Authoritarianism is NEVER progressive: Scott Tribe should resign

For those of you who don’t follow Canadian blogging drama,, a blog which, as the name implies, bills itself as “progressive” has recently expelled a good progressive comrade, Joanne from Marginal Notes for making sense and not being pliable enough for chief moderator/El Presidente Scott Tribe.

Now, far more eloquent discussions of the problems with in general and Scott Tribe specifically have been made by other bloggers, so I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel too much here.  Specifically, I recommend Joanne’s (the person at the centre of the controversy) posts on the subject here and here as well as Scott Neigh’s post available here.

Rather, what I would like to talk about here is what I see as the problem with

First, unfortunately the bulk of El Presidente Tribe et al.’s authoritarianism  cannot be illustrated as it occurred in the private moderator’s section of the web page (which itself is authoritarian…. ironic that authoritarianism breeds authoritarianism isn’t it?).  However you can get a taste of what I’m talking about in Joanne’s two posts above as well in this public thread in which true progressives are threatened by El Presidente Tribe’s apologists Saskboy and Steve V (click here) — the former of whom actually attempts to pull a Hulk-esque “you’re making me angry” line so that a person he disagrees with wouldn’t test his patience. 

Second, in addition to the aforementioned authoritarianism, it’s obvious to anybody who reads history that, by definition, liberalism has not been ‘progressive’ since the victory of liberal capitalism over feudalism (most notably following the French Revolution).  Thus, the brand of liberalism practised by the bulk of the moderators (and since the moderators are the ones who admit affiliates, many of the affiliates also unsurprisingly practice this same insipid brand of liberalism) does not, by definition, seek to progress beyond liberal capitalism.  Therefore, I’d say the second problem with is that it’s a misnomer.

But, that said, just because the name is a misnomer does not mean that we should throw the baby out with the bath water.  As Scott Neigh eloquently put it, irrespective of whether is or is not progressive, “a community like PB is useful because it allows me to easily encounter material that I would not otherwise search out and it allows people who would not search out my kind of stuff to see what I’m up to.”  I couldn’t agree more with Scott Neigh on this front and I think that therein lies the real redeeming quality of PB.

So, it seems to me like there’s little way to solve the second problem with  PB is what it is and it seems that there’s little that can be done within the community on this front as Joanne is by far not the first person to try and to have received a black eye for her efforts.  That said, this is where my idea for a true progressive aggrigator (discussed in length here) for fellow progressive comrades to use in addition to Progressive Bloggers, can actually help and I hope to be working on this project more over the course of the summer.

However, there are two things which can be done within the community to solve the first problem.  First, abolish the authoritarian secrecy of the site.  Second, Scott Tribe, for the good of the ‘progressive’ community, should resign his post.

29 Responses to “Authoritarianism is NEVER progressive: Scott Tribe should resign”

  1. 1 Scott Tribe 15 May, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    A) you’ve taken Joanne’s story verbatim as the truth

    B) You won’t be getting any such resignation

  2. 2 Lord Kitchener's Own 15 May, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Progressive Bloggers is not a blog, Joanne was not expelled, and as far as I can see the only person who actually witnessed what happened who has publicly written with the opinion that Tribe was solely to blame in this little spat and that Joanne was an innocent victim of some terrible affront, is Joanne.

    Other than that, an interesting read.

  3. 3 Steve V 15 May, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    So, let me get this straight. If you don’t take your position, you are in turn an “apologist”. How progressive and open-minded. This entire discussion is quite interesting, in that we see how rigid narrowism takes hold. We also see how you jump all over an accusation made by someone with an axe to grind, because it conveniently helps your thesis.

    For context, how this started, I defended Scott, when a certain blogger took shots at his math of affiliate percentages. I didn’t think the attacks were warranted, and merely pointed out that Scott has done a lot of work for Progblogs- I have always found him helpful. That somehow translates into Liberals working as one, and me the apologist, and then you just roll with a crank’s characterization. That’s unfair, but whatever, carry on, you have your mission.

  4. 4 eabbink 15 May, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Good read indeed! And I agree, liberalism proclaiming to be progressive, is, like Conservatives proclaiming themselves Progressive Conservatives; there isn’t all that much “progressive” to neo-liberalism.

