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On Ukraine: more links July 1, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From ColmB this link…

Noted these in comments – two pieces with differing takes on the invasion and NATO… here and here.

Here from a week or two back Rupture’s report on the PBP AGM 2022 including their analysis of the invasion of Ukraine.

And an interview with Jeremy Corbyn (thanks Liberius) from some months back.

And here’s Slavoj Žižek in the Guardian.

Comments»

1. Liberius - July 1, 2022

I decided to leave it when it was only posted as a comment but now it’s more prominent in a post it should be contextualised for those that don’t know that Ashley Smith was formerly the east coast organiser for the now dissolved International Socialist Organisation (ISO), indeed almost everyone involved in Tempest Mag appears to be ex-ISO, as is also the case with it’s sister publication Spectre Journal that Smith is the publication manager of. These do appear to largely be fronts for that milieu to have a post-ISO existence inside of the DSA, there isn’t specifically anything wrong with that and I don’t think any of them are directly implicated (open to correction) in the events that precipitated the ISO being dissolved but it is better to note their political history rather than having it obscured under the guise that they are just some sort of generic “US left group”.

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Conor Kostick - July 1, 2022

The people who were on the ISO Steering Committee in 2013 who failed to address a rape claim within the ISO are listed at the bottom of this article: https://medium.com/@isoleakss/inside-the-international-socialist-organizations-dissolution-after-a-rape-cover-up-b954e354143. The list does not include Ashley Smith.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

Useful to know, though I’m not really sure I understand the relevance of the original point re AS et al in the first place.

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Conor Kostick - July 1, 2022

I think one would want to be very wary of amplifying the voice of someone involved in covering up a rape accusation. To promote within the left the political profile of someone the wrong side of #metoo would obviously be a mistake, even if that person has a relatively good take on other issues. Here, there’s no problem, but some of those with a lot of questions to answer are still hovering around the left or are even candidates for the left.

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

I’m only providing background detail on what are front groups for members of a formerly extant party where none was openly provided on their websites, its importance is for everyone reading to individually decide themselves, doubly so as one of the individuals in the list Kostick references was interviewed by Spectre in their most recent issue.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

Aren’t these folk now in the DSA and I’ve seen no evidence that AS has hidden his previous connections. Anything but. And he’s been around quite some time with quite some prominence while in the ISO and after. Difficult to believe anyone who didn’t know and was curious wouldn’t do the necessary.

I don’t think it’s a requirement to provide a bio in every instance. It’s like say if I was a member of the LP or SF writing articles publicly under my own name having to mention each and every time I’d been a member of the WP and DL. Not really necessary. But that raises the question as to ‘decide’ what? That Smith’s perspective would be distorted, but in what way? And how does that link back to the ISO sexual misconduct and rape issue?

Agree CK, but isn’t this a case where if it’s not an issue it’s not actually an issue?

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

But that raises the question as to ‘decide’ what? That Smith’s perspective would be distorted, but in what way? And how does that link back to the ISO sexual misconduct and rape issue?

It was raised in the comments here a while back by I think Tomás Ó Flathartha that the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, who I might have on the current situation common ground with, have anti-Semitic baggage, that did influence how I choose to view that group (you’ll note I’ve never linked to them), there is no reason not to assume that others wouldn’t take something similar from knowing what organisational history the Tempest Magazine & Spectre Journal members have. If not then fine, but knowing doesn’t harm the situation, much like with UPM it is better to know who you’re potentially dealing with than not.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

Yeah, but isn’t there an issue where there’s an issue – again to use the formulation I used with Conor? Or to put it another way, is this like and like? If the UPM has anti-semitic problems I wouldn’t expect you to link to them but for a group of Ukrainian pacifists that don’t have an issue then that’s a different thing again and absolutely link to them. There’s inevitably going to be pacifists in Ukraine who are entirely coherent and whose position one can respect even if one disagrees with aspects of their stance (or not). Whereas in this instance I can’t see evidence that there is a problem with AS so it’s odd that mention is made as if there is.

