Note on text. This text was shared across the ISA International without my permission when it was still in draft form. I had uploaded it to google docs and someone accidently shared it to a supporter of the majority who immediately leaked it to international leadership who then without any contact shared it widely even though they knew it was an unfinished text. I have decided to leave it in the form that it was leaked so there are not 2 versions going around. This violation of my rights is itself an example of the character of the internal culture I hope to explain.
Why I have decided to depart from the ISA.
This letter is meant as a short explanation of some of my personal reasons to depart from the ISA. It should be seen in connection with the public statement by the Greek, Cyprus and Turkish sections. And with the statement of the Majority of the spanish section to leave the ISA(below). This letter is not meant as a public statement but as a way of explaining my action to comrades that may not understand. It is short and not comprehensive. I hope to draw out some of the lessons in public type material in the future and I can also be available for comrades who want genuine discussions where I can elaborate, provide evidence and take criticism.
I have been an active member of the CWI/ISA for 35 years, many times leading certain areas of work. From 2008 to 2017 I devoted myself fully to the rebuilding of the spanish section and in particular the Barcelona branch. I believe I have always been a critical mind but also very loyal. While I have always voiced concerns in an open and positive manner, my experience since the beginning of the unification process with IR have shown me we have deep methodological problems running alongside the constant political complexities of developing marxist policies in a day to day sense.
The unification process of IR/CWI was deeply flawed. This is superficially understood by most comrades. What is not known is the effective crushing of opposition that tried to expose problems and the pushing out and demonising ex SR comrades and myself. Alongside this has been continued efforts to cover up, delay, and blur leading ISA comrades’ dirty roles in that process. This has left a deep impression on me that a marxist cadre committed to the building of a revolutionary international cannot ignore.
I was very hopeful that the formation of the ISA would be the start of a new dawn for the revolutionary left and our current in particular in correcting errors in method and practice. I was very patient in this regard despite the fact that those responsible for the unficiation errors were also part of the new leadership and that the majority of the new ISA leadership were also part of the old CWI leadership where many poor practices were the norm and not challenged. I gave this new leadership the benefit of the doubt and plenty of time to prove it had changed.
The Dominant discourse of leading ISA comrades when splitting with the CWI was one of “degeneration of the democractic process” in the CWI and need for renewal. In fact there was clear propaganda from the CWI Majority that there were not sufficient political grounds for splitting although there was great need to update and review on key subjects. For me the grounds to break with old CWI were ones of democracy and methods which stopped the development of political perspectives and fresh development of programme and strategy. On this basis I joined ISA.
After splitting the dominant discourse of the leading comrades of ISA shifted to one of “collective leadership” In this light of this I enthusiastically at the first opportunity I sent a report to the first CWI Majority IEC meeting to express the unique perspectives of the Barcelona comrades (all of which had been run out of IR/CWI in the previous period with the exception of me). This I think was crucial as events had been highly distorted and covered up and did not feature sufficiently in the faction fight. I also sent a letter about rebuilding the work in the art sector. Both of these reports were bureaucratically stopped by different sections of this new “collective leadership”. On the one hand to hide the role of an individual leading comrade and on the other a political difference over the work in the arts sector which was dishonestly handled. In the months that followed I made many compromises based on understanding the complications of a new leadership in process but in hindsight I was completely duped with dishonest behaviour of the developing leadership group. That I now believe was not preparing to learn the lessons of the CWI but instead continuing the worse aspects of it while strengthening their position as the new leadership and were prepared to use any manipulative grounds to do it.
