Tom O'Lincoln red_sites at
Sun Nov 24 16:16:34 MST 2002

>>In a manner similar to the turn to industry in 1981 here in Oz Mick
Armstrong launched an attack on women's caucus within IS (ISO). Like the
sheep in Animal Farm we all voted that four legs were good but two legs
better. The women's caucus was abolished. Good old Mick had of course
neglected to inform us the members that he was following the initiative of
the Great Sectarian (Tony Cliff).<<

Gary this really isn't helpful. It was not Mick, it was the entire leadership of the group including all the leading women members. In fact the women were generally the most determined to abolish the women's caucus.

Now let me clarify a few more things:

1. We did not ban women (or gays, or people of colour, or anyone) from forming caucuses. We simply abolished the caucus as a permanent, formalised structure of the group which women were automatically members of. I am quite comfortable that this was the right decision. Why should we have constitutional structures based on biology?

2. The main reason it was scrapped is that women comrades were finding it a burden. On top of participating in the general work, they had to participate in a series of parallel discussions as well. There was a joke that "the definition of a woman is someone who goes to twice as many meetings".

3. In addition, as the group had matured and overcome the worst sexism, the caucus was losing its raison d'etre. Yet the women were made to feel they had to keep it going on some basis of general moral principle. This was increasingly stressful.

4. Neither Mick nor anyone else in the group would have had any grounds to dissemble about Tony Cliff's influence, but in this case it wasn't really a factor. We were responding to our own practical experience.

Gary, if you think you acted like the sheep in Animal Farm, that's your problem. It's not how I remember you. I think the members who voted overwhemingly for this were mature adults capable of thnking for themselves, and neither you nor the rest of them deserve to be described this way.

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