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Related Categories: Education & Student Activism
Why did ISO hijack Berkley CA Schools Conference?
by Carmenita
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 3:18 PM
Why did the ISO lie to us all and bring us up here this weekend, only to push and build and ISO coalition. if I wanted to be in the ISO i would have joined the organiziation.
ey Conference Hijacked by the ISO

This weekend I attended the CSAW (California Schools Against War) Conference held in Berkley. I go to school in Santa Barbara. I came to this meeting thinking that I was going to work with other schools and help in regard of making solid plans to bring to our campus and help to plan. I was looking for ideas, for suggestions, a bit of suggestion and also I wanted to know where other students stood on the Anti-War stance.
What ended up happening was just this enormous and very upsetting event. The conference started with a panel on Saturday morning. No other students from other schools spoke during this time, mainly people from Berkley. Lunch was served.Workshops were held and I viewed the workshops as the best thing that came out of my traumatizing weekend. The next day on Sunday there was a delegation meeting. The Berkeley group without asking any other schools had decided to only allow 5 delegates from each school to be involved in the voting and decision making process during this conference. So 5 delegates from each school who basically named themselves delegates were picked to make choices for their entire school without even having a chance to speak with the other members from their school. From the time the process of the delegation meeting started it was doomed to fail. In NO WAY was there talk of process, all 190 people were basically TOLD that we would have to be in a majority voting process without it EVER being discussed. We were just told this was how things were going to be, no discussion was even held about this. Please remember that we have 45 schools present at this conference, non of which were told that they had a choice between consensus decision making process, majority voting, or other forms of decision making. There was no access to a list server or phone conference calls by schools, we were told that there were email list servers, I know my schools and a few others who tried numerous times to contact The Berkley Stop the War Coalition but our emails went unanswered. Nothing about the process and the format of this conference regarding how we were going to make decisions were known, and there were many people there who were very young, and this was their first event like this who expressed over and over they did not understand the process and felt like they were shut down, glossed over or just plain ignored.
Back to the conference, they asked the schools to put forth proposals that we wanted to be voted on. There were 25 proposals in all and we had from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM to get through them all. The first proposal was to establish a coordinating committee. So basically we were asked to instead of having 5 delegates from each school which is already undemocratic, we were now being asked to have only 1 delegate representing each school, forming basically a body of government working within this coalition. How can that even happen? how can we only have 1 representative from each school communicating and bringing forth the entire schools anti-war perspective? is this right? well we didn't’t think so, but that didn%27t’t matter since we were the minority by votes and the first proposal that started our meeting was passed. Time ticked on and all types of proposals regarding Days of Action, consumer boycott after Thanksgiving, March to DC, and various other “important” proposals were passed or thrown aside… in the meantime people are raising their hand and being told by the Facilitator/moderator that they don’t have time and they can’t talk. Dialogue was being cut off, and discussions were told that they could not go on because we didn%27t’t have time. Over and over they stopped taking stack and told people not to raise their hands, over and over people stood up and asked for clarification, and asked to be heard and they were shut down. A young man in the back stood up and said that this process was undemocratic, and that people have even stopped voting, because they did not understand what was going on, since everything was being cut off and stopped. People were becoming frustrated and asking to be heard, at this point the facilitator looked confused and sent everyone to lunch. During lunch groups started to gather and the words of confusion and being upset were in the air, groups were talking about walk outs, and they were talking about confronting this the minute they went back in.
Once we came back into he hall, hands went up and people wanted a Process Point, wanted a stop to the voting so that certain things could be said, this AGAIN was ignored, glossed over and the voting continued. As this was going on I watched a young lady with a few others sitting in rows behind her stand up and walk out into the hall, about 15 minutest later they came back and went towards the podium, and asked from a Process Point. An older middle eastern man stood up and asked that the student groups please please involve more middle eastern people and not ignore the things we want to say, and to please reach out to the middle eastern groups in regards to organizing against the war. One womin went up and asked that there please be more discussion before we vote so that we can all know what we are voting for, so that we can all know what information to take back to our campus and present to the groups we were supposed to be representing. She also asked for a more democratic voting process, because she did not feel comfortable at all in the situation that was going on. After her another young womin who was middle eastern spoke and basically pleaded with the group to include more voice of the middle eastern people and to not please leave them out, her voice was shaking as she was saying this, and she said that many of her friends and comrades had felt very very isolated from the white/academia community and felt like nobody was listening to them. After her 2 people from the conference organizing group stood up who were middle eastern and said that there are many middle eastern groups that are not against the war and that’s why they were not there. The Facilitator said that he wanted to vote for us to either continue w/ the majority voting process or move towards a consensus decision making process. A vote was actually taken for this, but nobody actually explained what consensus or majority voting is, nobody said anything about it, and again there were so many people there who had no idea what consensus even was, so how was this a fair vote?
With a all this going on I watched as the two girls who made the process point, two women of color I might add who had the guts to walk up in front of a huge group and ask for there to be a voice. They walked out of the meeting, many people followed them, as the rest of the body continued voting and deciding things. I was in shock basically, I have never in the few years I have been trying to dedicate my life to organizing around issues such as these have I seen such blatant disrespect and undemocratic process unfold.
I eneded up leaving the meeting, and outside in the hallway I heard from the groups that had gathered that there was going to be holding a small meeting out on the steps of the Life Science Hall, they invited anyone who was upset about the decision making process to come join them and voice their concerns, since they were not being allowed to inside the meeting.
I decided to go to that meeting, and I counted 59 other people who felt the way I did, and who also had major concerns. Women spoke about how they the entire was so sexist, and that they were cut off over and over when they tried to bring up issues, people of color spoke out about how they did not feel included in this process from day one, other schools talked about why have both these California conferences, just happen to end up in Berkley, why are they not rotating? People from the Queer community talked about they felt like they did not have a space or voice to talk. In general people talked about how they feared speaking up and did not feel like they should, so they just bit their tongue and continued with the process. The most interesting part was when about 5 people who were actually part of the group from Berkley who organized this conference came to our meeting and told us that they had so many problems also regarding these issues, and they had never fixed them. A group of them continued speaking and told us that they felt like the presence of ISO members and ISO regional coordinator a man named Todd was what was the breaking point of this conference. New information was revealed that the facilitator name Snehal who has been cutting people off left and right when they brought opposition views was an ISO member, more was revealed when we found out the people making proposals and being put on head of planning coordinating committees were all ISO people, that the people who wanted to organize the march to DC were ISO members, the people in charge of the next conference and coordinating committee were ISO members, that the contact person from the Southern California Schools Against War a man I think named BJ was an ISO member, and he was the only contact the Southern California schools had been able to have with Berkley because the Berkley folks would not return the emails of others who were inquiring.
Personally I know we have all heard things about this group, but I don’t belong to any affiliation, I consider myself a socialist actually, I have never felt the need to call them out or point these issues out about them up until now because this was such a blatant undemocratic tactic that was used by them. I have very personal politics Im able to distinguish a time and a place to bring those personal political structural ideas forth. This conference entirely failed to do that. Beneath a cloud of secrets, non-transparency, non-communication, and blockade of involvement this conference was held as an ISO platform related event disguised as an open Coalition of Schools organizing against the war in Afghanistan. The entire platform and structure that was designed and reinforced by forming these special committees and assigning one delegate from each school. The entire fact that no communist, or anarchist views or speakers were allowed to join, be present or speak on the panel, the very idea that the people organizing this thought that people were too stupid to be able to make a choice between consensus and majority vote, so they made that decision for them, they did not think that these group of students who are good enough to outreach, organize and build a movement. But they are not good enough to be given the choice of which democratic process they want to use in making decisions. Im very sad that I even have to write this long essay, but the fact remains we are fighting a system right now, we are fighting against a war. The US is using so many issues regarding Afghanistan to justify their actions in bombing and killing the people in that region, they are lying to us, they are hiding things from us, they think we are too stupid to figure it out and make a wise decision ourselves. This is the same thing that happened this weekend as I watched it unfold. I hate this bickering and name calling between groups as much as the next person, but Im able to realize that we need to do this, we need to be able to see when this type of racist, sexist domination is being done. When we are being told lies, and having a front group being coordinated but behind the mask there is a political party, and a political agenda. I never not once before this weekend have I attacked the ISO or had even one bad thing to say about them, but this blatant cover up, this blatant lies and secrecy have no place in our movement, they have no place in our lives. This group has proven to be wonderful politician, but please try to remember it was the politicians who have brought us all to this place, it was their lies and decent that have become all of our problems. Enough is enough, stop the bull shit, if the ISO wanted a Anti War School Coalition, they should have called it the ISO Anti War School Coalition, at least I would respect them for being honest in doing that, stop the bull shit, you can only lie and try to trick people for so long. The “masses” as the ISO calls them are NOT stupid.
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by yep
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 3:29 PM
Yep. You aren't the first person to feel that way about the ISO, and that's why they have such a bad reputation. Sorry the conference was so bad.

