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Irish Indymedia & the Technical and Ideological Apparatus of Activism

category national | anti-capitalism | feature author Monday November 10, 2003 21:23author by Marc Mulholland Report this post to the editors

Extract of Story from the Newswire:

ak47camera.jpeg"The leaders of the various leftist groups have decided not to participate in a site they regard as beneath their dignity. They know that they will be attacked by ireful posters in disrespectful and probably vulgar and abusive terms. The rank and file of the various vanguard revolutionary parties are obviously discouraged from going to have a look-see. Those who do speak-up for their parties usually (though not always) sign on anonymously.

Comment on content is mostly sect-ish point scoring. This can be entertaining, though more often boring and obscure. There are sometimes vigorous and illuminating debates. Even these, however, tend to be very limited in scope. The median Indymedia contributor despises the market, barely accepts that democracy exists, and assumes that the most malevolent motives move all 'bourgeois' and 'imperialist' politicians.

It's a pity that the project was not much more broadly based politically, but I suppose the zealots are always going to colonise these fora and drive out the less committed.

In all, though, I think the evolution of written word publishing has had interesting effects on the far-left, with potentially far-reaching effects. I’ll elaborate . . . . ."


Irish Indymedia and thoughts on the Technical and Ideological Apparatus of Activism

Irish Indymedia is an oddly vociferous place. It was set up as a site to collate reports derived from amateur activists and participants rather than the established media.

News stories are mostly press releases advertising planned demonstrations, or fulsome reports by the organisers afterwards. Here one can find hard to come by information. Generally, however, they are of relatively little interest, and not a serious alternative to the established media at all.

Much more fun is to be found in the comments section. Those who regularly contribute seem fairly few in number and dispersed between the SWP, the Socialist Party, anarchists and the odd Sinn Feiner. A very few liberals / conservatives / libertarians sally in to have crack with redbaiting. However, Indymedia's readership and contributor base must be far bigger than any of the left-wing party newspapers in Ireland (with the exception, possibly, of AP/RN - Sinn Fein's newspaper).

The leaders of the various leftist groups have decided not to participate in a site they regard as beneath their dignity. They know that they will be attacked by ireful posters in disrespectful and probably vulgar and abusive terms. The rank and file of the various vanguard revolutionary parties are obviously discouraged from going to have a look-see. Those who do speak-up for their parties usually (though not always) sign on anonymously.

Comment on content is mostly sect-ish point scoring. This can be entertaining, though more often boring and obscure. There are sometimes vigorous and illuminating debates. Even these, however, tend to be very limited in scope. The median Indymedia contributor despises the market, barely accepts that democracy exists, and assumes that the most malevolent motives move all 'bourgeois' and 'imperialist' politicians.

It's a pity that the project was not much more broadly based politically, but I suppose the zealots are always going to colonise these fora and drive out the less committed.

In all, though, I think the evolution of written word publishing has had interesting effects on the far-left, with potentially far-reaching effects. I’ll elaborate.

When I was involved in the Militant, we used to laboriously produce leaflets with mechanical gestettner machines. Papers & pamphlets were painfully and expensively produced by skilled designers and compositors. All this served to put the technology of practical ideological dissemination far out of the reach of the 'rank and file'. It simply took too much skill and effort to put together and publish a credible pamphlet without the aid of the 'organisation'. (I did manage it twice, but both times had no means to distribute them - being too embarrassed to push them myself).

The leadership cabal had a monopoly on the publication of 'perspective' documents. As they constructed the various canonical documents, they gained that mastery over understanding and exposition that comes from writing.

Writing is far more important in developing ideas than is oral debate. The leadership would always affirm that the ideas 'emerged' from a process of debate. If so it was like Mao's Zedong's 'Mass Line'. Mao argued that the piecemeal and scattered ideas of the rank and file should be gathered together by the Communist leadership, which then cogitated, shaped and composed them into 'theorised' knowledge. This line, in turn, was to be delivered back to masses as their own clarified thought. Something similar happened, in microscopic scale, within the various ‘revolutionary parties’. It was not real democracy. In fact, real debate requires multiple sites of focussed reflection. It requires multiple writers. Otherwise, as was always the case, the leadership, in writing up documents, had an invincible advantage in establishing their hegemony.

This stage of the ultra-left (mid -1980s) - the un-Reformed stage where a priesthood controlled all access to the Holy Book of publishing - began to transorm with the emergence of cheap and easy desk-top publishing (early 1990s). The impact of this was, on the one hand, to facilitate the emergence of factions, capable of producing and maintaining their written 'platforms' and congealing into permanent petty parties. Monoliths like Militant began to fragment. The Anarchist alternative to Leninist parties began to proliferate.

On the other hand, single-issue 'fronts' assumed a certain independence from their Leninist sponsors as they had easy access to their own means of ideological propagandising and organisation. 'United Frontism' took on a new substance and permanence. (A few, such as ‘Black Panther’ in Britain, broke from the organisation that had sponsored them).

The hard-left world seems recently to have been further revolutionised by internet publishing - even cheaper, easier and more accessible that DTP. Most obviously, it gives a voice to every dissident. For this snowstorm of criticism, there is an audience in and around every vanguard sect like the SWP, SP or whatever. The Leninist leaders have ever greater difficulty in insulating their members. The Weekly Worker has made a huge impact on ultra-left by appearing free on the net every week. As a scandal sheet of the leftish sects, it is hugely popular with the activists. No leadership cabal is now safe from the most searching and often violent critiques (though they employ the familiar rhetorical and organisational measures to minimise the damage).

The internet makes access to alternative ideas much easier for the rank and file of the ultra-left groups. More importantly, it allows many more sub-leadership individuals to set down their thoughts and ideas in connected prose, a process that has huge potential to expose internalised assumptions to critique. To read is one thing, and its subversive effects can be countered by party leaderships. But to write is really to force oneself to think through ideas. Particularly if such scribblings are instantly published on the WWW, there is created the psychological conditions necessary to generate that self-regard required to unhitch oneself from self-effacing respect for the leadership's 'understanding of theory'.

All this, I think, threatens the semi-cultish hold the leaderships of leftist groupuscules have historically exercised over their memberships. It seems to have fuelled the factionalism of parties such as Militant over the past 15 years or so. Now, arguably, it is creating a genuine cadre - right across the party divides of the ultra-left – which inclines towards abandoning the ego-centred shibboleths of their petty party leaders in favour of constructing a broader left unity. It is a revolution from below, or the middle ranks anyway. So far it is incomplete and prone to local reverses, due to the bureaucratic manipulations of united fronts by the like of the SWP (who have massively weakened, for example, the Anti-War Movement).

Initiatives like the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party have many explanations, including the plans and ambitions of Leninist leaders. But it also indicates the release of an activist constituency from the serfdom of vanguard party loyalty and their consequent availability as organisers of a potentially much wider hard-left electorate. The Anti-War Movement - even if variegated - indicates something of the potential scale. Opinion polls suggest that the united ultra-left in France would attract serious consideration from some 31% in presidential elections. More realistically, maybe somewhere between 10% and 20% in contemporary western societies would support anti-capitalist environmentalist movements, if not actually 'socialist transformation'.

There are many causes for all this. But one should not ignore those mundane transformations of the means of production, distribution and communication that activists directly rely upon. They have the capacity to produce significant shifts in the superstructure of activist politics. Bill Gates is the unwitting father of the new New Left.

Related Link: http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/histor/index.blog?from=20031108
author by Mera the pedanticpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 16:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

> anarchists and the odd Sinn Feiner. A very few liberals /conservatives / libertarians sally in to have crack with redbaiting.

Don't give into academic usage of the word libertarian. Nothing libertarian about owning companies and exploiting workers. Right wingers tried to 'take' the word in the 1970s (e.g. Nozick).
However libertarian has been used as a synonym for anarchism for over 100 years. It emerged when the French State censored the use of the word 'anarchy' in the 1890a after a rash of violent incidents. The anarchist press used 'libertarian' instead. It's still used loads in the latin countries.
The declared goal of the CNT in Spain, for example, was to achieve libertarian communism. Still is the goal of most us today.

author by Chekovpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

With which I would broadly agree. In particular, I think that the opportunity for horizontal communication between activists through internet technology has been crucial in the resurgence of anarchism worldwide (and a lot of the broader, non-hierarchical groupings like the GG and PGA for example). Just one quibble though:

"It's a pity that the project was not much more broadly based politically, but I suppose the zealots are always going to colonise these fora and drive out the less committed."

