The international revolutionary Left is in the throes of a serious crisis. This crisis has manifested itself most clearly in organizational terms in the debacle of the Socialist Workers Party in the UK; in the splits in the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste in France; and in the attack on the revolutionary Left within SYRIZA. In practical terms, it has manifested in the inability of the Left to steer major events: the stalemate in the struggle against austerity in Greece and the growth of fascism; the twists and turns of the Egyptian revolution; and the reversals suffered by the defeat of the Wisconsin Uprising, the dramatic repression of Occupy, and even the setbacks in spring 2013 after the heroic Chicago Teachers’ Union strike testify to this fact. And on the theoretical plane, there remain large questions about the character of neoliberalism and the current crisis; the shape of the international working class at the end of the neoliberal period; and the strategies and methods for the Left to organize a real struggle against a system in crisis. It is a crisis that requires a deep re-examination of all previous assumptions on the part of the entire international Left.
We believe this crisis has impacted the ISO as well, though we think that it is a more significant development than simply “the demoralization and disorientation experienced by the Left in the wake of Occupy”. While the SWP’s crisis is far more serious than ours, we believe both crises (as well as the others mentioned) grow out of the same general political background common to the entire revolutionary Left. In the ISO, the response to this crisis has shifted from a perceived new political openness in the first half of the year (most notably Ahmed Shawki’s talk at Socialism 2013 on Perspectives for the Left, which was interpreted as such by people well beyond the ISO); to a debate around the March on Washington and the United Front; to a closing of ranks, a renewed focus on routines and low-level political education, and a retreat from outward-looking events such as the regional fall Marxism conferences. The assertion in the NC report that the ISO was “under attack” was quite stunning to us. But it has now become clear that the “attack” is really a bout of self-doubt, in our estimation brought on by the same factors that have precipitated the crisis of the international Left: a misunderstanding of the neoliberal period and its crisis, and a frustration at the ability of the Left to advance.
The ISO must confront this crisis head-on and have an open, frank and thorough discussion of all the questions confronting the revolutionary Left today. To this end, the comrades signed on to this document have decided to form the ISO Renewal Faction within the ISO. We remain committed as ever to the core politics and overall political project of the ISO; however our political and organizational perspectives differ from that which is being put forward by the national leadership of the organization. We believe that forming a faction is necessary for a full and democratic debate about the two perspectives. As Lenin noted, sharp debates are most productive when given definite organizational form; thus the utility and necessity of a faction when such debates arise.
We believe that vigorous debate both internally and with the revolutionary Left broadly will strengthen our organization and, as such, we intend to publish our platform and our documents both through the Pre-Convention Bulletin as well as publicly through Socialist Worker and on this blog. We will also respect the current practice in the ISO which restricts sharing Pre-Convention Documents with the public, and thus will not include direct quotes from or references to those documents directly on the faction website; those documents will be published in full only through the internal channels.
The platform of the ISO Renewal Faction includes the documents: 1) The organizational crisis and its political roots; 2) The role of perspectives; 3) Organizational perspectives. The operations of the faction are outlined in the Faction Rules. A current list of faction members and the Faction Committee appears in Membership.
Correspondence, including applications to join the faction, may be directed to
isorenewalfaction [at] gmail [dot] com.
We believe that by forming a faction to promote our views, we have taken a necessary step in the political resolution of the profound and difficult challenges facing the ISO today. We look forward to a vigorous and comradely debate with high hopes for a productive resolution.