[Marxism] RE: The ISO's unfortunate response to Stan Goff (response to Joaquin and Stan)

Jake Skyy skyy957 at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 30 16:20:59 MDT 2005

I am an ISO member and MFSO member who has a brother currently serving in
Iraq. I am usually very impressed with Joaquin Bustelo's methodical and well 
criticisms but take issue with an aspect of his defense of Stan Goff.

He states below:

"Now here is what Stan actually said: "When you come to these kinds of
meetings, comrades, do not come in with a recruiting agenda, and do not come
in with your papers.  It is opportunistic and presumptuous, but more than
that, it is plain bad organizing.

"You should stop that.  The typical first-timer is a 27-year-old Army wife
who is scared out of her wits that her husband will be killed or maimed for
what she is just figuring out is a pack of lies.  She feels she is taking a
huge risk just talking to others who oppose the war.  We re-affirm her...
yes, this is a bad war, and you should not be facing these fears.  That's a
first contact.  Not, here's the Socialist Worker, and we want to overthrow
the government... which is what she hears based on her own socialization in
anticommunist America."

So, contrary to what Sustar and Smith say, Stan does not accuse the ISO of
"using the sales pitch 'We want to overthrow the government.'" He accuses
them of not UNDERSTANDING that THIS is how their pitches come across to the
typical military family member, of not understanding that this "is what she
hears based on her own socialization in anticommunist America."

This is an extermemely elastic and self-serving way of "interpreting Stan". 
tell you why. In this post, Stan projects his own "concerns" through the 
mind of a fictitious
woman who is indocrtrinated with "anti-communism" and who only sees the
ghost of Mccarthy when Socialist Worker appears. In my experience
as someone who has sold SW to MFSO members, I disagree with this 
for two reasons:

1. Character of MFSO members. It is important to recognize the difference 
an MFSO member and the average knee-jerk anti-communist. I know that in 
MFSO is a heterogenous group, but it is also important to note that this is 
also not
a "static" group when it comes to politics. In my experience, the process of 
moving from personal
agony to active participation in an activist group facilitates and is 
facilitated by a left-ward shift
in consciousness. This doesnt mean a fully conscious shift but the potential 
fluidity of consciousness that makes them open to new ideas, especially 
those that can help ground their understanding of why and how we oppose the 
war (and bring our loved ones home). Socialist Worker, far from being alien 
to this process is designed, and in my experience has been effective at 
presenting accessible arguments, even to people who consider themselves 
"moderate or non-political". Recent articles like "Why we need to bring the 
troops home now" by Paul D'amato come to mind. Some MFSO people buy the 
paper regularly, some occasionally and some never. No one has left the group 
because of me, nor do I raise a fuss when someone circulates pro-Democratic 
Party or other literature.

2. The characterization as ISOs as recruiting raiders is also an 
exaggeration-and in my personal experience- one that has never been raised 
as a comradely debate, but rather a way work externally to keep us out. When 
I chair meetings or participate in discussions with fellow MFSO'ers, I do 
know the difference between when it is appropriate to sell the paper and 
when it is better to plan forums or rallies or simply talk. I understand 
that as a socialist, my job isnt to extract the nectar of the group and 
leave the rind, but rather to build the group from the core out and make it 
attractive to everyone, regardless of political affiliation. I also feel 
that socialist politics are not abstract propaganda, external to the 
functioning of MFSO but rather central to its success since the MFSO is part 
of the same national movement that must take on the questions of the 
day...whether or not the others are socialists.
We have discussions and debates like every other coalition. I have a 
loyalty, respect and commitment to the other members of MFSO and to the 
success of this movement internationally. That is why I sell SW within it 
and if some begin over time to conclude that we need a socialist society to 
replace the one that creates wars and harship for working military families, 
then yes I will ask them if they want to join the ISO!

in solidarity,
Justin Akers
San Diego

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