Bob Gould, 2006
Source: Green Left Weekly discussion list, November 4-28, 2006
Proofreading, editing, mark-up: Steve Painter
Several people in the DSP leadership circle keep telling me that Roger Raven is a real person, not a cyber-entity, and some claim to have met him. That’s as may be. Perhaps he’s a real person who has a legitimate reason for preserving his anonymity on the internet. I’m not entirely convinced of that, but presuming that he’s a real person, not an artificially constructed cyber-entity, he has now slandered me twice in the most sweeping way.
A few weeks ago he clearly pointed the bone at me as what he called an agent provocateur, and in a lengthy post in which he reveals a Stalinist view of the events of 1956 he says I’m a dedicated reactionary.
This all presents me with a certain difficulty. I feel a bit like the victims of the Moscow Trials. I’m accused by an anonymous accuser of the most repellent actions possible in the workers movement: being an agent provocateur and being a dedicated reactionary.
In the real trials in Stalinist states, those accusations, often also by anonymous informants, led very quickly to a bullet in the back of the head. There’s a terrifying and powerful book by David King, published by the English publisher Bootle in 2003, which follows on from King’s book of photo montages, which consists of NKVD mugshots of nearly 200 victims of the Moscow and other trials in the USSR. These photos were mostly taken a couple of days before the execution of these people.
In the text the NKVD file usually grimly records something like “convicted of counter-revolutionary agitation, shot the next day”, etc. Often these people were rehabilitated many years later. It seems the only thing that saves me from a bullet in the back of the head from Roger Raven (or whoever he is) is that he and his associates don’t hold state power. (A few days ago my old acquaintance Sol Salbe ticked me off for calling Max Watts and Michael Berrell cyber-busybodies, but he remains silent about Raven’s extreme slanders of me.)
I would appeal to the DSP leadership, the opposition faction in the DSP, and to anyone who reads the Green Left list, to support this suggestion that I put to cyber-entity Raven. I don’t insist that you reveal who you are. You may have good reasons for anonymity, but at least you owe me an explanation of from what political standpoint you make these accusations. If you have any evidence that I’m an agent provocateur or a dedicated reactionary, please present this evidence, rather than slandering me anonymously.
I would ask all fair-minded people, including the moderator, who read the Green Left list to support these proposals.
November 5, 2006
An individual writing under the pseudonym Roger Raven has today (Sunday) made even more precise his accusation that I am an agent provocateur. He says that Gould is a “Hard Right agent provocateur” and he associates that with what he calls my “black armband” view of Soviet history. Presumably anyone who doesn’t have a Stalinist view of Soviet history is in danger of being classified as a right-wing provocateur if they express their views strongly, as I tend to do.
The term agent provocateur has a precise meaning in the workers movement: that the person involved is an agent of forces outside the workers movement, usually the state. It’s fantastic for a man writing under a pseudonym to make such an assertion about anyone without presenting any evidence. Is it now the case that on the Green Left list it’s possible to accuse someone of being an agent provocateur without evidence and for the moderator of the list and the DSP leadership to say nothing about this?
I’ve previously raised a similar issue concerning indiscriminate labelling of people in the labour movement as scabs, and sensibly the people who were using that rhetoric dropped off. At least those people weren’t hiding too hard under a pseudonym.
I pointed out that the term scab introduced the dangerous possibility of people accused of scabbery taking legal action, as well indiscriminate use of the term being a bad thing in principle. Much the same applies to the accusation that I am an agent provocateur, made by someone who clearly has a developed Stalinist view of historical events.
Alan Bradley reduced the question to some kind of conflict between myself and the person who calls himself Roger Raven, but that’s furphy in a situation in which a specific accusation has been made against me. I repeat my request that the moderator of the Green Left list assert in the most forceful to the person who calls himself Roger Raven that he present evidence for his assertion, and if he can’t, I insist that he immediately withdraw the allegation, and that the moderator of the list take whatever action is necessary to get him to present evidence or withdraw the allegation.
It’s a concrete allegation that can’t just be left hanging, and as I value my political honour and reputation I don’t intend to leave it hanging.
November 18, 2006
I keep taking a self-denying ordinance that I won’t bother too much with the Green Left list, but I’ll break my vow again, as I sometimes do, because of some political idiocy about a week ago. Norm Dixon proceeded with his usual Third Period methodology and whaled into Shane Hopkinson in his usual insulting tone, asking if Shane was still a socialist in the Greens.
In Dixon’s world, if you’re not in constant communication with the DSP leadership you’re a political backslider. Dixon’s tone was insufferably superior. He reeled off the maximum program of the DSP leadership and attacked the leaders and the ranks of the big mass organisations: the unions, the Labor Party and the Greens, and of course Shane Hopkinson, Ozleft and anyone else who didn’t throw in their lot with the DSP’s projects.