It would be hard for indymedia to be any more broadly based politically since the project is open to literally everybody except those promoting hate ideologies. The editorial mailing list, where all decisions are debated, is open to all and includes some people who are, in practical terms, opponents of indymedia. In recent times we have had reasonably regular postings from representatives or members of FF, FG, Labour, SF and the Greens, so it is hard to say that there are barriers to participation from a broadly based user base.

I think that the reason why the left is over-represented on indymedia is that people with a more right wing point of view are massively over-represented in the mainstream media. If you can have your point of view distributed to 100's of thousands of people every day, in a format where your misrepresentations and distortions are not subject to any meaningful crticism, then why on earth would you bother coming to indymedia where you might reach a few thousand, but also be subjected to a highly critical process of peer-review which might cause your article to backfire on you?

Therefore, I think that indymedia's userbase is defined mostly by the fact that the resource is attractive to people with points of view which are ignored by the mainstream. This population is mainly made up of the left and the extreme right. Although people may not be aware of it as they are quickly deleted, there is a constant stream of comments and articles to the site from fascists, revisionists and the other assorted pond-life of the far-right swamp.

The main motivation for the leftists using the site is that it allows their points of view and analysis to be viewed by a readership which is much broader than what they can reach through their own publications. For some, particularly political parties with highly centralised internal structures, this is the only reason for posting to the site; they generally seem to be strongly opposed to the process of peer-review and criticism that articles undergo through the comments section. These groups have been undermined rather than empowered by the proliferation of internet technology. For example, I believe that the SWP generally run mailing lists that are 'announcement only' or heavily moderated, where the leadership decides who can post and what can be posted. These mailing lists are, naturally, barren places, devoid of debate and argument and the leadership has to be constantly vigilant to prevent their members straying onto open, unmoderated forums where they might get infected with ideas that are not sanctioned by the leadership.

Some users also post to indymedia due to an ideological attachment to the ideas of open-publishing, a forum where articles can stimulate debate and where the authors can clarify their own ideas by being forced to respond to criticism. This encompasses most of the anti-authoritarian left, leftist independents and a multitude of individuals of all points of view who are interested in ideas. For them at least, the internet and indymedia in particular, have been enormously empowering developments, which have created the possibility of decentralised movements without any hierarchy or leadership. For example, the existence of a distinct direct action wing of the anti-war movement, independent of the IAWM leadership would not have been possible without the existence of indymedia and other online discussion forums.

The one thing that I do think is a real problem with indymedia as it currently operates is the culture among some users of engaging in highly personalised polemics against individuals with whom they disagree. Marc has himself suffered from this pretty much every time he has posted on the site. He posts a _political_ criticism of the SP, then some anonymous poster responds by calling him a class traitor, a bourgeois or whatever. This isn't really a problem for seasoned political hacks like Marc, but it does have the effect of seriously discouraging new and politically inexperienced users from posting to the site. To my mind this is the real challenge that we face in broadening the user-base of the site, but unfortunately I don't have any answer to the problem since I would not support the blanket banning of comments that contain personal attacks. I suppose that the more people who refrain from personalising debates, the less credible the abuse will look.

author by Archivistpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 17:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Like Chekov, I found this very interesting. I also agree with him that the intense personal abuse which people throw around against visitors such as Marc (he has been called a 'maggot' for expressing his views, and that is one of the more reprintable of the comments)is a problem here. It is however one which infects a great deal of left wing discourse, beyond Indymedia. It seems inconceivable that people genuinely hold different opinions by conviction, and that they are entitled to do so - they must be reprehensible class traitrs, maggets, or whatever, and be branded as such. Of course, this intemperate approach betrays what I would describe as a very tenuous relationship with democracy in any event, and mainly has the effect of completely alienating its intended working class audience, who value civility in debate as in everyday life.

I also think this technology completely undermines the version of democratic ccntralism practiced by the SWP, SP and others on the far left. In particular, the notion that all differences should be debated internally (for esoteric reasons that have nothing to do with debate, and everything with stifling dissent) collapses completely. It is practically impossible to have internal debate away from outside scrutiny these days. This is a problem for the large corporations too of course, who find that they cannot corral decision making away from the prying eyes of activists and journalists. But the leadership bodies of leftist organisations cannot do so either - not once they acquire any members worth speaking about. The choice, ultimately, is one between open and free debate, and a tiny sect ridden existence divorced from real life.

In this period, notions of democracy in organisatiosn must be revised, and people need to move on from canonical references to Lenin and political conditions in Tsarist Russia 100 years ago.

author by R Isiblepublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 17:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Marc's interesting article asserts that:

"News stories are mostly press releases
advertising planned demonstrations, or
fulsome reports by the organisers after-
wards. Here one can find hard to come
by information. Generally, however, they
are of relatively little interest, and
not a serious alternative to the estab-
lished media at all."

And I think that's inaccurately dismissive on two counts. First you're not going to find announcements of demonstrations or "leftist" talks buried in among the ads for sales at Clerys in the back of the IT or sandwiched in between the fashion puff-pieces on the RTE news so already that's a win for IMC-IE. Second I don't think that the majority of reports are "fulsome", they tend to be frequently highly critical reports by non-leader participants.


On a less defensive note I'd like to ask Marc why a member of a cult would turn to the internet when they have other forms of criticism of their cult available. Refraining from consumption of critical media or engaging in conversation with non-cult members is a choice made by cult members. Why wouldn't the internet/web be another lying evil that they avoid?

author by Marc Mulhollandpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 18:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi RIsible:

"I'd like to ask Marc why a member of a cult would turn to the internet when they have other forms of criticism of their cult available. Refraining from consumption of critical media or engaging in conversation with non-cult members is a choice made by cult members. Why wouldn't the internet/web be another lying evil that they avoid?"

Well, to use a slightly vulgar analogy, why are pornographic magazines going out of business? Because one can dabble on the net in privacy. People go much further when they feel free from prying eyes. Moreover, hyper-linking tends to erode inhibitions.

Clearly cadre-parties discourage their members from visiting 'sect' websites (I can picture the scence - 'they're divorced from reality, comrades!'). Their alternative sites do tend to be very dull, however. The Web is much harder to 'police', through peer pressure, than in the old days when one had to approach 'opposition' paper-sellers in full view of one's colleagues.

I take your point on the 'fulsomeness' of reports.

Related Link: http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/histor/
author by hs - sppublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

First of all in defence of myself and my own comrades, I don't consider myself a robot blindly following a leadership "cabal". And we within our branches have always taken part in debate, of course the problem being (if its a problem!) we often agree. With a small party like SP you know most people personally and talk with them personally. I don't know if Marc had the same experiences in Militant, but the SP by nature as an open political party rather than a faction within another party would be different by nature. And many members including myself have taken part in debates on indymedia. Often of course (and no disrespect to yourself marc) the most hardline will often be the ones who leave dissillusioned.

But in my opinion where indymedia has been very interesting (although at times depressing) is the inter dialouge between people of different parties and groups, people have assumptions challenged (at least within a left point of view) and debate is opened up. And in the people who have their assumptions challenged I would include anarchists who despite their ideology can often by the most suprised and shocked that someone can disagree with them (no offence but its been my experience).

The main problem is mudslinging, often sectarianism is said to be valuing your party or sect over the movement itself, but indymedia suffers from a worse version, doing as much damage to a rival left group as possible (with no actual intention of improving your own group!!!). A sort of gang mentality, which people from every party and group have been guilty of. I know marc may think the links of joe higgins might believe indymedia is below them, but really its the debate can often run into the gutter. And it would be an embarrassment for a public rep of our party to be engaged in mudslinging debate like that. Stuff like an anoynoumous person saying he heard a "rumour" the sp stole campaign money. Then this is backed up by someone saying "Prove you didn't". And then if comrades don't immediately defend ourselves, "sp silence!" and of course if you do defend your point of view "sectarian!!!"
this is quite common, sometimes trolling by those opposed to the left in general but not always.
And lets be honest its obvious alot of people engage in this sort of debate for entertainment.

How to solve it I don't know, there is no way really without removing the open newswire (comments part) which would remove the point.

