Our regular programming interrupted again
Many comrades in the International Socialist Organization (ISO) will have seen an appeal on my behalf, signed by many members across the country and submitted to the group’s internal bulletin, calling for my reinstatement to the group following apologies from the leadership of the Boston organization and the regional organizer. (If you are a member of the ISO and interested in signing on to the appeal, leave a comment below. I will be able to see your email–it won’t be displayed publicly–and I will put you in touch with Brian C in Providence, who is coordinating the effort.)
Since the appeal concerns me directly, I think I have the right to speak about it; but I stress that I speak here only for myself, and not on behalf of any of the signatories.
Comrades have asked me whether I approve of this appeal, and if I would entertain rejoining the ISO. The answer to both questions is emphatically yes. As I said in my previous post on this matter, I remain a supporter of the ISO’s political tradition and typically agree with the group’s positions; I think it’s the best socialist group in the US. So of course I’d like to be a member again. Indeed, I think being an independent socialist is rather like drinking crème de menthe: something to be tried only for lack of any credible alternative.
Furthermore, although I reject any parallel between my own conduct and that of the leadership that made it impossible for me to stay after 15 years of continuous membership, I understand that it wouldn’t be possible for me to simply return as if nothing had happened, even if the requisite apologies were forthcoming. I am open to discussing terms under which I could return to productive and collaborative work.
Now I suppose that many ISO members will wonder why things are being done in such an unusual fashion, why the situation isn’t left for resolution at the local level with the assistance–which I understand is forthcoming–of the national leadership. I would say, in the first place, that the slanders against me were launched in public (on Facebook) with the active or passive participation of comrades outside Boston. It is therefore automatically beyond a local issue, unless one believes that a comrade from (say) New York City, while permitted to denigrate someone from Boston, may under no circumstances come to his defense.
But the more important point, I think, is that membership of the ISO needs to understand and combat a dynamic that has been evident in the group for some time, in which cadre who determinedly raise serious criticisms of the organization’s perspectives, strategy, and practices eventually find that their continued membership becomes “somehow” impossible. Then when you find out that X left the organization after fifteen or twenty or more years, and you ask someone who ought to know what happened, the answer is always something like, “It was a complex situation, there were a lot of things going on in the branch, there were personal issues,” and so on. That is a reasonable answer once or twice. Ten or fifteen times, across several branches, it is bullshit–and the members need to take the situation in hand.
Our regular programming will resume shortly.