MIA: Frequently Asked Questions

Marxists Internet Archive

Frequently Asked Questions


This page lists a number of questions that the admin committee gets from time to time from the users of the archive. If your question is not listed, or you are not satisfied with the answer you find here, please contact the admin committee.

 

 


What is Marxism?

This answer is intended for people looking into Marxism for the first time, and is not intended as a substitute for a thorough study of Marxist writings, biographies and group discussions.

According to Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, there are Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism: materialist philosophy, critique of political economy and socialist politics.

Marx's philosophy. Just at the beginning of his political career, the following two works were written by Karl Marx, the founder of modern communism:

35 years later, Engels, Marx's life-long collaborator, wrote Socialism: Utopian and Scientific in an effort to popularise Marx's ideas.

Marx's Critique of Political Economy. Value, Price and Profit is a speech Marx gave to leaders of the International Workingmen's Association in 1865 which explains how he saw the workings of capitalism. But you should also try to read the Chapter 1 of Capital, Marx's major book.

Marx's Politics. This is a speech by Marx on the Paris Commune (the first workers' revolution in history), when workers seized control of Paris in 1871: The Paris Commune (chapter 5 from his book, Civil War in France).

And you absolutely must read The Communist Manifesto, the main document stating the principles of Marxism, published in 1848.

You may continue your studies by reading the biographies and main works of writers on the Selected Marxist Writers Index, or browse the wide variety of Marxists and other revolutionaries listed on the Marxists Internet Archive Library which lists hundreds of Marxists who have worked at different times, in different countries and with different principles.

Many Marxists were involved in the beginnings of the Women's Liberation Movement, and you can read more in our Subject Section on Women and Marxism. You can read more on many other topics in our Subject Section, or browse terms in the Encyclopedia of Marxism.

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How do I search the MIA?

We have a website wide search page available here, where you can also target your search to a smaller section of the archive.

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What is the Selected Marxists list?

The Marxists Internet Archive do not wish to promote any one version of Marxism and we try to stay out of current disputes among Marxists. This is why we created the Library of writers which contains the works of about 500 writers who may or may not be Marxists in the eyes of others, or even opponents of Marxism. They are united only by the fact that they are important to the understanding of Marxism, and they are no longer politically active.

But we find that some of our visitors are quite unfamiliar with the history and breadth of Marxism and confronted with a library of 500 writers don’t know where to begin. Consequently, we created the Selected Marxist page which contains only 20 writers, all of whom were recognised as Marxists before the beginning of the Second World War. This gives the reader unfamiliar with Marxism the chance to read a wide range of writers in confidence that what they are reading is representative of Marxism as widely understood.

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Why are Stalin and Mao not featured on the main page or as Selected Marxists?

The Marxists Internet Archive was launched back in the 1990s to make available free to the world the writings of all Marxists specifically to counter the view propagated both by the capitalist media and the parties which had historically held power in the "Communist countries," that Stalin and/or Mao represented Marxism and the USSR and China were models of Socialism.

From the outset we have provided comprehensive collections of the writings of Mao and Stalin as well as their supporters. In fact, we have more complete libraries of Stalin and Mao than sites devoted to their writings, because our collections have not been 'cleansed' of unwanted documents.

Nevertheless, while providing free and equal access to all interpretations of Marxism, we believe that it would mislead readers who are not familiar with the history of Communism if Stalin and Mao were given prominence. This is a consensus position of the MIA Collective and is not likely to be changed.

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Why don't you have works by Author X on the Marxists Internet Archive?

There can be several answers to this question:

1. The writer is alive and well. The MIA's Charter forbids us from building an archive for a writer who is still alive. There are several reasons for this: (1) It ensures that the MIA stays out of current disputes and (2) remains independent of all political parties and groups; Also, (3) if a writer is still alive, they can build their own web site. This does not prevent the MIA from using material from living writers in an editorial role or in support of a subject section, so long as we have the author's permission.

2. The writer is dead, but copyright to their work is held by their estate or a publisher and we cannot gain permissions. The MIA will never put our core work at risk by publishing works which may lead us into court. Unfortunately, there are writers whose works are very popular in academia and for this reason remain good commercial propositions, long after they are dead. Gramsci is an example. In some cases, even works by revolutionaries like Che Guevara or Trotsky are claimed as property by supposedly communist publishers who prevent others from publishing certain works.