But all in all I think the website is positive and thats coming from a member of a party that suffered massive abuse just before the bin charges, alot anonoymous and mudslinging. I know some members especially in socialist youth answered in kind, but I think we have to move beyond that. And to be honest quite a few of us take offence when you we are called "mindless cultists" myself included. And of course one other problem with anoyomity is impersanation but thats another story. All in all though more positive than negative.

author by ecpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 18:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

.

author by Daithí - 1 of IMC IEpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 18:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great article.

I think the biggest problem that faces Indymedia is the fact that a lot of people still can't figure out what it is. Some thoughts follow - responding to but not based upon some of the themes in the article*. Maybe it's easier by exclusion:

Indymedia is not a newspaper. It's not a coherent package with a structure of editors, sub-editors and contributors - indeed no staff or login for writers.

Indymedia is not a bulletin board. This, for me, is the crux of the matter - those who use the internet are often familiar with forum-style sites, and while there are some things in common, forums have their own cultures and traditions (and designs) which are distinct from the Indymedia open-publishing peer review model.

Indymedia is not a weblog. Incidentally another Q to Marc as a blogger - how do you see the development of weblogs in the context of the media - alternative to newspaper? Or more like an open journal/diary? What does the growth of weblogs 'mean'? But for Indymedia, the focus is news production rather than linking. Also communal rather than individual.

Indymedia is not the house journal of the left. While those involved in left-wing politics or causes may use the site more frequently than others, we have no mandate to serve this "audience" and don't tailor content on this basis.

Indymedia is not solely a website. The website is the entry point/focal point of the idea, but it should and will go beyond that.

Indymedia is not the editors. Myself and the rest of the rabble-rousers don't have special rights or Received Wisdom - those who edit (etc) change all the time, and the actual editorial functions often never touch large lumps of content.

Indymedia is not a provider. The site is, paradoxically, what comes from the site. This befuddles many users, who can't figure out why "Indymedia isn't covering story X".

Indymedia is not a party. Some day, while avoiding other work, I will compile a list of everything and everyone we have been accused of working for. I will then print it on a poster and allow everyone to download their own copy. Again, the traditions of the Irish left, with infinite parties, splits and alignments, cannot fathom this.

Indymedia IS Indymedia. It's evolving, but I think it's fair to say that this is something in a genre of its own, and although there will always be people who insist on treating or approaching it as a forum/newspaper/political group/etc, this uniqueness will not change easily.

* i.e. I'm not saying that Marc said all or any of the above, it's my opinion on the role of Indymedia as provoked by his piece.

author by hs - sppublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 19:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Again, the traditions of the Irish left, with infinite parties, splits and alignments, cannot fathom this."

I'd count five or so myself but definitely less than ten. And certinaly not infinite!

author by Maggot seekerpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 20:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What a sad vindication of the newly converted slamming their faith. It says a lot that it comes after a posting about Mick Murphy being jailed for defending public services.
Still in your ivory tower, maggot? Why don't you back up those assertions with facts - maybe you'll get a research grant to actually see who posts, test whether the Vanguard Parties (oh I'm so insulted) prevent their members from posting, and as for this "The median Indymedia contributor despises the market, barely accepts that democracy exists, and assumes that the most malevolent motives move all 'bourgeois' and 'imperialist' politicians." - well there's a PHD in that (btw median? maybe modal but not median)

By far the funniest parts:
"of the SWP (who have massively weakened, for example, the Anti-War Movement)." Just shows how high your tower is. Of course that healthy AWM was fine until the SWP came along - only it was the SWP who initiated the AWM. Maybe the prof would like to tell us where the AWM was before the SWP, came along? If that's too hard - what about on the ground in Northern Ireland - the site of your old 'militant' days.

And who can forget:
"Bill Gates is the unwitting father of the new New Left. " - the old lie. US war machine, maybe (good old state funding and research!!), Gates no - he only steals the ideas of others.

Bit like yourself Marc. Those liberal clothes, suit you fine.

author by sp member (personal capacity)publication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 21:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that the role of indymedia was best shown at the height of the anti war movement and anti bin tax movement. It was an organiser and a forum for debate giving a real oppertunity for an exchange in views during these developments. It would be of interest to know how much use of the site increased during these events?
The weak point of the site are the trolls who set out to create devision and spread lies.
In my view if indymedia can stay on track it can have a significant effect in building the left.

author by Mickey - SPpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that Marc's posting is more revealing about his hang ups when it comes to socialist organisations than it is about indymedia or about the internet, but I'll save a more considered reply for when I have more free time.

"Maggot seeker" is plainly a troll trying to start another burst of personally abusive nonsense.

author by Daithípublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 21:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=9399

author by dskljdspublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 21:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Marc has a go at indymedia for being full of sect point scoring, which lets be honest he does have a point, but then he goes on to have a crack at SP/Militant and the SWP. Marc, you are just as bad.

He is right about indymedia being full of sect scorers but to say that it offers no alternative to the capitalist media is rubbish. When something is actually happening it is a very good source. The coverage of the bin tax battle has been very good, none of these protests and blockades were reported at all in the main media.

author by Side Issue Girlpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 22:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This article has already appeared as a comment with a link on another thread. It was correctly posted in that form because it isn't original material and is already available elsewhere on the web.

Now it has been posted again, this time in full and as a news story.

Instead of the second posting being removed as is the normal reaction to that kind of behaviour, this has been left alone and then promoted to front page status.

The article is interesting and coherent if more than a bit tendentious but none of that should really be the point. There is a double standard here and it can only serve to encourage two things the IMC has specifically been trying to discourage, cut and paste reports and repeat postings.

author by Daithí - Indymedia Irelandpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 22:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One of the editors posted it as a newswire story, features are best done by taking a wire story and converting it into a feature (from the behind-the-curtain perspective, features are just stories in a different place).

The link was put on a story as a comment. It was then proposed to the editorial list and approved as normal - by four editors, in fact, none of whom are me, although I agreed with the decision. So to carry out this decision, the article was taken from the original site (with the author's permission) and made into a feature.

However it's of course justified to criticise the decision to make a feature of the story in the first place. That's cool. But it wasn't, as it seems, a repost. It was posted by us in order to become a feature.

author by S.I.Gpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 22:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That's a fair enough explanation on the repost part, Daithi, but I am still a bit confused about why the IMC would make a feature out of an article that was originally published in some other outlet?

Is there a general policy on that? Do we differentiate between something that has already appeared on some obscure blog (no offence meant to Marc or other bloggers) and something that has already appeared on the BBC website?

author by Daithípublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 22:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hmmm. Good question. Like I said I wasn't at my computer when the decision was made, but I'd justify it in that it's a story *about* Indymedia - not just a random external story. We need to highlight criticism of ourselves, I think, and if there's a detailed analysis/critique that's of low circulation otherwise, I think that's OK.

Obviously, it would be better if good criticism of Indymedia came on the wire.

author by ec - imc irlpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 22:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to take a little wind out of your sails - it was me who posted the story just after the Murphy report. It popped into that particular position because of the time it was when it was upgraded. MM wrote it a couple of days ago. I asked his permission to post to wire and he granted it.Now take your tourettes somewhere else there's a good louse. As for problems with how the story got here - what's the problem? - it's a well thought out piece of writing about Irish Indymedia and it's culture that I thought it would be interesting to share with the users of the site who might have missed it hidden where it was - a link in a comment on an announcement in the calendar (Thanks Aidan). I proposed and 4 other editors approved. Anyway the link is to an excellent article on similar subject matter from ctheory.net - 'Why the Web Will Win The Culture Wars For The Left'

Related Link: http://www.ctheory.net/text_file.asp?pick=380
author by iosaf ipsiphipublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

please don't refer to "ultra-left" anymore Marc,
but go on writing as much as you can.

