Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 10:06:29 -0700 (PDT)

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We are a collaborative project and occasionally have to make decisions.
There are a few outstanding issues that I would like us to discuss.

I. CAP-L and EM-L

In the Spring of 1996 we were given two new lists, CAP-L (Capital) and
EM-L (Extending Marx/Ernest Mandel), which we *still* have not decided
what to do with. Both of these lists are configured like OPE-L, i.e. they
are closed lists.

We need to make some decisions about what we will do with these two lists.

Some possibilities include a:

* seminar list. E.g. have periodic seminars on one of the lists
where seminar papers and the subject of the seminar would be
specified in advance and a limited number of people outside of
OPE-L would be invited to participate.

* works-in-progress list. Drafts of articles could be posted and
subjected to commentary and critique.

* subject-orientated list. E.g. a list dedicated to discussing
issues related to the internationalization of capital and the
state. Or a list on the economics of socialism. Or a list on
methodology composed of both economists and philosophers. Or
... whatever.

* non-English language list. A list where the contributors would
all write posts in another language (Spanish? ... Portuguese?
... French? ... Italian? ... German?).

* special projects list. E.g. if a sub-group wants to discuss a
specific subject in depth amongst themselves.

* joint writing and research list. For those who want to do
collaborative research and writing (perhaps on "Marxian
empirical research"?).

* cross-paradigm list. E.g. a list made up of "heterodox

* utility list.

* Other? (please make suggestions).

Note that since we have two other lists, we can pick two different uses
for CAP-L and EM-L.

What do you think we should do?

II. Archives

The archives are currently closed, i.e. only accessible for listmembers.
This was a decision we made as a list last year ... and it is a decision
that I remain unhappy with.

It seems to me that if there is still sentiment that we should not open up
the archives publicly ... then we should at least have some type of
agreed-upon policy to allow some others outside of OPE-L to access the

I suggest the following: let's agree that listmembers can inform others of
the archives under the condition that they agree to not quote any of the
posts without the permission of the authors.

I.e. let's "semi-open" the archives to serious students and scholars with
the specification that posts are not to be cited on the Internet or
elsewhere without permission.

(I also think that we should make such an announcement on other lists,
like PEN-L, to inform them of this policy).

Can we at least agree on that?

III. Recruitment

I am sometimes asked about recruitment policies for OPE-L.

I want to explain in the following how recruitment decisions have been
made in the past and ask whether you have any suggestions for improvement.

To begin with, we are much larger than originally anticipated. We now have
55 members when at one point we were trying to keep the list size below
30. From the outset we have attempted to keep the list size relatively
small in order to maintain a high level of discussion and engagement. When
we have added new members, it has been infrequent and with a lot of
off-list discussion.

The problem, simply put, is that on the one hand we want the best and most
representative list possible but on the other hand new admissions can
potentially increase list volume exponentially and make it much harder to
follow discussions. I think of this problem as similar to the problem of
class size when teaching, i.e. the smaller the class (as in a seminar) the
better the discussions (rather than being in, say, a large lecture hall).

So how then are decisions made on admissions?

Basically, *listmembers make recommendations* to me off-list. Ordinarily,
I then ask a few other listmembers off-list what they think about the
suggestion (most listmembers have at some point in the past been asked
off-list about this). If there is agreement, then the person is invited to
join. If there is not agreement or if someone asks to join without being
recommended, then there is further discussion off-list and a decision is
made. In general, I try to accommodate the desires of those making

*But*, I ask that they consider the overall needs of the list. What this
means to me is that they should consider recommendations from the
standpoint of preserving and expanding the *diversity* of the list.

I.e. we should have a list in which:

* different theoretical perspectives and "schools of thought" among
Marxists are represented (we have been very successful in meeting this
goal, but there are still a few "gaps");

* we are as international a list as possible (when we first got started we
were mostly made up of US subscribers -- this has long since stopped being
the case. There are still, however, some major international "gaps" here).

* there is diversity in terms of gender and race. (Gender, in particular,
has been a problem).

* different areas of interest and research (so that we have members
knowledgeable enough to discuss many different issues).

Even though OPE-L is overwhelmingly made up of economists and academics,
these are *not* criteria which are given consideration.

So far, the above procedure has, IMHO, worked out *very well* --
(although, it can be rather time-consuming).

IV. Discussion

It's summer for many and the list volume has declined dramatically. I
don't think that is the whole explanation for the recent decline in

Simply put, I think more listmembers have to take responsibility for
raising new topics for discussion and then participating in discussions.
Why isn't this happening?

I would like to think that when I go away for a couple of weeks the
discussion will continue. But, that doesn't always happen. If you are
also are wondering about the decline in postings, I ask that you remember
that this is a collaborative project and it is up to each and every one of
*you* to participate.

So ... *please* respond to the above. It's my sense that many would
prefer that I just go ahead and make decisions, but I don't think that's
good for the list. *We* have to increasingly take responsibility for

In solidarity, Jerry