At the first world congress of ISA the dominant discourse of the ISA leadership group changed again from collective leadership to a “problem of leadership without authority”. This could clearly be seen at this world congress but not a problem if we allowed for a genuine open process. There was great enthusiasm of the ISA membership who were hungry for a fresh start for the revolutionary left. This created time and space for problems to be sorted if there was a genuine move towards a collective leadership. On the last day of the congress in a completely underhand way the art sector work was remitted by comrades from the leadership group, what this revealed to me was the process in the previous months in regard to this subject. This convinced me that nothing had actually changed. I was truly shocked. After a short time of trying to resolve the massive contradiction of what was being said versus what was being done I decided that the limited energy I had for internal focus needed to challenge the democratic culture and temporarily stood back from the art culture work. The situation inside the spanish section was then inflamed when as part of looking into our democratic culture I uncovered blatant abuse of power by a leading comrade in continuing to attempt to hide their role in the IR unification process. This was coupled by a complete lack of response to ideas and communications from the International leadership to the section. In the section while attempts were made to resolve these issues they collapsed due to further serious autocratic actions from the International leadership FT team attempting to impose a new international Full timer on the section to police us rather than finding a unity candidate to unite us. In fact the same comrade that used complete bureaucratic measures on the question of Art. In truth the section never recovered from this episode.
Around this time the dominant discourse of the International leadership began to change again to one of “the dangers of federalism” and need for “a strong centralised leadership”. This was later crystalised in the recent building document. It was around this time the preparation committee for the international review was formed. This review was born from a resolution from an Irish comrade at world congress which was very similar to a resolution I had written for the same world congress, both were agreed with an amendment to mine to appease the International leadership group. When the prep committee was chosen by the International leadership, neither myself or anyone from Spain was chosen. Considering the central role of unification and IR had played in the recent split and the concerns all comrades in the section had, not to add a comrade from Spain was a political choice and was based in my opinion on fear of possible opposition. Despite this the spanish leadership requested my nomination and I had to be accepted. This for me was important as I was deeply concerned in the direction ISA was heading. I again was full of some hope that this review process could be the start of what was needed.
The preparation for the review process was extremely tedious and the divisions we have today were clearly on display. For me the conduct of the International FT team was clear: they wanted a “clean” review process which would be led from above ie. by them, the very people whose methods the review should question. We had to fight for even the split to be a main topic. At every stage there was a battle to uphold the wishes of those comrades that were actually consulted as to what the subjects of the process should be. Still these submissions have not been published, possibly as some of them are very critical of individuals who are in the FT team. While I do believe that some comrades even though I disagreed with them on issues wanted it to work, unfortunately the majority on this preparation committee was dominated by again the International FT team and their focus was to diminish the discussions around democratic centralism and internal culture and problems and to limit participation. The arguments were hidden under the cover of structured debate. For me it was clear it was not about structured debate which makes sense but about controlled debate which is a very different issue. The idea was to push back difficult subjects further and further like the unification issues. The attempt I believe is to never really have this discussion in front of all the comrades or at least to have it so far in the future that it does not damage individuals and enacts no change. I have waited 5 years to have my say through the structures on this subject. It is clear that we have massive problems when a section of the leadership can continue to put subjects that don’t suit them into deep storage until the issue is forgotten or the comrade is run out or is driven to exhaustion. I have tried my best to bring it out but unfortunately due to the circumstances in an unsatisfactory character.
Fear of Opposition.
In the last few years I have been accused of being many negative things, unfortunately this is a feature of the method problem that we have, if you oppose the leadership then finger pointing starts and screamings of “heretics”. There is a need within Marxism for language that signifies ideas but this has become more a way of abuse than real meaning. It has more in common with the methods of stalinism of creating a picture of your opposition and then finding them guilty of it.
I think it has become so common we don’t even know we are doing it, I have so many examples of this but will use only one to illustrate. I will do it in some detail so the problem is clear.
At a debate between the NC’s of Greece and Belgium, two of our strongest sections (of which there are audio recordings), A leading comrade from Belgium in her introduction labeled me as a Horozonalist.
It was done in a manner simply to slur and to build animosity towards me and make any comments I make in the future colured in the minds of comrades. This character attack was repeated by another leading comrade from Belgium in his summing up. He made a reference to the fact that Trotsky was on his side in the debate on democratic centralism and not on Rob/Vlads. This was the second time he made this accusation in open debate. We asked for clarification the first time but there was no response to this. No evidence was given in either case.
