Dissolution from below

Submitted by AWL on 3 April, 2019 - 10:36 Author: Stephen Wood

The US socialist group ISO has now formally dissolved its organisation and stopped publishing on its website SocialistWorker.org. In an online vote involving 474 members and some recently resigned ex-members, almost 70% favoured proposals that involved the dissolution of the organisation.

Those who chose to vote also agreed to support “a process for continuing to investigate the 2013 sexual assault case and how a decision then was derailed, and to report the findings publicly.” It is hard to know what this will mean if no organisation continues.

The post mortems and reflections on the ISO on the web still provide little detail as to the political differences that developed between the old leadership and the new one which swept to power at the February 2019 convention. Some observers speculate that an ex-ISO regroupment may find expression as a platform within the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The statement to SocialistWorker.org readers is clear though that: “we are not proposing that we could simply rebuild a new ISO... we should do a deep dive into the political lessons collectively”.

The larger political differences behind the collapse remain obscure. The old ISO leaders from before February 2019 have simply quit, with no indication that they will attempt anything politically. Veteran ISO member Joel Geier, who was suspended for his role in supposedly undermining the handling of the rape allegations says, “I have become collateral damage. After struggling for many difficult years for a more fair, open, political, and democratic organization accountable to the rank and file, I am now being scapegoated and attacked — asked to bear responsibility for the undemocratic actions of others whom I consistently opposed.”

“Many comrades know that I have been fighting toxic leadership and its culture for two decades.”

But he tells us nothing about what the disagreements were. Others in the fall-out have presented the old leadership as monolithic and domineering, but they were apparently split and remarkably passive in the run up to the convention. For us it is still hard to understand how an active organisation with some weight within the US Left can fall apart so quickly. Sadly the contribution from someone of Joel Geier’s stature and experience takes us no further forward.

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