Taking our final steps

April 19, 2019

Members of the leadership team responsible for carrying out the decisions made by current and recently resigned ISO members in voting to dissolve the organization in late March report on the outcome of this process.

IN LATE March, current and recently resigned members of the International Socialist Organization took the highly unusual step of voting to dissolve the organization. This decision was guided by the recognition that the ISO’s demise was inevitable and that it should be carried out as responsibly as possible.

We are writing this to inform readers that this process has been finalized to the best of our ability. Our newspaper Socialist Worker has ceased production, and we are developing a separate, independent body tasked with reporting on the botched 2013 sexual assault allegation so that former ISO members and the rest of the left might learn from our mistakes. Existing caucuses and working groups are empowered to make their own decisions about where to go from here.

At what turned out to be the ISO’s final convention this February, we set out to begin the process of boldly transforming organizational structures and practices, which had been forged over 40 years of working class defeat and the marginalization of socialists, into ones that might contribute to the new and vibrant movement of the left.

Unfortunately, the impact of decades of undemocratic practices, including a hostility to caucuses and the self-organization of members of oppressed groups, as well as the recently revealed egregious treatment of allegations of sexual assault, meant that we were not able to recreate ourselves. We were faced with a situation of the organization becoming a barrier to our members playing important roles on the socialist left.

Articles reporting and reflecting on the ISO’s crisis are featured on SocialistWorker.org’s home page. You can read more about the ISO’s decision in “The ISO’s vote to dissolve and what comes next” and find an early statement on the mishandled sexual assault case in “Letter to the ISO membership.” For more reflections on the ISO’s crisis, see “What socialists can learn from #MeToo” and “Open letter to some ex-leaders of the ISO.” For more on the ISO and the fight against oppression, see “Apology to people of color in the ISO” and “Toward a critical defense of ‘identity politics’.” Also published at SW are commentaries on socialists and organization, including “We must continue to fight for socialism from below.”

The ISO and its members have done some incredible things that have done real good in this world; our failures have also done real harm. We will strive to learn from the new moment.

Not all ex-ISO members are going to agree about the next steps, and one month after a crisis of this proportion is not the time to make grand predictions or rush to conclusions. This is what the next several years are for. But we can say that we want to see the developing socialist movement grow to its full potential, and we believe that for that potential to be realized, the revival of working-class struggle seen in the current strike wave must be fused with the politics of anti-oppression, internationalism and socialism from below.

Signed by: Aaron A, Ashley S, Bekah W, brian b, Danny K, Dennis K, Doniella M, Doug S, Flynn M, Haley P, Hector A, Julian G, Natalia T, Nolan R, Phil G, Pranav J, Sean L, Sherry W, Todd C