dsanet: The International Socialist Org. : An Analysis

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Mon Oct 4 02:36:37 MDT 1999

Forwarded by Macdonald Stainsby:
> Those of us in openly pluralist socialist organizations should
> not attempt to emulate the ISO's frenzied level of activity, as it leads
> to "burnout" for many.

I think that an "openly pluralist socialist organization" would benefit
from having some sort of norms of activity though.  It's not OK for the
majority of the membership to sit on the sidelines.  This just results in
bureaucrats substituting themselves for a passive membership - the usual
pattern of social democratic parties.

I also tend to be suspicious of those afraid of burnout - they tend to be
those who aren't that interested in being active, or those who are afraid
that others *will* become active, and sieze the leadership.

> But we could stand to have a far greater public
> presence.  (In New York, at least, it is rare that one sees banners or
> posters proclaiming "Committees of Correspondence" or "Democratic
> Socialists of America," for example.)  While the theoretical knowledge
> of the ISO's cadres is to be admired - their meetings and literature
> provide a supportive and accessible introduction to Marxism and to the
> history of the Marxist Left - we have no reason to follow their example
> in hammering out a "line" to be enforced, even if we should aspire to
> the greatest possible "unity in action."
> One wishes the non-sectarian Left could emulate the ISO's production of
> slick literature and appearance of being a national, or really
> international, organization.  This, of course, takes money - and the
> question of how to generate funds without putting members into debt is
> open to debate. But we should certainly take note of the ISO's focus on
> local activism around national issues - the death penalty, police
> brutality, etc. We have to set our agenda nationally, and encourage
> locals to work on national and international issues (which, of course,
> are of interest locally).

In other words, the "non-sectarian Left" needs to take on the crucial
strengths of the "sectarian Left".  For some reason this doesn't surprise

The other alternative, of course, is for elements of the "sectarian Left"
to discard most of their baggage, and take on some of the strengths of the
"non-sectarian Left", including ditching the stupid and counter-productive
abuses in the sections of the article I snipped out.  This is, of course,
the approach of the DSP.

Of course, getting organisational questions right doesn't mean you will
necessarily get other questions right....

>One ex-ISO member recently suggested to me that we are currently in an
>era where any radical grouping might achieve explosive growth, thanks to
>the end of the Communist bogeyman.

Not in Australia, at least.

Alan Bradley
alanb at elf.brisnet.org.au

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