Letter of resignation from the Australian ISO

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Mon May 26 17:43:37 MDT 2003

>>This would seem, from a distance at least, to be a sigificant split -- I
noticed that amongst the signatories of the resignation letter was Ian
Rintoul, a long-time leader of the ISO in Australia and a national
co-convenor of the Australian Socialist Alliance who has also been a
spokesperson of the Refugee Action Collective.<<

It is moderately significant. In addition to Ian there are some other
longterm figures such as Michael Thomson and Mark Gillespie who go back to
the seventies, and Mark Goudkamp and Greg Brown who go back maybe a decade.

This split has been brewing for months. Most of these signatories signed
another document before the December 2002 conference.

I resigned immediately after that conference, having decided the group was
at a dead end. I didn't sign the oppositional document because I didn't
agree with everything in it, and didn't really think the signatories were
held together by a coherent positive program. Instead I wrote longwinded
stuff of my own, which went nowhere.

I don't think the real significance of the split lies in its organisational
side. A healthy group could shrug off the departure of 21 people.
Unfortunately the ISO is not a healthy group.

I am not into voyeurism and Schadenfreude. The decline of any halfway
healthy left force is not to be welcomed unless we can replace it. The
ISO's disintegration is very regrettable. Two factors are:

1. Impatience. Little left groups have to curb their impatience and adopt
realistic perspectives. We win people to socialism first and foremost on
the basis of our ideas, not grand strategies. The ISO thought it could
achieve "qualitative growth", launched a weekly paper without resources,
and generally  tried to jump over its head -- and only managed to fall on
its face.
2. Socialist Alliance. I described this last year as a "death trap" for the
ISO. It has leached activists out of being involved in the ISO per se. Plus
the ISO's ideas about how the Alliance could grow have proved totally wrong
-- yet they cling to them.

Perhaps that is enough for now.

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