Where Marxmail came from
to www.marxmail.org on
I made a note to myself that when Marxmail reached 500 subscribers, I would provide a brief history of where we came from. Since we now are at 512 and I have a free moment, this would be a good time to follow through.
Marxmail is descended from the first Marxism mailing list on
the Internet, which was launched by the Spoons Collective in June or July of
1994, according to Professor Jon Beasley-Murray. Jon, Hans Ehrbar
For the first year or so, the Spoons Marxism List was marked
by clashing needs and interests. Since many of the original subscribers had the
same sort of background as Jon Beasley-Murray, who studied with Michael Hardt at Duke, their conversation tended to revolve around
the legacy of the
Another group of subscribers had backgrounds similar to Hans
Ehrbar. They were professors, especially in
economics, who were interested in pursuing questions of value theory. For the
average person, including me, these discussions were difficult to follow.
Although I had read Marx's V. 1 of Capital and much of Mandel, I was
ill-equipped to understand controversies around the Okishio
theorem, etc. Eventually, everybody with such interests migrated to something
called OPE-L (Outline on Political Economy list) that was initiated by Gerald
Soon the list began attracting former and current members or sympathizers of revolutionary organizations, and the topics began to have more of the character we are familiar with from Marxmail. Unfortunately, the current members and sympathizers included a number of individuals who had not transcended the kind of sectarianism that helped to destroy our movement in the 1970s and 80s. We had super-orthodox Trotskyists who were in the habit of exposing petty-bourgeois elements like me, when they weren't busy exposing each other.
They were eventually joined by a group of sympathizers of
the Shining Path in
Immediately the hard-core Trotskyists
and the Maoists began fighting like cats and dogs. The Trotskyists
demanded that the Maoists recant for the Moscow Trials, the Popular Front in
But the worst flames were reserved for debates on the Shining Path, which was far more powerful in 1995 than it is today. The Maoists felt like they were in the vanguard of a movement that would sweep the world, while the Trotskyists viewed the Peruvian guerrillas as little better than the Khmer Rouge. I have tried to come up with a more measured assessment of the Shining Path that can be read at: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/indian/sendero.htm
Eventually, the Shining Path supporters began to fight among themselves over who had the franchise. Adolfo fought with another Peruvian exile named Quispe in a polemic that often focused on who was on Fujimori's payroll. Eventually, this fight spilled over into some serious encounters with the immigration cops as list member Ken Campbell revealed in a Canadian alternative weekly:
But it stopped being a joke when, on May 30, Julian Calero, a Peruvian immigrant living and working in Connecticut, was arrested by US feds -- a person the NF had bragged to the net (hence the world) was a member of its "clandestine" Communist organization operating in New England.
The flame wars between Trotskyists and Maoists and between Maoist and Maoist were exacerbated by the unmoderated status of the Marxism list. The Spoons Collective, for reasons I never quite fathomed, were committed to unmoderated lists. But after months and months of strife, a decision was made to launch new moderated lists in 1996.
One of them became Marxism-International that was co-moderated by Jon Flanders, Turkish grad student Zeynep Tufekcioglu and Louis Godena (we felt that it would be important to have Maoist representation on the moderation board.) The M-I archives can be read at: http://lists.village.virginia.edu/listservs/spoons/marxism-international.archive/.
Although M-I began on a hopeful note, it eventually fell prey to the same sectarian problems that destroyed its predecessor. Godena abused his position on the moderation board and eventually muscled Jon and Zeynep out of the picture. In early 1998 he began to expel subscribers from the list who refused to toe the line ideologically, starting with me.
Eventually, the Spoons Collective tired of all the warfare and made the decision to stop hosting the Marxism lists. You can read their decision at: http://lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons/marxism/.
You can also read Spoons collective member Malgosia Askanas history of the lists at: http://www.driftline.org/spoon_collective.html
In the scramble to find new homes for the lists, I stepped
forward and volunteered to moderate a new list at Panix
in May of 1998. It was intended to carry on in the best spirit of
Marxism-International. Hans Ehrbar transferred all of
the other Marxism lists to a server at the
Many subscribers on Marxmail go back to the early days. Some, like Carrol Cox and Yoshie Furuhashi, were absent from Marxmail for a period of time after having bitter disagreements with me over one question or another. I am happy that we are reunited. Other subscribers like Sol Dollinger, Mark Jones and Jim Blaut are with us only in spirit. My hope is that Marxmail can continue to expand over the next 10 years or so and serve as a resource for the revolutionary movement worldwide. The longer that we are in business; the surer we are about our collective goals. In face of all the fragmentation on the left, that at least is a hopeful sign.
The Guardian (
Giles Tremlett in
A London-based Peruvian exile has been extradited to
Adolfo Olaechea, who has lived in
The warrant for his arrest was a renewal of one from 1993,
The government in
Mr Olaechea admits supporting some of the ideas of the Peruvian Communist party or Shining Path, but he denies being a member .
In a statement obtained by the Guardian, Mr
Olaechea, currently detained in a high security
prison in Lima, said: "I am not, never have been and never will be a
member of the Communist party of Peru, known as Sendero
Luminoso (Shining Path). . . . (T)he
claim that I am the spokesman for Sendero Luminoso in
He denied taking part in any political or armed action in
The arrest has reignited a dispute in
His Dutch wife, Hariette Springer,
said her husband had done nothing wrong. She pointed out that he had travelled to
She said: "The charge that he has been extradited on is a complete fabrication. Adolfo is a Maoist, he is an intellectual. He has been a past critic of the Peruvian government and he has certainly sympathised with Sendero Luminoso's ideas, but he is not a member. It's not a crime to express his opinion, everything he said is completely legal."
Some Latin Americans in
For police in
He had travelled to
The next day,
At first, Mr Olaechea
was confused. The only arrest warrant he was aware of was one issued by Alberto
Fujimori, the disgraced former Peruvian president,
who faces a request for extradition from
Mr Olaechea was tried in his absence in 1993 and sentenced to life for the crime of "apology of terrorism". These trials, were declared "unconstitutional" when Mr Fujimori left the country. The prosecutor who produced the original warrant is now in prison.
was unaware that the current president of
The arrest has been greeted with glee in
has begun bleeding from a damaged pancreas and faces an indeterminate period in
"His situation is precarious . . . and his health is deteriorating," his brother said.