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

The issue isn’t with Smith specifically though, I don’t agree with much of what he writes, very far from it, but that is neither here nor there, the issue is that Tempest and Spectre aren’t open about what their history is, and as I mentioned above at least one of that 2013 Steering committee is on good enough terms with them to be interviewed by Spectre in the most recent issue. It doesn’t create harm knowing this.

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

So Liberius, it wouldn’t do any harm for us to know you’re political history to see if it’s relevant to this discussion?

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2. Colm B - July 1, 2022

I don’t agree with your designation of the Tempest collective as being just a continuity ISO. The grouping that seems to have grown around the old ISO leadership is this one:
https://internationalsocialism.net/

Anyway, what’s your point in raising this connection? Is Ashley Smith’s article on the Ukraine less credible because they were past members of the ISO? Is everyone who was ever in the ISO discredited by the mysogyinstic behaviour of its former leaders?

Let’s follow that logic a wee bit – so everyone who was in the SWP are forever tainted by the monstrous rape cover-up perpetrated by the leadership of that party? Unlike the ISO which no longer exists and whose membership dissolved it in response to the scandalous behaviour of its former leaders, the SWP continues to exist and those leaders who covered up for the rapist are still in charge of its English section and those in the Irish SWN who kept quite or refused to condemn the rape cover-up are still prominent leaders in the SWN and PBP. Should we discount their views on Ukraine because of that?

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

If Liberius thinks a socialist’s background is important perhaps they would tell us their own political background? Are they members or former members of any organisation?

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

I’m not a member of any party, the closest I got to being one was a phone call with an SP rep back in 2009, I didn’t join though.

On your points, clearly people who weren’t in leadership roles aren’t responsible for the reprehensible behaviour of others, that goes for any ex-ISO people who weren’t aware as it does for members of the SWP/SWN, but that doesn’t mean that organisations that are by the look of it nearly entirely made of former members, some of which had senior roles and would have been fairly close to the disgraced leadership, shouldn’t be clear about who they are/were, it looks shifty otherwise.

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

But wait a minute, the ISO membership kicked out its leaders and then in the face of further revelations dissolved the org. No on in the ISO could have been unaware of what was going on and the vast majority of them took responsibility for the awful situation instead of covering up. There are a number of organisations which include or are made up of former members of the ISO but the only one that is a direct inheritor which includes some of the disgraced former leaders is the tiny ISP, not Tempest.

Now let’s contrast this with the SWP/SWN – it’s current leaders actively covered up for a leading member who raped a young woman and when this emerged continued to do so despite the objections and eventual exit of around a third of their membership. Now you could argue that the fact that rapist-defenders are still in leadership positions SWP and SWN is relevant to those organisations positions on sexism, feminism etc.

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

Dissolving the organisation then starting a new one/s without saying anything about the history or why of that though could easily be viewed as an attempt to skate away from that legacy, maybe that’s not the case with Tempest/Spectre but it could easily be and I find it bizarre they appear not to want to explicitly distance themselves, as I’ve said above it doesn’t harm for people to know this history as you yourself clearly did when you nebulously called them a “US left group” several weeks ago, they might not have the culpability that the ISP members have, but failing to even mention it isn’t a good look.

Also, nobody is defending the choices of the SWP/SWN leadership in refusing to take responsibly, clearly that does influence how they should be viewed on a variety of topics.

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

Ok so I should have called them a “US left group many of whose members were formerly in the ISO but are not culpable for the crimes of the former leadership of the ISO, because they don’t include that leadership and there’s a different group that does”.
And when I refer to the SWP/SWN I should refer to them as “a British left
group led by rape-deniers, whose entire membership is culpable as they must know about the rape cover up that their current leadership engaged in”?

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

You try to pull a fast one by bigging up a non-issue to divert from the substance of an article about Ukraine and now you’re complaining about “caustic comments”. Cmon, pull the other one.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

I’m not unsympathetic to your point at all Liberius but I think that activists can’t be held hostage by their past affiliations particularly when they’re not implicated in any toxic behaviours. But again who in the current period of internet etc and the open declarations of past affiliations (as well as online paper trails) couldn’t buy kniw if they had any seriousness about them. One other thought – having the misfortune to be involved in two parties one of which was large enough and the other which was much smaller I didn’t know most others – and while I was on a committee in the latter and in and out if the offices on middle abbey st I can’t say I was in any sense ‘close’ to the leadership or groups inside the party. There’s sometimes an impression that parties are much more monolithic or lines if control tighter than they actually are and the reality is very different. Left parties (behind those with a strong paramilitary aspect) are volunteerist and can only exert so much control on members.

