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Commentary :: Politics
April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
End the War tour:

The Logic of Withdrawal from Iraq

Why the US should pull out now?










Come hear the case for complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq from:
Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University. He is the author of numerous books, including A People's History of the United States.
Anthony Arnove is the editor of Iraq Under Seige and the co-editor, with Howard Zinn, of Voices of a People's History of the United States. Anthony is
currently on tour promoting his groundbreaking new book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal.

Friday, April 14th, 6 pm
Northeastern University School of Law,
Cargill Hall Room 97
(Take the Orange Line to ‘Ruggles’ or the Green Line ‘E’ Train to Northeastern)

Sponsored by THE NEW PRESS, International Socialist Review, Lucy Parsons Center, Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition

Contact isoboston (at) or 781-551-6649 for information or to co-sponsor the event

This work is in the public domain
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Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
In Poland when anti-socialists sought to turn the country into a “Capitalist Paradise” the ISO was on the same side as the CIA and Pope Karol Wojtyla. They provided a left cover for rad/libs who wanted to have Capitalist Anti-Communism with a human face.

The ISO claims that North Korea is a Capitalist country, but not as nice as the US - the real “Capitalist Paradise.” They also claim that Che Guevara fought to set up a Capitalist system in Cuba. They think that China is also Capitalist, but not “good Capitalist” like the US. The US is circling China with military bases in preparation for war, the ISO is effectively on the side of US Imperialism against China.

While they call themselves “Socialist” they campaigned heavily for Multi-Millionaire Ralph Nader in ‘00. They work a lot now in the small Capitalist Green Party. A member of the ISO is even campaigning as a Green Party candidate in California.

For those who think that a ‘third party’ in the US will shake things up, just look to Mexico, they have three major Capitalist Parties with two of them leftist flavored. Has that helped workers or socialists in Mexico, or is it a diversion from the work of building a real workers party.

In Germany the Greens became a part of a coalition government. The Green defense minister, a former student radical in the ‘old school’ days, successfully got German Troops on the ground in the Balkans - JUST LIKE HITLER. This is the first time German Troops were in a combat role outside of Germany since WWII. Way to go Greens, what an alternative, German Imperialism couldn’t have done it without you.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
China has a capitalist economy. It's a mix of a state-capitalist sector and a market-capitalist sector.

Most of the M-L economics literature during the postwar wave of political decolonization openly acknowledged the strategy was to set up a transitional state in which the state acts as a capitalist planner class. Some of it goes so far as to explicitly call for the proletarianization (not just collectivization) of the peasantry.

"Building a real workers party" is a diversion from the work of building a real workers movement.

The "I"SO (they got kicked out of the international organization a few years ago) is a load of crap, but hardly for the reasons you cite.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
I often wondered what people had against the ISO, but I don't feel very convinced by your comments Liam. I actually think the Green Party is a good option for having a multi-party system in this country. Although I still think that democracy in the US has been completely corrupted and co-opted by the rich 2% of the population, not to talk about the disfranchisement of 70% of the population, but it's still a 3rd party.

In regards to "capitalisM", maybe the ISO did what you say they did in Poland, but here in the US they seem to be very active. Wikipedia paints a very different picture from yours:

Sounds like what you're talking about is the International Socialist Tendency in the UK, which ISO was a member of but severed connections with in 2001. It almost sounds like a rift bt. communists and socialists... Or old hierarchies and the new consensus-based process generation. Don't know but your argument is not very convincing.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
"Or old hierarchies and the new consensus-based process generation. "

er.... erm....
The ISO isn't exactly representative of the latter.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
Let me say that I’ve been to ISO initiated demonstrations, I think many decent militants join the ISO for the best of reasons, I have been shoulder to shoulder with ISO members to oppose the Nazis/fascists while Liberals and others were telling people to ignore the fascist threat. The ISO supports Labor Unions, and champions workers strikes, so do I. That’s why I have something to say to people who share some of the ISO’s positions. This is what Working Class Democracy looks like.

But here are some words from a former member of the ISO

"First is the selling of the newspaper. So much emphasis was placed on this activity alone that it was a requirementlisted on the membership card that one signs upon joining. The ISO considered themselves the only legitimate heirs of Trotsky and Lenin, and their newspaper, Socialist Worker, the new Iskra. This was the main vehicle through which we were going to spread "socialist ideas and revolutionary consciousness."

Never mind that the paper reads like a grade-school synthesis of the bourgeois press with some stock socialist phrases tacked on to the end of each paragraph.

Those of us who took the time to write articles for the paper ourselves also found them transformed into this watered-down, pedantic copy. We were all supposed to sell the paper at least twice a week at designated paper sales in addition to selling it at events. At the end of the sale we all had to report how many papers we sold, so that those of us didn't sell "enough" could subject ourselves to self-criticism in front of the group. Looking back on it I sound like I am describing a caricature of Maoism, rather than the "Unorthodox Trotskyism" and Leninist ideas the ISO is purported to believe in, but that is really how it was.

