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PostUsenet Groups: Alt Politics Socialism Trotsky (Luciano Dondero, Italy, 06/24/17 5:33 am)
I wish to thank our esteemed editor for his question about apst, which I referenced in my post of June 21st.
Here is a glimpse of it:
A brief history of Internet shows that its crucial expansion took place in the mid-late 1990s: "The Internet's takeover of the global communication landscape was almost instant in historical terms: it only communicated 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunications networks in the year 1993, already 51% by 2000, and more than 97% of the telecommunicated information by 2007" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet ).
Usenet groups played an important role as some kind of bridge to move from the narrow and somewhat elitist BBSes and the truly universal "world wide web." Initially they would be accessed with a newsreaders, i.e., a news client; nowadays they are accessed quite easily on the web, for instance: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/alt.politics.socialism.trotsky .
Their relevance is smaller now: "Today, Usenet has diminished in importance with respect to Internet forums, blogs and mailing lists". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet )
But in their heyday, Usenet groups were a big deal.
When in 1995-6 a bunch of racists tried to set up a group called rec.music.white-power, some progressively minded fellows launched a campaign to squash it.
It was fun, as we (the starting nucleus were a New York Jewish Activist, a very young and energetic Norwegian kid and Yours Very Truly), managed to get the entire Usenet bureaucracy furious with us, as we actively campaigned in a very "irregular" way. But "the vote end results was 592 yes votes, versus 33,033 no votes." (See: https://goo.gl/V3epbX , and https://goo.gl/xawkjC ).
I have not even read apst for a long time now, and I really don't know how it goes. But there are so many different venues for debate and information these days.
Yet earlier, a newsgroup like apst was an interesting place where you could find conflicting left-wingers spouting their truths against one another. Notwithstanding its name, and the bickering among Trots that would have put any definition of Byzantine to shame, apst was also home to Maoists and sundry Stalinists engaged in denouncing Trotskyism.
To give you a little flavour for the place, here is a post by one Luciano Dondero in 1997:
Dear friends and comrades who read a.p.s.t.,
I am afraid we are all being taken for a ride here.
A person claiming to be "Klo_McK." pens long posts about Lenin and
Trotsky, claiming a continuity in "Marxism-Leninism" through Stalin to
himself, yet he is no real Stalinist.
Real papists (as my Irish Protestant friends would say) don't discuss
with atheists about their Church's assertion that the Virgin Mary was
indeed a "virgin."
True Stalinists don't debate "Trotskyite-Hitlerite" dogs: they either
jail and kill us, or deliver us to the Nazi henchmen. If they can't do
that, at least they stick to insults and threats, like do the
gentlemen from the "Shining Path Support and Reading Group" (or
whatever it is they are called).
This man is a fraud!
He must be really some kind of former member of some insane
"Trotskyist" group pretending to be something he is not: please don't
just take his word for it. Ask for his "credentials":
(1) How many Trots has he eaten?
(2) How many Trots has he delivered to the Nazi secret police--or if
he [is] too young, to any other bourgeois repressive regime?
Failing the two above,
(3) How many Trots has he beaten up in real life?
And if even that doesn't work,
(4) How many Trots has he slandered using the foul language typical of
If he can't provide positive evidence to any of the above, well, my
point will be proven for all to see.
Shame on you, Stalinist pretender!
PS: I thought [might] even cross-post the above msg to alt.rec.humor,
but I am afraid only people to think of themselves as "us Trotskyists"
may possibly [understand] that..."
Words in brackets [ ] added/corrected twenty years later.
JE comments: How many Trots have you eaten? This question will stick with me for a long time.
Luciano Dondero was an early practitioner of Internet activism, and he's given us a fascinating snapshot of the Wild West e-1990s. Please tell us, Luciano: what were some of your "irregular" tactics for combating the White Power group?
WWW in Its Infancy
(John Heelan, UK
06/25/17 3:07 AM)
Luciano Dondero's comments on Usenet (24 June) resurrected some memories of my using it.
Usenet was the birthplace of trolls. We had an in-house global email and file transfer system well before Tim Berners-Lee "invented" the WWW (using our hardware/software at CERN, by the way). I used to demonstrate to customers the uses of worldwide comms systems--borrowed from our advance development labs--by showing them weather forecasts in far-flung locations of our corporation. Japan, California and Australia were the ones most asked for.
JE comments: Tell us more about those pioneering days, John! What were your thoughts in the late '80s about the nascent 'Web? (The first time someone described the Internet to me, I thought: Well, that will never catch on.)