Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The American International Socialist Organization (ISO): Facing its own SWP Crisis?

with 25 comments


Is the American International Socialist Organization (which was closely linked to the SWP) about to face its Comrade Delta moment?

Speculation is growing this morning.

Setting the cat amongst the pigeons the Charnel House  yesterday revealed this:

“Posted on social media by a member obviously embittered by the proceedings thus far, and by the ISO Steering Committee more generally.”

So this is how the ISO steering committee works, I guess:

If someone sends angry e-mails to an important Lenin scholar — start getting involved later that day.
If someone’s critical of the leadership and is late paying dues (or hasn’t paid “enough”) — send an e-mail saying he or she isn’t a member anymore.
If a member rapes someone — don’t do anything for over a year, hide this from most members of the branch in question, and take it to the disciplinary committee only after the rest of the branch finds out accidentally.
If someone leaks documents showing that the steering committee covered up the above-mentioned rape to “bad” socialists like Ross Wolfe — make snarky Facebook comments attacking the offending member for being disloyal.

Maybe they were just having another 3 margarita meeting!

The said Wolfie adds,

 Should be interesting seeing how they handled the SWP rape allegations coverup, also, especially in light of the way the ISO’s handled the reported rape offense within its own ranks as revealed by the 2014 documents.

You can download them below (NOTE: For members only)

Howie’s Corner helpfully posted,

Sexual conduct allegations emerge in International Socialist Organisation (USA)

The “Comrade Daniel” affair

It is in Pre-convention bulletin no 19 that we find the latest far-left scandal. This revolves around a certain “comrade daniel”.

Full story – as it stands at present –  here.

An allegation of violation was dealt with by the scandalous approach the SWP took in a similar case,

During the investigation, it was revealed that two members of the current (2013) SDBC had known a year 
prior that an accusation had been made, one of whom was also on the SDBC with “Daniel” at the time of
the incident (July 2012). As of July 2013, no one had spoken to the victim, no disciplinary action had been
taken against “Daniel,” no fewer than five San Diego comrades knew that there was an accusation,
including two members of the (2012) SDBC, and the ISOSC was also aware.* The accusation was not
investigated further in 2012, in part due to the way it was brought (also on Facebook), and the person
bringing it (also hostile to the ISO). People didn’t want to bother the alleged victim about it.

The document concludes that:

The primary failure in this situation was that no ISO member suggested or took the initiative to contact the victim directly to get her account of what had happened. This mistake was made by every member who was in some way aware that an accusation had been made, regardless of their position in leadership or their dedication to fighting sexism. We are not claiming that any ISO members acted in bad faith, but that is precisely the point: Even with the best of intentions, our established procedure produces huge failures.

As Howie comments: it is wrong that these groups still try to judge on these serious issues through internal investigations.

Shiraz Socialist comments, “Anyone with a lot of spare time there are tons of bulletins from the last four conferences of the American ISO (former comrades of the SWP)”.

For those who wish to further explore the ISO this gives an outline the spat that led to the British SWP “expelling” them from the International Socialist Tendency.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm

25 Responses

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  1. There’s a great quote by a London militant called Glyn Robbins “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the SWP… For as long as I’ve been involved in the labour movement (over 25 years) there has been a neurosis about the SWP that, at its most extreme, almost requires medical treatment. I am sorry to say that there are some people within our movement who are far more interested in fighting the SWP than our enemies.”

    I’m going to take it that this disease also spreads to comments about the ISO, ISN and other organisations recently from the SWP tradition. It can also affect some when they discuss the SP.

    Reading through the information produced by the ISO about this event, I see a commendable ability by ISO to be self-critical, to correct any errors they think they may have made to deal with a possible, alleged incident of sexual assault, as well as a very good analysis of why such things can happen amongst socialists. Doesn’t anyone else think they dealt with it well?

    I have so little time for the Madam Defarges of the internet. Those who wait on tenterhooks every day for some minor (or major), or usually very minor indeed ‘scandal’ from the bigger organisations i.e. 1000s or 100s rather than their solitary one.

    Then they will stay awake for days, tweeting and blogging the latest minor twist and their analyses of how this makes their target worse than the Tories and how they should be closed down, expelled from unions, etc. Do people really think that the SWP, who produced such leaders of socialist feminism as Lindsey German are in any way going to be ‘apologists for rape’?

    These commentators spout such general vitriol that it puts them to the right of even the average trade union official. Quite frankly, I suspect they will on rapes or similar just to feed into their obsessions with revolutionary socialists.

    Like Glyn I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the SWP… (or indeed, the SP). Indeed I don’t like them much or their politics.

    But I stand it solidarity with them against the pathetic assaults of the likes of Ross Wolfe and other political dwarves. It will be grim place if ever the two biggest Left organisations (SWP and SP) in the UK (and same elsewhere on the planet) were ever brought down by such rubbish – a world where the Left would number groupings of no more than about a few dozen.