Unfortunately, the ISO and other 'vanguardist' groups are extremely well-organized. I think there needs to be an anarchist alternative which is just as well-organized ... but pushes for open-ness, transparency and democratic organizing.

To me, this is what 'anarchism' represents for the radical left. We are at a point where we can make a difference, but the stifling, control-freak organizing of ISO only alienates and scares real, normal people (those whom they call the "masses").

Let's get organized!
§.
by Jon
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 3:56 PM
cause the ISO is fucked up.
a lot of people realized that long ago.

whenever you get extreme ideologies like that you're bound to get ridiculous end results.

my advice: just ignore them. there are a ton of rational left-wingers who actually adhere to lefty principals rather then being quasi-fascists in disguise
by The shnoz
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 4:13 PM
Why does a dog lick his balls?
by riga
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 4:27 PM
I anticipated that this would happen. The ISO also sponsors a lot of the anti-war stuff at SF State and their rallies have really sucked. There are a few options for students interested in meeting with other students: keep meeting/networking with the break-off group and maybe write a manifesto explaining the purpose of the "break-off." Rather than spending time villifying the ISO, which is an energy draining experience, lets define democratic procedures that should define the movement. Keep organizing as a socialist-anarchist and away from the ISO (that should piss them off!) and I would personally encourage you to develop this posting into an article that you circulate more widely with others. I've already bumped into this guy Todd and he's a condescending classic "white male with bull-horn" organizing the masses. A democratic organization/movement will be truly democratic when the small disgruntled groups can participate in deciding the process (if not at least putting a stop to the process until they feel comfortable.) It doesn't necessarily need to be consensus decision making either. This is the very reason I favor affinity groups that do a lot of analytical/political work together. You can relate to the larger movements with a sense of solidarity and shared perspective, anticipating the authoritarian socialist types, and laughing at them while organizing all the while.
I would support any effort to develop anti-war efforts outside the ISO/ANSWER (coke/pepsi) choices.
by Sk! (deltakid [at] ucla.edu)
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 4:56 PM
The Free Radicals have been going for about two months in LA and we're doing pretty well, check out how we work:

Free Radicals

“….. the atoms are free radicals (molecules with an unpaired electron). The unpaired electrons are highly energetic and seek out other electrons with
which to pair.”

“This can create a self-perpetuating chain reaction in which the structure of millions of molecules are altered in a matter of nanoseconds (a nanosecond is a billionth of a second) wreaking havoc with DNA, protein molecules, enzymes and cells."

What we want to see are local affinity groups (a tight-knit bunch of friends from 3-8 people usually, used extensively in the Spanish Civil War) getting together by region and joining themselves into a cluster. By
combining community efforts while continuing to bring new people into the network, we move beyond single-issue protests and actions and towards a broader, participatory politics for our localities.
This eliminates transportation issues and hopefully will bring others into the network who have not necessarily had previous activist work. We would like to see clusters in North LA, South, West, East and perhaps even in between. Actions that are legal and above ground should be brought to the cluster and/or the regular spokescouncil to convene upon and join forces in a manner where everyone is a leader. Illegal actions should be kept within affinity groups, ensuring security and softening the impact of infiltration.
It is recommended that each cluster create two task-specific affinity groups:

1) Media outreach affinity group – Rotating positional basis, establish ties with local media, prepare press releases for actions, learn to deal with manipulative questions and get the action’s message across.
2) Legal affinity group – Rotating positional basis, intended to understand and provide advice for potential actions, legal ramifications etc., supply support for those jailed in actions, legal or illegal, create phone trees,
learn due process etc…

Clusters should have consensus of message, but not necessarily that of action, same with spokescouncils. We all agreed that there would never be paid organizers of spokescouncils or anything related to the network. Ultimately, the structure of each cluster will be
the responsibility of the region to figure out. To clarify, clusters should form where they can, hopefully central to the members of the affinity groups and potential other affinity groups. The reason we try to form clusters on a regional basis is to get away from the centralization of “all-city”coalitions, instead opting to have one of these meetings a month. Regional clusters cut down on driving, stress and provide a venue for community
organizing. Anyone can attend a meeting of any cluster, though they should put effort into ensuring that there is action occuring in their own communities.