The Horizontalist slur is particularly interesting because it was referenced to an alternative document I had been the main contributor to in the prep committee of the International review. This comrade felt she could make this slur, even though I was not at this NC debate to defend myself or even connected to meeting in anyway, she herself was not at the meetings where my horozonalsim was allegedly on display and further still the alternative proposal that I made for the review process for which she must have been referring to was never published (wrongly) beyond the International leadership so nobody in this NC debate had even the faintest hope of uncovering my horizontalism.
This Horizontalism attack was part of the bigger “federalism”, “national degeneration” message pumped by the leadership as they created the enemy within that needed to be purged. In this meeting it was the Greeks.
The slur was not interested in the actual context of the prep committee of review where I was meant to be shown to be a “horozonalist”. The argument there was actually about my perception of the majority’s plans for the review process which I claimed was overly topped down controlled as to not allow for a bottom up process which I felt a review of this type must have. For this I was accused at the time of being a social democrat by the US comrade at the meeting. My actual thought process on Horzonalism can be read in a sensible way in the documents I wrote about a split with comrades from Sevilla who were horizontalists and in what I have written about democratic centralism and of course in the alternative proposal to the review process if they are published alongside the original submissions.
This false federalism slur is used to undermine comrades that want to pose a more democratic method. It was again horribly on display with the dispute over 2 articles from Spanish section on neo/liberalism debate. Both of which were extensions of IMB articles. The first which was critical of the International position and was supported by the majority of spanish section and was blocked from being published on the International website even as a personal contribution and the second by a spanish comrade in minority of one that was published without any consultation with the rest of the spanish comrades and posted as from the section. The comrade in question then doubled down in a debate on this question and accused us of being like the SSP. ie liquidationist the next stage of federalism for wanting simply basic democratic access to the apparatus in what was posed as a debate.
The struggle to build a mass revolutionary International and sections and branches that can lead the struggle to change society is not easy or straight forward. In being critical here of the ISA leadership I recognise it is a subjective opinion. That I could be reading the situation incorrectly that I could be succumbing to opportunism and abandoning the revolutionary party as surely I will be accused. In this I can only be honest about the direction of the process that I have outlined in this short explanation. A process which I think will not allow the international in most cases to progress beyond a party building machine. The Hyperbolic self congratulating of ourselves which is a growing feature of leadership social media posts points to lack of sober realisation of what we represent. I believe we are missing the opportunities and I have reached the end of trying to point that out within the toxic environment which has been built up by the present leadership. Some comrades will think I am from a parallel universe when I say this but many of you will understand completely what I mean. I know many comrades who agree with me are staying in the ISA to continue this struggle and I wish you well and hope for a future reunion and continued cooperation with all comrades.
I think it important to finally conclude that I have made mistakes over the recent years. I have lost my temper once in a meeting last year and I surely am guilty of some of the methods I denounce in this letter, especially over a historical period. It is exactly that reason I choose to try and change, to recognise where I see errors and to be creative in finding new solutions to old problems. It is this reason I find the ISA leadership methods toxic and the direction not one of change but of confirmation and consolidation of errors. I had hoped TIDU would change the situation but it proved not to be enough. I am not bitter, but I am sad. Nevertheless, I will continue to make a contribution to the struggle as my health and energy will let me. I wish all comrades well personally and politically and look forward to you proving me wrong. Our debates will continue but in public and in front of the class we aim to represent.
RM – Barcelona
Here is an edited version of the short ISA spanish majority groups leaving statement. It is edited as the full version includes a proposal on how to share the resources of SR and this is internal information not needed for the general reader.
Statement from Socialismo Revolucionario majority. 24/6/21
In the light of the Greek, Turkish and Cyprus sections splitting from the ISA. The Majority of Socialism Revolutionario(SR) have also chosen to break with ISA. It is clear over the last year SR has not functioned despite efforts of all. The differences that have emerged with the international leadership and their autocratic handling of the section has brought us to this situation. Each of us may or maynot choose to add to this small statement with one of their own. The purpose of this statement is to bring an end to the toxicity and for all to move on in whichever everway they see fit in building the revolutionary party.
We wish all comrades the best for the future.