Before Doug Henwood announced yesterday that his venerable mailing list described as a "forum for the discussion of economics, politics, and culture from a broad left perspective" was shutting down, I admit that I was unsure whether lbo-talk was still going, with so few messages hitting my inbox that I was genuinely unsure whether or not it had quietly vanished. (The website for the Left Business Observer it was named after tersely notes that periodical ceasing its increasingly erratic publication seven years ago, and the actual content hasn't been updated since Barack Obama's candidacy.) Yet while he insists that "lbo-talk has said enough" and is enough of a Marxist to quote Karl that "Last words are for fools who haven't said enough" I am enough of a foolish Bakuninist to note that, as moribund as it was in its later years, its extensive archives offer a lively chronicle of the early-Internet left through the Battle of Seattle, 9/11 and beyond.
Both the content and the style offer many lessons for younger comrades who only know a slicker but inhibited Internet dominated by corporate social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. And that includes comrades far outside the realm of stereotypical hard leftists and their fellow travelers, given that the old threads even contain some kind words for Reason magazine's Nick Gillespie and Jesse Walker, Ayn Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra, or Lew Rockwell of The Mises Institute (who was even on Henwood's radio show back in the days when George W. Bush provided a common enemy). To quote another sort-of-Marxist leftist's famous last words, "Don't waste any time mourning," but some time spent in lbo-talk's archives may lay ground for its successors (well, besides the one it already has).