    • I am an active member of a slightly bigger organisation than the SWP: UNITE.

      As such, in line with our equalities policy, I am in solidarity with dwarfs, from Wolfie to Gimli.

      It’s no secret that I don’t like the politics of these ‘revolutionary’ groups either and the view, which many on the left share, is that their type of organisation has seen its day.

      I should add that I happen to agree with the ISO’s sceptical judgement on the chimera that was Occupy Wall Street which shows that they, unlike the SWP, have some close ties to political reality.

      Most of this Blog is taken up with the French and wider European left, the growth of the far-right, and Islamist racism.

      A Blog is a Blog is a Blog is a Blog.

      The politics I am part of include the Suffolk People’s Assembly – which is a labour movement based body.

      You can see what we do by Googling.

      Though I do indeed “stay awake” – most days.

      Andrew Coates

      February 10, 2014 at 11:24 am

  2. “I’m going to take it that this disease also spreads to comments about the ISO, ISN and other organisations recently from the SWP tradition. It can also affect some when they discuss the SP.”

    I am pleased to see that Comrade Punchnjudy has never noticed this disease affecting people’s views of his own ex-organisation, which is these days called the AWL. Which disease is this caused by?


    February 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm

  3. P.S. On the subject of medical treatment, can you clarify your twitter self-description? “UK’s Last Trot. # Way 2 die: Che facing death (reported). R u Cuban or Argentine? I’m Cuban, Argentine, Bolivian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian etc. You understand?”

    No, I don’t. And your logo? Is that an Irish Labour Party rose, or is it some kind of red turd?


    February 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

  4. I’ll answer the one. The quote (if it happened) is the internationalist Guevara responding with disdain to his soon to be executioner. The horizon of the latter was that Guevara could only be Argentine or Cuban – but which? (and not even both). If you can’ get this, then all further comment or answers are redundant.

  5. How is the Only Trot Platform in the Left Unity Party going by the way? They sell “The struggle for a proletarian party” at Havana airport incidentally.


    February 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm

  6. The more I see of Left Unity, the less it appeals – like a rotten onion shedding its skin. A resting home for ex Labour Lefts – maybe all the readers here should give it a go. I am going to wait and see if it does get up to speed to enable take-off.

  7. If I’m barred Andrew, tell me and I won’t waste my time any more.


    February 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    • Not at all.

      For some reason – without rhyme or reason (except when people put loads of links in a comment) Word Press often puts comments in the Spam folder.

      I have to check it constantly to drag them out.

      I can’t notice any of yours there this morning

      Andrew Coates

      February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am

  8. @madmullah It happens to us all. Blame wordpress.

    @SPP Shocker. Were you expecting anything else? This is a serious question.

    Ken Loach is over here speaking at a USec-leftovers-meeting on Friday on how great LU is and how it is an example for Germany. Hang on, isn’t that meant to be the other way round. And hasn’t he spoken on the same theme in Berlin – during the film festival as always – before, except that it was “Respect” or the “Socialist Alliance” that was the great example of “left regroupment”, Britain leading the way in Europe old chaps, etc.? Tosser.


    February 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

  9. Dagmar: It looks like an ammonite to me. A fossil of a sea creature from a very long time ago. Related to the modern nautilaus.

    Sue R

    February 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

  10. From the Charnel House – Ross Wolfe.

    “It would appear that the International Socialist Organization has launched a defamatory campaign intended to discredit me. Various members of the ISO have been gunning for me ever since I leaked a number of embarrassing internal bulletins from their organization last week. These were sent to me by several different members and former members of the ISO who were troubled by some of the developments taking shape within the organization of late. Some of these documents revealed their leadership’s inaction in resolving an incident concerning a member who had been accused of rape. Apparently this went unreported to the rest of the organization’s membership for more than seven months, until accidentally being brought to light by a few errant statements made in public regarding “Comrade Daniel” (the ISO’s rough equivalent to “Comrade Delta” across the pond).”


    Andrew Coates

    February 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

  11. Amongst the pretty ripe stuff from the above link we learn that the ISO describes comrade Ross Wolfe in these terms,

    “Not just an utterly racist, elitist, sexist troll with a creepy, nasty obsession with wanting Muslim women unveiled. But also an utter scumbag and danger to the Left, ready to call for a state crackdown on activists, no matter what their background. Know your enemy.”

    If that’s how they think of comrade Wolfe one imagines that one’s good self is not held in high esteem by the groupuscule.

    Please ISO say something about Coatesy.

    Attention: give it to me!

    Andrew Coates

    February 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

  12. @Punchie old chap, will you be restoring the archives from way back then, you know, from before, when Dave Osler had a blog?



    February 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm

  13. P.S. The old site seems to need a bit of PR expertise. You used to go on a lot about search engine optimisation, advertising, how to use the internet properly etc.

    What happened?