Dixon’s approach is essentially Third Periodism. He doesn’t quite come out and say that all the other groups are social-fascist, but his shadowy and dubious mate Roger Raven does that for him. This shadowy Raven character, who got away with calling me an agent provocateur on this list with the mildest of objections from the moderator.
This shadowy Raven character plays his useful role for the DSP leadership, saying the DSP are good fellows but of course the Laborites are rotten from top to toe. Raven does the social fascist job in full detail for the DSP leadership, with all the old Stalinist slanders thrown in. He also attacks the Greens, because they’re no good either.
He uses a crafty little paragraph in his slander job: “Many self-described leftists are in fact political pragmatists, others are simply agents provocateur using the label leftist to win favour with true leftists, who are nevertheless politically naive.” And of course, since Raven has already named Bob Gould as the major agent provocateur, the implications are clear.
The Green Left list is used constantly as a platform for these repellent Stalinist slanders, and the moderator has nothing to say about this new version.
The whole tone of Dixon and Raven, and the division of labour between them is clearly a put-up job. It’s particularly poisonous to let this slander go unchallenged in the current climate, as a witch-hunt is whipped up in the mass media against the trade unions, the Labor Party and the Greens.
Another aspect of the cyberspace activity of Dixon, Raven, and more recently Peter Boyle and Pip Hinman, is that many rumours against Labor and the Greens are treated as good coin, but when some of them turn out to be furphies or distortions, such as the business about Labor preferences in the Victorian elections, they’re not corrected. When Labor figures such as the eight attorneys general in the states and territories advance the struggle for justice for David Hicks by demanding that he be brought back to Australia, this is of course ignored by the DSP leadership, Dixon, etc.
But when required, they can of course wheel out cyber-entity Raven to chatter about agents provocateur. Finally, again to the moderator, when are you going to insist that Mr Raven withdraw his slanders about agents provocateur against myself and others in the labour movement?
November 20, 2006
Norm Dixon and his mate Raven are a scandal. They raise irrelevant questions in their posts this morning. Raven slandered me in the worst possible way you can in the workers movement by saying I was an agent provocateur, which is someone who works for the police. I insist that the moderator of this list do what she said she would and make Raven withdraw this slander unless he can provide proof of this serious charge.
Dixon’s post is a cover for Raven on this matter. Where does Dixon stand on making Raven withdraw his slander? When is this slander going to be withdrawn? Over to you, moderator and Dixon.
November 21, 2006
A few weeks ago, twice, Roger Raven libelled me as an agent provocateur. In response to my objection to that, the list moderator said that wasn’t acceptable on the list and she would insist on Raven withdrawing the accusation.
Margaret, what has happened in the subsequent week or so? What measures have you taken to get Raven to either withdrawal his grave accusation or provide some proof of it?
No one else on this list, particularly Norm Dixon, has said boo about this accusation. Dixon and Dale Mills have produced their little widow’s attacking me and others — in the case of Dixon, kind of in tandem with Raven.
Could you inform me what communication you’ve had with the shadowy Raven to get him to withdraw the slander? Could you inform me, also, whether Roger Raven is a pseudonym or a real name, so that I can take whatever action I see fit to get him to withdraw the slander or provide some proof?
I feel a bit like Minister Debus in relation to Tory leader Debnam’s unsubstantiated slanders, although Debnam can get away with it under parliamentary privilege. It’s not so easy for Raven, as he didn’t make his remarks in parliament.
In summary, what are you Margaret, and others responsible for the Green Left list, doing to get Raven to withdraw his slander?
November 22, 2006
Mike, I find your little post this morning insulting and diversionary. You say, for the record, I’m not a provocateur, which leaves open the question of what you might think in private. What a gratuitous insult. You then say there’s not much the moderator can do about Raven’s slander. Margaret did say a week or two ago that she would get a retraction out of the man or woman who uses the name Roger Raven.
Given the seriousness of the accusation against me, it’s not unreasonable to ask what has been done about getting a retraction. A half-smart response from Mike Karadjis is not adequate.
I repeat my request to Margaret, the moderator, that she tell me what has been done to get a retraction, and I believe I’m within my rights to ask whether this person who is slandering me is doing so in his own name or under a pseudonym. Margaret should know, as moderator, whether Roger Raven is a real name or a pseudonym.
If it’s a real name, I intend to pursue Mr Raven as vigorously as I can to get a retraction. If it’s a pseudonym I intend to find out who it is so I can pursue the person for a retraction. I expect a reasonably prompt response from the moderator.
