Thinking of Joining the ISO? A former member says don’t do it

“When I rise, it will be with the ranks, not from the ranks.” – Eugene V. Debs
“When I rise, it will be with the ranks, not from the ranks.” – Eugene V. Debs

Pham Binh was a member of the ISO for several years and wishes to dissuade you from joining. His experience in ISO mirrors mine in PSL. He sees the problems in Leninist parties as fivefold and anyone thinking of joining a Marxist groupuscule should ponder carefully what he says.

As for me, I see the Leninist model as practiced today as a mostly irrelevant anachronism filled with acolytes who consult the dusty tomes to determine what course of action they should take based on what someone living 100-150 years ago in a different world said. When the revolution comes I’m quite sure it will not be led by a Marxist group. They’ll never see it coming because they’re too self-involved in mini-empire building and arguing about how many Marxists can dance on the head of a pin.

Most of your time as an ISO member, day to day, week to week, is spent on two things: recruiting new members and retaining existing members. This is what the ISO means by “party-building.

Membership Figures: a Well-Guarded Secret
The ISO’s revolving door membership is obscured because national membership figures are kept secret from the organization as a whole although local membership figures are routinely discussed at the branch level.

The ISO and Movements
The ISO insists that there is no contradiction between building itself and various movements.

Internal Reform?
If I believed it was possible to reform the ISO and change the practices I’ve criticized through its internal democratic mechanisms, I would be a member today.

Merging the Socialist and Worker Movements
No socialist organization should devote most of its time and energy to recruiting and retaining members.