Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The anti-Stalinist left and the politics of wikipedia

A while back, I created a wikipedia entry on the anti-Stalinist left. Now a Stalinist wikipedia editor, Soman, has nominated it for deletion. So far, the weight of opinion seems to be to keep the article, but I'm pasting it here, as subsequently edited by other wikipedia editors, as a kind of archiving. If you're a wikipedician, feel free to go and edit it or go and vote on whether to delete it or not. (And, if you're not a wikipedian, maybe you should be!)

The politics of wikipedia are kind of interesting. Obviously, I think it's important that the things I care for (the Arbayter Fraynd, Anti-Fascist Action, Yiddishkeit) are kept safe from what Marx called "the gnawing criticism of the mice", so that motivates me in working on these sorts of articles. But I do it in a scholarly, decent type of way (contrasting, perhaps to my blogging style?).

Anyway, here's the article(below the fold)

The anti-Stalinist left is that element of the political left which has been critical of Stalinism, the regime that developed in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. Whereas the term anti-communist is at once more general - in the sense of opposition to a wider variety of forms of communism (see criticisms of communism) - and more specific - in the sense that it is associated with right-wing politics, the Cold War and sometimes the moral panic of McCarthyism. The term anti-Stalinist left tends to be used in relation to those currents of the left that define themselves centrally in opposition to Stalinism, rather than anyone on the left who is critical of Stalinism.
In general, the anti-Stalinist left has been heavily critical of the lack of democracy and freedom in Stalinist states, and of the anti-democratic way that Communist parties have functioned elsewhere.
There have been broadly four main currents of the anti-Stalinist left:
Some on the anti-Stalinist left have moved right, becoming Cold War anti-Communists and even (in the United States) neoconservatives.
The emergence of the New left and the new social movements of the 1950s and 1960s led to the revival of interest in the anti-Stalinist left and its alternative forms of Marxism. British cultural studies (e.g. Raymond Williams, Italian autonomism/workerism (e.g. Antonio Negri), the magazines Telos and Dissent in America, and French groups like the Situationists and Socialisme ou Barbarie and later nouveaux philosophes are examples of this.

Important figures in the anti-Stalinist left

See also

Further reading

  • Alan Wald The New York Intellectuals, The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left From the 1930s to the 1980s. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. 440 pp (See review by Paul LeBlanc here)

Bonus link: Trotskyist chat-up lines 1 & 2 from Dave Osler


Anonymous said...

Soman is a notorious Stalinist propagandist and edit warrior. If a neo-Nazi ran riot like him on Wikipedia they'd be banned, but he is given almost carte blanche by the admins and it brings the whole exercise into disrepute. I for one am losing faith in the entire Wikipedia project.

Bobfrombrockley said...

Yes and no. Soman is also a very good editor when he is contructive, adding huge amounts of information. Over time, I have realised that it is not his Stalinism, so much as a warped notion that Wikipedia should only deal with proper nouns like political parties, and not with terms like "anti-Stalinist left".

There are, however, plenty of people out there trying (out of malice or out of lack of understanding), to derail wikipedia. But I think it still has enormous value and its time has not yet come. Interesting discussion of this, btw, in a Flesh is Grass discussion thread linked to a few posts down ("online discussion of antisemitism").

Also btw, I have drafted a new chunk of text for the anti-Stalinist left article, which I'll flag on this blog when I upload it.