The paper sales were also a time to collect people's names and phone numbers, under the guise of signing a petition, to use as "contacts." We were supposed to trick people into signing up for defending immigrant rights, health care, or whatever issue was on the petition, when really we were planning to call these people and badger then about coming to ISO meetings and events. If we did not also ask people to join the ISO when we sold them a paper we were also harangued by the branch leadership, which was usually the bulk of the people who actually showed up at paper sales (I was an unfortunate exception.)

When I used to point out that we should be honest with people that we weren't really going to send these petitions to anyone, but keep them for internal use, I was told by the leaders that this sort of dishonesty was a necessary revolutionary tactic. In fact, nearly everything that I objected to was characterized as such. It was an easy way out of actually having to defend tactics to the membership based on merits." See…
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
wow, liam, you're an insider. that makes a HUGE difference, and I see where you're coming from. Sounds like old politics to me... Hierarchical and old fashioned.

iron council, didn't insinuate that ISO was consensus-based... I don't know anything about the ISO. I was talking more about the global rift between Marxist revolutionaries (as in, I'll impose my revolution on you) and global social mov'ts that go beyond politicial "ideologies"
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006

I did not mean to leave you with the impression that I had been a member of the ISO. That is presented as a quote from a link I followed from Wikipedia. I have been to ISO public forums. I was at one a while back at Harvard when about six Fascist emblembed Skinheads from the Pit trooped in and stood menacingly at the back of the room. I don't agree with a lot of what the ISO believes, but I was ready to defend their meeting against these Fascists. But I still have words of criticism for the ISO.

So does this ex-member:

From a Former Member of the ISO ISO: THE JOY OF SECTS by John Lacny

A counterpart to the group's smug class-baiting is its paranoid anti-intellectualism. This latter tendency is not to be confused with legitimate criticism of intellectuals

The ISO is suspicious of intellectuals in general for the simple reason that it is suspicious of any kind of independent thinking. Anti-intellectualism is the first sign that a given group is about to make you toe the Party Line, and the ISO has plenty of it. Furthermore, for the ISO, anti-intellectualism serves much the same function that August Bebel once attributed to anti-Semitism: it is "the socialism of fools." While no ISO member is going to admit it to you, the sect's contempt for intellectuals has a corollary, and that is its contempt for the intelligence of the average person.

They seem to believe that real working people don't do a lot of thinking, so "intellectuals" are potential "class-traitors" and perhaps even outright "petty-bourgeois." How else to explain the style of Socialist Worker? The paper openly apes the style of supermarket tabloids, complete with large-type front-page headlines phrased in the most maudlin manner, and heavily-simplified articles with scores of adjectives and exclamation points.

One of the more surreal moments of my ISO experience surrounded the sale of Socialist Worker. At one cadre meeting, we were discussing the reluctance of branch members to sell it. As you can imagine, I was one of the worst offenders: I would carefully hide my copies of the paper under my petition in favor of the maintenance workers. After asking people to sign the petition, I would merely thank them, and they would generally be on their way. Rarely did I ever bother to make the pitch for the paper, and then only to placate a nearby ISO comrade. In any event, other members were somewhat reluctant as well. Speaking to this problem, one member had a bizarre piece of advice on how to overcome shyness: "I have been reluctant to approach people, too, but when I stop to think about the fact that I'm willing to die for this ..."
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006

i've never been a member of the iso nor even a non-affialiated socialist. nonetheless, i have a lot of respect for the iso in particular. i have been heavily influenced by the breadth of knowledge and willingness to support struggles by communities of color exhibited by many of the iso members i've known. they have often inspired me to keep fighting and resist the urge to sit on my ass. while i have plenty of disagreements with the iso (including the use of paper sales as you mentioned), i think dismissing them as "left cover for rad/libs who wanted to have Capitalist Anti-Communism with a human face," does injustice to many strong and committed allies. that said, i appreciate your critique.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
ISO ally,

Thank you for adressing my words seriously, I take your words seriously. I must point out that I am not against 'newspaper sales' as I seem to read on other posts elsewhere on this site. If any group has serious thoughts they should put them on paper and distribute them. How will others know what you think? Someone has to pay for papers to be printed, if its not the custormer/reader, then who is paying and why. The modest sums asked for most leftist papers is simply part of the cost. Read all the leftist/progressive/anarchist papers and leaflets you can get,(0r read them online)

But when the ISO asks people to sign petitions merely to get a mailing list/phone list for their own use....