Our principles of unity are:

Non-hierarchical – Everyone is a leader and has a say in decision making and planning.
Decentralized – No one cluster has power over another, spokescouncils do not speak for or rule for either clusters or affinity groups.
Non-sectarian – We do not affiliate with any political party, organization or outlook, we will not exclude people based on their political affiliations.
Pro Consensus Process
Pro Mutual Aid
Pro Egalitarianism
Pro The Globalization of Justice
Anti-racist, sexist, homophobic
Anti-imperialist
Non-elitist (We wish to keep an open and smooth relationship with ourcommunities, and not create elite activists that engender barriers toparticipation)

Useful Links:

http://www.starhawk.org/activism/consensus.html - Information on the
consensus process.
http://www.killradio.org
http://www.florycanto.org
http://www.la.indymedia.org
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/archivehome.html
http://www.insurgentdesire.co.uk
http://www.lafoodnotbombs.org
by love
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 5:19 PM
sounds like this discussion about the role of ISO in activism in the Bay Area is one that needs to be had--in a public forum like this and not in conversations between two and three people where I've frequently heard them before. Let's get it out now. Everyone who has constructive criticism or suggestions for ISO at schools and such around here should chime in now. I don't think the answer is to say, ISO sucks and let's do it without them. They are a very organized group and comprised of extremely dedicated members, those that I know. But more than once in the past I have seen their adherence to their own dogma scare off other potential allies. ALL movements and organizations have splits and disagreements, we are all opinionated thinkers, this ain't Heaven's Gate. Big groups like IAC and ISO can tend to sort of monopolize the dialogue, but they shouldn't be totally condemned for it, I hope...Did the ISO really hijack the CSAW conference? If so, let's say why and how, and what it means, and how we can work through it without letting splintering and infighting weaken what we are trying to do--which WILL take all of us if anything's gonna come of it. thank you for your honest essay carmelita and others
what do we want?
when do we want it?
by ..
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 5:40 PM
i dont see any sort of alternative, if i want tog et involved the ISO is right there for me to join.
by Eric Chavez (Zapatista21 [at] hotmail.com)
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 5:57 PM
Ok, with all due respect to your political views and the fact that you are all activists, you all sound a little paranoid. Did the ISO really "hijack" the conference? From what you're saying, it sounds like everyone who is on any of the committees that came out of the conference is on the ISO. Dang, they must be more organized than I thought. In reality, I'm sure they worked extremely hard to help pull off such a big conference and that there are plenty of non-ISO people who were elected as delegates and on the coordinating positions. Don't mistake political seriousness and a high level of organization for tyranny. And, please, all your class baiting of the ISO and other socialists is really inappropriate. It's insulting to the many people of color who are in the ISO and are socialists. I'm a person of color and I happen to know Todd. He knows how to talk to people of color. That's more than I can say for some of you Anarchists.
VIVA CHE
by Chuck0 (chuck [at] tao.ca)
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 6:32 PM
Thanks, Carmenita, for sharing your thoughts and the analysis of what happened. It's good to hear that so many other students got that gut feeling that they were being manipulated and had the courage to speak out. Leaving the meeting and having an impromptu one outside was a good move.

I've been raising criticisms of the ISO for years and I've based those criticisms on my experience with them and other vanguardists groups over the years. It's pretty encouraging that many of these student activists saw through the ISO's plans. The ISO spends most of their time and resources recruiting on college campusese. They gravitate towards any hot activist topic of the day and then use the groups to recruit members. They did this with the student anti-sweatshop movement and they've done it with the anti-globalization movement. Odd are that many of the teach-ins that happen on campus have been organized by the ISO as recruiting opportunities. They are pretty open about this within their organization; they just don't tell students what they are doing.

The ISO has always tried to run things in a hierarchical, centralized fashion. They get away with this more in new student groups, because most new activists don't understand what they are doing. The ISO has developed a complicated method of manipulating meetings--in this case, they fucked up.

In the long run, it doesn't pay to get to focused on the ISO. Word is getting around about them and students seem to have gotten tired of the socialist sects that try to use them.

It sounds like you and the other students took some positive steps in your outdoor meeting towards building a student anti-war movement. Go with your instincts. Grassroots democracy and consensus decision-making are important. If you create a system of delegates to national meetings, make sure that these roles are rotated. You and the other students are capable of organizing your own network or coalition without the petty manipulation of groups like the ISO.

Good luck!
by think about it
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 8:03 PM
I want to talk about the conference. We can dwell on all the politics and problems (and, no, I'm not a member of the ISO), but I want people to stop and think about how awesome the conference actually was: over 500 people came from all over the West Coast! Let me say that again, over 50 schools from all over the West Coast gathered to activate about stopping the war in Afghanistan! Activists with all different experiences had a chance to meet each other, to learn from each other, and create a stronger network. I don't care if the conference wasn't perfect, the fact that things went as smoothly as they did logistics-wise is something to respect. I want to defend the organizers (ISO or not) and remind people that they're students just like the rest of us, with as little free time, as much homework, and are getting as little sleep. So, for the sake of the anti-war movement, I hope that people don't dismiss the conference as a whole as useless, and realize the work that went into it, and with that in mind, realize how amazing it was, and if you didn't like the way this one turned out, let's have another one.
by honesty
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 8:47 PM
Oh-- OK that logic is exactly the type of authoritarian socialist logic I am so used to hearing...

The ISO gets criticized and suddenly critics can not assume the mantle of "true" anti-capitalists. Once again, unless you are a party/organization member--you are not really down with the anti-capitalist project.

I've lived on both coasts, been involved in many movements for years, and regardless of individual ISO activists being able to talk to people of color or not, their organizing methods are highly questionable and they have taken over many groups--in principle. Now I don't know exactly about the dynamics of the Berkeley conference, but I think that it sounds closer to truth than paranoia that this highly organized group exerted almost unilateral influence over decision-making...hmm...sound familiar?

But I agree with the others. It's easy to complain, harder to organize alternatives to the empire and its authoritarian pseudo-negations. Affinity groups, anti-elitism, openness, honesty, and ability to TRUST OTHERS and all else is a good beginning. And yes, while still fucking shit up.
Hi, this was sent out over the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition discussion list. It is written by one of our members -- NOT in the ISO -- who was at the conference:


"I personally think Carmentia s account is extremely exaggerated. She s essentially disgruntled that the majority of the votes were probably not in her favor the system was very democratic, but when the democracy didn t go her way, she decided to complain. Here are some key points:



We DID vote on the process point, this was not ignored, but the majority voted to continue as we had been continuing.



Usually when discussion was curtailed, it was because somebody called the question , and the majority VOTED to call the question the moderator did not curtail discussion without asking for a vote first.



The moderator only told people to stop speaking BECAUSE they were speaking outside the speaking order so they were cut off in order to help the more soft-spoken people voice their concerns, as they were often times stuck at the back of the speakers list while the loud people kept talking. So her accusation that minorities couldn t speak, coupled with her accusation that the moderator cut people off, are contradictory if people speaking out of the speaking order had not been cut off, then less soft-spoken people would have been able to speak.



