Suppression of debate

One aspect of the Democratic Socialist Perspective’s course of dissolution into the Socialist Alliance, analysed by John Percy in Direct Action #15, is the DSP’s increasing unwillingness to discuss politics, particularly with others on the left. Even on the internet list originally established as a place for discussion within the left, there has been more and more suppression of real debate. One SA-DSP member who was perhaps too open in expressing the DSP’s wishes recently suggested in a posting on the GLW Discussion List that people stop debating politics and just post announcements of events.

In early September, a debate of sorts arose on the GLW list over Kim Bullimore’s criticisms of the DSP’s portrayal of prison guards as ordinary workers and of prisons as a “public service” (also in DA #15). The main response to this from DSP members was to assert that SA-DSP spokespeople hadn’t said or didn’t mean what they clearly had said. When this failed to impress, they switched to a combination of personal abuse and suppression of discussion. One DSP member posted a scurrilous description calling RSP members “toxic kittens ... [c]onstantly scratching, causing infections and peeing on everyone else in the household” and more, going on for four paragraphs in the same vein.

The next day, the list moderator announced that he was closing this thread — blaming the decision on supposed “slander” and “straw arguments” advanced by RSP members. “Slander”, according to the DSP moderator, occurs when someone provides a description of an event that is disputed by others; if taken seriously, it would mean nearly everything ever said or written was a slander. The main “straw argument”, which was blamed on Kim Bullimore, was based on quoting what a DSP member had written on the list.

I then sent to the list a query, asking whether the moderator intended to ban messages such as the “toxic kittens” attack on the RSP, which I quoted, but changing “RSP” to “SADSP”. The moderator’s response was to remove me from the list for “flaming”. The DSP author whom I was guilty of quoting is of course still on the list. I am sure he will enjoy reading the event announcements.

Allen Myers,

Phnom Penh