So many people join the ISO and quit in a few months that they must know that thousands of people know they do that....what can the ISO be thinking?
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
i'm still going to the event... but thanks for the info
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
Liam, stop me if I'm wrong, but you sound like a member or supporter of the Spartacist League. Your (organizational) criticisms of the ISO are all valid, and I'd agree that Cliff's theory of 'state capitalism' is pretty lightweight, though I haven't read much Cliff and therefore can't speak authoritatively. My point is, the criticisms you draw from ex-ISO'ers could just as easily be applied to the Sparts, perhaps to more devastating effect. You sell Workers Vanguard just as avidly as they sell Socialist Worker, and in my opinion, both papers are pretty bad. If it came to it though, I'd have to say that WV at least has the occasional interesting historical article, whereas SW is usually just vacuous 'left' slogans with the occasional laughable analysis of family guy thrown in. But that could change as their membership gets bigger and smarter, which brings me to my second point: the ISO is certainly less hostile to intellectuals and less sect-like than your group. Say what you want about their alliance with Camejo and the Greens (and I think they're wrong as much as you do), it's not sectarian. And, there are intellectuals (speaking loosely) still associated with them, like Arnove for example, or William Keach (professor at Brown) who wrote the introduction to the Haymarket edition of Literature and Revolution. All in all, don't criticize other groups for problems that are emblematic of almost every miniscule organization in this country that claims to draw on Lenin and Trotsky's legacy, not least of all the Spartacist League.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
If Howard Zinn weren't Howard Zinn, there's no way the ISO would want anything to do with an anarchist.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
Every left group in the US is small, statistically insignificant, but what they believe, and what they do matters. The Chinese Communist Party was started by six people in a rowboat.

I have posted links to the words I quote, they are from Wikipedia, and and It was from a former member of the ISO “ISO: THE JOY OF SECTS by John Lacny” that the idea that the ISO is “anti-intellectual,” came. Honestly, I don’t know if that is true. Since they seem to work mostly on college campuses it would not make sense, but go figure.

Here’s some criticism of the ISO from the “World Socialist Web Site” I don’t agree with them on everything, but maybe if more people had read more criticism of the ISO they wouldn’t join and then quit three months later thinking all leftists were cynical manipulators. Most leftist organizations don’t pretend to collect signatures on petitions only to use them for party recruitment or as a bait and switch to distribute their party newspaper.

WSWS writes:
“The International Socialist Organization (ISO) held its annual conference, entitled “Socialism 2005: Build the Left Alternative,” in Chicago from July 1-4. The conference was attended by several hundred ISO members, mainly college students.
What was most striking about both the form and content of the conference was the absence of any unified analysis. There was no opening report that addressed the present political situation, evaluated the recent experiences of the organization or discussed its present tasks. The conference, instead, consisted of over 100 workshop sessions on separate and disparate topics.

The organizational incoherence of the ISO conference reflects its theoretical and political incoherence. The ISO is not a politically unified movement, with a clearly defined program upon which the membership agrees. There is little familiarity, let alone understanding, of the history of the organization. Nor is there any common appraisal of the major strategic experiences through which the American and international working class has passed during the last decade. Rather, people are invited to join based upon their willingness to become involved in one or another tactical initiative

The structure of the conference mirrors the intellectual and political fog within which the ISO exists. The attendees wandered from session to session, from one workshop to another, without being able to find any central perspective.

This ideological and theoretical morass facilitates an adaptation to all sorts of political conceptions. The conference was designed to give something to everyone. For those interested in identity politics, there were sessions on black liberation and feminism. For those who preferred to discuss questions of sexual identity, there was a session on “Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle.”

Those seeking to liquidate themselves into the Green Party could participate in two sessions featuring the Green Party leader Peter Camejo, who ran as the vice presidential candidate of Ralph Nader in the 2004 elections.
Camejo played a major role in the SWP’s activity in the Vietnam War protest movement, which, like the ISO’s activity today, sought to create a broad left coalition that worked against attempts to connect opposition to war with the struggles of the working class, the fight for a break with the Democratic Party, and opposition to capitalism. Camejo left the SWP in the 1980s. He later emerged as a major figure in the Green Party.

The division within the Green Party is purely one of tactics. Camejo is concerned that if the Greens are too obviously oriented to the Democratic Party, they will lack any credibility in their attempt to attract people disgusted with the two-party system.

The question of independence from the two-party system is essentially a programmatic, not an organizational, question. A genuinely independent political party must, of necessity, base itself on a political program that opposes the capitalist system that the two parties of the ruling class defend.

The Green Party is a petty bourgeois party, which combines calls for some reforms to curb corporate power with elements that are quite reactionary, including an essentially nationalist perspective opposed to the further development of industrial and agricultural technology.

The anti-socialist character of the Green Party program, and of Nader, only emerged at the conference when Camejo was questioned by supporters of the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site. How, Camejo was asked, did his election campaign advance the struggle for socialism, when neither Nader nor he ever spoke of socialism or sought to connect opposition to war, inequality and attacks on democratic rights with opposition to the capitalist system?