    “Thus, the brand of liberalism practiced by the bulk of the moderators (and since the moderators are the ones who admit affiliates, many of the affiliates also unsurprisingly practice this same insipid brand of liberalism) does not, by definition, seek to progress beyond liberal capitalism.”

    You’re right on! No wonder it’s always the non-liberal moderators being booted or pestered out; real progressives just don’t make a chance.

    Lord Kitchener is right, Paul, you did get some of the facts wrong. Nevertheless the spirit of the post is coming through loud and clear.

    Certain processes at PB are secretive and, if you ask me, violate progressive standards. Especially removing posts, blogs, forums, etc. without advising active members is far from the transparency needed to operate a progressive bloggers site. Do we really need to be so secretive about all this? What is it that the moderators are so afraid off?

    An example is my own post on (Purging is not cool; when will Scott resign?). I did get a response from Scott, but by email. (mind you, this was before I put up my email address in the updated version of the post). Why this backroom handling of this issue, what’s wrong with openly discussing PB issues? Whatever policy there is in place, it doesn’t make any sense, at least not from a progressve POV.

    We all know that PB started as a mainly Liberal enterprise and I’ve been told it’s still being run on the same server as Liblogs. Isn’t it time for some progressive change here?

    A more transparent and democratic process to selecting moderators, that includes participation by its members (yes, from the bottom up), is the least that can be done to make ProgBlog better. Scott already said, he won’t resign, which again show his authority fetish and disrespect for the larger PB community. Shouldn’t we all have some input into this?

    Change won’t happen easily. Apart from the the Chief’s ignorance on progressiveness, he’s also stubborn and self-righteous when it comes to arguing. And sadly enough he is “El Presidente” and has a vocal following. They flock to power like flies to shit, and attack anyone and anything when “one of their own” is being criticized.

    Time will tell. Cheers!

  5. 5 Werner Patels 15 May, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    No need for him to resign; real progressives can simply pack up and go to a truly progressive site instead (Blog Change, Blogs for Democracy, Blogging Dippers, etc. — there are several options).

  6. 6 liberalcatnip 15 May, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    “Thus, the brand of liberalism practiced by the bulk of the moderators (and since the moderators are the ones who admit affiliates, many of the affiliates also unsurprisingly practice this same insipid brand of liberalism) does not, by definition, seek to progress beyond liberal capitalism.”

    Have you ever even read my blog? Point out the “liberal capitalism”.

  7. 7 Scott Tribe 15 May, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Erik.. you’re full of it and, as usual.. you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about.

    The Progressive Bloggers never started out as a “Liberal enterprise”. The fact of the matter is, it was I who rejected the notion of calling this “liberal bloggers” when we were first discussing the idea of an agregate because of the inference being it would be for the Liberal Party only and we would lose a lot of good blogs who wouldnt want to join.

    That’s the very reason Jason Cherniak started Liblogs, so the Liberal Blogs could have their own aggregate. Wayne and I and Dan Arnold wanted to make it so all blogs could feel welcome to join. Wayne and I were non-aligned – Dan was your lone Liberal. We were formed in May 2005 – I only became Liberal after Dion’s victory in Dec ’06, because I felt his ideological positions fit with mine.. and I felt it was time to take a stand. Prior to that, I was a non-aligned progressive. So, your inference we were a Liberal enterprise is completely false.

    As for Werner, despite the fact I have little time for him (I hear you’re an NDP supporter now? What’s that, your 5th change of political allegiance in the last couple of years?) he’s right in one sense; no one chains the members to our site. If they feel they can go somewhere better or run things better.. they are free to do so and try.

  8. 8 Polly Jones 15 May, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Then don’t understand what you mean by ‘liberalism’. OK? You’re seriously going to have to walk them through the basics. Scott doesn’t get that there are two critiques: 1) That PBs is dominated by Liberals and 2) That it is dominated by liberal ideology. Catnip understands the semantic distinction, but she does not have the same understanding of small ‘l’ liberal as you and I do. Perhaps, she’ll explain it. You’ll see…

  9. 9 Polly Jones 15 May, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Sorry, they not then!

