Secrecy, the ISO, and the Left, Part 2

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By now, most people on the Left have heard about the sexual assault allegation against a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO). It is discussed in the ISO’s Internal Bulletin #19, which can be found on the Internet. What’s interesting about this is that this document was originally meant to be read by ISO members only. It appears that a disgruntled ISO member gave a bunch of the ISO’s internal documents to Ross Wolfe, who posted them on his blog, The Charnel House. This greatly angered many ISO members, even though there is nothing in these documents that is embarrassing or damaging to the ISO. Some of them said very insulting things about Wolfe. I find this inexplicable.

By now, most people on the Left have heard about the sexual assault allegation against a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO). It is discussed in the ISO’s Internal Bulletin #19, which can be found on the Internet. What’s interesting about this is that this document was originally meant to be read by ISO members only. It appears that a disgruntled ISO member gave a bunch of the ISO’s internal documents to Ross Wolfe, who posted them on his blog, The Charnel House. This greatly angered many ISO members, even though there is nothing in these documents that is embarrassing or damaging to the ISO. Some of them said very insulting things about Wolfe. I find this inexplicable.

As I explained in my previous post, secrecy can be justified in some situations. However, most of what’s in these documents could just as well have in Socialist Worker. There is a danger in making a fetish out of secrecy. I remember when I was in the ISO, I would sometimes meet people who were hostile to our group because they saw us as secretive. As I said before, when you keep secrets, people assume you have something to hide. (Consider all the wild conspiracy theories that have circulated around the Freemasons, who are really just a glorified stag drinking club.) The ISO might consider having more openness.

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One Response to “Secrecy, the ISO, and the Left, Part 2”

  1. James Robb Says:

    It seems to me that it’s not a question of whether there is anything damaging or embarrassing in leaked documents. Without the right to conduct discussions internally and confidentially, among members of the organisation only, and for the membership to decide what is presented publicly in the name of the organisation, you don’t really have the right to function as an organisation at all.

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