International Socialist Tendency Split

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Mar 8 13:31:28 MST 2001

Tony quoting Alex Callinicos:
>"In any case, the argument between the ISO and the IS Tendency was more
>than a disagreement over political perspectives of the kind that goes on
>all the time. It was a symptom of the ISO's degeneration, of its
>ossification into a sect. To have continued co-existing with ISO would
>have reduced the IS Tendency to an organized hypocrisy, like the USFI in
>the 1970s, when, behind a faade of unity, two factions - the International
>Majority Tendency (based in Europe) and the Leninist Trotskyist Tendency
>(dominated, ironically enough, by the American SWP) - waged war in every
>section of the Fourth International. Such a situation would have destroyed
>the IST, either by producing much more serious splits than have taken
>place, or by internalizing and factionalizing it till it ceased to be an
>effective political forum for international political discussion and

Since in this statement Alex demonstrates an inability to understand what
imploded the Fourth International, it is doubtful that the IS Tendency can
move past its current problems.

Both wings of the FI, the mostly English-speaking groups led by the
American SWP, and the European sections led by Ernest Mandel adhered to the
notion that democratic centralism had some kind of application to the
world, let alone to national sections. In fact the differences in the FI
were all legitimate positions within Marxism, but both sides tended to view
the other as "petty bourgeois" deviations. In the case of the SWP, the
Mandelistas were seen as adapting to the student movement. Meanwhile the
Mandelistas viewed the Americans as capitulating to legalistic pressures in
the imperialist stronghold. So a split was inevitable.

>From what I can gather, the Cliffites have serious political disagreements
about the period. Congratulations. If I split with folks on this list who I
had similar disagreements with, I'd be expelling people every day. Or
they'd be unsubbing after cursing me (us) out. What's interesting is the
Americans tend to be less sanguine about the prospects of an immediate mass
radicalization--this seems to go along with a more flexible attitude toward
organizational questions. I will have to chat them up at their literature
table on the Columbia University campus. Who knows, maybe I'll join the
senior citizens auxiliary.

Louis Proyect
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