A message to our readers

March 19, 2019

By devoting ourselves to reckoning with the crisis that has gripped our organization, we hope to serve both current and former members of the ISO and the wider socialist left.

THE INTERNATIONAL Socialist Organization (ISO), publisher of Socialist Worker, is in a deep crisis whose immediate cause is the exposure of a 2013 sexual assault case that was horribly mishandled by our national leadership at the time. Last Friday, Socialist Worker published a public version of the letter written by our recently elected Steering Committee to ISO members regarding the revelation and initial steps that had been taken in response.

The news about the 2013 case came shortly after a momentous convention devoted to addressing the organization’s unaccountable leadership structures and a damaging internal culture that had a disproportionate impact on people of color and others with oppressed identities. The convention resulted in a thorough change in our national leadership and a commitment to chart a new direction so the ISO could be more engaged in struggle and with the new socialist movement.

In the convention’s aftermath, many ISO members felt a mixture of hope, pain and uncertainty. Those feelings have been replaced by ones of rage, despair and betrayal. Some have felt they can no longer be a part of the ISO. Those who remain recognize how difficult it will be to reckon with this crisis and all the damage it has done.

Certainly, there is a shared understanding among all that the only future for the ISO begins with a frank and searching discussion. So regardless of what the future brings, the main goal of Socialist Worker in the coming weeks is to be of service to current and former ISO members and the wider left by providing a platform for socialists to grapple with the many issues that have led us to this point.

It’s unclear at what pace these articles will appear. We plan to begin this process with contributions from current or recently resigned ISO members, and we won’t rush those into publication. So as much as we want SW become a forum for continuing discussion and reflection, we can’t yet say how regularly we will be running articles in the coming days.

We are of course aware that even as we experience this trauma, important events—from the horror of the Christchurch massacre to the hope of the student climate strike--continue to unfold in the wider world that we’ve all come together in a collective project to change for the better. Once we’ve begun publishing about our own crisis, we plan to start running reports and analysis from other struggles, although at what pace and quantity we can’t yet say.

We hope our readers understand that as Socialist Worker brings an intense focus over the coming days and weeks to the situation inside the ISO, we are not ignoring the exciting new opportunities and challenges confronting the U.S. left, but understanding that at this moment the most important contribution we can make to that left is to begin and continue an honest and open reckoning with our failures.

For all of its flaws, the ISO has over the years recruited and trained many brilliant and talented people with a deep commitment to the politics of socialism from below, internationalism and the belief that we need a revolutionary transformation to create a world free of oppression and violence.

Some of those comrades left the organization or are leaving now, but many remain and are working with determination to organize a collective reckoning and, perhaps eventually, a rebirth. Socialist Worker aims to be a platform for their efforts.