Confused on libcom's overall approach.

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sihhi
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Dec 12 2012 20:35
Confused on libcom's overall approach.

I am confused by libcom's overall approach. Not a criticism, but more questions.

It used to be just a place for articles that were not available elsewhere on the internet, being made accessible to those with an internet connection, to save their having to hunt in special collections and the like.
But on the front page now there's a page of Howard Zinn's People's History of USA, which is all over the internet and then beneath it is a link to libom's Radical America page which seems to be just the same as Brown University's page. The focus of just libertarian/anarchist/anarchofeminist etc articles has gone. Does this mean general radical (including Third Worldist or radical nationalist) material is now acceptable? Also the news seems to replicate a-infos or anarkismo, the blogs seem to replicate (sometimes well, sometimes poorly) general leftist blogs.

Doesn't the duplication load your servers unnecessarily? Shouldn't we avoid duplication across leftist sites.

Plus one thing that is really confusing is the split between 'library' and 'history' it sort of made sense.when there were fewer articles, but now there are loads why are some in one section and not the other it's arbitrary.

I just want to reiterate I fully respect the rights of the libcom executive to do as they fit, to put on and accept whatever they like, I'm just a little confused, and some clarification could help.

I've started looking at a whole host of stuff about the impact of the Marshall Plan on Turkey's economy , which forces a form of enclosure of the commons in the early 1950s and benefits landlords and US tractor manufacture firms, fascinating but is it relevant for libcom or anyone anymore?
I have the whole run until until 2008 in pdf of an academic journal called "Revolutionary Russia" about Russia 1917-1921, it's not anarchists, just Russia, Ukraine etc "Area Studies" experts with forgotten nationalist, religious and other activities and movements some of the stuff might provide a background to Nick Heath's "The Third Revolution" but it is not from a radical perspective.
I have text form versions of Anti Apartheid Movement annual reports, again, it's not a "revolutionary" movement but had a lot of influence on people in Britain and what "leftism" was understood as.
I have British feminist materials from 1960s early 1970s which was photocopied and I could scan, but again it's not libcom's normal fare, although having said that, I don't where else on the internet really keeps us feminist British as opposed to general (meaning inevitably US) feminist texts.

If libcom is expanding is any of this stuff appropriate or not?

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Steven.
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Dec 12 2012 23:27

Hi, thanks for your comments, we are always happy when people put thought into our project and what it's all about.

Some responses to points that you raise:
- it was never specifically a place for articles which weren't available elsewhere, from the beginning of fair bit of the news we posted was only slightly rewritten from other news sources, which doesn't happen nearly as much anymore.
- In 2005 the guy who ran the endpage archive of a few thousand radical texts said he was going to take it down. So we thought we would take on all the contents. At that point the library as we know it today really began. We moved over 2-3000 texts from a variety of political traditions, with a lot of left communist, ultraleft and anarchist stuff, but also a bunch of general philosophy and Marxist writing, including a bunch of Leninist and liberal left stuff. So the point of the library from then, and today, is that it holds either libertarian communist texts or texts which would be of interest to libertarian communists or radical workers.
- People's history of the United States is not all over the internet, it is hosted on one other website as well as libcom, History Is a Weapon, and they have been threatened by the publishers.
- In terms of posting stuff we disagree with, it should contain a critical introduction. Ideally it will have either a link to or a comment below explaining why we disagree with it (how users can help with this). So in terms of Third Worldist or nationalist stuff, normally under most circumstances we wouldn't host it. However in certain circumstances we could do. For example we have a couple of anti-Semitic texts written by "anarchists" which we have in our "best of the worst" section as a reference of bad politics. We explain this in the introduction.
- I'm not sure what you mean by the news replicating a-infos or anarkismo. I agree that duplication is unhelpful. But are you saying that we should give up, not have any news and just tell people to post to a-infos or anarkismo instead? Because a-infos is a terrible website, and anarkismo started after us. And we have significant political disagreements with them (they do contain nationalist news, for example, including pro-PKK statements). Places like anarchist news and infoshop news also copy lots of our news and articles, however I don't think that's a reason for us not to have them.
- In terms of the comments on blogs, I don't see what you mean. How do they replicate general leftist blogs? We have a group of explicitly libertarian communist bloggers. Are you saying that we shouldn't have these blogs?
- So I guess I'm not really sure what the duplication you are talking about is. We do archive a lot of material from other websites, for example from DSG. We also backed up loads of anarchist/communist websites from geocities before they all got taken off-line. And we have archived other websites which have also gone off-line, like Class against Class and kurasje. But this is because we are a stable website with a dedicated team to preserving it, and we are also backed up by the British library so anything posted to libcom will be protected in perpetuity. Whereas many other websites/blogs etc will end up being lost forever at some point.
- Library and history are split between theoretical and historical articles, basically. The division should not be arbitrary, although it's true some are posted to the wrong section. When we see this though we try to correct it. Reasons for the division will become clearer as we had more site features, including on this day in history blocks and timelines, which will enable you to browse topics, countries or industrial sectors over time.
- In terms of whether the stuff you mention would be appropriate for the library… Well I guess it's up to you really. If you think it would be of genuine interest to libertarian communists or radical workers then yes. If not, then no. We think there is a political utility to us hosting texts which are not explicitly libcom, as especially if we host them with a critical introduction with links to our views/critique then it could help pull people in our political direction. So the British feminist stuff sounds like it would be very interesting. The anti-apartheid reports could be useful, especially if linked to critiques of the ANC elsewhere on the site.

Anyway, hope this helps answer some of your points. If anything is not clear please do ask, this is a big website and a big project so we don't expect everyone always understand everything we are trying to do (and it is constantly changing in any case. Although the library being more general has been the case since 2005).

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sabot
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Joined: 21-06-08
Dec 13 2012 00:16
sihhi wrote:
the libcom executive

wink

sihhi
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Joined: 11-03-06
Dec 14 2012 23:35

"But are you saying that we should give up, not have any news and just tell people to post to a-infos or anarkismo instead? Because a-infos is a terrible website, and anarkismo started after us. And we have significant political disagreements with them (they do contain nationalist news, for example, including pro-PKK statements). Places like anarchist news and infoshop news also copy lots of our news and articles, however I don't think that's a reason for us not to have them."

If you google filetypetonguedf "people's history of" you can find it on sites other, including Islamist ones and all sorts.
If it's to join in against publishers, it's fine. I like anarkismo, because it has nationalists, hard platformists aswell as syndicalists.
It felt to me like the blogs and news is growing in prominence from the front page.

Anti-Apartheid Movement stuff is about activities in Britain against the British-South African connection, so pro-ANC and pro-BCM, at the same time in a way pro-anyone against apartheid basically.
I'll have a few trial samples to see if anyone likes. Thumbs up (can't find smileys)

radicalgraffiti
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Joined: 4-11-07
Dec 14 2012 23:50

you seem to be objecting to making things easier to find?