  10. 10 janfromthebruce 15 May, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I’ve noticed several posts here and elsewhere, concerning the latest flareup, with the basic response – take it or leave it.
    Of course, it also means that those in positions of power are able to provide those options.
    Recognizing that privilege of position where all things are not equal, might help resolve these differences.
    Incidently, it was my understanding that Polly quit, although she may have felt she had no choice, a default position, because the ‘problem’ was not going to be resolved in a way that the parties could agree.

  11. 11 Polly Jones 15 May, 2007 at 9:16 pm


    You’re right. To me, it was a forced choice. I am not prepared to work with someone who asks me to edit comments and/or someone who would delete all our records without notifying anyone. I have had several moderators make supportive comments to me. I think there are some that would like to see him go. I was not going to stay and try to push for that, because I simply reached a point where I could not invest anymore time in the whole thing…Anyway, here I am investing some more…back to the books :(

  12. 12 Steve V 15 May, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    “And sadly enough he is “El Presidente” and has a vocal following. They flock to power like flies to shit, and attack anyone and anything when “one of their own” is being criticized.”

    Erik, if that were true, then why would I do more than one post on the president of Liblogs, asking that he remove himself as the face of Liblogs. Why would I do a post arguing for changes on that blogroll to be more democratic, if I “flock to power”? Do you follow the error in logic? If I gave a rat’s ass about “my own” why would I take on the “power”.

    You can go on and on, but there is no factual support, other than me agreeing with Scott when you attacked his affiliate breakdown. You will remember, you said you can “be a prick sometimes”. Well, you’re doing it again :) You’re just constructing something to suit your bias. I voted NDP in the last election, Green before that. I joined the Liberal Party because I found Kennedy’s reform agenda inspiring, and decided to engage. The motivation, affect change from the inside.

    You’re just throwing out this nonsense, and then it gets picked up here, which is disappointing. I didn’t defend Scott because he was Liberal, or the Progblog guy, I defended him because you were acting like an attention seeking idiot, to be frank. That’s my read, and the more you spew this crap, the more my opinion finds validation. From now on, please leave me out of your useless crusade. Thanks.

  13. 13 Stephen 15 May, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Catnip has one of the best Canadian progressive blogs out there. It is what I think most would consider small “l” liberal which absolutely is progressive. I’d really like to know what this other definition of small “l” liberal is that has been concocted.

  14. 14 Erik Abbink 15 May, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Interesting stuff, Steve V. I didn’t remember pointing you out in my posting, did I? I guess any criticism on any Liberal did it again, even when your name is not mentioned. Steve doesn’t understand dissent, it looks like you did end up joining the right club after all.

    Since you brought it up, the affiliate breakdown was flawed, and so was the thesis (that a breakdown would un-proof liberal bias – anyone interested can go here: ). But how do I explain that to someone who doesn’t understand what bias means? Which brings me to the following:

    “You’re just constructing something to suit your bias.”
    Now why don’t you explain to everyone what my bias is?

    I won’t hold my breath.

  15. 15 Werner Patels 15 May, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    I think what all this really comes down to is Scott’s joining the Liberal bandwagon after Dion’s election as leader.

    Before that, Scott was not aligned with any of the parties and was therefore able to remain more objective about certain things. I know what party membership can do to one’s mind: no matter how hard you try to be objective, there’ll always be that little “partisan devil” that manages to squeeze itself into your writing.

    Scott is now a card-carrying Liberal, which he wasn’t before, and once the Liberals have their hooks into you, you start preaching from the organization’s prayer book (= Red Book).

    This is why I no longer belong to any political party; I will vote for and support certain parties, but don’t really feel like becoming part of a “Borg collective” again (OFF-TOPIC ALERT: and, yes, Scott is right: my “flavour of the month” is the NDP — truth be told, I have been watching the NDP and Layton for quite some time, and the reason, probably, why I wasn’t happy with my previous affiliations was that I had hitched my star to the wrong wagon, but I really believe that I have finally found my political home).

    So, with Wayne (even though he’s gone from PB) and Jason there, as well as Saskboy, who claims to be green, but belongs to Liblogs and Green Bloggers and strikes me more as a Grit than a Green), once Scott had become a Liberal, the management of PB did become predominantly Liberal (and let’s not forget that CalgaryGrit, too, used to be a moderator and/or administrator of PB).