3. The writer is dead and the writer's estate is happy to give permission for us to publish, or the work may already be in the public domain, but there is no English (for example) translation, or what translations exist are owned by publishers or translators. In this instance, the only way forward is a new translation made especially for the MIA. A number of people do regular translations for the MIA and this work is highly appreciated.

4. The writer is no long alive and their works are free of copyright both in the original and in translation, but there has never been a volunteer who liked them enough to take the time and effort to transcribe their works and donate them to the MIA. Henri Lefebvre and Alexander Herzen, for example, are only absent from the MIA because no-one has been sufficiently interested in their work to transcribe them for us. That's a pity, but the MIA is an exclusively not-for-profit, volunteer organisation. We have no money and we have neither the power nor the desire to tell any one of our volunteers what they ought to be working on, so long as they comply with our Charter.

5. In rare cases, a writer, or certain works by a writer, are so detestable (e.g. lying, racist or fascist) that even if they were to be donated and free of copyright, we would not publish them. The law in Germany for example, forbids us from publishing Hitler. But this never comes up. Our aim is to provide the original work of the Marxists of the past and other works which contribute to an understanding of Marxism. The way that this has always been interpreted is that if any of our volunteers thinks that a text contributes to an understanding of Marxism, then it does; end of story. And it also means that other revolutionaries (anarchists, anti-colonial fighters, etc.) and even opponents of Marxism are all equally welcome on the MIA, provided only that someone thinks they contribute to an understanding of Marxism, and is willing to back their opinion by doing the work.

6. Transcribing a writer does not mean copying a text from some other website and asking us to upload it. If a text is already available on the internet, then people can always find it using Google. We would have to have good reason to copy an existing web page on to the MIA.

So, if you find that the only barrier to a work that you appreciate being on the MIA is that no-one has bothered to transcribe it, and you believe this strongly enough to do the transcription yourself, then you have two options:

(a) Transcribe it and send us the text as an email attachment, taking care to ensure that the document is indeed in the public domain, and that you have included all the relevant bibliographical information about the source: title, author, date and medium first published, date written, copyright status, translator if any, etc.

Guidelines on transcribing texts are to be found here.

(b) Become an MIA volunteer. We do suggest that you enquire with us first about your plans before transcribing anything, because there may be issues that you are not aware of, but we will still want at least something from you before inducting you in as an MIA volunteer.

To become an MIA volunteer:

(i) Send us an email introducing yourself.

(ii) Have a read of our Charter and ByLaws and send us an email confirming that you will comply with our Charter and ByLaws.

(iii) Give us an idea of your interests and the kind of work you'd like to do, e.g., transcribing the works of your favorite author, proofreading texts on a particular topic already in the archive, etc.

(iv) Let us know what languages you can read and write and whether you can translate to a professional standard.

(v) Let us know whether you have a scanner, whether you know how to compose HTML pages, what country you are in, what kind of computer your use, whether you have access to works you want to transcribe, etc., etc., so that we can assist you in getting into activity as a volunteer.

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Can I use text or image X you have online, republish it etc.?

First of all, please do not send the MIA permission forms to fill in to satisfy bureaucratic procedures. We will not open attachments. If the following doesn't answer your question, send us an email without attachments, and we try to respond.

Texts: Unless otherwise noted, texts in the archive are in the public domain. When a work is in the public domain, you can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the URL to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders of the work.

If a text in the archive is not in the public domain, the text's status is indicated on the title page of the text in question.

Some texts in the archive are copyrighted (and marked as such) and have been published with the permission of the copyright holder(s). We cannot give permissions to republish them, for that please contact the copyright holder directly.

Material that has been translated or otherwise produced by MIA volunteers is protected by a Creative Commons license (BY–SA).

Images: So far as we know, all the images on the Marxists Internet Archive are in the public domain. Unless there is advice to the contrary on the web page where the image is located, this is the case. Some images have been taken from old books, some have been taken from other sites on the internet. In no case does the Marxists Internet Archive own rights to images which we can give you licence to use. In no case do we possess the original high resolution versions (or in high-res tiffs or other digital formats) or hard copies of the images displayed on the site which we can provide you with.

If in doubt please contact M.I.A. Admin Ctee or the transcriber of the relevant web page.

