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 Post subject: ISO Conference Nov 12 recap
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:57 pm 
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So I recently attended a regional conference of the ISO's, and I figured I would share my experience here to get your opinions and also relay what's currently going on in the world of socialist organization generally. I welcome any criticisms that I should be aware of or any discussion of the org itself and what others have to say about them.

So many of you probably already know that the ISO is a trotskyist organization, etc, etc, but basically the question this conference served to deal with was "Ok, Trump's been elected, what do we do now?" There was a decent turn out, at least imo, but a comrade noted that the conference seemed to him to be a little smaller than regional conferences past. I would also like to point out that I am not an active member, but rather have only attended 2 of their conferences, so I'm somewhat familiar with their politics, but not really heavily involved.

Overall there was a general consensus that right now is a crucial moment in US history to be organizing. The talks that were held dealt with the following key points: Why the working class must be it's own liberator, racism & class as it pertains to capitalism, why we need a revolutionary party and a fourth talk that escapes me now but more or less dealt with the working class I believe.

Anyway, to summarize the content of these talks as quickly as possible:
[*] Racism is an essential part of capitalist oppression, especially this election, and marxists are not class reductionist. Contrarily, marxists argue that it (along with other oppressive systems) is integral to capitalism "as sugar is baked into a cake" was the metaphor I heard used at one point. The democrats have used race as a way to explain away the election results and blame the working class for being "stupid and backwards", while the republicans have of course used it as a tool to divide workers. We also discussed the usage of segregation at the work place by department as one method of dividing workers along racial and economic lines as well among other historic events. Racism also must change form as resistance is successful, hence programs like the war on drugs, etc in light of the removal of Jim Crow.
[*] While the ISO does not consider itself a vanguard because there is no revolutionary movement to currently lead, it sees the vital role in having an organization that gets socialists together so they can form a long term strategy in helping with the working class in asserting their political will. If there is no way to capture the steam of class struggle we can not move forward the engine of progress basically. A revolutionary moment without a class conscious orgnaization/leadership to push us forwards only opens the way for another section of the ruling class to fill the vacuum when they finally regroup.
[*] We need to be helping non-voters and those of the working class who voted clinton reach the conclusions that we already know quite well that the democrats are a gravedigger to the social movement of workers, and that we cannot just stand by and wait "4 more years". Of course this does not mean we "will movements into existence", but must be active participants in providing solidarity and a platform for people to get organized. It also means having genuine, 1-to-1 discussions about politics and "patiently explaining" as the old addage goes.

There were some more ideas that I don't have the time to currently put down (in a rush), but overall I felt that the conference was a productive use of time. Admittedly there were some questions in discussion that sort of remained unanswered or were answered vaguely, but overall I didn't really have any huge contentions with the politics I was hearing discussed. Quite different than the experience I read about with Brole and DM at the SEP, but then again I didn't come in offering criticism in the same light as they did. Overall I was hoping to discuss further the ISO, and even socialist organizations more generally and figure out what forms of organization are going to be effective in this time of heightened struggle and how we should be interacting with other members of the working class. Also feel free to share any particular readings to look at, I've been recommended bordiga by brole and I picked What Is To Be Done? at the conference personally.


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 Post subject: Re: ISO Conference Nov 12 recap
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:29 pm 
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The passage in Lenin's WITBD on 'bringing consciousness from the outside' has been sort of rejected by them (just like by the SWP in Britain) because of supposed elitism etc., which is why their standpoint has much in common with that of the economists (mere supporting-voice to the trade-union struggle, tail-ending spontaneous protest movements) which is the ctual target of criticism by Lenin in WITBD. There was a debate on this with Lars Lih and others.


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 Post subject: Re: ISO Conference Nov 12 recap
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:59 pm 
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Noa wrote:
The passage in Lenin's WITBD on 'bringing consciousness from the outside' has been sort of rejected by them (just like by the SWP in Britain) because of supposed elitism etc., which is why their standpoint has much in common with that of the economists (mere supporting-voice to the trade-union struggle, tail-ending spontaneous protest movements) which is the ctual target of criticism by Lenin in WITBD. There was a debate on this with Lars Lih and others.


Thanks for the heads up, I'll keep that in mind when I get around to finally reading it. Any critiques on his "State and Revolution" and the one on imperealism at all?


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 Post subject: Re: ISO Conference Nov 12 recap
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:41 pm 
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I meant in reply about ISO, I disagree with the ISO's basic rejection (despite selling copies of it) of Lenin's WITBD and would trace back a lot of their problems to that rejection.

On Lenin's book State and revolution;

A translation of Kautsky's polemic with Pannekoek (that Lenin comments on in the book) can be found here: https://libcom.org/library/new-tactic-karl-kautsky

Some (eg Marian Sawer, The Genesis of State and Revolution, The Socialist Register, 1977) argue that Lenin's book was written under the influence of Bukharin (with whom Lenin in 1916 still held a dispute on the state, and allegedly Lenin thus still sided with Kautsky). Others give Pannekoek greater significance (being the first to criticise Kautsky). I claim Lenin did not change his position (that certainly is the impression Lenin himself gives).

There is one error in State and Revolution about a quote from Engels against the Erfurt program. This was written against an earlier draft, not the one actually adopted (which was written by Kautsky and which Engels approved):
https://libcom.org/library/correction-f ... rl-kautsky


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 Post subject: Re: ISO Conference Nov 12 recap
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:04 pm 
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Noa wrote:
I meant in reply about ISO, I disagree with the ISO's basic rejection (despite selling copies of it) of Lenin's WITBD and would trace back a lot of their problems to that rejection.


Oh interesting! Thanks for clarifying. I'll perhaps start a topic on this once I've gotten around to reading it and see what the consensus is on the role of the party. I know another topic in regards to the party also exists, so I'll try to take a look at that as well.

Noa wrote:
On Lenin's book State and revolution;

A translation of Kautsky's polemic with Pannekoek (that Lenin comments on in the book) can be found here: https://libcom.org/library/new-tactic-karl-kautsky

Some (eg Marian Sawer, The Genesis of State and Revolution, The Socialist Register, 1977) argue that Lenin's book was written under the influence of Bukharin (with whom Lenin in 1916 still held a dispute on the state, and allegedly Lenin thus still sided with Kautsky). Others give Pannekoek greater significance (being the first to criticise Kautsky). I claim Lenin did not change his position (that certainly is the impression Lenin himself gives).

There is one error in State and Revolution about a quote from Engels against the Erfurt program. This was written against an earlier draft, not the one actually adopted (which was written by Kautsky and which Engels approved):
https://libcom.org/library/correction-f ... rl-kautsky


Ok, I'll keep this in mind.


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