BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG is a web site which is devoted to defending the freedom of speech about progressive ideas, ideas which have been suppressed in one way or another anywhere in the world. Where reactionary governments or their agents suppress such ideas we will attempt to draw attention to that fact, and to strenuously oppose it. And when possible, we will also try to post documents and publications that have been suppressed in some particular country, and make them available on the Internet for the people of that country and for the whole world.
BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG is completely independent and totally unaffiliated with any political party, organization, network, or alliance, anywhere in the world. While our sympathies are of course with the struggles of the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world, our goal is simply to expose attempts to censor or suppress progressive ideas and to make available publications and documents which have been suppressed in one or more countries.
Our posting of such documents and publications does not necessarily mean that we agree with what they say! In no way are we acting as the representatives of any party or organization when we post such materials. We do so purely in the defense of free speech and the right of the people of the world to hear the ideas that many governments would deny to them.
For the record, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are not under the direction of any foreign (or domestic!) organization whatsoever; we have no connections whatsoever with any other organization; and we in no way “coordinate” our work and postings here with any other organization or individual. We receive a large number of materials from a great many sources, and pick and choose what to post entirely by ourselves. In most cases we have no idea who the people sending us materials are, or what their own political ideas and beliefs are. And in no case are we acting in their behalf. We do not aid, promote, assist, support, or provide any sort of services or advice to any other organization or individual. Our efforts on BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG are entirely devoted to promoting free speech in the U.S. and around the world, and in posting news items and documents which are suppressed elsewhere.
Why Does this Website Focus So Centrally on Banned Progressive and Revolutionary Materials?
Shouldn’t it Also Oppose the Banning of Fascist, Racist or Right-wing Material?
There are a number of organizations in the world, such as the American Civil Liberties Union in the U.S., which (in theory at least) oppose the banning of all materials regardless of their political perspective. They will sometimes even support the right of Nazis, extreme racists, and other totally abhorent individuals to promote their anti-human ideas and activities. We at bannedthought.org take a different position on this: While we do in general and in most cases promote free speech, we also oppose fascists, racists, imperialists and other reactionary political trends which are clearly out to harm the people. Our first goal is to defend the interests of the people against the attacks made against them, and our second goal is to accomplish this by doing what we can to stop the suppression of ideas which support the struggles of the people in their own interests. We see no contradiction involved in this stance whatsoever.
It should also be pointed out that many of the so-called “civil liberties” and “free speech” organizations in present-day society are rather hypocritical. For example, there is an organization in the U.S. (whose name we won’t mention) whose stated goal is to defend free speech on the Internet. When bannedthought.org was suppressed in India starting in November 2018 we contacted this organization to see if they would help us at least bring this attack on free speech on the Internet to the attention of people in the U.S. and around the world. While their representative seemed vaguely sympathetic, they did absolutely nothing at all. Why not? Quite obviously it is because of the progressive, radical and revolutionary material on BT which these liberals do not want to be associated with. Despite their claims, they really only oppose the suppression of their own liberal ideas on the Internet. This is actually quite short-sighted of them, since in a capitalist-imperialist world the suppression of ideas on the left is always where the suppression of genuine freedom of speech begins and where it is always most intense.
False or Misleading Claims about BannedThought.org
From time to time there have been false or seriously misleading statements about the nature of BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG which have been published in newspapers in some countries or posted on the Internet. We do not know if specific instances of these false or misleading claims are the result of simple ignorance and failure to carefully read what we say about ourselves on our web site, or if in some cases, they may reflect outright lies or malicious intent. It is even possible that in some cases such false claims may be part of a disinformation campaign by some government agency of some reactionary government, which is designed as a prelude to an eventual blocking or suppression of BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG itself! Unfortunately, in today’s world such possibilities must be taken seriously.
Either way, whether from carelessness, ignorance or maliciousness, it is important to directly confront such false or misleading statements about our web site, and to correct the erroneous statements which have been made about us. From now on we will attempt to do so here, as such false statements come to our attention. If anyone knows of other claims of the sort we are mentioning and refuting here, please let us know as soon as possible! Contact us at: email@example.com
Some Specific False Claims or Seriously Misleading Statements
- Comment on “Otto’s War Room” blog (March 9, 2013) — States as a preface to quoting some material from BannedThought.org:
“CPI(M)—Banned Thought--Suppression of news in the United States
Banned Thought (bannedthought.org) is a web site started by members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They had some of their sites shut down over the years, including People’s March.”
Corrections: First of all, BannedThought.org was not started by members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), nor by members of any other political party in India nor anywhere else. It is absolutely independent, and not related to any party whatsoever. It is not based in India, nor owned and maintained by people from India, nor with any connection whatsoever with the CPI(Maoist). The suppression of several publications including the magazine People’s March in India [which, we have heard, was not published by the CPI(Maoist)] were among the motivations for those of us watching this outrage against free speech from the U.S. to launch BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG. We have so much material on Banned Thought that has been suppressed in India only because the Indian government has suppressed so very much! And over time, BANNEDTHOUGHT.ORG has developed an ever-broader international perspective, with information about the suppression of free speech in more and more countries.
- [Other false claims and mistatements to be refuted here as they come to our attention.]
A Note About Copyrighted Material
The vast bulk of the materials posted on bannedthought.org were never copyrighted; indeed most progressive and revolutionary organizations want their materials to be read and to be distributed as widely as possible. Some countries, such as the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, were also not members of the International Copyright Convention during their revolutionary eras, and therefore the issue of copyrights for their publications does not arise at all.
However, some few materials we have posted, even if they were published by revolutionary authors or organizations, were copyrighted. We have posted them because: 1) We are in no way making any money off of these documents, and even refrain from selling any ads to be displayed on our site; 2) Because we feel that the original authors and organizations would not object, and even be quite pleased that we are making their writings available again to new audiences; and 3) Because most of these items are long out of print, and in most cases there is little or no possibility that the copyright owners (if they even still exist anymore) will ever reprint them. There are many ways in which progressive and revolutionary documents are effectively banned in bourgeois society. One of the insufficiently appreciated ways is by copyright owners refusing to allow others to reprint works even though they themselves have no intention of ever reprinting them themselves!
Where we know that a significant book or other document is still in print we are not posting them on bannedthought.org. Thus, while we have posted a number of out-of-print works by Edgar Snow, we have not posted his most famous work, Red Star Over China, because the publishers have—to their credit—kept it in print. However, if a copyright owner of any document posted on bannedthought.org asks us to remove it—even if it is in fact long out of print—we will of course do so. But we will also prominently mention on our site that this copyright owner is in effect banning the document and trying to prevent the vast majority of people in the world (those who do not have access to large research libraries) from reading it. We are pleased to say that so far we have not had to do this!