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How should I cite a text on the Marxists Internet Archive?

How to cite text sourced on the Marxists Internet Archive is something determined by the standards specified by your Editor. Examples of standards are:

American Psychological Association
Harvard University

These documents will tell you how to set out the information.

Generally speaking you should find full bibliographical information about the source MIA used at the top of the file, or if it is a multi-file document, at the top of index file. You can then cite the URL and include the author, title of work, and publisher details of our source. That ought to be complete, except that you will have to use Google to find further details about the publisher. Obviously web pages do not have page numbers, only URLs.

We ask that you include the URL and the words "Marxists Internet Archive."

In the case of some writers (e.g., Marx and Engels, Lenin) we have reproduced the tables of contents for the Collected Works, and this may be of assistance in locating an authoritative source.

Harvard style allows you to reference a URL directly in the text, rather than listing it in the table of references. In this case, the URL should be enclosed in angular brackets, e.g.

"Hitherto philosophers have only interpreted the world"
<http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/index.htm>

It is important to cite the data of publication of the actual source, so in this case, it will be the date on which the web page is accessed, but it is usually acceptable to place in square brackets, the year the original work (not the translation) was written (not published), so for example

Marx, K. [1845], Theses on Feuerbach, <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/index.htm>, accessed May 2011.

Or by checking the page numbers on MECW which began publication in 1975:

Marx, K. (1975/[1845]), "Theses on Feuerbach," Marx Engels Collected Works, Volume 5, p. 3, New York, NY: International Publishers.

If you are unhappy with disclosing the fact that, like everyone else, you are doing research on the internet and not in a library, and can only cite a URL and not page numbers, then you have to accept that the final stage of preparing your paper for publication is visiting a library and tracking down original sources.

In the case of editorial material or text from the Marxists Internet Archive Encyclopedia of Marxism, then you will need to cite the URL, the date accessed and credit "Marxists Internet Archive."

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Your website looks ancient! It really needs to be redesigned.

Every now and then the issue of the appearance and design of the website comes up, and to the extent that this means "modernizing" the website, we have turned it down. The reason is that the MIA collective and the website does not work like the average website of similar size.

Usually websites like that have been designed, and are run, by professional web designers, or by a single person who more or less knows what they're doing. However, for a volunteer organisation like the MIA it would be a bad choice to redesign the website so that it could not be run by non-specialist volunteers anymore, but instead we'd need paid professionals to maintain the site.

Almost all of our volunteers are people who do not do tech or programming for a hobby or a living, yet it's that kind of people who have to learn how to maintain the website. This means that basic HTML will have to do, because the bar must be set low so as to guarantee a low barrier of entry for potential new volunteers. The more tech-savvy a new volunteer must be (or must become), and the steeper the initial learning curve is, the smaller is the pool of potential volunteers for us.

Sometimes we hear the argument that the website's appearance means less people will be interested in reading it. Appearance-wise it may be the case that our website's layout was on par with the usual website 15 years ago, but that today we have considerably less bling than the average website.

Here are the statistics on visits to our website:

2009: 14.928.277
2010: 16.109.212
2011: 14.724.114
2012: 15.723.029
2013: 22.019.387
2014: 22.357.925
2015: 24.168.067
2016: 25.602.548
2017: 27.035.168

Overall the number of visitors on our website is trending upwards. That does not support the argument that interest in our website is waning in general, and waning in particular because of outdated design, poor appearance and confusing organisation.

Of course it can be said that with better design etc. the website would be even more popular, but that is speculation. We will stick to simple HTML for the reasons mentioned above.

However, we are open to suggestions on how to improve the website (short of a redesign). In order to do that, we need concrete examples to consider fixing any particular issues. Please contact the admin committee.

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Do you have eBooks?

Yes, our eBooks are available here.

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Do you have audiobooks?

Yes, our audiobooks are available here.

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What about my privacy?

While it may never be possible to be completely anonymous on the Internet, there are some steps you can take to improve your digital hygiene. A first step is to use the Tor Browser.
Once it is installed, the M.I.A. can be located at http://www.marxist7mbr3mbaj.onion/ .

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Do you have mirror sites?

Yes, our mirror sites are listed here.

If you are a Unix/Linux admin and wish to set up an official mirror site, please see this page.

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Contact the Marxists Internet Archive Admin Committee for further information