"the leaders of the various leftist groups have decided not to to participate in a site they regard as beneath their dignity."
= hrumph.
beneath their dignity indeed, dignitas is it?
did you ask them? - did anyone ask them? I'm sorry but as one of those libertarian indymedia oldtimers (like b4 ireland imc) I just don't recall anyone ever thinking of inviting "the leaders of the various leftist groups" to participate in any particular way.

what do you think lads and ladettes?
Should we invite the leaders of the various leftist parties in Ireland to volunteer something, an article, an event, a photo or even a poem or something arty?
%-)

Go on writing Marc.

author by really hrumphed at the thought of itpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

do they turn up on the day's out?
oh it's not like you ever see RBB selling a copy of Trotter's weekly in front of the GPO do you?

author by hrumphed and vitriolically sectarianpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and Prionsais de Rossa, you never see him in the teacher's club do you?

author by being a little bit more accurate.publication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

are they not far left enough for you?
loads of articles, loads of photos, a few poems and the best 11am folk mass in the state.

author by bill gates.....?!publication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

we know what he stands for, and he doesn't stand for any of that attacking by the ireful posters in disrespectful and probably vulgar and abusive vitriolic terms.

author by liberatarianpublication date Mon Nov 10, 2003 23:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't want to read any leaders on my indymedia, if the indymedia collective start making special appraoches and giving special favours to the leaders of the far left and ultra left trotty red bolshevik icons of glorious revolutionary vigour any more space than they get already I'll stop logging on.

author by seedotpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 00:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Marcs article definitely raises some issues that are of concern to those involved in the production of Independent media in Ireland, but I think his own concerns colour his perception of Indymedia. If someone comes to Indymedia from a left activist position, in many ways the stories and issues seem to confirm what was already expected and the real interest is in the comments.

Consider the coverage of the anti-war movement. In the 2 weeks before Feb 15 it was obvious from the posts on Indymedia that the demo planned was going to be big - most coverage was of buses and groups meeting pre-demonstration, and there was a lot of this. From an activist point of view the site filled a role in allowing people to co-ordinate across their party boundaries. In the 2 weeks after 15th Feb Indymedia saw the anti-war movement implode over Shannon as a discussion on tactics reached unbelievable heights of infighting. Great fun for the competitive socialists as they cheered on their team but a real pointer to the weakness of the Irish left for those who saw the march on Feb 15th as holding out some potential.

But ignore the comments. Think of the stories. For 4 months before the rest of the media noticed, Indymedia had the story of the armed US soldiers on Irish soil - not just in comprehensive and well written reports (thank you Tim Hourigan) but in pictures and video that were eventually shown on national tv and brought the issue into the mainstream (thanks to the vidheads). When the fence was pulled down, when planes were disarmed, when shrines in the airport were built, it was Indymedia which covered these stories. This gives the oppportunity for the politically active to tell their stories not just to other activists, but to the wider public and shape the national political discourse.

This media by activists rather than for activists has been repeated, although not IMHO as effectively, on a number of other issues including, as one comment above states, on the bin tax. One of the interesting things about the bin tax is that not only was it the only place that covered much of the campaign, but it also had the only signs I've seen of real engagement between the environmental movement and bin tax campaigners. (thank you Niall O'Brollchain)

While Indymedia and web comunication may offer the opportunity for members of left wing parties to question the dogmas of their group - I'm not sure this really matters. But for media activists to shape the national political discourse by long, painstaking research of stories that are not commerically 'viable' or 'appropriate' opens the possibility that what we have here could have relevance to everybody and be for everybody, not just the activists. Graham Caswell wrote a good article here on the networking opportunities offered by new technology after the Feb 15th Marches, which was widely read and discussed in Indymedia circles (its in the archives and worth a read). But I believe this puts the argument that Indymedia works best when it is a tool for activists to talk to each other. I believe that this misses a real opportunity and the gradual move to a 'independent left bulletin board' is all of us missing the same opportunity.

Final comment: other Indymedia sites don't have the same sectarian shite that this one has. But they also don't have the same level of debate and comments as this site. Maybe the number of people coming here to talk and hang out says more about the irish left than about Indymedia. I don't really contribute time here to change the irish left - my ambitions are somewhat grander. In that sense, I would welcome all who come to debate (thank you Michael Turley and YFG) but more paricularly I don't believe that Irish print media has come up with a policy of not printing our url to stop people reading the left wing squabbles - its the other more important stuff we do that they are denying access to.

Don't Hate the media, Be the media.

author by Vinnie is GODpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 00:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

IMC Ireland is free of Microsoft, free of leaders and free of ideology.

as it should be. (but iosaf is here).

author by Brian - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 01:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Reading Marc's sprawling blog entry was in some respects thought provoking. It mixes together a number of issues, most notably his views on the nature of Irish Indymedia and his regularly expressed views on the nature of left wing organisations. Personally and perhaps predictably I found his comments on Indymedia rather more useful. I have very little time for his contributions on the nature of small socialist organisations as they so completely differ from my own experiences.

Marc points out that the regular contributors to this website come from a very narrow range of political views. Almost every contributor would think of him or herself as being on the political left and as an activist at that.

A linked observation is that much of what fills the newswire deals with political demonstrations or left wing publications. Indymedia might not have a mandate to be a kind of activist bulletin board, but in practice that is what the newswire often serves as. Certainly, if you were going to rely on IMC Ireland as your only news source you would have a very odd picture not only of world current events but of Irish politics.

In wondering why such a narrow range of contributors posts here you can very easily end up with a circular explanation. The newswire is filled with things that are of interest to activists so activists use the newswire. The argument was already put on this thread that this concentration is at least partially a result of this kind of "activist news" being mostly excluded from mainstream news sources and I think that this is in essence correct.

The most obvious tension between Irish Indymedia's self image as a place for alternative journalism and its often less noble reality is apparent when you consider its role as a left wing discussion forum. Indymedia was never really designed as a forum for lengthy debates. Its entirely anonymous structure with new user names available for each posting is quite simply unsuited for prolonged political discussion. It is too easy to anonymously stir shit and consequently when there isn't much going on the newswire can be drowned in repetetive bickering.

Some comparisons with other IMC's can be illuminating. Most of the English language IMC's that I have looked at seem to be as limited in the range of political viewpoints you can find on them as the Irish site. Equally most of them also deal in large part with demonstration or direct action reports. These two issues are very obviously linked. Indymedia sites all over the world have become places for left wing activists to tell each other about their political actions.

Where IMC Ireland differs from the other sites, apart from running on a much nicer piece of software than most, is in the amount of prolonged discussion which takes place on the wire. Threads with more than 80 replies are in no way unusual, although it appears that threads with 80 different people replying are non-existent. This is all but unheard of on most Indymedia newswires and I don't pretend to know precisely why Irish Indymedia is different.

To take our nearest neighbours as an example, we could ask why the UK IMC's newswire sees so much less in the way of extended threads? It isn't that the British left is more mannerly or that the various left groups get along better. My experience of the left in London suggests that relationships on the left there are much more vitriolic than in Dublin.

Perhaps the answer lies in the existence and widespread use of more suitable forums for left wing discussion than the UK IMC newswire. You can find left discussion e-groups with up to 600 members. You can also find discussion boards like those on urban75 where vigorous debate is facillitated by a firmly anti-trolling moderation policy. It seems probably that there is just as much in the way of internet discussion, it just takes place on more appropriate sites.

Even if the trolling and the endless repetions of the same arguments could be discouraged, I'm not sure if the contradiction between IMC as a place for left wing activists to tell each other about their activism and IMC as a real source of independent and alternative journalism could ever be adequately resolved. I'm not even sure that I would want it to be resolved.

Some of the best things about Indymedia come directly out of that overlap. When something genuinely newsworthy is happening that is connected to the activist milieu this site partially transforms itself. The bin tax dispute has seen the newswire fill with quick reports of events around the city, reports that most people simply couldn't get access to otherwise. Even before the present near-blackout of mainstream media coverage of the bin tax campaign, that kind of detail was just unavailable.

Think back though to what this site was like three months ago or so and you get the other side of that coin. Instead of useful news reports the wire was filled with the most unbelievably poisonous squabbling, largely carried out anonymously. I have been interested in this site since it was founded and I have participated reasonably regularly. I have defended its potential to people who only saw the vicious anonymous shit stirring before dismissing the site entirely. But I couldn't in all honesty have recommended this site to anyone new to the left and not in possession of a strong stomach at its nadir a few months ago.

By contrast, since the bin tax issue took off I have consistently felt able to list it as one of the best sites to check out for bin tax news in reports posted elsewhere. Indymedia is what we make it and sometimes we don't make very much of it. When we get it right it suddenly becomes a very valuable resource. It is in the end up to us.

author by Marc Mulhollandpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In brief.

I think readers are probably right to suggest that my comments on the main stories were too harsh. However, there is a tendency for them to be primarily calls to action, and thus very activist orientated.

