[Marxism] "For members only" ISO documents now available: when will they ever learn?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 13 14:13:59 MST 2014

On 2/13/14 3:47 PM, Andrew Pollack wrote:

> Sorry, but whoever posted these -- and whoever reposts them -- is bullshit.
> Even if you think an organization should not keep documents and discussions
> members only -- which is a pretty big if in these days of
> hyper-homeland-security -- it is NOT the business of any nonmember to
> override the democratic decision of the members of that group. Even aside
> from security reasons, people have a right to say things knowing who the
> audience is -- and who it is NOT.

Actually the real affront to democracy is "democratic centralist" 
functioning in the mass movement. Groups like the ISO make up their 
minds about slogans, tactics, etc. in caucus meetings before a mass 
meeting and then are under discipline to follow caucus decisions. This 
is what we used to call "the big red machine" in the SWP and what made 
independents hate us. What was the use of arguing for--let's say--a 
proposal to occupy a campus building if SWP or YSA'ers had decided 
beforehand that it was an "adventure". Did the Bolsheviks function that 
way? Not according to John Reed:

In John Reed's "10 Days that Shook the World", there is a reference to 
divided votes among party members over key questions such as whether to 
expropriate the bourgeois press. At a November 17th 1917 mass meeting, 
Lenin called for the confiscation of the capitalist newspapers. Reed 
quotes him: "If the first revolution had the right to suppress the 
Monarchist papers, then we have the right to suppress the bourgeois 
press." He continues: "Then the vote. The resolution of Larin and the 
Left Socialist Revolutionaries was defeated by 31 to 22; the Lenin 
motion was carried by 34 to 24. Among the minority were the Bolsheviki 
Riazanov and Lozovsky, who declared that it was impossible for them to 
vote against any restriction on the freedom of the press."

The late Doug Lorimer replied that Riazanov and Lozovsky were "beta" 
Bolsheviks and hence it was understandable why they would act in such an 
undisciplined petite-bourgeois manner. It's true that Riazanov was a 
late-comer to the Bolsheviks, joining in August 1917 but so was Trotsky 
a late-comer. In any case, Lozovsky joined in August 1901--that's 
according to a Wikipedia article on him that clearly does not understand 
that there was no such thing as "Bolshevism" until 1903.

But more to the point, what purpose would have been served by requiring 
party members to raise their hands in accord with a floor leader? Is 
this a good way to function in the mass movement? I think this kind of 
putting the needs of the sect first is what ironically condemns it to 
remain a sect.

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