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(en) US, ISO conference - Anarchists against Trotskyists, Report

Date Mon, 30 Oct 2006 00:09:36 +0200

On October 28, 2006, we attended the first day of a two-day Northeast
Socialist Conference: Build the Left/ Fight the Right! in New York
City. Despite its ecumenical title, the conference was organized by the
International Socialist Organization (ISO) and limited to its point of
view. Three of us handed out the following leaflet (me, W., and J.).
I attended three of the following workshops, including one on
Venezuela and one on *Marxism and Anarchism.* Another anarchist spoke
up during the discussion on M &A, and two other anarchists introducted
themselves to me afterwards. The leaflet was widely distributed: we
gave out about 200 to a conference of about 400. Also I gave a few to a
small group of the League for the Revolutionary Party and WEB brought
some to a Spartacist-run conference on Mumia that afternoon.

(Full disclosure: I was a founding member of the ISO's predecessor,
the International Socialists--having previously been an
anarchist-pacifist. A group of us evenually split off from the IS,
deciding it was not really revolutionary. We evolved from
left-Trotskyism to revolutionary anarchism and participated in the
founding of the Love and Rage Anarchist Federation.) Here is the

You Trotskyists of the International Socialist Organization claim to
have *the same goal* as we *class-struggle social anarchists*: a
worldwide revolution by the working class and all oppressed, against the
capitalists and their states (including the remnants of the
â??Communistâ?? state capitalist regimes)--and to replace these states
with associations of councils. But you ruin it because of your methods:
your attempt to recreate the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky, and
to do what Lenin and Trotsky did in Russia. When you deviate from this
attempt, it is only to use social democratic methods. We will
demonstrate this.

*You seek to create a â??workersâ?? state.â?? But/* there is no such
thing as a â??workersâ?? state.â?? */Engels defined the state as a
â??public forceâ?? which â??consists not merely of armed men but also of
material appendages, prisons, and coercive institutions of all
kinds....â?? Its officials are â??organs of society standing /above/
society....representatives of a power which estranges them from
society....The state is an organization for the protection of the
possessing class against the non-possessing class.â?? / Does this sound
like something the working class can use?/ All previous ruling classes
have needed states because they were minorities who needed to hold down
majorities. The working class and its allies is the big majority. In a
revolution, it will not need a socially-alienated,
bureaucratic-military, machine to hold down the pro-capitalist
minority. It will need the self-organization of the workers and the
oppressed themselves: workplace and neighborhood assemblies, federated
councils, and an armed people, a workersâ?? militia. This is not a
state. /*Because the Bolsheviks aimed for a state, they ended up with a
state*/--a bureaucratic monstrosity.

*The Russian Revolution, led by Lenin and Trotsky, ended up as a
totalitarian nightmare. You blame this, not on the Bolsheviks you
admire, but on â??objective circumstancesâ??--Russiaâ??s poverty, the
failure of the revolution to spread, etc. All of which was real. But
it is also true that *the Bolsheviks **/never /advocated
multiparty/multi-tendency soviets, workersâ?? rank-and-file management
of industry, independent trade unions, etc. * By 1921, when Lenin and
Trotsky were in power, they outlawed all other parties (and jailed and
massacred the anarchists), banned all caucuses inside the one legal
party, and insisted that the unions be controlled by the party. /*It
was Lenin and Trotsky who legalized the single-party police state!*/***
* Stalin built on what they had created. Trotsky and his Left
Opposition fought Stalin while agreeing with the single-party
dictatorship. Until his death, /Trotsky continued to regard Stalinâ??s
dictatorship as a â??workerâ??s stateâ?? because the economy was
*The topdown, centralized, vanguard party which you advocate is made for
only one purpose: ruling a state. *We are pro-organizational
anarchists*, in the tradition of â??platformism,â?? especifismo, and the
F.A.I. We believe that revolutionary anarchists should organize
ourselves to spread our ideas in unions and other popular
organizations. Our aim is to encourage the oppressed to take over
society and run it through direct democracy and limited delegation. But
*your Leninist goal is for the party to **/rule /society. You think
that the workers can come to power only when your party is in power.
Implicitly you aim to rule /for /the workers.* Well, your party may
come to power, but only to rule over the workers.

*Like your fellow Trotskyists of the Spartacist League, *your goal is a
centralized party, ruling a centralized state, managing a centralized
planned economy,* ultimately on an international scale. This would be a
monstrously bureaucratized, inefficient, and oppressive system. Instead
we propose federated associations, decentralized communities and
regions, worker-run industries--all planned from the bottom up by
negotiation among councils.