Blogs seem to have evolved as an alternative to this. Those which are not little more that daily writing practice (like mine) will link to some article on the WWW and comment upon them. They rarely produce News, only comment. Indymedia outlets obviously have a wider ambition to generate news, but it does require consistently skilled journalism. (I seem to remember that Lenin - and presumably others - wrote interesting, if rather patronising material on 'worker correspondents').

On my use of the term Ultra-Left, well it's accurate in that it indicates the far -reaches of the contemporary political scale. However, it does have pejoriative undertones that I would rather avoid. 'Hard Left', for me anyway, still has certain Bennite connotations. Can readers suggest a better 'catch-all' term for the militant end of the socialist scale?

I agree that it is a good thing to see FF and other 'mainstream' participants. I myself am certainly to the right of the Indymedia spectrum.

I don't want to go over the top in attacking 'vanguard parties'. Effective political action, I believe, does need party structures still. I think the impact of DTP and the internet has been to undermine the clannishness of the vanguard parties, and they have some capacity to actually benefit from this. Both the SP & the SWP do seem to be making efforts to adopt to the new environment.

Again, terms like 'cabal' are perhaps excessively polemical sounding, but the point is that leadership bureacracies have developed (maybe this is unavoidable). They are inevitably in organisational and psychological tension with the rest of the left and even with their own memberships. My account of my time in Militant was partially an attempt to honestly examine this.

To avoid excessively cultic elements in vanguard parties I would suggest simple, observable measures.

Firstly, members should no longer be required to sign up to entire documents, covering history, theory and perspectives. This inhibits normal latitude of freedom of thought. The only agreement required, and healthy, is around norms of discipline and a basic programme.

Secondly, 'full-time' apparatus should be down-sized, with a strict limit on tenure (of, say, two years). This would work against the development of a priesthood of professional revolutionaries. It would also circumscribe the unacceptable sacrifice imposed (or self-imposed) on the full-time cadre.

The point of my article was to examine the impact of DTP and the Internet on general developments of the left. I'd be interested to hear more on this.

Related Link: http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/homepage/
author by Ironicpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Extremely ironic that Mark (since when did you start using the trendy spelling!) Mulholland's diatribe is accompanied by a photomontage which includes an AK47 - thought for a committed unionist like yourself Mark that this would be just too much.
It is also ironic that Indymedia editors, many of whom are republicans have given such prominence to Mulholland's thoughts. Mark Mulholland is so far ex-left he makes Eoghan Harris sound like an SWP-er. Mark Mulholland talks about not being able to publish his ideas in the past. Would that include your belief that Irish Protestants are a seperate nation, and your defence of the link with Britain?
Would they have included your defence of the right to free speech for fascists?
If someone like Eoghan Harris or Conor Cruise O'Brien or other such ex-lefts wanted to publish their ideas on indymedia would they be given as much prominence? Mark Mulholland's politics are to the right of the latter two class traitors - downgrade this nonsense!

author by Marc Mulhollandpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My dad called me Marc rather than Mark. I think it was trendy in the early 1970s, though I can't imagine father was influenced by T-Rex. He prefers Al Jolson! Anyway, if you know how to spell my name correctly, I'd rather that you had the courtesy to do so. Or do you also re-anglicise for those who gaelicise their name?

I'm not convinced that ulster unionists are a nation quite, but I do believe that they have rights to self-determination, limited only by the rights of the Irish population in Northern Ireland. My preferred pragmatic settlement would probably be joint sovereignty.

The picture is not mine, nor placed here by me. But it is rather striking.

author by redjadepublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

''Mulholland's diatribe is accompanied by a photomontage which includes an AK47''

yes, the image is not Marc's - from another site entirely.

As a photog, it says: shoot photos, not bullets
or 'militant journalism' maybe 'revolutionary journalism'? or something pithy like that - beats me really, but i like it.

author by Mr Disco - ucd SA ( Sectus Ah )publication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Iosafs idea of a leaders feature is a good one I think. The “hard left”/insert isolationist name here/ parties {i.e.: the SP /SWP}, are based upon a fixed leadership/rank & file structure, & to hear the leaders views on, for instance their members typos on
IE (imc) would be interesting. Phat chance /* note: trendy spelling */.

Obviously, anarchist/libertarian groups have no such leaders, and so an anarchist/libertarian wouldn’t have to accept this authoritaah {as if they ever do}. For Joe Higgins etc to write an article for a wider audience than SP members would be interesting for those same SP members. Again: Pat C[hance].

A trend {among many} ive notices on IE (imc) of late, has been a steering away from Leninist/trot vs. anarcho/libertarian shit stirring and debate. CALM DOWN CALM DOWN! It would appear everyone has quietened down in that respect. The site has matured with its reader’s views of it, which leaves new readers unable to shape the site, or their opinion of it.

Also: there’s a very fine line between cutting out trolls & cutting out open debate. In this respect, I hope IE (imc) don’t play into the hands of the reactionaries & trot leaders – who see this as one of many agents eating away at their “ivory towers”.

author by Chekovpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 13:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I really don't think that the format of the IMC requires "consistently skilled journalism". This is because the comments have to be considered to be part of an indymedia article. So, even if somebody writes a very inaccurate and 'fulsome' account of some event, we can be sure that this will be corrected by the comments - in no uncertain terms. Any reader who has spent any time on indymedia soon learns that an article and its comments have to be taken together as a piece of journalism. Once you've gained some experience of filtering out the bullshit, trolling and sectarian nit-picking from the comments, you are generally left with a pretty accurate picture of what actually happened.

To me this is the real strength of indymedia ireland. As Brian notes above, we have an extraordinarily high number of comments per article compared to most other IMC's. In addition it is obvious that many of the people commenting on articles have an intimate knowledge of the subject matters. Many of the other IMC's have a very small number of comments on articles and serve mainly as a clearing house for activist press releases. That is certainly useful, but I think that Indymedia Ireland far surpasses this. Why this is so is really hard to know - I have a few theories but I'll spare ye for the moment.

Having said all that, I do actually think that much of the writing on the site is of very high quality and in particular the features are generally good examples of journalism in their own right. Scroll back throught the last few months of features and you will find many interesting stories that are generally utterly ignored by the mainstream.

On a few other points, I'd say that the term 'far-left' is less pejorative than 'hard-left' or any other phrase that springs to mind.

Finally, to respond to 'ironic', if Eoghan Harris or Kevin Myers wrote a considered article about indymedia (not that they'd be capable of it), I'd certainly support it being made into a feature. I seem to remember that the editor who proposed it did so on the basis that it was a view from 'outside the fishbowl'. There is an awful lot of sniping against indymedia on the newswire (normally comments along the lines of 'this is typical indymedia bullshit') and very little reflection about what is undoubtedly an exciting resource for the Irish left. Articles that stimulate a bit more profound debate like this one are very welcome, even if they are written from a political point of view that many users wouldn't agree with.

author by Niall ÓB - Greenspublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In my view this is an excellent and much needed article on Indymedia. Well done Marc.

I was also very interested in the following comment by Chekov.

"Any reader who has spent any time on indymedia soon learns that an article and its comments have to be taken together as a piece of journalism. Once you've gained some experience of filtering out the bullshit, trolling and sectarian nit-picking from the comments, you are generally left with a pretty accurate picture of what actually happened."

While I agree wholeheartedly with this comment I would like to add the flipside of this. Personally I find it very frustrating and offputting when I submit an article that is relevant to myself and others only to be lambasted about a completely different issue that is the pet issue of somebody else. This sort of comment is usually followed by many others and the point of the original posting is often obscured.
This practice is very offputting and certainly does not encourage a broadening of the indymedia base.

Indymedia has fantastic potential that is realised to some extent but a general culture of respect is vital if it to be taken seriously. At present I think there is far too much disrespect.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 16:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ok 11 then, still compared to most european countries thats almost complete unity.
this is taken from "leftist parties of the world"
and doesn't include student groups, social centre groups and collectives, I didn't bother to count!!! Ireland isn't that bad really, we have alot more unity (espeially in action) than alot of other places.