Camejo’s answer was unequivocal: The Green Party is not socialist and never will be socialist. Socialists should join it, but it will not be a vehicle for socialism.
“The works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky are not embedded into people,” he declared. “That’s okay, because hundreds of thousands are beginning to listen and beginning to break with the Democratic Party.

There is an opening here, which we have to pursue. If a wing of the labor movement breaks with the Democratic Party, would they call themselves socialist? No. Would we support them? Yes. We don’t want the Green Party to be socialist... The last thing I am going to do is get on TV and explain what happened in the Soviet Union. It is not ideas that will win, but practical issues.”

Such a statement could only be made by an inveterate opportunist without a trace of political principles, let alone political backbone. For Camejo to proclaim, after spending 45 years in supposedly socialist politics, that ideas don’t really matter is a declaration of cynicism, demoralization and intellectual bankruptcy.
I'm Trotsky! No, I'm Trotsky!
04 Apr 2006
The ISO has several things about them that are easy to criticize.... but so does many groups like them. I'll say this much however, they are dedicated and work hard towards educating and building their group.

I'm a fan of their magazine International Socialist Review, it has provided (and continues to provide) me with important viewpoints that have shaped my political development.

Also, in case you didn't notice....Socialist Worker is a magazine aimed at the uninitiated, hence the tabloid fonts, etc.

Liam's first post is screaming Sparticists Leauge all over, and I think SL is light years ahead of the ISO on the freaky meter. They're not even worth the pitch, total nutcases. I'll take ISO any day over them.
Dear Trotskyists and Redbeard,
04 Apr 2006
Not in my name!!!
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
Two things, first don't feed the troll Liam.
Second Howard Zinn is an anarchist? Not the last time I talked to him.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
04 Apr 2006
Your right the Spartacist do make the same general criticisms of the ISO. From the Spartacist web site:

“The ISO’s Lance Selfa promotes their work in the Greens as a fight for an “independent left-wing alternative outside the Democratic Party” (Socialist Worker, 8 April 2005). This is a cynical hoax. When anti-union populist Ralph Nader—heavily backed by the ISO—ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 2000, he said his campaign was “going to be a real hammer on the Democrats. It’s going to pull them in the right direction” (LA Weekly, 30 June 2000).

Four years later, ISOers who had joined the Green Party fought (unsuccessfully) for the party to run Nader again. Running on his own, this “alternative” told the New York Times (10 January 2004) that his campaign “could work to the Democrats’ advantage.” By pounding populist themes, the article reported, Nader would “force the leading Democratic contenders to move left. That, he says, would expand the party’s base.”

As part of Greens for Democracy and Independence (GDI), the ISO is embroiled in a Green Party debate over how best to pressure the Democrats to fight the Bush administration.

The GDI wants the Greens to give the Democrats a push from the outside; its opponents openly work with the Democratic Party’s Progressive Democrats of America. Making the ISO’s reformist aims explicit, a Socialist Worker (21 November 2003) report on a gathering of “left-wing” Green activists stated that “an alternative independent of both parties” is “the only thing that will ever force the politicians to do what we want.”

The backdrop to this debate is the Democrats’ drive to take back Congress (and the White House) by posing as the better “war on terror” party. Socialist Worker (24 February) is left to lament that “the Democrats aren’t interested in carrying an antiwar message, much less an oppositional message, into the fall campaign.”

In a letter to the Nation (2 January) announcing his campaign, Chretien stated that he “was very encouraged to read that your editorial board will not endorse prowar Democrats in 2006” (emphasis added). This is a shameless appeal to liberals who, like the Nation, oppose the Iraq occupation because it undermines the imperialists’ “war on terror.”

With the Democrats trying to steal the Republicans’ thunder, the Greens provide disgruntled liberals with a way station on the road back into the Democratic Party. This is typical of “progressive” bourgeois third parties in the U.S.

But that only makes the Greens a small-time bourgeois party. Its 2004 platform reads: “Greens support small business, responsible stakeholder capitalism, and broad and diverse forms of economic cooperation.” Its eccentric, reactionary positions such as “creating and spreading local currencies and barter systems” and its insistence that “there is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection” are pitched to layers of the petty bourgeoisie concerned with ecology and small-scale production.

We noted in “The California Recall and the Left” “This anti-industrial stance is fundamentally anti-working-class, dreaming of a long-gone pre-industrial age, an America of small farms and small businesses...and rural idiocy and backwardness.”

In his 2000 campaign, Nader was all but silent on the oppression of black people, but quite vocal in joining a racist, chauvinist chorus against Mexican truckers on U.S. roads and dismissing women’s rights as “gonadal politics.” Three years later, ISO favorite Peter Camejo, the “progressive investment banker,” declared on his Web site as he was running for California governor: “The Green Party is the party of law and order.” “Law and order” is the standard racist code word for bringing cop terror down on the ghettos and barrios.