    Finally, the McClelland affair, whether this is the right conclusion to draw from it or not, gave many PBers from the NDP side of the PB membership reason to believe that the PB bosses were out trolling for Dippers to make an example of one of them.

    As I said, maybe wrong conclusions were drawn and wrong impressions given, but in the end, it’s conclusions and impressions that matter the most to people, and that’s how they feel these days (most notably this blog’s author, Paul, and Polly Joanne Jones).

  16. 16 Steve V 15 May, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    “I didn’t remember pointing you out in my posting, did I?’

    No, no, there was no inference there at all. What a joke.

    “But how do I explain that to someone who doesn’t understand what bias means?”

    I try to understand.

    I’m done now Erik. I should have just ignored it all, but felt compelled with your reference to me at Progblogs and here. I bet you’re good on the sax, you can sure blow :) Fini.

  17. 17 Polly Jones 15 May, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Would it be possible for people to state their positions on the WB? Are people aware of neo-liberalism? Or, do none of you look beyond your own postal code?

  18. 18 Scott Tribe 15 May, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Jason has never been a moderator at Prog Blog, Werner.

    As for the affiliation, even with Joanne gone, there are more non-Liberals who are moderators then there are Liberals.

  19. 20 Erik Abbink 16 May, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Hey Paul – I;’ve submitted several times, but without luck. Let me know if your site has posting issues or if you have issues with me posting.

  20. 21 paulitics 16 May, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Erik – I just checked my spam filter and it was empty. Did your posts have more than one hyperlink in them? Sometimes my spam filter is over sensitive and filters the comments.

  21. 22 Erik Abbink 16 May, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Yes, I guess it did. That’s too bad – I had written some lengthy ones and didn’t save them before sending. I’ll post again without the links. Can you remove my post that has my email in it? Thanks.

    PS Consider not using the links-filter (if possible, I don’t use WP) – I know it can give spam but linking is essential to the inter-net. Cheers.

  22. 23 Erik Abbink 16 May, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Scott said: The Progressive Bloggers never started out as a “Liberal enterprise”.
    – I guess i should have used small l here. But you kept the “liberal” part out of the name because you didn’t wanna loose some of the good blogs, am I getting it right now?

    Scott, your rebuttal only covers a mere spelling mistake: let’s see if you’re willing to answer two other issues I brought up:

    – Is it true that the PB is sharing a server with Liblogs?
    – Isn’t it a great idea to have input from the members to the selection process at PB?

    Jan, don’t worry, I won’t use make use of the “options” given to me. I’m living in a country currently run by an idiot, but I won’t leave. I’m part of Progressive Bloggers, currently run by an immature joker, but I won’t leave either. It’s interesting when a self-proclaimed progressive understands very little about dissent.

    Steve V. , you might be done with me, but I’m not done with you. Your at-least-I’ve-tried is interesting but not convincing, given the continues pro-lib and anti-con stand you give on your own blog. 19 out 20 posts (check his liberal propaganda blog that supposedly is “progressive”) are either pro-lib or anti-con, you really consider that trying? Sometimes “trying” is not good enough. Good advice, gained while blowing the saxophone.

  23. 24 paulitics 16 May, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Does anybody else see that we’re dealing with a bunch of bullies here?

    Seriously, read these comments above again and then read this

    We’ve got Steve V trying to insult Erik with the grade-school-esque “you can sure blow”. Nice Steve.

    We’ve got Scott Tribe throwing out the classic “you’re full of it and, as usual” before going on to attack Werner for not having the privilege of being as steadfast a partisan as he is. Then Scott gives out the ever famous “if you don’t like it, leave” line. Seriously, Scott, you need some new material. Did you read my post? Do you realize how bad this line makes you sound?

    Then, in the PB thread linked to above, we have Saskboy giving the ‘threatening’ warning “I’m showing restraint, please stop testing my patience.”

    Or what saskboy, you’ll knock the people you disagree with down and take their lunch money?

    Seriously people, does nobody else recognize a bully when they see one?