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

Individual activists I’d agree with you on, but I’m far less convinced whole organisations shouldn’t be able to, indeed I do wonder how they broach their collective pre-2020 history with prospective new members, doesn’t strike me as healthy to expect people to google for Socialist Worker bylines like I did several weeks ago.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

Organisations ebb and flow. I don’t expect Paul Murphy or RISE to have to state at every juncture they were in the SP originally. Anyone with any curiosity will be able to find that out in five minutes and I don’t see that as a burden on the person asking questions. As for organisations it’s even easier – wiki is there as a resource, in an Irish context check out the ILA or go to Irish Election Literature. And if the DSA allows groups to function semi-autonomously or with an identity of their own isn’t that their business? None of this is a state secret. It’s easily discovered in a moment or two. And again people inside the DSA will be well aware of the provenance. Just as I knew in the WP some people had been in the SPI, or the CPI originally. Where is the unhealthiness? Again these are volunteerism organisations. I don’t think activists or potential activists should be reactionary and expect to be spoon-fed stuff. If someone wants to join a moment, or group, then it is their responsibility to discover as much as they can about it quite apart from the official lines because it’s a two sided process. I wish, in retrospect, the sheer volume of information about parties was available when I joined the WP as is available now. And on a slight tangent I once was talking to Pat McCartan when he was still a TD and suggested it would be great to have a history of the Irish left. To which he replied ‘why would anyone want to do that?’. That’s the genesis I suspect of the ILA. So again I’m not unsympathetic to your point but I think in this instance it’s not got the traction – particularly given anyone can suss this all out. BTW, I’d presume that generally people join the DSA as the DSA and then shake out into fractions as they see fit. So presumably there’s some competition within it and circulation of information.

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

I don’t think Murphy or RISE have been especially bashful about their history, granted it would be impossible for a TD to just skate away from their party and start a new one without notice, still I don’t think that’s an accurate comparison as there is plenty of extremely public material in newspapers etcetera flagging up that link where as with Tempest/Spectre you have to match all the names to work out its near entirely ex-ISO, indeed working with Colm B’s snarky retort above you’d not be able to know if you were dealing with the good ex-ISO without significant leg work. For the curious maybe that won’t be an issue, but not all are that curious.

On that point about some in the WP having SPI or CPI backgrounds, I get your point but I do think there is difference between some and many, some is just political patina, many is a story.

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

I admirt In about slow on the uptake, but well done Liberius, you’ve managed to derail a whole thread about the desperate struggle of the Ukrainian people against the brutal Russian imperialist invasion but I guess the origins of the Tempest group are of far greater import than their struggle.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

But your assumption Liberius is one in the negative from the off, even though you yourself in your initial post noted that “These do appear to largely be fronts for that milieu to have a post-ISO existence inside of the DSA, there isn’t specifically anything wrong with that and I don’t think any of them are directly implicated (open to correction) in the events that precipitated the ISO being dissolved ” and clearly they were not.

There’s a danger that that might be salting the earth, suggesting bad faith from the get go.

There’s a further point. If I’d been in the ISO and was now in the DSA, and the publication that I was involved in was part of the DSA and functioned as an adjunct to it (one of many) I’m not sure I’d be shouting from the rooftops about the ISO. Or to give a different example Militant never spoke of the RSL despite being the RSL in everything but name inside the BLP. Do I personally have a problem with that? Not really since once Militant had moved into the BLP it had in a sense become a part of it and it was up to the BLP to engage or not as it saw fit with it. And it’s clear the Tempest crew aren’t entryists in the sense that Militant were into the BLP. It’s no great surprise that those who left the ISO some of them would be attracted to the DSA. Lots of groups have folded in in the last while. I just don’t see, as long as they follow the broad rules of the DSA where the problem is in this. Another example, Jim Kemmy and the DSP joined the LP (well, actually some joined the WP and a few more the DL before that). But I wonder how many people cared or knew about that in Ireland as a whole and while more would have known in Limerick just how live an issue was it?