The minorities who asked for the process point, in my opinion, did not seem nervous at all. In fact, all minorities that I talked to saw no problem with minority representation. One that I talked to was actually MORE disgusted at the people who were trying to voice minority complaints that they thought of THEMSELVES, without asking any minorities if they agreed with the complaint, which they did not. Simply put, some people were voicing complaints for people who did not HAVE those complaints. In no way did I think minorities were being suppressed so any comment of that is utterly ridiculous. The fact there weren t enough minorities in the audience was addressed by a UCI delegate: she said we should all go home and RECRUIT MORE minorities, instead of sitting here and complaining about the fact that there aren t that many. I whole-heartedly agree.



The other important proposals were not brought up because, once again, the majority VOTED that they would not in the interest of time.



The legitimate points she may have had:



1) It s true we didn t vote on consensus until later on in the evening, and we assumed people knew what consensus was

2) I think one problem was that non-delegates should have been more encouraged to come with their delegates to discuss issues I don t think a lot of non-delegates realized that they could also come and caucus with their delegates, which is important

3) People in the audience abused calling the question to curtail discussion but this was addressed by the moderator, when for and against speeches were introduced

4) The idea of a coordinating committee and what their role would be was very vague to many in the audience, who ended up thinking it will be THE decision making body of CSAW





There s plenty more to say but that s all I can think of right now,



But could someone post what the 59 person process-point committee came up with? I d be really interested in reading that.



On the positive side, 6 or 7 CONCRETE things got decided upon, which is great: the coordinating committee, the newsletter, the DC march, the humanitarian day of action, the anti-spying day of action, and the national conference. In the amount of time that we were there, that s an amazing amount of stuff. Had we spent the whole time talking about process points, I m sure these 59 people would have been less disgruntled, but everyone else, all the people who EXPECT SOMETHING TO GET DONE out of CSAW (the majority of the CSAW non-delegate attendees in my opinion), would be pissed and would have never returned.





Thanks,



Raj"

by Raj (djentrpy [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu)
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 10:26 PM
For some reason the post above ommitted dashes, here's a more readable version:


I personally think Carmentia’s account is extremely exaggerated. She’s essentially disgruntled that the majority of the votes were probably not in her favor – the system was very democratic, but when the democracy didn’t go her way, she decided to complain. Here are some key points:

We DID vote on the process point, this was not ignored, but the majority voted to continue as we had been continuing.

Usually when discussion was curtailed, it was because somebody ‘called the question’, and the majority VOTED to call the question – the moderator did not curtail discussion without asking for a vote first.

The moderator only told people to stop speaking BECAUSE they were speaking outside the speaking order – so they were cut off in order to help the more soft-spoken people voice their concerns, as they were often times stuck at the back of the speakers list while the loud people kept talking. So her accusation that minorities couldn’t speak, coupled with her accusation that the moderator cut people off, are contradictory – if people speaking out of the speaking order had not been cut off, then less soft-spoken people would have been able to speak.

The minorities who asked for the process point, in my opinion, did not seem nervous at all. In fact, all minorities that I talked to saw no problem with minority representation. One that I talked to was actually MORE disgusted at the people who were trying to voice minority complaints that they thought of THEMSELVES, without asking any minorities if they agreed with the complaint, which they did not. Simply put, some people were voicing complaints for people who did not HAVE those complaints. In no way did I think minorities were being ‘suppressed’ so any comment of that is utterly ridiculous. The fact there weren’t enough minorities in the audience was addressed by a UCI delegate: she said we should all go home and RECRUIT MORE minorities, instead of sitting here and complaining about the fact that there aren’t that many. I whole-heartedly agree.

The other important proposals were not brought up because, once again, the majority VOTED that they would not in the interest of time.

The legitimate points she may have had:

1) It’s true we didn’t vote on consensus until later on in the evening, and we assumed people knew what consensus was

2) I think one problem was that non-delegates should have been more encouraged to come with their delegates to discuss issues – I don’t think a lot of non-delegates realized that they could also come and caucus with their delegates, which is important

3) People in the audience abused ‘calling the question’ to curtail discussion – but this was addressed by the moderator, when ‘for and against’ speeches were introduced

4) The idea of a ‘coordinating committee’ and what their role would be was very vague to many in the audience, who ended up thinking it will be THE decision making body of CSAW

There’s plenty more to say but that’s all I can think of right now,

But could someone post what the 59 person process-point committee came up with? I’d be really interested in reading that.

On the positive side, 6 or 7 CONCRETE things got decided upon, which is great: the coordinating committee, the newsletter, the DC march, the humanitarian day of action, the anti-spying day of action, and the national conference. In the amount of time that we were there, that’s an amazing amount of stuff. Had we spent the whole time talking about process points, I’m sure these 59 people would have been less disgruntled, but everyone else, all the people who EXPECT SOMETHING TO GET DONE out of CSAW (the majority of the CSAW non-delegate attendees in my opinion), would be pissed and would have never returned.


Thanks,

Raj


by Chuck0 (chuck [at] tao.ca)
Monday Nov 12th, 2001 10:46 PM
Heh. It looks like the ISO has pulled out all the stops in order to keep the news about this conference from spreading. Accounts like this get passed around and don't present the ISO in favorable light. It's reasonable to believe Carmenita's account, given that we have plenty of evidence of how the ISO operates on college campuses. I think it is widely known by now that the ISO does student activism to recruit new members into that revolving door that is the ISO.

Another comment here remarks on well the conference was organized. This is beside the point and irrelevant. Petty manipulators like the ISO excel at organizing teach-ins, conferences, and public forums, because these are the chief methods by which they get new members. Just because the food is good, doesn't mean you should keep your mouth shut about the lack of democracy in a meeting.

Students need to talk more openly about how they are being used and manipulated by vanguardist groups such as the ISO. The ISO is perhaps the most annoying because they are so active in infiltrating student organizations and campaigns. They were pretty active in the student anti-sweatshop movement and managed to get several of their members into positions of power and leadership. Students should be aware that the ISO organizes these "interventions" into student movements on an international and national level.

I can provide more anecdotes and details if anybody wants to email me. Or you can check out the materials at the URL listed here.
by chuckE
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 1:00 AM
i just wanted to say thanks to those folks out there who are keeping it real and not writing in and trying to defend the bullshit that has been going on in within the anti-war movement...specifically from ISO and the CSAW conference...personally i don't know how the hell it was pulled off, and have heard that it was actually pretty horrible in many ways...but looking into this a little deeper one might notice a pattern of certain people not putting in the work to get things like this together, while at the same time taking maximum advantage of it
(ie.. dominating discussions with undemocratic proposals)

the "Stop the War" coalition at Berkeley has been fucked up from the start, though many amazing people have tried so much to make things work...ultimately BAMN, or various other sectarian groups saw the coalition as more of a tool for their purposes than anything else...and ultimately that is when you end up having a "statewide" conference being called the same weekend that the WTO actions are being held...then the shit ain't even democratic when you get there, and well no matter how decent todd or snehal or whatever ISO person is...they still have some fucked up disempowering tactics and ways of doing things, and there paper selling(much less their paper)is kinda unappealing