    Google PageRank: 0
    Google Links: 379
    Yahoo Links: 11,700
    Bing Related: 10
    Technorati Links: 0
    Google indexed pages: 281
    Subdomains: 0

    Though: A Google pageranking of 0 is pretty good, as it’s just one spot below 1, which is probably Amazon, the BBC or the Whitehouse.


    February 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

  14. Blimey! (or should that be Mein Gott!), Dagmar, reading that page you linked to in your last post made me wonder if anyone is monitoring the interweb? Whatyerthink?

    Sue R

    February 13, 2014 at 7:48 pm

  15. Sue! Well , “they” are monitoring it all, as we all know, but – as the evidence above proves – apart from SouthPawPunch’s websites – which is the most suspicious thing I’ve ever seen. Obviously this means something very sinister indeed and the figures, which previously put SPP at “Google PageRank 1” must be faked to cover up the success of his previous publishing ventures. It’s absolutely typical of the anti-Leninist Pabloite class traitor scum of the Tendence – and typical of their bourgeois liberalism that lets me post this kind of comment, even removing it from the “moderation queue” to prove their liberalism with a US-American capital ‘L’ – that they have never protested against this clear tricksterism. Indeed, they do this in order to keep their own – CIA-KGB-GCHQ-NSA-fake – GooglePageRank of 4. I note that the BBC only manages an 8, and the rest of the BBC’s figures are right out of the Enver Hodxa Polytechnic of Falsification (now ‘Tony Blair University of Tirana, Dürres and Pristina, Norman Wisdom Faculty’).

    dagmar's search engine optimisation lab

    February 14, 2014 at 1:03 am

    • Quite Right Comrade Dagmar!

      Though perhaps I should have said, Quite Left….

      Andrew Coates

      February 14, 2014 at 11:03 am

  16. Yet more on this,

    Leaking internal ISO docs: A question of revolutionary ethics.

    “Is it principled and justified to violate the security of other radical, left anti-government groups — and publish their private documents for all to see?”

    – See more at: http://kasamaproject.org/threads/entry/leaking-internal-iso-docs-a-question-of-revolutionary-ethics#sthash.skILdUN6.dpuf

    Andrew Coates

    February 14, 2014 at 11:52 am

  17. It’s the way Punchie tells ’em (over at Stalinist-Labourite Unity):

    “Look forward to tsunami of fawning and wholesale rewriting of history when he [Tony Benn]dies. They’ll make the Mandela obituaries read like Littlejohn.

    His former stage army of acolytes and even, one time Left critics, will be providing the narrative but I was there during the Bennite feint, and I will be writing shortly on what it was really like”

    Why doesn’t he go into whichever hospital Benn’s in and spread some MRSA around the ward? All mouth and no trousers, that Punch. All bluster and no punch.


    February 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm

  18. One day we will miss Punch’s charm too.

    Andrew Coates

    February 14, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  19. If Blair drops dead tomorrow, I’ll celebrate but no so with Benn. For all Benn’s vainglorious grandstanding, he has maintained a commitment to every good cause going, when these could be no longer of any personal benefit to his career.

    It’s less so him I will be criticising him (although I will), but it is necessary to correct the unhistorical fawning and reinterpretation of history (i.e. from all Trots it will be – ‘we loved Benn’ – when none of them did. Look at what Lindsay German is already writing and what the view of the SWP would have been about him 30 years ago) that I think needs correcting, rather than a wish to be controversial.

    Look at what was written about Mandela and whose latter political career was as the rule of a capitalist (and economically right-wing South Africa. Don’t you think my comment such as the following where a necessary corrective to the completely obsequies obituaries – even from ‘Trots’ – to him that appeared.
    Don’t you think it was necessary for someone to write as I did:

    Tories – then: hang Mandela, now: love Mandela.
    Liberals (sadly includes nearly all the ‘Left’) – then: free Mandela, now: love Mandela.
    Trotskyists – then: free Mandela, (when he was President): hang Mandela.

    And don’t you also hate capitalists and all the cant that goes with them?

    PS I assure you of my weekly activity in doing things, rather than just writing.

  20. @ Punchie

    *More* than just writing? I am looking forward to the imminent relaunch of your sub-blog “SPP Comments”, made up entirely of your own comments on other blogs, all in one place. I see you are archiving them already for these purposes.

    And re. Mandela: obviously correct.


    February 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

  21. The organizational crisis and its political roots
    The International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been in a general crisis since 2009. This has not been experienced or understood as a general crisis, but rather a series of disconnected and personalistic branch crises. But if we merely list the crises that we know about, the general nature of the problem becomes clear:

    More here http://externalbulletin.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/the-organizational-crisis/

    Andrew Coates

    February 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

  22. […] bulletin leaks, and was thinking I could pull it off again with respect to Solidarity. Because of the shitstorm that followed from this prior drama, I was a bit reluctant to entertain the idea of going through […]

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