It comes as no surprise that the Green Party embraces elements of the ideologically ultra-capitalist Libertarian Party, which appeals to the same layer of professionals, small business owners and intellectuals as the Greens.

The Libertarians hate unions, taxes on the rich and social programs for black people and the poor. None of this stopped Socialist Worker (5 August 2005) from spilling favorable ink over one Kevin Zeese, a Libertarian cohort of the ISO in the GDI.” See……
Re: The Logic of the ISO
05 Apr 2006
But wait, there's still more....

This is from David North’s World Socialist Web Site

“How not to build an antiwar movement: a comment on the politics of the ISO

By Bill Van Auken
1 July 2005

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is holding a conference in Chicago this weekend under the title “Socialism 2005: Build the Left Alternative.” The “left alternative” this group has in mind has nothing to do with the struggle for socialism. Rather, the program it offers can serve only as an impediment to the development of a genuinely independent political alternative for the working class based on the perspective of socialist internationalism.

As is often the case with such organizations, its real outlook emerges most clearly when it is attacked from the right. Such is the case in a reply published last month by the group’s newspaper Socialist Worker to a reactionary polemic written by Carl Davidson, a leading figure in the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) antiwar protest coalition.

Davidson, an ex-Maoist, attacked a piece written by the ISO’s Elizabeth Schulte, who criticized the UFPJ for voting at its last convention to “focus on lobbying Congress—read Democrats—to take more antiwar positions.” Davidson accused the ISO (which works within the UFPJ) of calling for the antiwar group to “voluntarily concede the legislative arena to the pro-war forces,” describing its policy as an “ultra-left deviation.”

Davidson’s is a thoroughly right-wing position. Yet, in their reply, Schulte and the ISO make it clear that they are for a “non-exclusionary” protest movement, i.e., one that includes both themselves and unabashed supporters of the Democratic Party such as Davidson. As a practical matter, only those who explicitly oppose such coexistence with capitalist politics are generally subjected to red-baiting and repression in such “non-exclusionary” radical movements.

Schulte declares: “A serious discussion of how to build a stronger antiwar movement is needed. And an important part of that debate is the relationship of activists to the Democratic Party.”

Davidson, she continues, “ignores the debate by accusing me of ignoring Congress.” She indicates that this is a false charge, because she and the ISO are committed to “grassroots organizing to pressure both wings of the political establishment.”

The purpose of such organizing, she says, is to “tell the Kerrys, the Clintons and the Deans that we won’t be ignored.” In other words, the perspective is one of influencing the Democrats and convincing them that the protesters are a force—perhaps even a useful one.
Socialists have no need to tell these Democratic scoundrels anything at all. We are not looking to be noticed by them, but rather to destroy their credibility and to smash any political influence they have within the working class.”
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
You can check out Socialist Worker at

Much of the responses to the criticisms that Liam has cut and pasted here have been responded to in many of our publications, so I don't feel the need to post large excerpts here.

Some of what the ISO stands for - We don't believe that North Korea, Cuba, China, or for that matter, the former Yugoslavia had anything to do with genuine socialism - workers power from below and control of the means of production. That means that we have political differences from other left and socialist organizations. We publish and sell a newspaper, Socialist Worker, that provides political perspectives on many of the debates within the struggles and movements of today - like the anti-war movement, the immigrant rights movement, the abortion rights movement, and many others. It includes analysis of what the attacks by those at the top - the ruling class - look like on ordinary working class people today, and what the next steps could be in rebuilding a fighting Left, the likes of which we haven't seen in the US in 30-odd years.

We work with anyone who wants to help in rebuilding a Left that is principled in it's opposition to war, support for women's rights, immigrant rights, gay rights amongst other things. This includes anarchists and other socialists and people from progressive third-parties that are independent of the Rebublicans and Democrats, and anyone else who wants to fight this brutal system. At the same time, we have the right to raise arguments and disagreements. We're all trying to figure out the best ways to build a stronger opposition to those at the top.

This meeting with Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn is trying to take up a critical question in the anti-war movement today - do we call for troops out NOW? The meeting is arguing YES and wants to bring people in for a debate and discussion around this issue. There will be bus tickets available to the demonstration in DC on April 29th there too, so we can take these arguments out to an even wider audience.

We need more meetings like this, more discussion and not less. Liam, please let us know when you put something like this on.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
Just about everyone on the left has a friend or acquaintance who joined the ISO happily, and then quit sadly in a few months. While the ISO will often brag about being a large group they don’t play up the fact that LOTS of people join and then quit within a short period of time. I’ve met college students who complained about hooking up with the ISO only to find themselves marching through the streets of New York at anti-war demos chanting with the ISO “Allahu Akbar.” (the Islamic chant - “God is Great”) People who thought becoming an Atheist was a great accomplishment find themselves cheerleaders for reactionary Islamists the ISO wants to cozy up to. At some point they ask themselves “What am I doing?” And they quit the ISO.