i need to go to sleep...thanks though to chuck o and all those others who understand and sorry that we didn't take care of this problem on our campus first

in solidarity - chuck E

ps - the Richmond Action for Local Justice/anti-WTO(Chevron)demo was pretty cool...wish everyone would have gone up there
by me (me [at] privacy.org)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 12:47 PM
Why none of these organizations hold any power or influence outside the safety of private universities? (and that is changing as people see that the so-called "free speech on campus" really means "free speech as long as your speech is acceptable") The real world laughs at hypocracy like this.
by Chuck0 (chuck [at] tao.ca)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 3:09 PM
Raj writes: "On the positive side, 6 or 7 CONCRETE things got decided upon, which is great: the coordinating committee, the newsletter, the DC march, the humanitarian day of action, the anti-spying day of action, and the national conference. In the amount of time that we were there, that’s an amazing amount of stuff. Had we spent the whole time talking about process points, I’m sure these 59 people would have been less disgruntled, but everyone else, all the people who EXPECT SOMETHING TO GET DONE out of CSAW (the majority of the CSAW non-delegate attendees in my opinion), would be pissed and would have never returned"

Buddy, your conference has serious process issues if 59 people vote with their feet and walk out. How can you claim that things were decided upon when this many people not only disagreed with how things were being decided, but they also took the initiative to walk out and have their own meeting? In a regional meetings of student groups with delegates, aren't the participants supposed to be in control of the process and agenda.

Did the ISO recruit anybody out of this fiasco?
by sp (via Chuck0) (chuck [at] tao.ca)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 3:17 PM
The following comment was posted on the Infoshop News site in response to Carmenita's account.

---
from sp

I attended the Northeast Campus Anti-War Coalition conference with a few other individuals of like mind. We knew (from our excellent intelligence operations) that the ISO was submitting a proposal to form a "steering committee" in NECAWC, and that they were coordinating their efforts nationwide.

Before I arrived at the conference, the ISO had pushed through a proposal to change the conference from consensus
decision making to majority rule. This was done only with the assurance that the issues upon which the votes were
close would be further discussed until fully resolved.

When the conference was going over the points of unity, a group of us submitted a point that the NECAWC would be
"a nonpartisan, nonhierarchical coalition." This was voted down by a good-sized margin.

Of the 3 chairs that were facilitating the meetings, 2 were ISO members. I think that this added to the fact that the
discussion about this point of unity and about what "nonhierarchical" means was totally insufficient. In addition to this, the process was not discussed sufficiently, and there was a good deal of interrupting and cutting-off on the part of the ISO facilitator. It was very difficult for people with dissenting views to be called on, and the person most frequently cut off happened to be the only facilitator that was not in the ISO, and the only facilitator that was female.

Therefore, during a break, a group of us got together and formed a statement that we demanded to read to the conference because we didn't feel comfortable working in a coalition that was hierarchical and partisan. The statement
is as follows:

>>>We would like everyone to recognize that many individuals have been walking out during this process, and are obviously feeling disempowered. We do not think that there was sufficient discussion on the proposed point of unity.

This clearly goes against what the individuals supporting majority rules were saying about having full discussion before votes. We think that the people most vehemently opposed to the nonhierarchical/nonpartisan amendment were party members, and we think that the message they are sending in voting against this is that they want to have authority over this coalition. We do not want to be in a coalition where people have power over others. We do not trust this decision making process to be democratic in the future. We do not believe that this coalition will be effective or democratic if it is not nonhierarchical. In addition, we believe that if we want to be fighting against the war, then we must organize in ways that reflect a departure from the power structures of war. If we are not offered assurances against hierarchy and against individuals having power over others, we will leave. We invite all who agree to come.<<<

We then submitted a proposal for immediate discussion that read:

>>>This coalition is nonpartisan and nonhierarchical, being made up of working groups that discuss and plan proposals that are brought back to the general assembly for decision making.<<<

After much confusion, it was voted that we immediately address these grievances, and we began discussion. This
discussion played out much as the one before it had, with the ISO people dominating the conference and us waiting to
be called on. It was eventually brought to a vote, and the results were:

For: 43 Against: 46 Abstain: 9

After this, half of the conference degenerated into spontaneous discussion groups, and the issue was dropped, despite the former assurances of full discussion. We believe that this proposal would have passed if disenchanted individuals had not walked out in the earlier part of the conference. Once this was done, the conference voted on a few actions such as the national conference and the march on DC. It ended in a very confusing manner, with many things left unsaid and undone. A theme that ran throughout the entire day was that of a lack of time, which effectively stifled discussion.

I think that, all in all, we showed the authoritarians that it won't be that easy to co-opt this movement. In my opinion, there is enough potential for there to be two different and separate national Anti-War coalitions. One for the authoritarian socialists and the liberals, and one for the progressives and the anarchists. I think there are enough of us to counter this authoritarian domination of the anti war movement.

Furthermore, I think that the most effective way of organizing against the war is to fight against the institutions that are the cause of war, capitalism and the state. Personally, the national coalition that I would like to throw my energy into would be one that doesn't just consist of anti-war marches and teach-ins, but involves direct action against the state and capital.

I would like to hear from peopole that went to the other regional conferences on this
by Chantel
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 3:27 PM
Hi i go to UCI and was one of the people to walk out during the conference, im one of the girls taht made the process point that not enough representation from the middle eastern community was being done and that we felt left out.
I think the post you just wrote is excellent, and im actually going ot print it out and take it to my infoshop collective meeting TONIGHT!
thank you very veyr much, there can be two collective coalitions, one progressive and anarchist, and one liberal and socialist.
We can do it
thank you for your post once again
xoxox
Chantel
by Students
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 4:38 PM
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 08:45:55 EST
From: SIUHIN [at] aol.com
Subject: About last weekend's UC Berkeley, CA USA student antiwar conference

Hi everybody:

This is Lee Siu Hin from ActionLA and PeaceNoWar.net from Los Angeles--put
this way--I didn't go to UCB antiwar conference last weekend because for the
past few weeks I knew the UCB antiwar coalition and the conference had been
completely hijacked by ISO, the meeting will be sucks and I don't want to
waste my time to come.

Few weeks ago, I had talked to some UCB students, they told me the UCB
antiwar steering committee had been completely controlled by either: ISO UCB
student chapters, left turn, Palestine coalition, or friends of above, no
independent voices can be exist, and no official decisions can be made
without steering committee approval (For example: few weeks ago, when a group
of student start a student antiwar newspaper, the ISO SC members didn't show
too much interests, but when the newspaper concept was very successful, ISO
SC members suddenly demand a control, created a newspaper 'work group', put
some of their people who never work on the paper before, and require each
article must be pre-approved before publishing).

after I talked to several organizers across the country, their goal is clear,
try to use current student antiwar activism to control student activism
across the country. Like, IAC, which they want to control mainstream left
nationwide antiwar activism (they did a great job to destroy LA antiwar
movements), like a franchise, ISO want to focus on campus wide antiwar
movements. It also cannot underestimates that ISO involvement on San
Francisco Global Exchange's antiwar campaigns and promote themselves to be
THE Bay area's labor spokesperson--keep in mind, many of them (I personally
known) just two months ago before S11, they were busy want to control
California-wide anti-sweatshop, immigrant rights and labor campaigns, right
after S11, they switch their tasks!

