IST dissident site - a comment from New Zealand ex-ISTer

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Sun Jun 25 22:21:20 MDT 2000

The following appeared on a recent digest of the National Fightback!, an
email list comprising tertiary education activists around the country.
Several members of the Socialist Workers Organisation in Auckland NZ, who
have been involved in Fightback!, have recently left the SWO.

Anyway, here's the posting on the Fightback list!

>Message: 1
>   Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 03:54:55 -0700 (PDT)
>   From: Scott Hamilton <s_h_hamilton at>
>Subject: The Mystery of the Disappearing Website
>Why is Socialist Worker Making Deals with the Bosses
>to Censor its own Dissidents?
>  A number of people on this loop - seven at least in
>Auckland - were subscribers to a e mail list which
>mysteriously disappeared a couple of weeks ago. The
>Mary Celeste of the Internet, the 'ISO-SWP Mailing
>List' left not a trace of its existence - even the
>website which publicised it vanished without a trace.
>We recently learned of the circumstances surrounding
>its banishment from cyberspace...
>  The e mail list and website in question were set up
>by dissident members of a group called the
>International Socialist Tendency (IST), a group which
>has as its NZ affiliate the Socialist Workers
>Organisation (SWO). The leaderships of two key groups
>in the IST - Britain's Socialist Workers Party and
>America's International Socialist Organisation - have
>recently been waging warfare on one another. I do not
>want to go into the details of this nasty little tiff,
>partly because they are irrelevant and partly because
>they are extremely boring. The point is that a few
>dissident members of the IST decided to set up a
>website and an e mailing list to discuss the pissing
>match between the leaderships of the SWP and the ISO.
>They were soon joined by a number of non-ISTers with
>axes to grind, and a prolonged bitching session about
>the IST's lack of democracy, repressive measures etc
>etc ensued. In our opinion, the ISO-SWP list was a bit
>of a waste of time - unless there is an absolute
>necessity, most of us can find better things to do
>than hang out our dirty laundry in public.
> However, the circumstances surrounding the
>disappearance of the list and the website that
>supported it are disturbing, because they reflect very
>badly on some SWO members of the free education
>movement which this loop serves.
>  The ISO-SWP list and website were closed after the
>leadership of the IST approached a multinational
>computer company (we are apparently not allowed to
>name them here) and demanded its removal. The threat
>went something like this: if you don't get rid of
>these bastards from your domain we'll instruct our
>members to withdraw custom from you...Anyone who wants
>more details on this threat can contact the organiser
>of the e mail list and website, Sverdlov (a pseudonym,
>in case you hadn't guessed) at
><ISO-SWP-IST at> .
>  The actions of the IST leadership are disgusting. As
>one member of the e mail list said "What is the
>difference between doing this and crossing a picket
>line? You're making a deal with the bosses [with a
>huge multinational company] against your own comrades,
>your own class..." Why has the IST behaved in this
>way, and why have its constituent groups OKed its
>behaviour? One of the key criticisms of the hundreds
>of dissidents who subscribed to the e mail list was
>that the constituent parties of the IST had little
>control over the way it behaved, that the British and
>Americans "ran the show." This criticism has of course
>always been staunchly denied by the SWO in New
>Zealand. The SWO cannot have it both ways: if it truly
>is party to the decision-making of the IST, how can it
>defend the suppression of an e mail list which
>protected no activity except the freedom of speech?
>  The SWO leadership has issued an edict banning its
>members from talking to anyone outside of the SWO
>about the problems in the IST (that's why so many Kiwi
>members of the e mail list used pseudonyms) and has
>made it clear that only its National (ie Central)
>Committee can participate in the arguments in the IST
>(so much for grassroots democracy, eh guys?), so we
>can be sure that the decision to cut a deal with the
>corporate owners of cyberspace was not arrived at
>democratically by the rank and file. We think that the
>National Committee of the SWO should make its position
>on the disappearance of the dissenting e mail group
>clear...did it or did it not condone the censorship of
>at least seven of its Fightback! comrades?
>  Many people on this loop have been deeply suspicous
>of the SWO's involvement in the free education
>struggle. It is time that the organisation made its
>position on this latest outrage clear. If it does not,
>a few more of us may feel that the time has come to
>question the sincerity of the SWO's commitment to our
>   We await an answer from the SWO leadership. When
>considering our statement, they should remember the
>comment of one angry member of the e mail list the IST
>"A scab is still a scab in cyberspace"
> This statement was made by the Third Eye Collective
>(TEC). TEC is a group of dissident members, ex-members
>and ex-supporters of SWO who publish a brilliant new
>FREE left-wing paper called 'Third Eye - A Newsletter
>for People Who Hate the News'...check out our website
>(in a coupla days, it's under construction at the
>moment , at

More information about the Marxism mailing list