I’ve seen them come into a demonstration, young college students all carrying the same sign shepherded along by the cadre, moved along if they stop to talk to an ISO critic too long. They are told to sell the “Socialist Worker” newspaper (the ‘My Weekly Reader’ of the Left) but mostly don’t seem too enthusiastic about it. They join the picket line with the paper held gingerly in front of them close to their body, low against the stomach. Are they reading it, or hawking it, hard to tell for an innocent bystander. If you talk to them they don’t seem to know much about the ISO. They can repeat the main slogans, but when it comes to anything else…., usually a more senior handler will come over and shoo them along if they talk to long The ISO seems to have a policy of “Join First, Learn What We Believe Latter.”

If you look at the criticisms posted above almost none of the points have been denied by pro-ISO posters. I suppose they have to contact the Party Center in Chicago to find out what they are supposed to say, but what can they say. They are dissolving themselves into the pro-capitalist Green Party. They do cheerlead for the Islamist Resistance in Iraq. They don’t say a word about “Women’s Rights” for the women of Iraq. (I’ll never forget reading about four women found beheaded in Algeria on the beach at a time when the ISO was praising the “Anti-Imperialist” credentials of the Islamic Jihadists who met out the Death Penalty for women who immodestly wear two piece bathing suits.) And they dare to claim that they are “A party in the tradition of the Bolsheviks?” They take positions the Mensheviks would be ashamed of. In ’79 the ISO praised the take over of Iran by Islamists as women descended into the Hell of the “Islamic Paradise.”

When talking about the Iraqi Resistance the ISO has nothing but praise. Opposing US Imperialism does not mean a person or political party has to defend the activities of the Resistance. What about areas of Iraq where the U.S. military has retreated and turned over control to former Ba’athist officers, Sunni Muslim clerics or their Shi’ite counterparts?

Women have been forced back into veils, prohibited from wearing make-up or participating in public life under the recently imposed Islamic sharia law. A street poster “decree of Allah” threatens, “We will have no pity for those who oppose Allah by their beauty or mode of dress” Houses are raided where “sinners” are believed to be drinking alcohol or listening to music other than Koranic chants. School kids with “indecent” haircuts are surrounded by mujahedin trucks, hauled off, beaten and shaved bald, dangerously branded as infidels. Apparently the ISO has no pity for these women either. You wont read about the oppression of Iraqi women in Socialist Worker. That’s not who the ISO is tailing after.

Does the ISO support Women’s Rights in Iraq? Do they think homosexuals have a right to defy Allah’s will? Do Christians have a right to practice their religion in Iraq? What kind of Internationalist doesn’t defend people’s rights INTERNATIONALY?

And in the US….Why would someone want to join the International ‘Socialist’ Organization only to find themselves campaigning for the small ‘c’ capitalism of the Green Party. Why not just join the Greens? They won’t make you sell newspapers.

But the real answer would be for the ISO to stop dragging the name of ‘socialism’ through the recycled mud of the eco-fixated Greens. Why not change the name to the “International Green Organization,” and put all those “unpopular” socialist ideas in the dustbin, were the ISO seems to think they belong?
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
liam do you support the US in iraq? if not the iraqi's then who/
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
yeah, who? i can only think in terms of nation-states membership.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006

The words of Maya O'Connor:

"The ISO behaves essentially as a cult - it has its prophets (Tony cliff, callinicos et. al.), its leaders (the branch committees and Chicago), its doctrine ("How Marxism Works", a 40 page book, was seen as "all a new member needed to know" about Marxism), and its rituals, such as the ones I have described. the leadership of my branch took an overly personal interest in the activities of its members, even going so far as to try and tell us who we could socialize with, that we should quit our jobs and work at UPS, that we should leave our committed relationships because the partner wasn't in the ISO, or was hostile to it, and so on.

Reading this article and its dead-on description made me think about just how fortunate I was to realize that the ISO is not the revolutionary vanguard and that it was trying to make me into a Socialist Worker-selling automaton! Even today - I left the ISO in Jan. 98 after almost 3 years as a member - I sometimes go to demos and feel like I should be doing something other than participating, and then I realize that I am feeling residual programming from the ISO, who tried to make me feel guilty for not selling enough papers.

Those on the left who might feel envious of the ISO's numbers (I think 800 is an exaggeration, it's really closer to 500 dues-paying members nationwide) would do well to read this article and ask themselves the question, is it really worth it to be in a group that has a lot of members if they are part of an anti-democratic, obnoxious cult? "

Maya O'Connor
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
Who reads these super long comments?
Geez, write an article.
End The Senseless Neo-Con War!
05 Apr 2006
Zinn will speak the truth. Will it be televised? Or for that matter? In the Boston Globe? (Doubt it.) Time to work on the media. Non stop!
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
05 Apr 2006
Curiouser, and curiouser….