As a former LA DAN member (completely destroy due to ongoing stupid internal
struggle) and long several major antiglobalization and antiwar activist,
struggle between political parties and selfish personal dynamics are so
intense that sometimes I want to give up activism work. For the past few
years, many socialists, Maoists, Troskists, Communists, anarchists'
personall/political dynamics had destroyed many
community/immigrant/anti-globalization movements. Again, the same negative
political/personal energy come-in to this antiwar movement, and I am really
worry this student antiwar coalition will not have enough credibility to
service for too long.

Lee Siu Hin
ActionLA/PeaceNoWar.net
4167 S. Normandie Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 91030
Tel: (323)389-4593
e-mail: ActionLA [at] ActionLA.org
-----
Berkely Anti-War Conference, I was there and yes the ISO did Hijacke it
by JA November 13 2001, Tue, 1:54am

> >> This is an email from a very well respected friend who is a highly
>> intelligent, articulate person who was there all weekend at the
>> ISO/Berkely Anti-War conference. She said it was evident that the ISO
>> played a complete control role in all of this, and it made people go nuts

Hi all,
I just got back from the CSAW conference in Berkeley. It was one of the
most awful organizing experiences in my life, and I wasn't the only one.
I know this is long, but if you are interested in organizing on campuses,
please read this. Something really fucked up is happening in anti-war
groups all over the country and we as anarchists and sane, nice people need
to figure out how to deal with this.

(Please note that what I am saying, "never" & "always", really means "almost
never" and "almost always" - I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't know
of them. I am speaking from the position of having talked to probably a
hundred different people from all types of political persuasions and levels
of experience, as well as my own observations.)

Saturday was all workshops. I don't think even one of them were mainly
about or involving "revolution". Not one was about a specific political
analysis of the war, or the anti-war movement. There were panels/workshops
on the history of the Middle East, environmental impact of the war, how to
make newsletters, etc., but very little that was "political". Despite the
revolutionary politics of many of members of the Berkeley anti-war group
(anarchists, communists, and others), none of that was represented in the
workshops. In many workshops, whenever a person would raise a point about
revolutionary analysis (i.e. that capitalism causes wars and that's what we
need to fight), the panel or workshop leader would cut them off. Apparently
this kind of stuff smacked too much of party-politics, even if people saying
these things were anarchists or unaffiliated. There were probably a few
exeptions to this, but I talked to people who attended almost every workshop
and they all said the same thing.

Later, I found out the reason for the narrow range of workshops and weird
behavior of the workshop leaders. Students from the Berkeley group said the
speakers were organized by a very small group of people, mostly ISO. These
people did not take suggestions fron non-ISO people (I know anarchists and
communists who tried to suggest and conduct workshops and were blown off and
ignored). The Berkeley organzers said their schedule planning was not open
to anyone, and no one outside of the tiny group knew what was going on. Two
people proposed a workshop on the Hart-Rudman report (the US gov't master
plan for Homeland Defense) a couple of weeks ago, and constantly reminded
the organizers to put it on the schedule. In the end, it was not put on the
schedule, not coincidentally because that workshop would have been the only
one with leaders from a "rival" party. I realize that many political parties
use workshops and panels to say really horrificly long speeches about
Trotsky or Mao, disguising the speech as a question. I didn't hear of any
of that going on. One example I know of was a woman from PLP (a rival of
the ISO) tried to simply say "I don't agree that people who don't go to
college are too stupid to learn about imperialism, and we need to organize
based on knowing that all people are capable of understanding," and the
workshop leader cut her off in mid-sentence, saying we "didn't have time for
arguments". The workshop was on "talking to the unconvinced", a workshop on
tactics!

Anyway, the workshops that did take place were OK, but politically
elementary. A lot of people at the conference were disappointed that deeper
political discussion was not allowed, and that the workshop topics in
general were very "apolitical", something which seemed pretty silly
considering the people who were attending. Another fact to note was that
many schools had at least one or two ISO members in their delegation.

Five delegates from every school would be allowed to vote and speak at the
meeting the following day. These delegates registered Saturday night, and
all proposals to be discussed and voted upon were due by 7pm Saturday. This
was so we would have a set list to get through and an infinity of new
proposals wouldn't bog us down on Sunday. On Saturday night as we were
signing in and submitting our proposals, we were told "One delegate from
every school needs to go to the agenda-setting meeting tonight". At my
school, we had two ISO people, a PLP guy, me, and an unaffiliated
anti-authoritarian. I was standing there thinking "Oh god, the ISO has
probably already signed themselves up as the one delegate and is going to go
set a fucked up agenda". Oddly to me, the ISO allowed the PLP guy to go in
there. The agenda was set in this meeting, but there was no discussion of
how decisions would be made the next day.

Sunday morning began with Snehal, an ISO member declaring himself the
facilitator for the day. (We were given no choice on this.) The meeting
began using Parlimentary Procedure, with all speakers being allowed two
minutes to talk. Parlimentary procedure was not explained to the attendees,
so many people had NO idea what was going on or how they could participate.
Usually, questions from the audience about changing the procedure or asking
what was going on were dismissed with Snehal saying "we don't have time for
that".

We started to go through the agenda. When we got to the proposals, the
moderator began to allow new proposals to be put forth. This frustrated
many of the delegates, because we began to see that new proposals would not
allow us to have time for the proposals we brought from out schools or local
coalitions of many schools. Whenever a proposal was put forward, the
moderator clearly had a side. He would allow people on his side to speak
for their two minutes, but dissent was cut off with "we don't have time for
this". If dissent was allowed, somehow an ISO member would speak soon
afterward against whatever dissent was raised. Snehal called proposals very
quickly he and ISO members in the audience would use Roberts Rules of Order
to quickly push through proposals, leaving the audience in confusion and
unhappy with whatever had just happened. An anarchist woman I know
constantly raised her hand and was put on the list of speakers, but out of
five times during the day, she was not called on. I heard the same from
other anarchists, women especially.