November 25, 2006
As pointed out in Greg Adler’s recent post on this question, I was slandered twice with the worst slander that can be thrown at anyone in the labour movement: that I am an agent provocateur, which is generally understood to mean an agent of the bourgeois state. The Hungarian workers in the uprising of 1956 were also slandered by this apparent Stalinist, Roger Raven.
When I first raised the question, the moderator of the list, Margaret, said such slanders were unacceptable and she would insist that Raven withdraw them. After a little prompting from others, such as Alan Bradley, Mike Karadjis, who Margaret now says she consulted, her tone changed dramatically and she reduces the matter to a petty personal dispute between myself and Raven, and adopts a quite different tone, ending on the note that if I don’t like it I can lump it, and I’m not compelled to participate in discussion on the list.
Well, that response and the response from Peter Boyle to Greg Adler, isn’t reasonable or satisfactory and I intend to continue to pursue the question. As the person who has been slandered on the Green Left list I pose these questions to the moderator, and to Boyle, who is clearly a major player in all this: As moderator, Margaret, did you carry out your earlier proposal and communicate with Raven, firmly demanding that he withdraw the gratuitous slander? If you did, what response did you get?
As the person slandered, I have the right to ask this. If you didn’t forcefully put that proposition to Raven, why not? Did anyone advise you not to press Raven on this matter? If you didn’t ask Raven to withdraw, is it now the situation on the Green Left list that Raven is welcome to continue on this list without withdrawing his vicious slander, of myself and in passing of the Hungarian rebels of 1956?
What will you do if Raven repeats his slander, perhaps in a slightly different form, as he seems quite likely to do? Is it now the case that Raven or anyone else can slander anyone on the Green Left list as an agent provocateur, with only a rather platonic expression of disapproval by yourself? Or does this approach only apply to slanders of Bob Gould or others who are critical of the DSP leadership?
It’s hardly necessary to point out that this approach was standard operating procedure for the old Stalinists. 6. I put this entirely hypothetical proposition: what will you do if, like Roger Raven, without evidence, some malevolent person were to accuse Peter Boyle of being an agent provocateur, or an agent of the state?
Within the framework that you seem to have established, you’d seem to be obliged to let that pass with mild reproof unless there are two sets of rules on this list: one set for the DSP leadership and another for anyone who disagrees with the DSP leadership.
I’d really like to the moderator’s response to the questions I’ve raised in this post, from anyone else who may be advising the moderator, or even possibly writing a response in the name of the moderator.
November 28, 2006
Is it the moderator’s intention to close this discussion with Roger Raven’s slander that I’m an agent provocateur just lying there, unwithdrawn? Such a so-called closure presents me with a great difficulty.
What do I do in future when the slanderer who uses the methods of high Stalinism in making accusations about police agents and provocateurs continues to post on the Green Left site? Am I just to sit quietly with the matter unresolved?
Mike Karadjis asked if I was calling for Raven to be removed from the list. I’m not doing that, merely demanding that he withdraw the slander, and in the absence of a withdrawal I reserve the right to point out that he’s a slanderer without evidence every time he raises his head on any website anywhere, including the Green Left site, until he does withdraw.
My only real alternative to that would be take legal action against him or the website that carried the slander, and I’m reluctant to do that, particularly in relation to the Green Left site, because to some extent the site is the meat in the sandwich.
I’d have no compunction about suing Raven personally, but the logistics of doing so are bit difficult to imagine as he lives in Perth and I live in Sydney. I’m reliably informed that I’d win, but it would be costly.
It would be a rather eccentric libel case because, as far as I know, I’ve never met the man, which makes his slander even more eccentric. But, Mike Karadjis and Margaret, am I supposed to acquiesce to this slanderer continuing to post while his slander lies in the public domain in the archives of your website to be Googled by anyone who cares to do so?
In addition, I note that today discussion continues on this matter by Luke Weyland and Kerry Vernon. Weyland makes me the villain because I argue with the DSP on tactical questions. He knows better than that, actually. Kerry Vernon equates me with Raven the slanderer. Again, I have to point out that I’m the one slandered. I didn’t call Raven a police agent, but I did call him a person with Stalinist views, which is clear from his attitude to the Hungarian revolution of 1956.
I’d ask the moderator again, what direct response she has had from Raven in response to her request that he withdraw the slander? It’s not sufficient to say that I should contact the moderator offlist on this matter, as Raven’s slander was public, on this list, and it’s entirely reasonable that it should be withdrawn on this list. If Raven refuses to withdraw his slander, his response to the moderator should be made public on this list.