Italy

Anarchist Union (Unione Anarchica)
Association for the Liberation of the Workingmen (Associazione per la Liberazione degli Operai, AsLO)
Committees for the Support of the Resistance - For Communism (Comitati di Appoggio alla Resistenza - per il Comunismo, CARC)
Commission for the Preparation of the Foundation Congress of the (New) Italian Communist Party (Commissione Preparatoria del congresso di fondazione del (nuovo) Partito comunista italiano)
Communist Initiative (Iniziativa Comunista)
Communist Revolution (Rivoluzione Comunista)
Comunitarism and Independance (Comunitarismu e Indipendentzia)
Democracy - Movement for Sardinia (Democratzia - Movimentu per la Sardegna)
Democrats of the Left (Democratici di Sinistra, DS)
April. For the Left (Aprile. Per la Sinistra)
Equal Liberty (Libertŕ Eguale)
Liberal Socialists (Socialisti Liberali)
Social Christians (Cristiano Sociali)
Socialism 2000 (Socialismo 2000)
Federation of Anarchist Communists (Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici, FdCA)
Federation of Greens (Federazione dei Verde)
Humanist Party (Partito Umanista, PU)
Independance Republic of Sardinia (Indipendčntzia Repůbrica de Sardigna)
Industrial Workers of the World (Lavoratori Industriali del Mondo), other page
International Communist Party [Bolletino] (Partito Comunista Internazionale [Bolletino]) unofficial periodical Partito Comunista Internazionale (Bolletino)
International Communist Party [Il Comunista] (Partito Comunista Internazionale [Il Comunista]) unofficial periodical Il Comunista
International Communist Party [Il Partito Comunista] (Partito Comunista Internazionale [Il Partito Comunista]), mirror page, periodical Il Partito Comunista unofficial, periodical Comunismo unofficial
International Communist Party [Il Programma Comunista] (Partito Comunista Internazionale [Il Programma Comunista]), unofficial periodical Il Programma Comunista
Internationalist Communist Organization (Organizzazione Comunista Internazionalista, OCI)
Internationalist Communist Party (Communist Battle) (Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Battaglia Comunista))
Italian Anarchist Federation (Federazione Anarchica Italiana, FAI)
Italian Democratic Socialists (Socialisti Democratici Italiani, SDI)
Italian Confederation of the Basis UNICOBAS (Confederazione Italiana di Base UNICOBAS, CIB-UNICOBAS)
Italian Democratic Socialists (Socialisti Democratici Italiani, SDI)
Italian Marxist-Leninist Party (Partito Marxista-Leninista Italiano, PMLI)
Italian Syndical Union (Unione Sindacale Italiana, USI)
Italian Syndical Union - International Workers' Association (Unione Sindacale Italiana - Associazione Internazionale dei Lavoratori, USI)
Land and Liberation (Terra e LiberAzione)
Lenin Circle (Circolo Lenin)
Leninist Groups of the Communist Left (Gruppi Leninisti della Sinistra Comunista) publisher, periodical Lotta Comunista
Liberal Socialist Action party (Partito d'Azione Liberalsocialista)
Movement for the Confederation of Communists (Movimento per la Confederazione dei Comunisti), other page
Movement for the Olive Tree (Movimento per l'Ulivo), other page
Movement for the Unity of Communists (Movimento per l'Unitŕ dei Comunisti, UC)
n+1 periodical, periodical Quaderni Internazionalisti, periodical Lettere ai Compagni
Net of Communists (Rete dei Comunisti)
Organization for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy (Organizzazione per il Partito Comunista del Proletariato d'Italia)
Padano Federalist Communist Movement (Movimento Comunista Federalista Padano)
Party of Communist Refoundation (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista, PRC)
Bandiera Rossa Association (Associazione Bandiera Rossa, ABR), periodical Erre
Communism from below (Comunismo dal basso)
Communist Project - Programatic Area of the PRC (Progetto Comunista - Area Programmatica del PRC)
l'ernesto
Red Line (Linea Rossa), other page
Reds Association (Associazione Reds)
Revolutionary Marxist Association "Communist Project" (Associazione Marxista Rivoluzionaria "Progetto Comunista")
Sickle Hammer (Falce Martello)
The Red Wave (L'Onda Rossa) periodical l'Onda Rossa
Party of Italian Communists (Partito dei Comunisti Italiani, PdCI)
Party of Socialist Refoundation (Partito della Rifondazione Socialista)
Political Opinion Movement: Progressive Liberal Socialism (Movimento Politico di Opinione: Socialismo Liberale Progressista)
Popular Democracy (United Left) (Democrazia Popolare (Sinistra Unita), DP(SU))
Popular Union (Unione Popolare)
Proletarian Struggle Groups (Gruppi di Lotta Proletaria, GLP)
Radicals of the Left (Radicali di Sinistra)
Reformist Socialist Party - PSE (Partito Socialista Riformista - PSE)
Revolutionary Socialism (Socialismo Rivoluzionario, SR)
Sardinian Action Party (Partito Sardo d'Azione)
Sardinian Nation (Sardigna Natzione)
Sicilian Anarchist Federation (Federazione Anarchica Siciliana, FAS)
Social Ecology (Ecologia Sociale)
Socialist Italy (Italia Socialista)
Socialist Party - New PSI [De Michelis] (Partito Socialista Nuovo PSI [De Michelis], Nuovo PSI[DM])
Socialist Party - New PSI [Martelli] (Partito Socialista Nuovo PSI [Martelli], Nuovo PSI[M])
Spark (Scintilla)
The Olive Tree (L'Ulivo)
Tricolore Socialism (Socialismo Tricolore)
Unitarian Movement of Socialist Initiative (Movimento Unitario di Iniziativa Socialista, MUIS)
Workers' Voice (Voce Operaia)

Related Link: http://www.broadleft.org/
author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 16:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to make the point that indymedia has been an excellent resource for those of us living outside the country, to keep up with whats happening as well as take part in debate. If I had to depend on the old media such as irish times (which you have to pay for now) I wouldn't be able to keep up with the developments.

author by Raypublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You have to take population into account. There are, what, 5 million people living in Ireland? Compared to 40 or 50 million in Italy? So there should be 8 to 10 times as many groups there as here.

author by conor (wsm personal capacity)publication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“the urge to destroy is a creative urge” Michael Bakunin

Whoever must be a creator always annihilates... Nietzsche

“Indymedia has fantastic potential that is realised to some extent but a general culture of respect is vital if it to be taken seriously. At present I think there is far too much disrespect...”

Nial from thread above

If you ask me it probably isn’t disrespectful enough as yet. One of THE features of Irish Indy media is that no opinion carries any inherent respect or value. Every thing will be examined and attacked from every conceivable basis. This is what NEVER happens with other forms of writing check:

Article in the Irish Times – the paper of record –won’t ever come under attack unless they have the misfortune to thread on the toys of some one rich or powerful

Article on your typical blog/web suite – never widely enough read to be attacked

Article in your socialist worker/the voice – automatic authority because written by “leading comrade” very rarely room for dissent

If you look at the instant publication/comment model in Indy-media it is in many ways the best for refining and debating ideas. It also encourages writers:

1 – to be sure of what they are saying and have the guts and knowledge to defend their views
2. You’d better be accurate because some one will spot it pretty dam quick if your not

I think IMC is a great example of one of those systems that are tightly controlled by negative feed back – and even if the focus is narrow it does tend towards a definitive view of what actually happened by the time the thread careers drunkenly to a close – if you have the patience to follow it that long!


Personal disrespect especially hiding behind anonymous posts I would COMPLETELY oppose

but disrespect for lies, inaccuracy, ideas which are “right” because “leading figures” espouse them etc bring it on and thats whats best about it

- rock on Indy media



Conor

author by Terrypublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 16:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chekov says:

"Any reader who has spent any time on indymedia soon learns that an article and its comments have to be taken together as a piece of journalism. Once you've gained some experience of filtering out the bullshit, trolling and sectarian nit-picking from the comments, you are generally left with a pretty accurate picture of what actually happened."

And Niall points out while this is true, good debates often get destroyed with completely off-threat rants, attacks and general bullshit.

I agree that Indymedia is more the stories+comments, but I would add that there is a certain amount of sabotage that is done on purpose so that IMC here or anywhere else does not become known as a good and viable alternative.

Having said that I don't believe that direct sabotage explains all and I reckon a fair amount of the problems is due to the fact that Indymedia is continually attracting new people who try it out for the first time, but the concept is so new, the concept where you can actually respond to the news, is that collectively people are still trying to get to grips with it. For many who may not have ever taken part in online email lists etc, and having spent most of their life up to that point being spoon fed by the mass media, then sure, some people will just lash out with ill thought comments. They are doing or imitating what the mainstream media does, which is plant one-liners in people's head. And so their initial use of Indymedia can reflect those media manufactured public opinion dumbed down views.