After a couple of hours, the hero of the day, Kyle, stood up and said that
this was very undemocratic and we need to change the process. He got a lot
of emphatic applause but the moderator ignored him. Tensions started to run
very high as the delegates realized they weren't alone in getting frustrated
and pissed off about how things were going. We broke for lunch, and after
we returned, more people challenged the process. I missed out on an hour of
the conference at this point, but I heard that Michael Novick proposed that
we not have time limits on agenda items because quality was better than
speed. This got shot down. I don't really know the rest of what happened
during this hour. When I got back, people were still challenging the
process. Unfortunately, they mostly didn't understand that it was the ISO
controlling everything and blamed the problems on sexism and racism of the
moderator and other delegates. This got nowhere, except with the promise
that "women and minorities would have priority in the speaking order". Soon
after this, the moderator decided "we didn't have time" for the remainder of
the proposals - the proposals were the whole reason we were there at all.
We had only gotten through six proposals, three of which had not been on the
list from the previous night. There were about 20 remaining, which is a
lot, but certainly possible. Another HUGE problem was a list of proposals
or an agenda had not been given to any of the delgates, so no one knew what
was on the table for the day. The only proposals discussed were about
specific "days of action", and a national conference with vague goals and
only ONE delegate allowed to ATTEND from each school. (An ISO member later
said privately that one of the ISO's three main goals was to create a
national conference and try to dominate the delegation from it.)

The Southern California Schools Against War had a great proposal that we
"oppose war research and recruitment on campus and challenge racism in our
curriculum and campus practices". This was a proposal which about twenty
schools from SoCal agreed upon. I overheard the ISO the day before telling
people "they wouldn't vote for it because it was too vague, because it
didn't have specific day of action". This made me furious - they were
saying opposing our school's racism and warmongering should be limited to a
certain day! This proposal was not raised ever by the moderator.

At this point, probably a third of the people walked out in frustration.

Most of these people didn't see any reason to be there, if making plans was
no longer allowed. Many took off, but about fifty people gathered in the
hallway and started talking. We met outside and had a discussion about what
was going on and how frustrated we were. When people mentioned that the ISO
were the people who organized, moderated, and dominated the discussions
during this whole conference, people got PISSED. Most of them had just
thought that this was a convergence of random jerks, but when people
realized that certain individuals were members of the ISO, they realized how
screwed up and controlled everything was. Two guys from Berkeley said
something like "the Berkeley group worked really hard on this so please
don't give us a hard time". They were ISO, but didn't say it!!! Another
ISO member sat there silently taking notes. Not once did anyone from the
ISO say who they were during this discussion.

We made a plan to go back into the conference as a group and voice what had
happened. By this point, most people had left and there were only about 100
left in the audience. The organizers said this was because people had to
leave, but I think people would have stayed if it were worthwhile. We got
up as a group and stood at the front of the room.

Our main points were:
- the decision-making process in the conference was not agreed upon by the
attendees, nor explained to us at any point
- the decision-making process before the conference was completely hidden
from view - no one, including many Berkeley activists, had any idea what was
being planned or had any input, even when they tried to participate.
- the ISO dominated many school delegations, dominated the speakers,
dominated the planning, and completely controlled the moderation.
- opposing views were almost always cut off "because we didn't have time"
(At this point, an ISO woman named Leticia stood up and said "we don't have
time for this, people want to go home. We can discuss this later! It's too
late to bring this up anyway." Later? When would that be? It was the very
last hour of the very last day of the conference! When she make this
comment, a few people got furious and the rest tried not to laugh
hysterically.)
- speakers were often interrupted by ISO members
- an agenda for proposals was not public and information in general was
tightly controlled by a few people, mostly ISO, who made little effor to get
outside input or even let other people know what was going on.
During our little presentation, we allowed the audience to speak in the way
that we had wanted to be treated. Questions were taken in order, there were
no time limits on speeches, etc. ISO members were the only people who spoke
defensively about the organization of the conference members. Other
delegates offered some good points, one saying that the decision-making
process isn't accidental, but political.

Anyway, people left the conference feeling much better since we had that
ad-hoc meeting to discuss what went wrong. However, out of 400 or so
people, I would guess that at least 300 of the people were very unhappy with
what happened. A lot of our campus anti-war groups are controlled by the
ISO, and we are still struggling with how we can make the groups grow and
flourish when the leadership is very tight and has a very narrow agenda.

Many of our campus groups are run in the same way the conference was run,
with a tight control of information and the excuse of "we don't have time
for this" when people would like to discuss alternate proposals.

There are dozens more little examples of my wild accusations to back up what
I'm saying, but I don't feel like writing ten more pages. Please understand
that throughout this whole conference, we tried to discuss the ISO's
*actions*, not their politics. Other 'sectarian' groups were in attendance,
but they did not cause these problems: it was not a knee-jerk reaction to
the fact that they are a trotskyist party. One thing about their politics:
this weekend, I heard ISO members repeat many times that "people who aren't
college educated can't understand..." and I think this has a lot to do with
why they dominate on college campuses, why their decision-making is hidden,
and why everything is so sneaky in general - they think we're all idiots.

The main point of all this is that clearly the ISO is vying for a dominant
position of campus anti-war groups across the country (they held identical
conferences in Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta this weekend). Their tactics
include using Roberts Rules of Order to manipulate meetings, assuming
leadership roles in campus groups, and not disseminating information to
non-ISO members of groups. (There are LOTS of examples on many campuses
where it is known they had information on agendas, events, etc and did not
share this with the larger group.) Another sad fact is they almost *never*
say they are ISO when doing all these things, which particularly misleads
new people in groups.

Across the state, college groups are having splits right now to make sure
the ISO doesn't take control of the anti-war movement. I don't know if this
is a good tactic - I'm not sure what else we can do at this point,
especially when we are not allowed to speak during campus meetings. I'm
inclined to say we should simply bring in lots of honest people to the
meetings and challenge the ISO based on their undemocratic practices, but
this clearly didn't work during the conference.

If anyone has any ideas about what to do, I would much appreciate it, and I
will pass it along to other frustrated people. I know some people on this
list went through similar bullshit in SDS - I would really like to hear
their perspectives in particular.

-Anne
by Raj (djentrpy [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 5:14 PM
I feel as though most of you who WERE NOT at the conference are disregarding my post that clearly stated that Carmentia's post was wildly exagerrated. I encourage you to be responsible and do more research before assuming truth behind Carmentia's words.

As far as 59 people walking out, let me clarify: most of those 59 people did not walk out, but joined up AFTER the meeting during the committee breakouts to discuss the process point, as many, including myself, were interested in seeing how the system could be improved. Additionally, the delegates from each school DID get a chance to discuss the agenda and process prior to the meeting (Saturday night Agenda meeting).

It's people like you guys that really scare people away from the whole 'activist scene', with your endless categorizing and slamming down on every event that you didn't get your way in. You alienate most of the people involved with this ridiculous talk of two movements: one anarchy the other socialist. NEWSFLASH: MOST MEMBERS OF THE MOVEMENT ARE NEITHER ONE!!! I can't believe some of you, who weren't even at the conference, are calling it a 'fiasco.' You're putting blind faith in Carmentia's words, words that are more biased than CNNs broadcasts of the war.

