Saturday, May 06, 2006

EnMasse is up and running

I'm going to get into trouble for this, but I don't give a damn.

I'm one of those "Babble refugees" some of you have heard about--frequenters of a discussion board over at Rabble until their aptly-named Management Committee started acting like Simon Legree. Well, no, let's not exaggerate--more like V.I. Lenin:

We are not utopians, we do not “dream” of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination. These anarchist dreams, based upon incomprehension of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship, are totally alien to Marxism, and, as a matter of fact, serve only to postpone the socialist revolution until people are different. No, we want the socialist revolution with people as they are now, with people who cannot dispense with subordination, control, and 'foremen and accountants'.

The subordination, however, must be to the armed vanguard of all the exploited and working people, i.e., to the proletariat.

Briefly, because the story has been well-told elsewhere, a well-liked moderator, Audra Williams, was fired during a series of life-crises, by email. The Management Committee that did the firing took a hard-nosed stance, stated that the matter was not up for negotiation, and withdrew into haughty silence. A lot of veteran Babblers picked up and left to create their own site, which recently received its official name: EnMasse. No subordination and control for them.

I'm not really in their number, having lurked but not posted much at Babble--I prefer the blogosphere to Usenet-type groups, as a rule. But I'm old-fashioned enough to take the slogan "An Injury To One Is An Injury To All" to heart. I made a bit of noise in a few Babble forums, and signed up as an EnMasser to show a little solidarity.

What choice did I have? Here was Rabble, behaving like a Type X manager in a non-union shop. No sense of shame. No principled self-criticism. No transparency. No accountability. And leaving its soft underbelly fully exposed for the Right to rip and tear in its inimitable fashion. To use this mess as an excuse to indulge in personal attacks against thoughtful Left stalwarts like Judy Rebick, who was only one of the players involved in any case.

Some people are continuing on over at Babble as though nothing had happened. La desaparecida isn't talked about very much any more. Best to keep your head down, or explain it all away, or make excuses, or pretend it didn't happen.

I've probably already lost a couple of good, longstanding friends over this. One sent me an email that pretty well said just that, after I had the temerity to tell her that this action was out of character. But I'm a trade unionist at heart, and what happened to Williams--and the way it happened--was a damned disgrace. If this had happened on my turf, I could have won the grievance in a deep sleep. Fired for failure to hand in a form. That's what the email said. Good grief.

So anyone interested in some good back and forth that isn't trapped in somebody's combox ought to head over to EnMasse. Some there have a foot in both camps. Others have simply--moved on. Check it out. There's a lot of fresh air over there.

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