I come across this all the time, particularly when (offline) discussion turns to the war. I find people who just follow the mainstream media, constantly quite me one liners and other mistruths and bits of disinformation and lies, straight verbatim from the 'news'.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 17:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

yes thats a fair point, but as I said I only posted political parties, it goes much deeper than that. For example take the group Socialist Alternative in UCD, in Italy most universitys have a group like that, usually every faculty has a collective group (which is much more loosly based) and my experience of them has been wonderfully unsectarian. You have communists and anarchists happily working together. You also have the social centre movement, the rank and file unions, and even the official unions compared to our own.

The point is not to see these big collections of parties groups and factions as a bad thing. Its not necessarily bad and often quite healthy. And as the movement in Ireland grows we'll see alot more groups its a natural and positive development. Also for the size of Ireland and Italy it is reflected in that the rifondazione communista have 100,000 members and other groups are also much bigger than their Irish counterparts.

author by Brianpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your remarks about articles in the Voice having "automatic authority" because they are written by leaders of the Socialist Party are incorrect, Conor. Most issues of the Voice contain articles written by twenty to twenty five different people. Over a longer period that racks up to a huge number of contributors. The Socialist Party has a policy of encouraging as many of our members as possible to contribute to the newspaper.

Socialist Worker appears to have a different approach, judging from the dearth of signed articles but some of that could just be down to people not wanting their names printed for employment reasons.

Out of curiousity, what is the policy of Workers Solidarity on this issue? Again there aren't to my recollection a lot of signed articles. Is that an employment thing or is it just that the same few people write most of the paper?

Your wider point about peer review and the value of harsh criticism deserves a bit of thought, so I'm not just going to fire off a hasty response.

author by Brianpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry.

author by Raypublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unless things have changed dramatically in the last year or so, pretty much every member of the WSM contributes something to every issue of the paper.
You have to remember, a big difference between anarchist groups like the WSM, and Leninist groups like the SP or SWP, is that anarchists try to avoid having 'professional' revolutionaries controlling things from the centre. In the WSM, nobody can hold any position for more than two years, and editors are constantly rotated.
The problem with full-timers is that, even with the best will in the world, they will attain a special position in the organisation. While everyone else has to balance political activity with work, they spend their whole time thinking about the organisation (and arguably getting more and more out of touch with the real world). That makes their perspectives hard to challenge.
Also, full-timers tend not to change very often, because they are in a position of strength, because many people can't become full-timers themselves, and because if someone's been a full-timer for 20 years you'd have to be very unhappy with their work to want to throw them back out into the cold, cruel world. So the tendency is for the same people to always be in charge of the paper, of correspondence, of the finances, and for these people to have more power and status within the organisation than anyone else, and for this to be difficult to change. Not a great situation.

author by ecpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 19:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Meant to represent a C21 equivalent of the old adage - Pen mightier than sword. That's what I thought when I saw it for first time and why I stuck it alongside Marc's piece.

author by iosaf - the "we enjoy writing" bunch.publication date Tue Nov 11, 2003 23:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

almost went and wrote "bandaid" or "elastoplast" or some other registered trade mark and brand name and household word that many _not_ properly be reproduced by anyone not even a member of the indymedia community or a budding journalist like Marc, or a disrespectful anarchist like Chekhov, or a leader of a leftist group, or a happy far away bolshie like HS in Italy where the forty million do seem to have spawned a fair few parties, or me or you.
even if you click on the "i accept all the above referenced terms and conditions which means that all content I am about to publish is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the internet and elsewhere, unless I have EXPLICITLY stated otherwise in the text of my content".

ah but there in the paratactic prose, which _does_ indeed form part of the text be it "filtered" or not, lies the afore cautioned "expicitly stated otherwise".

EC- żwhat sort of sticky plaster is holding the gun like sword like pen like video recorder that so _well_ expresses our true strength?

author by Fiat Lux!publication date Wed Nov 12, 2003 03:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

if they've got so many socialist (left of electable) parties then it's no wonder Berlusconi is lording it like Mussolini.

author by conor (wsm personal capacity)publication date Thu Nov 13, 2003 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Brian

Out of curiousity, what is the policy of Workers Solidarity on this issue? Again there aren't to my recollection a lot of signed articles. Is that an employment thing or is it just that the same few people write most of the paper?


Not much to add to what Ray said

just had a look at the last one and 10 outa 13 are signed the one s that weren't were short reviews - we often carry opinion pieces and debate pieces by both members and non members in WS and Red and Black Revolution

Conor

Related Link: http://www.struggle.ws/wsm/ws/2003/index.html
author by Anonymouspublication date Thu Nov 13, 2003 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Guess there can't be too much disagreement then.

Great article and excllent contributions, most of which I have read, I gotta say. Pity it came to a fast closure. One of the best I have read on Indymedia Ireland.

I think I counted just one troll/abusive comment from "Maggot Seeker" - Mabye this suggests the reason for the quick closure - Not enuf to bitch and disagree about!

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 02:02author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

My experience of indymedia began when somebody downloaded articles I had written and which were posted on labors militant voice website, changed these slightly and posted them on indymedia under my name. Not a great beginning.

However I would like to suggest that indymedia is a real step forward for the movement. It allows for the spreading of information and news and opinions to an extent that was nowhere near as easy, if even possible, in the past. This is a real gain.

I think that the trollers as they are called are not a problem to deal with. If the majority of contributers stick to explaining their views and responding in a sober and non sectarian way to others views then these people will soon find that they have no audience.

So overall I think that indymedia is a real plus for the movement. I think that this is more easily understood if we recognize that it is a way of spreading views and opinions more widely and NOTHING MORE.. To expect more would be a mistake and unrealistic and down value its real contribution.

I would like to raise one issue. What are the arguments against a rule that all those who contribute use their real name. I do not accept the argument that people use the computers at work. People can stop doing so. I feel this would reduce dramatically the abuse and disruption of those people who troll.

Maybe I am biased. I was put on this indymedia under my own name by somebody. I still do not know who. I had no choice in the matter. But in general nobody forces anybody to go on indymedia. Therefore in the interest of improving the discussions and debates on indymedia why can we not have a rule that any contributer has to use their own name and provide an email address.

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Mickpublication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 02:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The using of one's real name is a problem for quite alot of people. But I would suggest that people if using a nickname should stick to it and provide their identity via email to anyone that requests it. Therefore people are accountable and people engaged in debates know who they are talking to but they reamin anonomous to the wider trolling public

author by volinepublication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

but, I find a couple areas where I disagree with you, Marc. I'm an American who occasionally drops in to some of the English and Spanish-language IMCs to see how the movement is going around the world. Indymedia Ireland is one of my favorites.

You are probably aware that the mass media in the US is just abysmally propagandistic (It doesn't totally excuse our national folly, but bear in mind). It was through IMCEire that I found the only decent coverage of the ploughshares actions and mass protests at Shannon airport last Winter. I found these to be very inspiring at a quite dark time for my opinion of humanity - and I posted them to Portland IMC.

I find the quality of comments on Indymedia Ireland to be quite good. In the main, you all seem to be more articulate and have greater attention spans than we have. We also seem to have many more trolls (and more police spies).

Portland Indymedia, which is quite active, has about an even mix of original content and reposts. The reposts aren't discouraged at all. As the publisher of computer manuals Tim O'Reilly has said (paraphrasing), in such an information-saturated world, there is value in the act of aggregating information. We all don't have the time to scan hundreds of online periodicals every day. So we'll seek out people who share our concerns to help us bring to light bits of interest that we otherwise wouldn't see. Different solutions for different problems, I suppose.

Another difference is that we don't really have much of a problem with sectarianism. Perhaps it's a legacy of the Northwest as a stronghold of the IWW. But we don't think to organize ourselves around parties here, we organize around issues. That doesn't mean that there isn't conflict among people with different ideas and ways of working (one particular source of friction is more hierarchical vs less hierarchical organizing methods). But perhaps the battle lines are more fluid. One can line up on the opposite side of an issue from one's usual allies without being accused of violating party discipline.

