Before the demise of the International Socialist Organization disappears completely from the rear view mirror, I wanted to mention a couple of other articles on the topic that I found interesting.
A piece outlining the internal functioning of the group and the nuts and bolts of the internal coup which preceded the dissolution decision is The Crisis and Collapse of the International Socialist Organization at The New Militant. It is a worthwhile case study in the life (and death) of a sect.
A more interesting and more political take on the events can be found at the Socialist Equality Party website. The piece, with a much sexier title, Factional provocation, middle-class hysteria, and the collapse of the International Socialist Organization, offers a plausible analysis of the political basis for the death of the ISO (provided, of course, than one can read around the article’s tedious and predictable Trotskyite insistance that only its particular flavor of Fourth International can save us).
Thus, according to the SEP:
In the statements issued by the ISO…. [r]eaders are expected to believe that the alleged mishandling of an accusation of sexual assault, which occurred six years ago, has caused the political collapse of the International Socialist Organization.
This is preposterous and will be believed only by those who are either hopelessly naïve or hopelessly stupid. The unleashing of a sex scandal in a political organization is aimed invariably at generating hysteria, stampeding the membership and preventing an open and rational discussion of program, perspective, strategy and the interests of conflicting internal factions and social forces. Only in the aftermath of the organizational massacre, as the smoke begins to clear, do the political interests and aims that precipitated the crisis begin to emerge.
… it is evident that the outcome of the crisis has been an extremely sharp movement to the right.
The article goes on to argue:
Whether or not the complete dissolution of the International Socialist Organization was the intended outcome of the political conspiracy organized by a section of the leadership is not clear. However, it is the logical outcome of the ISO’s right-wing, middle-class and thoroughly opportunist politics, in which all the various factions involved have participated.
Reviewing one of the articles posted on the ISO website by a supporter of the ascendant faction, the SEP piece seems exactly right in arguing that it
… exposes the hysterical psychology, akin to a lynch mob, that prevails among ISO members recruited on the basis of middle-class identity politics.
As for the major themes at issue in the breakup of the ISO, the article sites three – relations with the Democratic Party, the desire of ISO trade unionists to free themselves from party limitations, and conflict over the disposition of the ISO’s assets which, according to the article “run into the millions of dollars.”
Of these factors, the desire of much of the ISO to liquidate itself into the Democratic Party left via DSA seems most significant:
The liquidation of the ISO has effectively removed an organizational barrier to the integration of its dominant faction into the political orbit of the Democratic Party.
Prior to the February convention, the ISO was engaged in a protracted internal discussion of the political implications of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election to Congress… With the 2020 election approaching, the Democratic Party is exerting immense pressure to organizationally disarm and integrate potential opposition from the left.
… Significantly, the March 15 statement of the SC states that the ISO (or, presumably, its remnants) will “study how the ISO can relate to socialist campaigns run on Democratic ballot lines.”
So, I would have to agree with the SEP that the dissolution of the ISO is yet another example of the inability of the erstwhile anti-capitalist left to resist the gravitational pull of the political black hole which is the anti-populist popular front centered by the Democratic Party and fundamentally devoted to stabilizing the neo-liberal order in this time of political crisis.