In any case it’s difficult to understand all this effort about a group that not one person on here is involved in or has any contact with (at least that I know) and whose only aspect of interest is that they offer from within the DSA a voice of solidarity and support for Ukraine to resist the invasion. Indeed if it weren’t for their stance on Ukraine would we even be having this discussion?

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

These do appear to largely be fronts for that milieu to have a post-ISO existence inside of the DSA, there isn’t specifically anything wrong with that and I don’t think any of them are directly implicated (open to correction) in the events that precipitated the ISO being dissolved but it is better to note their political history rather than having it obscured under the guise that they are just some sort of generic “US left group”.

You’ve missed out a chunk of that sentence, with that context I’d not especially like their politics but wouldn’t be especially bothered about their existence, I don’t think that’s negative, very far from it, information isn’t negative, we can never be too informed.

On the DSA I don’t care them being in the DSA, it was added only as texture, much of your comment is an over-reading of what I meant towards entryism when the meaning is specifically limited to Tempest/Spectre itself.

For what it’s worth the caustic nature of some of the comments today are exactly why I didn’t mention this weeks ago.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

I can’t speak to anyone else’s comment but I don’t think caustic would describe my own. I thought this is a useful and enjoyable engagement over the nature of political activity and presentation. And that’s the reason I’m keeping on keeping on. But be that as it may I think it’s worth keeping in mind what I was saying earlier re the nature of political groups. As volunteerist formations we can’t expect them to have every single I dotted and T crossed. And again given the mess of the ISO breakup and the fact these were as far as can be judged the better crowd is cut ten some slack for not shouting it from the rooftops.
When I say negative it’s not that information is negative but I do think it’s there and people can find out if they join the DSA. Again even putting entryism aside the SP here didn’t make much in their literature of their time in the ILP despite as a component having to shore up and canvass for right wing ilp TDs. Now before that’s taken the wrong way the WP voted to support a Haughey govt so I completely get the compromises and contradictions politics engenders. Hence no surprise the SP wouldn’t advertise that heritage and indeed RISE as a split from that heritage as a party/fraction/tendency as distinct from PM TD aren’t going to either. I think these are difficult areas for people as with the ex ISOers and it’s difficult to really be sure what’s the correct way to engage with a conflicted and conflicting past where a group us ripped apart by the most heinous acts carried out and brushed under the carpet by former comrades. I don’t know that if it were me I’d want to advertise much if that while obviously having to accept the reality I was in it and the fact that info was out there. So what does one do on a human level?

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Liberius - July 1, 2022

I understand that human-level desire not to shout it from rooftops, I do get that it must have very hard on a lot of them to loose so much of what they worked for over the years in such a horrific manner but it does feel like it’s too a big of their background not to be at least mentioned, even if only in a “out of the ashes, something better” kind of way.

And it’s not you I was referring to with “caustic comments”.

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WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2022

Ah fair enough re your last point. I guess there’s also the problem that those who are innocent shouldn’t have to feel they must protest their innocence permanently. Somehow that feels unjust.

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3. Colm B - July 1, 2022

Here’s another excellent piece on Ukraine by the veteran socialist Simon Pirani:

https://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2022/06/27/why-is-ukrainian-resistance-invisible-to-you/

Liked by 1 person

4. Colm B - July 1, 2022

Cystic it may be but unlike WBS, I don’t welcome Liberius’s intervention in this particular thread, though, as always I would defend anyone’s right to intervene in whatever way they wish.

It seems obvious that the intention of the intervention was to derail the discussion and divert attention from the article on the Ukraine’s resistance, by raising a spurious point that was irrelevant to the thread.