Even I’m learning something new following the threads I find when I googled “International Socialist Organization”

Read this post from something called the World Socialist Party

“If an organization pays the staff, they pay them the average members wage. Working Class organizations also limit the length of time members can serve as officers and staff of the organization.

These principles are necessary to prevent careerism, staff led organizational conservatism, power cliques and to safeguard internal democracy.

One also has to wonder what effect upon internal organizational democracy the fact that one individual underwrites over $200,000 a year of wages and publication costs. Would such an organization jeopardize their income to take position which the sugardaddy disagrees with?

In the last few years, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has gotten pretty consistent with their presence in various places; the International Socialist Review is a slick, professional-looking left magazine, and the ISO conventions are attended by many.

You can set your watch to when they will show up at various spots to sell the Socialist Worker. If you think it is hard to believe that the ISO can pay for all of this with dues money and Socialist Worker sales, especially when publications with no advertising do not turn a profit, then you’re on to something.

According to the 990 IRS forms filed in 2001, the Center received a large donation–perhaps a good chunk of the startup funds, from a man named Kevin Neel, who donated over $1.2 million in stock. The stock acquired by the Center is in Oracle and Phillip Morris.

The Center has been selling off portions of this stock every year in excess of several hundred thousand a year, to fund a huge payroll, including $45,000 a year plus benefits to the Center’s president Ahmed Sehrawy.

For the year 2000-01, the total payroll in wages and benefits was $185,000 (presumably disbursed to several party organizers and staff-only $27,000 went to pay two officers of the Center.); in 2001-02, over $400,000, and in 2002-03: nearly $500,000. In 2002-03, Sehrawy made nearly $60,000 in wages and benefits.

For the past three years, the Center has also derived its funding from a handful of activists, much of it in cash. What this tells us is that the workers do not support the Center and the ISO–a few men with disposable income do. And given that fact that the Center’s bottom line continues to show a net loss, these funds will soon dwindle, and magazine and paper sales will be as crucial as ever. This is in spite of a net increase of literature sales and monies raised at their yearly socialist conference in Chicago.”

In the left, all one has to do is follow the money, to see who controls the politics. More research will reveal specifics on the relationship between the ISO and the Center’s stock “trust fund". These “trustifarians” simply wear a blue collar. Thing is, who’s on the rest of their payroll is not a matter of public record. And it would be too much to expect an organization for the workers to actually tell the workers who on the payroll.”
Retrieved from ";
06 Apr 2006
From the Revolutionary Workers League: Had this to say about the ISO’s organizational and theoretical methods….there is much truth in these words.

“Over the years, the ISO's concentration on upper-class college campuses has supplied it with many basically liberal members with no real interest in revolutionary Marxism or political debate. But it has also attracted some people genuinely searching for revolutionary socialism, some of whom we met at the Summer School. We hope that these comrades will find ways to learn and stand up for revolutionary politics; the purpose of this article is to assist in that struggle.

For example, in a recent focus of activity, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the ISO moved to the right at the first chance of uniting with liberal politicians. When demands for the abolition of the death penalty coincided with scandals that exposed outrageous frame-ups and wrongful convictions of death row inmates, some Democratic and Republican politicians began to talk of the need for a moratorium on all executions. This move was designed to head off a potentially mass movement to abolish the death penalty and to institute reforms that would strengthen it against future challenges.

The ISO responded by downplaying their slogan for abolition of the death penalty and uncritically hailing the idea of a moratorium. While a moratorium would be a temporary victory, by not warning of its dangers the ISO continues to help the bourgeois politicians divert the struggle

This is not simply a tactical mistake. It is a violation of a basic principle of Marxism -- uncompromising struggle for the organizational and political independence of the working class. Lenin and Trotsky, for example, explained that critical electoral support could be considered for bourgeois-led workers' parties like British Labour, with the purpose of exposing their leaders. But for Marxists to endorse outright bourgeois parties would mean supporting the class enemy. For a socialist to advocate any kind of imperialist intervention means crossing the class line

None of them was sidetracked from trying to unite with every pro-imperialist pacifist they could find by the task of standing firm against imperialism. They are all contemptible traitors to the "international socialism" they preach.

You can't arbitrarily change your line on parliamentarism or Nader overnight and allow serious debates with members who still believe the line in yesterday's newspaper. Similarly, the policy of recruiting members on the basis of abysmally low levels of political understanding, plus the emphasis on activism at the expense of cadre education, inevitably opens ISO to rampant political confusion and instability; this can only be compensated for by a bureaucratic regime.

They will also have to reject the sectarian self-censorship promoted by the ISO leaders, who advise their members to sneer at other leftists and ignore what they say. ISO members should consult the views of all groups and make up their minds for themselves.

The entire history of Leninism and Trotskyism is one of a relentless struggle against reformist misleaders of the working class. One of the formative struggles that shaped Bolshevism was that against "economism" -- the view that workers should be approached essentially with slogans and arguments for immediate struggles and not bothered with criticisms of reformist leaders or with political slogans that they are judged not ready to immediately accept.

