An article on the ISO

Alan Bradley alanb at
Thu Nov 4 18:13:00 MST 1999

From: David Welch
> While I'm sure it's possible to make many legitimate criticisms of the
> politics and tactics of the SWP/ISO, I'm not sure that the commitment it
> requires from its members is one of them. After all its cadres have
> joined with the ostensible aim of overthrowing their own state, I
> wouldn't have thought that committing a substantial amount of time (and
> money) to ISO activities was unreasonable.
> I think its possible to understand why a party leadership might be
> reluctant to allow branch activity to be reduced.

David is quite correct here.  We need to be very careful in differentiating
between the genuine commitment we should expect from the members of a party
that claims to be revolutionary, and the counter-productive nonsense of a
sect.  The problem with the ISO is the presence of large elements of the
latter (nonsense), not the insistence on the former (commitment).

It's not surprising that disappointed former members of sect/cult
grouplets, or even burnt out members of sane-ish groups, should begrudge
every bit of effort they put into building the group.  What they (not 'we'
- I don't regard myself as being in this group) should avoid doing is to
devalue the genuine commitment that every revolutionary individual and
organisation needs, just because far too many sects take this commitment
and piss it up against a wall.

The original post that started this thread would be useful, I think, if it
serves to encourage the kind of commitment that the ISO manages to gain
from its members, but so tragically wastes.  If that kind of energy was
deployed in the service of an outfit that isn't a sect, it could be most
valuable.  For all its warts, the DSP in Australia shows at least a little
of what can result from this:  a grouplet, as puny and insignificant as any
other, that still manages to occasionally be useful and relevant.  In a
different context, the result can be much more interesting:  the PRD in
Indonesia is as fine a collection of committed activists as you will find
anywhere, and they've built up from a miniscule core to something that is
quite promising, even if they have a long way to go.  Again, the PST in
East Timor are going to need to work their arses off, but the results could
be interesting.  I could continue...

Alan Bradley
alanb at

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