**Your centralized, authoritarian, political philosophy affects
everything the ISO does.* You have developed a deserved reputation for
being manipulative and controlling, and for vacillating between
sectarianism and opportunism. For example, you have actively built
Ralph Naderâ??s campaigns, with and without the Green Party. Leaving
aside /our/ anarchist anti-electoralism, Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky
advocated electoral activity only to develop the political independence
of the working class (which did not work out very well, considering the
history of the Social Democratic and Communist parties). Nader is a
supporter of capitalism and its state, as is the liberal Green party
these days. They are trying to create a liberal, third capitalist,
party. *For the ISO to campaign for Nader was to cross the class
line.* You did it to build the ISO, not out of any principle.

*Similarly in *the labor movement: * Your announcement for this
Northeast conference says, â??This past year has been an exciting time
for labor....The Transit Worker's Union in NYC defied the draconian
â??Taylor Lawâ?? and went on strike, inspiring workers throughout the
tri-state and the nation. Forced back to work by the the MTA ...they
organized their rank and file for a successful, surprise â??no voteâ??
on [the] contract. â?? This fails to mention the TWU bureaucracy which
could have gone on â??defyingâ?? the state, but which chose instead to
cave in, to betray their workers, and to /demoralize/ many workers--so
that they eventually /voted for/ the contract.

*In *the antiwar movement*, you have called for Support to the
Resistance! It is right to express solidarity with the oppressed people
of Iraq and Lebanon against U.S. imperialism. It is wrong to use these
slogans which imply (to almost everyone) /political support/ for
nationalist, pro-capitalist, and misogynist leaders. *Revolutionaries
should participate in all popular movements, to build them, while
raising our own internationalist working class politics--in opposition
to the pro-capitalist leaderships.

**With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Marxism has been discredited
for many people. Instead *the radical impulse has flowed into the
historic **/other radicalism,/ Anarchism.* But the basic ideas remain:
the evils of capitalism, the need to smash the state, /the importance
of the working class/, the value of other rebellious forces (women,
GLBT, racially and nationally oppressed, etc.) , the fight against
imperialism, the need for international revolution--and the need to
build a revolutionary organization to fight for these ideas. Trotskyism
just isnâ??t the right program for the revolution.

To learn more about anarchism in New York and nationally,

*_Northeast Federation of Anarchist-Communism

_*or contact:*_
New York Metropolitan Alliance of Anarchists_*
/In the *Marxism and Anarchism* discussion, the ISO speaker said that
anarchists do not accept any social authority over the individual, do
not believe in democracy, and have no class analysis. (All untrue, at
least for the anarchists I work with.) Anarchists, he said, were petty
bourgeois and, especially, did not understand dialectics. (!) In the
Spanish revolution of 1936, the anarchists of the CNT-FAI betrayed their
program by joining with the bourgeois parties to form a Popular Front
government to fight against the fascists, which led to capitulation to
the capitalists and the Stalinists, and eventually to the fascists.

In the few minutes I got to respond, I agree with the criticism of the
Spanish mainstream anarchists. But I pointed out that most of the
parties in the Popular Front were Marxist: the Socialist Party, the
POUM, and the Communists. As the ISO does not identify with those
*Marxists,* so we do not identify with those *anarchists* but with the
Friends of Durruti and others who opposed joining the Popular Front and
advocated a revolution.

Anyway, it was absurd to be accused of Popular Frontism and capitulating
to bourgeois politicians, when I had just come from an ISO workshop on
Venezuela which urged â??supportâ?? for Hugo Chavez, including voting
for him in the next Venezuelan election. And in the US, the ISO had
twice campaigned for the capitalist politician Ralph Nader. Forget
Spain, they were crossing the class line here and now!

Several speakers denounced the leaflet because it blamed Lenin and
Trotsky for laying the groundwork for Stalin. It was all objective
factors, they insisted. These speakers were completely ignorant of the
real history of the original Leninist regime and its authoritarian acts.
(The next day they were going to have Sam Farber talk about Castro, but
they have not read his book, *Before Stalinism, The Rise and Fall of
Soviet Democracy,* as one example.)

Privately, one ISOer objected to the leaflet for connecting the ISO with
the Spartacist League as *fellow Trotskyists.* I agreed with him that
the SL was pretty vile, but I insisted that it was a variety of
Trotskyist, as was the ISO, and that they agreed on the goal of a
centralized state and economy.

I doubt t hat any ISOers read the leaflet and suddenly saw th e light.
But the ISO has a lot of turnover and I have met a number of anarchists
who had been in or close to the ISO at one point. So we do not know if
the seed we plant now may eventually grow an anarchist plant.

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