One such view prominent among socialists is that the working class can become revolutionary "spontaneously" -- on the basis of its day-to-day struggles alone, without the educational assistance of the organization of the most class-conscious workers, the vanguard revolutionary party.

Lenin argued that the economist strategy amounted to refusing to challenge the reformist leaders and thereby helping them control the workers. For both Lenin and Trotsky, the working class could only come to revolutionary class consciousness if it could combine its own experiences of the struggle with the revolutionary party's relentless efforts to expose the misleaders and the limited possibilities of reforming capitalism

Cliffism explicitly rejects such an approach. As we have seen, its method is to try to be "the best builders" of reform struggles while refraining from any serious criticisms of the reformist leaders that could make bureaucratic cooperation more difficult.

Since the working class can become "spontaneously revolutionary" through mass struggle, there is no need to launch an open struggle for a revolutionary program against the reformists, nor to raise any demands or arguments that seem to be "ahead" of most militant workers' current levels of understanding. This approach, of course, encourages reformist at the expense of revolutionary consciousness. And given the propensity for reformist leaders to betray struggles, it is not at all the best way to build the workers' movement but rather a sure way to lead it to defeat.

Genuine Marxists see a fundamental difference between workers' desires to fight for reforms and reformism -- the ideology that opposes revolution with a program for the reform of capitalism. But the Cliffites (like most centrist groups) really believe that workers must go through a stage of reformist consciousness before they can embrace revolutionary views. To speed this process up, they encourage support for reformists in the hope that will encourage militancy among workers.

Thus, as the crisis of reformism deepens, the Cliffites are increasingly led to prop up and even replace the weakening reformist misleaders. Thus in Britain, just as the Labour left enters its death agony, the Cliffites rush to support a purely reformist -- in fact, popular-frontist -- electoral campaign in the image of "old Labour." Similarly in the U.S., as the crisis of Democratic Party liberalism deepens, the ISO is drawn to support those who are trying to revive it, Ralph Nader, or the Green Party

. The Cliffites think they will build up reformist leaders today only to outsmart them tomorrow by recruiting their supporters. But all they really do is help revive reformism and build it into a force capable of leading more struggles to defeat. “
Howard Zinn is down with 9-11 Truth
07 Apr 2006
He is! Are you?
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
07 Apr 2006
Howard Zinn?? Against the war??? Say it isn't so! What a surprise!! Oh my.
I want to make love to young goats.
07 Apr 2006
I walk them to the edge of a cliff, stand behind them, and enjoy their instinctual backward bucking.
Resist Suppression before it Resists You
07 Apr 2006
We all sin. No biggie. We can confess our transgressions and make suitable atonement. The one sin that we do not want to be guilty of is refusing to confess. Those who have been trespassed against cannot be expected to forgive those who deny, much less stifle their grievances.

In the Day of Judgment the oppressors will no longer hold back the cries of the oppressed and the voices of the liberators. When the oppressors confess that only they have need to suppress, the oppressed will see atonement for suppression. The liberators will have no part in suppressing others, as they would not want their speech suppressed. Only the oppressors disregard the golden rule and use religion and national security as justification for suppression. It will be demonstrated that government censorship is only useful in sparing the judgment of a few at the expense of denying the grievances of many.

Crooked politicians and theocrats suppress information that is beneficial to the masses, but a thorn in their sides.

The problem with oppressors is that they must suppress in order to carry on their wrongdoing. They are control freaks, who wish to control the conscience of society, by presuming to represent a spirit that is holy. In other words they play the part (blasphemy) of the Holy Spirit. Suppression is thought control. Like I said, denying or suppressing grievances is the “unpardonable sin”, and confessing transgression is the first and only step toward atonement.

We do not suppress our oppressors, our oppressors suppress us. Liberators have nothing to hide, but much to reveal. True liberators are not killers, yet oppressors will suppress or even kill liberators. Oppressors cannot stand for those who would attempt to free their slaves.

When people are prevented from seeking justice, or calling on the greater world for help, or at least a fair platform to air their grievances, the end result will be anger, resentment and aggression. Ultimately lack of peace and security is due to lack of voices speaking truth and lack of voices saying “come, let us reason together”.

Clearly, citizens would be more trusting if politicians would give straight answers and not attempt to control what questions are asked, or dodge those that are unfavorable.

In my exoneration, the people will understand that deliverance from tyranny does not come through suppression, but from free expression of where injustice reigns.

The truth will set us free, when it overcomes the dark powers of suppression, which real seers and martyrs have stood against, and died as a result of.
Re: April 14th, 6pm - Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove speak - Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
10 Apr 2006
Lucy Parsons Books is cool
I might come check this one out
sounds interesting, thsnks for posting