ISO Nightmares

Chuck0's picture

I just finished reading your informational page on the International Socialist Organization and I must tell you that it made my day. I agree completely with the writer's analysis of their goals and tactics--they are a completely self-serving, insulated clique, with many "leaders" who border on tyrannical. In all fairness, it has been six years since I left/was "expelled" from the ISO, so some of my criticisms might be outdated, but it doesn't sound like it. I was a member for 2 years, during which I was constantly suspect--I wasn't driven enough to sell the paper, I had a bumper sticker with a quote from Emma Goldman (some members NEVER trusted me for that one), I had a growing interest in Buddhism, and I was too concerned with feminist, environmental, and animal rights issues. On the latter topics particularly, I encountered alot of hostility-I was never satisfied with their theoretical answers to immediate problems. I didn't want to wait until the Revolution to try to change things. As for selling the paper, I was a rather shy young woman--and I've never been comfortable with forcing my opinions on others--but one's personality and comfort level was never taken into account. At this point in my life, I would never allow anyone to treat me like so many in the ISO did, but when I joined I was a naive college freshman who was eager to make a difference. In Maya O' Connor's post, she mentions the intense interest that the branch leadership takes in the personal lives of members--I certainly experienced that, and I don't feel shy in saying that trait in the organization borders on abusive. I was "expelled" from the ISO under the guise of my non-payment of dues and lack of willingness to sell the paper--all of which is true, but at the time I was severely depressed and trying to break out of a physically abusive relationship with another ISO member, factors that did nothing to soften the organizations' opinion of me. In fact, I was subjected to rather severe and sustained public criticism, while my abusive (ex)partner [...] of blaming the victim. Despite the fact that I was not well, I could clearly see that I was not dealing with rational people. But beyond the considerable personal stress that I experienced in the ISO, I am more critical of their failings as a political organization. I can't count how many bright, dedicated activists they ignored and/or alienated, mostly due to some personal issue on the branch committees part that they dressed up in political terms. I'm not the kind of person to use the word "cult" very often, but it certainly applies to the ISO...

If you decide to post this anywhere, PLEASE leave my email address off of it--I really don't want to deal with a bunch of my ex-comrades harassing me--which I guarantee they would.

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