  24. 25 Polly Jones 16 May, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    This is part of the problem is that one cannot reason, because he is not even aware how bad he looks. At a Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land, I write that sometime before I resigned, I said we should have open forums. Scott says this in untrue. I then reply that it certainly is true and Saskboy had agreed. To this Scott replies that had I suggested open forums it would have been absolutely rejected. Umm…exactly. How stupid can one person be?

    I honestly don’t think he understands even now how his statement trivialized criticisms of the WB. He wanted to play JJ’s knight-in-shining-armour to which even she has objected to. He is simply not a good leader. Instead of dismissing the members and sending desperate emails defending himself, he might ask members how he can best respond to their concerns.

    Yes. I recognize a bully. Also, recognize those who must bully because they lack the abilities to respond otherwise.

  25. 26 psychols 16 May, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    The terms progressive, conservative and liberal (small l) are relative. A dipper considers a Liberal to be a conservative while a conservative views a Liberal as a progressive. It is, in my view, wholly irrelevant to this incident.

    I think there is a more important principle at play here. Opinions may be expressed that are unpleasant. Scott has, unfortunately, shown a tendency to delete comments that he considers to be confrontational. He has subsequently been accused of suppressing honest and spirited debate. He exacerbates the perception of heavy handedness by refusing to discuss the decision making process and refusing to engage dissenters in any form of respectful exchange. It was most prevalent when he stated that the decision to ban McClelland was “final” and refused to further discuss it with affiliates who questioned the action. This tendency has also manifested itself as closing comments in his user diaries and deleting blogger posts from the aggregator – all done without telling anyone.

    I would probably disagree with any calls to ask Scott to resign. He has volunteered a lot of time to progblogs and has not broken any rules. A few of us simply dislike the idea of a blog aggregator that places censorship power in the hands of a single individual and would therefore like to see a code of conduct that limits his power to act unilaterally.

    Moderators do need to help ensure the safety of affiliates and commenter and protect the aggregator from legal liability. Perhaps the moderators need to develop a code of conduct for the chief moderator and themselves. It has to include an approval process, communication with the object of the censorship, a formal announcement process and a method of addressing concerns raised by affiliates and an appeals process.

    This business of banning bloggers for stating a political opinion or deleting comments that are considered by one person to be “incendiary” needs to become a thing of the past if progblogs is to be taken seriously.

  26. 27 FurGaia 16 May, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I originally sent the comment below to Dylan at Right of Center Ice by email since his blog only allows comments from Google account users (I am boycotting that outfit for various reasons – with the inconveniences that the boycott entails.) Anyway, I thought that comment is relevant to Paul’s post as well.

    Following Dylan’s statement that just because “Johanne found herself at a moral crossroads because of Scott’s opinion that still does not mean that Scott is acting in an authoritarian manner,” I wrote that I did not think that was a clear assessment of what happened. I asked him whether he had read J.J.’s account on Joanne’s post? It is all very strange.

    I added the following: On a personal level, I find it somewhat disturbing that in the debate about process, as necessary as that is, the bigger picture is getting swept under the carpet. Indeed, one moderator chastised Joanne for even bringing up the issue of World Bank. And yet, the World Bank issue it is!

    The crux of the matter IMO is this: reduce what it is happening to ‘a spat’ between Joanne and Scott and we can all leave those two to their ‘petty’ fighting, with some taking the side of Joanne, others that of Scott. The rest of us can go back to sleep. Mostly that is what has been happening.

    However, if viewed within the context of a stand taken by a moderator in protest against censorship of a very progressive debate, then it is a very different ball game and all progressive that we are, we should all participate in that debate because it concerns us all.
    BTW whatever happened to the “World Bank” blogger who asked for affiliation? Has his/her request been refused/accepted/what? Dare we ask?

  27. 28 Erik Abbink 16 May, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Furgaia, Scott and the like really don’t care much about the WB. It’s petty party politics they’re interested in, and only to spout their Liberal bias beyond Liblogs. These Libs are as progressive as the Cons are green; don’t fall for it. See my blog for a more detailed explanation:

  1. 1 Scott Tribe Should Stay « Northern BC Dipper Trackback on 15 May, 2007 at 7:29 pm

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