Marxists Internet Archive: Introduction: History: 2000

History of the Marxists Internet Archive

At the beginning of the year a major addition was made to MIA: the Hegel-by-Hypertext website, managed by Andy Blunden. As a result, the Reference archive began to develop past its former Stalinist confines, incorporating philosophers, anarchists, socialists, and scientists, with work from Andy and Brian. The Encyclopedia of Marxism also experienced a massive influx of material, nearly doubling in size, as some 250 pages of Hegelian terms were meticulously added.

The Spanish language archive continued it's very robust growth due to the efforts of Juan Fajardo and several collaborative projects he established with other organisations, outpacing any other language besides English in material transcribed. The Subject Archive expanded tremendously, adding huge amounts of material on women's emancipation and political economy, thanks to Sally Ryan; as well as new sections on Marxism and Art and Psychology and Marxism, thanks to the archive's new director, Nate Schmolze. Meanwhile, the Lenin archive's media section exploded with over 300 photographs thanks to Alex Pogrebinsky, while it continued on it's project, completing two more volumes of his collected works by the end of the year thanks to steadfast work from David Walters and Charles Farrell. Meanwhile, the Antonio Gramsci and William Morris archives gained ground with over 50 new works. The ETOL saw it's first update on MIA, doing a massive reorganization and some expansion of it's contents; while Trotsky archive's across all languages saw gradual expansion, thanks to David Walters and several volunteers. The History archive grew with new sections on Cuban History and the Paris Commune, thanks to Brian Baggins.

MIA picked up several new languages in the year; including the massive edition of the Chinese archive, thanks to Weidong Ren, that includes the complete collected Works of Marx & Engels, & Lenin — the first time MIA has accomplished this in any language. The German language section, with the demise of the popular MLWerke website, acquired a new director in Einde O'Callaghan, and began to rapidly expand by incorporating both old MLWerke material and new transcriptions into the new MIA archive. Several more languages were added with a few works to start: Rumanian, Arabic, Serbo-Croat, Japanese, Basque & Dutch.

We made great progress on propagating Marxist material through the internet. Starting with re-establishing the mirror with our old friends at CSF, a new mirror was created in the United Kingdom, then acouple months later we set up shop at MIT in Boston, then moved down to Canberra, Australia, and later were mirrored on another US server in Virginia. Each site is mirroring our entire archive, or about 200 - 600 MB of information.

In the fall of 2000, the archive faced an extremely difficult internal debate that had the potential to split the organisation. While MIA was committed to being entirely open and democratic, in practice this was not possible. In fact, we went from one person making decisions to two people (David Walters and Brian Baggins) making decisions based on consensus. While both Brian and David strongly and continually encouraged other volunteers to be a part of the decision making process: there simply was no interest. By informing volunteers of all significant decisions, and by working with any objection, MIA ran on an informal consensus method. With the new problem we were facing however, we were finally able to also create a voting body, alongside a modified version of the old consensus method of MIA organisation. It began over the issue of language autonomy — could the volunteers for a language archive decide for themselves where to place Marxist and Reference writers, or would the whole of MIA make these decisions — but quickly spun out of control with heated emotions and empassioned opinions. Some volunteers claimed they had not been represented and correctly consulted in the consensus process, and thus attacked earlier decisions made by consensus — starting with the inclusion of the Chinese language archive, and while the bylaws were acceptable, the charter was not, and had to be changed. With a great deal of patience and time, we kept our internal diversity intact by giving more and taking less from the organisation, and we began to work through the issues step by step.

Also in the fall, MIA was hit by its first serious threat of litigation from Pathfinder Press — a well known publishing house of leftist material, with emphasis on Trotsky. We promptly responded and removed the works in question, asked for further dialogue, but none was forthcomming.

Lastly, this year saw two MIA volunteers suffer devastating injuries due to their constant volunteer work — never stepping away from the computer. Please, everyone, practice smart ergonomics when working on the computer!

by Brian Baggins (2001)