There are very few vanguardists in the Pacific Northwest. You'd have to go to San Francisco to find a chapter of the ISO (our SWP). I think that one reason that we were able to shut down the WTO in Seattle was the relative absence of vanguardist sects here. No one seemed to be trying to advance the power of their organization within the broad movement at the expense of our goal of shutting down the WTO.

If the 1999 Ministerial had been held in New York City that might not have happened. The anti-war organizing around ANSWER back east has been hampered by the opportunism of some small Trotskyist sects. As usual, they have jumped to the head of a parade and are trying to pretend they are leading it.

Last thing, Microsoft was notoriously late to cop on to the importance of the internet. They had to use the market power of their overwhelming monopoly in desktop operating systems to overcome Netscape's head start. The desktop publishing revolution was the result of the confluence of Apple's Macintosh and Laserwriter printers, and Aldus Pagemaker. The internet itself was a product of the US Department of Defense! What was it Lenin said about Capitalists selling you the rope to hang them with?

Well Goodnight, all. Keep up the struggle.

author by mepublication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 11:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John there is a real need for people to remain anon. This site isnt only read by lefts you know.

author by hmm?publication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 11:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

what was that you were all saying?
oh yes quite agree- it's all terrible, very morbid, we really just can't say where it will all end eh?

author by Gender, Class, Race - Ego's, Hierarchies, Moralspublication date Sat Nov 15, 2003 16:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Has anonymity of the internet suceeded where countless communes and democratic systems failed, by shattering the social barriers of gender, class and race ?

People who use e-mail, bulletin boards and the internet to keep in contact on subjects of mutual interest constitute a true counterculture of the sort that flourished in Londons Soho or Greenwich Village in NY in the 1960's.

Other researchers have found emerging signs of hierarchies, ego's and morals - the very same evils that compromised the Utopian visions of the past."


Personally I think that comments should be submitted anonymously and that the space for "author name" and "organisation" are removed. If these details are really that important they can be written into the actual comment by the contributer themselves.

Put the emphasise on WHAT a person has to say rather than WHO is saying it.

author by Marc Mulhollandpublication date Sun Nov 16, 2003 16:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Throne wrote:
"I think that this is more easily understood if we recognize that [Indymedia] is a way of spreading views and opinions more widely and NOTHING MORE."

John, I was surprised to read this. The point of my article was to argue that apparently mundane changes in the material bases of communication have the potential to quite radically change modes of 'anti-capitalist' political discourse and organisation. This seems to me to be a point very much in the marxist tradition of analysis. (I'm not a marxist, but I have a healthy respect for its insights).

Do you, in contradistinction, see the WWW media as simply an example of new bottles for old wine?

Related Link: http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/histor/
author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Mon Nov 17, 2003 21:14author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Throne wrote:
"I think that this is more easily understood if we recognize that [Indymedia] is a way of spreading views and opinions more widely and NOTHING MORE."


Marc Thank you for your comments. The statement of mine above is not clear. I have been having some debate recently with people who are very disappointed in the indymedia. Their disappointment comes from the fact that they expected indymedia and the tremendous increase in the ability to communicate to of itself transform anti capitalist politics. This has not happened and as a result they are very dismissive of indymedia and the internet in general. The baby and the bathwater situation is threatening to take over with some of them.

My statement above is not clear. What I was intending to say is that the same debate over ideas, the same struggle to clarify how the movement should go forward, these will continue and it will be only on the basis of mass events that positions will be shown to be either effective or ineffective. As part of this the importance of having perspectives with some relation to reality is fundamental. The internet and indymedia will not change these realities.

If I understand you correctly you are saying that the internet has had the affect of making the kind of top down over centralised organization much more difficult to maintain. I would not disagree with this. However I think that the present crisis of the over centralised top down organizations and the increased debate within these organizations is not due fundamentally to the internet.

I believe it is primarily due to the collapse of stalinism, the unexpected resilience of capitalism, the failure of the mass workers organizations and the failure at least so far of the revolutionary socialist and class struggle anarchist groups to gain a mass base. And of course the failure of the revolutionary anti capitalist forces to anticipate these developments, that is the failure of their perspectives. This has created a ferment of ideas and debate. The internet has facilitated this in my opinion but is not the cause of this.

John Throne.

PS. About some people having to remain anonymous as an earlier posting said I am not sure how to deal with this. I believe that the ability to post anonymously seriously facilitates the kind of abuse and nonsense that weakens indymedia. Do we have no option but to put up with this? Maybe that is so. But at the least I think that we should try and create an atmosphere that when people attack others and do so under false names that this is frowned upon and that others on indymedia call on those who attack and abuse others to identify themselves. JT.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Anonymouspublication date Tue Nov 18, 2003 12:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If left wing organisations in Ireland (or throughout the world) were really open and democratic then we might be able to have an atmosphere within which to honestly debate issues.

John has written in many places on what happens to individuals if they speak their mind.

Ireland is a small place and Dublin even smaller, so if you speak out, there is a strong possibility thanks to the organisational nature of most of the radical left that you will be demonised and this demonisation will spread to others who weren't even in the same room as you when you made the initial comments.

Indymedia is an outlet where people can speak the truth (and lies) with impunity. If the radical left was to get its act together and instill an arena for open honest dialogue, Indymedia might change. Unfortuanatly it will not be the other way around, no matter how much you wish it away.

author by dunk - FUSPEYpublication date Tue Nov 18, 2003 14:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't Hate the media, Be the media.
Don't just be the media,Be that and a whole lot more.

get more people involved, get them becomming the new media.
till eventually it is just a helpful tool in our daily social, political, social lives.

in a few years time, when a kid in shcool has to do a "whats going on in that part of the world" project" going to indymedia should be the most obvious thing to do. we are not at that stage yet

saying things like "space for the left" is putting of some.
saying "space for those for peace and sustainability" means everyone agrees.

indymedia, you, we are doing a good job.
things cant stand at that, because as long as they do, nothing really changes.

we have to become far more creative

most people are bored today.
fun and excitement matter, why else bother doing this stuff?

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=62252
author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Thu Nov 20, 2003 16:22author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anonymous writes: "John has written in many places on what happens to individuals if they speak their mind.

Ireland is a small place and Dublin even smaller, so if you speak out, there is a strong possibility thanks to the organisational nature of most of the radical left that you will be demonised and this demonisation will spread to others who weren't even in the same room as you when you made the initial comments."


 Anonymous I do not disagree with what you write above. But the point is what do we do to stop this. I think this means speaking out openly and taking the demonization and facing it and arguing your case and over a period of time making the issue a central one for the activist movement. When we argue against capitalism and its supporters both outside and inside the workers movement we are demonized. This happens basically whenever we take up any serious struggle. So why should we let the threat of demonization stop us from taking up issues inside the activist movement in an open manner.

When I first developed the differences I had with the CWI I decided that I would operate on the principle that had got me into radical activist struggle in the first place. This principle was that if I saw something that I thought was wrong then I would speak out openly against it. This is what got me involved in the civil rights movement in the North , the movement in Derry that led to Free Derry, and eventually revolutionary socialist politics. I received a lot of advice at the time I developed differences with the CWI to keep quiet for the time being, the time was not right I was told, or raise things in a different way etc etc. I was continually approached to put what I saw as tactical considerations over principle.

Comrade I believe that I was right in ignoring this advise. Most of the people who gave me this advise have ended up never opposing the false methods but rather drifting away from activity or going along with what they know is wrong. I believe if we see something wrong in the left activist movement we should do the same as we do when we see something wrong in society. That is we should speak out openly about it and take the consequences. Part of these consequences is to be demonized by the section of the left that thinks it is being criticised. However it is in this way that we can build, starting from a minority a body of opinion that can begin to change the left. I accept that this will not happen to any great degree until we have a new radicalization amongst the working class however we should be raising this as an issue now so that when we have this new radicalization the need to build the new movement on more sound principles and methods will be part of this new movement from the start.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Smelly Feet Dave - South Bank Uni Londonpublication date Wed Nov 26, 2003 01:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Marc MUphloolajnd.

You it seems, can nto differenttiate between left and righyt.


You are a cyncial m,ahgggot!!¬!!! without any doubt says Fitzie.

Please refrain from calling yuourself a leftist, just because you joined soome nominally leftist group in IReldand, doesn't mean you will overthrow the government.

WHich is the aultimate aim of any socialist.

Love, #


SMelly Feet Dave

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