Of course the issues raised by the demise of the ISO and people’s responsibility for their past actions are very serious but the link to the current thread was so thin that one can only presume bad faith. If Liberius is so concerned about such links they would raise them every time someone from PbP or SWP/SWN intervened here, as they, unlike A.S., are actually still members of organisations which are led by rape-deniers or those who kept quite when that scandalous behaviour was going on.

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Colm B - July 1, 2022

Cystic? Caustic…

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jc - July 5, 2022

Apologies, but was not sure where to put this: As an inactive DSA member (my job makes it complicated), I pay some attention to internal discussions. I can assure you that people on the US left are well aware of the background of the people involved with Tempest and that they are fairly peripheral in terms of numbers and influence. I think it is notable that ISO was losing members to DSA long before its dissolution due to changing perspectives about electoralism among ISO activists, largely relating to the Saunders campaigns and DSA’s huge growth rate after 2016. The fact that people moved from ISO to DSA represented a development in their personal politics in many cases, rather than an infiltration.

Also, to defend Spectre for a moment: I took a quick look at its editorial board and found at least two members who have been prominent in political organisations very different from ISO, so it seems to be a genuinely nonsectarian publication. fyi — the former ISO leader Liberius points to who is interviewed in Spectre is Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. She isvery prominent in the US andher relationship with ISO is totally incidental to her fame. She is a black gay Marxist who is a professor at Princeton, contributing writer at the New Yorker, and recent McArthur “genius” grant recipient. She can get a platform anywhere she wants.

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WorldbyStorm - July 5, 2022

No need for apologies at all, that’s very very useful jc as background information. Interestingly I was reading up on Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and I had more or less the same conclusion. She’s very very high profile indeed.

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WorldbyStorm - July 5, 2022

BTW, how do you broadly find the DSA in terms of its perspectives, activism and so on. I know you’re inactive but in your experience is it a useful vehicle for the left? Genuinely curious.

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jc - July 5, 2022

DSA is a bit of a mixed bag. It is definitely not a cadre organisation — more a broad church where people on the left can meet and work on various electoral and other projects on a fairly ad hoc basis. A benefit of this is that it can contain very diffuse views on ideology and strategy without falling apart. The downside is that DSA can never really bring the totality of its forces to bear on any single priority and there is no real national agreed strategy or focused message. That being said, there have been some real electoral victories by genuinely leftist candidates in state and ;local legislatures, especially here in NYC and in Chicago. There have also been people using DSA for some really productive and tactically interesting labour work. The Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC) (https://workerorganizing.org/) has been doing some great work and really shows people grappling with the economic and class issues a meaningful American left needs to be involved in.

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WorldbyStorm - July 5, 2022

Yeah that sounds very positive. So it’s a good step along the way if not the answer to everything. Great to hear. And in such a ferociously anti-leftist country as the US that’s heartening.

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5. tomasoflatharta - July 2, 2022
6. tomasoflatharta - July 4, 2022
WorldbyStorm - July 4, 2022

+1

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7. Des Derwin - July 5, 2022

1972: proportion of Irish left supporting Vietnam against US aggression – 100%

2022: proportion of Irish left supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression – 1%

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WorldbyStorm - July 5, 2022

Hope it’s not as low as that Des.

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Colm B - July 5, 2022

I guess it depends on how you define the left. Though Independent Left is the only left organisation that is clearly pro-Ukraine, the sense I get is that many nonaligned leftists are also pro-Ukraine.

https://independentleft.ie/the-left-and-russian-imperialism/

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Des Derwin - July 5, 2022

I think that sense is true

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WorldbyStorm - July 5, 2022

+1 and in fairness PBP at least nods to Ukrainian sovereignty. My own read, for what it is worth, is that there’s a strange reification of NATO in all this and an aversion from acknowledging this as an unprovoked war of choice. Well people are free to think what they like though I also think this points up the weakness of the left both in terms of influence and conceptually – because clearly in the society as a whole there’s widespread support for Ukraine and support for Irish neutrality. So called ‘ordinary’ people are able to chew gum and walk at the same time. And one last thought, no conflicts are perfect and none are without contradiction where all elements line up with ‘good’ on one side and ‘bad’ on the other. But it’s not difficult to negotiate a path through that.

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8. Des Derwin - July 6, 2022

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