A common “charge” against the ISO Renewal Faction–popular with the leadership faction especially, as it avoids engaging in politics–is that we have not respected the organization’s Pre-Convention process inasmuch as we have published internal documents. But in fact the faction has not published anything that can be credibly interpreted as internal, as Nurit T has explained.
The leadership faction has an amusing rejoinder to this: they consider it an offense to publish anything submitted to the Pre-Convention Bulletin, including our own writings. This (improvised) “norm” is said to apply even if we redact all internal material.
Are comrades aware of this extraordinary notion–that your own work, if submitted to the Pre-Convention Bulletin, becomes the property of the leadership faction? I say it becomes their property because this faction publishes allegedly “internal” documents whenever and however they please. For example, Ashley Smith’s article on “US imperialism’s pivot to Asia” first appeared in the 2013 Pre-Convention Bulletin; likewise Joel Geier’s “Capitalism’s long crisis.”
Now I have no objection to these pieces being published; indeed, it would have been rather more helpful–and in keeping with Lenin’s own practice–to have published them “externally” in the first place, where they could be critically evaluated not only by the ISO membership, but by all the interested radical public. But why do comrades in the leadership faction have the right to publish their work, while we do not?
A comrade may object here that it is acceptable to publish internal documents after the Convention, but not before. But the leadership faction does not respect this “norm” either. For example, the San Diego branch of the ISO has published Sharon S’s document “Intersectionality, oppression, and Marxism,” which appears in Pre-Convention Bulletin #2 for Convention 2014. Here is the publicly-accessible link: http://sandiegoiso.org/sites/default/files/readings/Smith-Intersectionality-Oppression-Marxism.pdf. This link is published on the public Facebook event page for the branch’s Marxism Day School on December 7; the article is required reading for the second session. (Below I have provided screenshots, in case someone decides to take down the links.)
Is the leadership faction simply unaware of the publication of this no-longer-so-internal document? This seems unlikely given the participation of Todd C, the ISO’s West Coast organizer, an appointee of the Steering Committee. Is a representative of the Steering Committee going to fly to San Diego to threaten the comrades with expulsion for publishing internal documents–as has been done to our faction? We hope not! And we suspect not.
What this all makes clear is that the leadership faction’s attitude towards “internal” status has nothing to do with respecting any kind of procedural norms; rather it is about what is perceived to be beneficial to the leadership faction. If a document seems to put the leadership in a good light, they will release it to all and sundry; if it criticizes the leadership, they will demand that it go nowhere but the Pre-Convention Bulletin, to be issued at their convenience, perhaps simultaneously with an “inoculating” reply, etc.
So, comrades, what is the crime? To publish internal documents–or to criticize them?
Shaun J (Boston)
This is a Discussion article; it does not define faction policy and is not binding on members of the faction.