Yet again, our regular programming is interrupted
On November 13, I rejoined the International Socialist Organization (ISO), as a member of the Cambridge, MA branch.
The apologies to me that many comrades requested from the former all-Boston branch leadership and the regional organizer have not been forthcoming. This was unfortunate, but not different from what I expected. What I did not expect, however, was that the Boston district would be reorganized so as it make it possible for me to not to work under the direct leadership of those who publicly attacked me. (The regional organizer, as a non-elected position, plays a more or less advisory role; the comrade can only be seriously destructive when the elected leadership takes his opinion as writ.)
As I have made clear, on this blog and elsewhere, my resignation from the ISO was not due to any fundamental political disagreement, unwillingness to accept democratic discipline, etc. I said that the ISO was “the finest socialist organization in the US today,” which is still what I believe, and declared publicly that “of course I would like to be a member again.” My resignation was due only to the fact that the local leadership had created an impossible situation.
With a different leadership in the newly-formed Cambridge branch, and a shift away from an over-centralized district-wide decision-making structure, a return to productive work inside the group was possible. After the branch had got off the ground, I made a request to the Cambridge branch for readmittance, which was granted after a branch discussion (to which I was not party). I thank the Cambridge comrades for the opportunity to return. I am also willing to speak to anyone who wishes to discuss my reintegration into the normal life of the organization as a member.
Rejoining the organization in Cambridge during the Pre-Convention discussion period was initially suggested to the Cambridge branch leadership and me by Ahmed Shawki of the ISO Steering Committee when we met with him (separately) on October 6. The SC did not subsequently follow up on the matter themselves; nonetheless, I thank them for the suggestion.
My political perspectives have not changed, and I intend to argue for them inside the ISO–as indeed I was doing before. I particularly look forward to the Pre-Convention discussion as a space to collectively work through the legitimate political questions that have been placed on the table by internal and external critics.
ISO members have consistently told comrades making criticism from outside the group: you should rejoin us and try to change the group from the inside! I have not, in general, found this convincing. In the first place, what is important is the content of criticism, rather than its source. Secondarily, the critics may have had very legitimate reasons for leaving and for not returning. Certainly comrades who had been in the organization for many years or even decades would not have departed idly; I know I did not. Those who tell them to come back should, I think, independently investigate why they left in the first place.
Be that as it may: I was personally in a position to return; and I have. I hope that comrades do not “walk back” their invitation to critics to join, now that it has actually been taken up.
Our regular programming will resume shortly.