of us."
When this list was
established, the moderators decided that for practical reasons, taking
into account that anybody can subscribe irrespective of their political
line, it would be very difficult to practice democratic centralism here.
We decided that this
list is not a Communist Party and as such, there inevitably will be Marxist-Leninists,
revisionists, Trotskyists, Anarchists, reformists and even fascists who
would inevitably be subscribed here, and to maintain order on the list,
especially after seeing the mayhem which happened on the Leninlist which
we were expelled from, we decided that it would have to be run according
to certain conditions set of guidelines established by us.
While we have endeavoured
to permit genuine debate on matters relating to the re-afformation of Marxism,
as well as quite a wide leeway for debate and conflicting views, we have
been firm in keeping blatant Trotskyists, pro-imperialists and deliberate
trouble makers off this list.
Our rules also forbid the use of foul language, blatant racism and personal attacks against other subscribers, since from our experience on the Leninlist, that can destroy a list.
While we don't like
doing it, we regretably have had to expel some subscribers from this list,
such as Hari Kumar who was a moderator for his organisation's pro KLA stand
during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, as well as other organisations such
If the Maoist Documentation
Project will share its experience of running a list where democratic centralism
is practiced, we are willing to consider it.
IE. How do you run
an Internet discussion list like you would a Communist Party, where members
are carefully screened and vetted for ideological purity before being accepted
We would like to re-iterate that Adolfo was expelled for calling other subscribers names, for example "Klod" McKinsey and for subsequently insulting Sven by calling him a "pipsqueak" after Sven warned over the "Klod" ephitet and not because of his stand on Castro's comments about Stalin and accusing us of being revisionists for still regarding Castro a socialist.
We are willing to debate
that point, but in a comradely manner.
Charles, For the Moderators' Panel