Lastly, about the so-called 'disempowering tactics'. The pattern I've seen is hardly 'disempowerment', but rather this: certain coordinating people (ISO or not) will provide the OPPORTUNITY to discuss issues like agenda and process, and provide the OPPORTUNITY for others to get involved. When nobody takes advantage of these opportunities, they will do things themselves. Then people will yell at them for being UNDEMOCRATIC and TYRANNICAL for not consulting everyone else before doing things. Maybe they need to publicize these opportunities more, but I know, from my own experience as a non-ISO member of the Berkeley Stop the War coalition, that I've been endlessly given the opportunities to participate in things.

PEOPLE THAT DON'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE OPPORTUNITIES, WHICH DO EXIST, ARE BEING RIDICULOUSLY HYPOCRITICAL WITH THEIR ENDLESS COMPLAINTS.

If you still disagree, how about some concrete examples of how BSTW has disempowered you?? Or maybe even some CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM for once.
by tom b (blackmarkets [at] yahoo.com)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 6:53 PM
"I have never in the few years I have been trying to dedicate my life to organizing around issues such as these have I seen such blatant disrespect and undemocratic process unfold."

Lucky for you it's only been a "few years". Free yourself now, don't waste anymore time "trying to dedicate
[your] life to organizing around isues." Live your life
instead. You spend your years worried about "process" you end up more "processed" than the lunch meat at the deli.
And a lot less fresh. ANYTHING is a better use of your
time than organizing conferences of any kind.
tom b phila pa
by Snehal Shingavi (snehal100 [at] hotmail.com)
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 7:56 PM
Hi All,

This is a brief response to the accusations put out on various national listserves that the International Socialist Organization (ISO) "hijacked" the West Coast Schools Against War conference held at UC Berkeley on Nov. 10 & 11. Before I do that, however, I wanted to thank all the people (a big majority of whom are not in the ISO) who made the conference a great success with about 600 people from 60 schools attending from 5 states and Tijuana. Free food was supplied for the conference by Peter and his crew from UCB (way to go!); dozens of speakers, including students, professors, activists, community members, and journalists were organized to make presentations; over 36 work shops and a half dozen film screenings were put together and that was just on Saturday.

Just two months after the 911 tragedies, I think we're all surprised how much of an anti-war movement we've been able to develop so quickly. We have a long way to go to stop this war, but we've made a good start. Remember, it took almost 5 years of the U.S. war in Viet Nam before the first big anti-war protests started in 1965. I think the West Coast Conference helped play an important role in laying the basis for a serious, nation-wide movement. The tone of several of the critiques of the conference make it sound like a unmitigated disaster (one actually said "the worst" thing I've ever attended, or something like that), which is radically at odds with any honest assessment of the conference.

Now, were there some short-comings? Sure. We (CSAW) only scheduled one day (Sunday) for decision making; we learned that we need to give this more time. Any suggestions about how to do this in a two day conference are welcome. With over 180 delegates, it is not possible to have everyone speak to every question they would like to speak to (for instance, if every delegate simply spoke once for two minutes that would be 6 hours!). Necessarily, some people didn't get to speak as much as they wanted to, and some people spoke too much. We could have better explained the voting procedures that were agreed on at the preliminary CSAW conference of 20 schools on September 29th, that would have helped clarify the process. Also, after the meeting on Saturday night, when reps from every campus met to discuss the agenda, it was clear that there were way too many proposals to deal with in one day. We didn't come up with a good solution, so many good ideas got tabled.

The vast majority of the panel speakers and moderators were people of color, and most schools sent multi-racial delegations, but we still have a long way to go in learning how to involve more Arab, Central Asian and Muslim students in the movement. Lastly, there are at least 1,000 colleges and thousands more high schools on the West Coast, so while 60 schools is a great start, we have a long way to go! Having said all this, I still think the conference was a solid step forward (and I think the vast majority of people who attended feel the same way). I think all of the problems mentioned above are real things that we can learn from, think about, do better next time, change around. I also think that as long as the movement grows and develops, we will always have problems and make mistakes as well as learn from each other and have great successes.

OK, on to the "ISO hijack" accusation. First off, I just have to say that throwing around the word "hijack" under the circumstances we all face today as activists, is, to say the least, irresponsible. Second, did ISO members work hard to publicize, organize, etc. the conference? Of course, just like lot's of other people. Did we "dominate" it? Let's look at the facts. Of over 180 delegates, I think 16 or 17 were members of the ISO (actually two of them weren't there on Sunday, so let's say 15 could vote). Out of 36 work shops, three had ISO members speak at them (unfortunately, in one of them the other speaker went so over time, that the ISO speaker - me - had only about 5 minutes). None of the speakers at the morning or evening panels were ISO members. ISO members voted with the near unanimous majority on some proposals (National Conference, Coordinating Committee, endorse International Solidarity with Palestine Day, continuing with majority voting as opposed to opening up a debate on process, etc) and voted in the minority on others (Feb 7th day of action, numerous procedural votes) and voted on different sides of the questions at other times (March on DC, for example). In other words, the ISO votes didn't determine a single decision of the conference.

Third, I did facilitate the Sunday session, along with several other members of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition (not ISO members) who helped run the speakers' list and keep time. For anyone who has done it before, it is a hard job (one that I don't particularly relish) and we definitely need to get more people who feel comfortable doing it for the future, but the reality is, I was asked to do it by the Berkeley Stop the War conference planning committee and I tried my best to do a good job. The notion that I prioritized ISO speakers to "hijack" the debate is factually untrue. Did I make mistakes? Of course, do I deserve to be accused of manipulation, etc.? I believe those charges are unfair.

Lastly, since this war began, I have been spit at in the street, received death threats for being a fairly visible organizer, chased off of public transportation, and been verbally assaulted by racists on my very own campus. I, like everyone else who "looks Arab or Muslim" to the racists, have had to think twice about whether or not I should be a visible organizer, whether or not to take the bus by myself, whether or not I should wear my kuffiya, whether or not to pick up the phone, and whether or not I can survive in this country and oppose the war at the same time. As a socialist, it has pained me to listen to the endless propaganda on CNN and Fox. I've been frustrated by what seems like huge support for this disgusting war, and even more frustrated that it's hard to convince people who do oppose the war to take a stand.

However, I've also drawn hope and inspiration from anti-war protests around the world and the growing movement right here in the USA. This past weekend's conference (and news of the ones in Boston and Chicago and other places) strengthened the ratio of hope over frustration. I think we really can build a successful movement, and I think, warts and all, the CSAW conference was an important step in that direction. For everyone who is committed to respectful, if serious, debates about HOW to do better next time, I am eager to hear from you, as is any member of the ISO you may personally know. For those who think internet slander is a good use of time, honestly, I have better things to do.

In Solidarity,
Snehal Shingavi
International Socialist Organization

PS I am, obviously, a member of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition, but I'm writing this specifically to respond to the "hijack" charges as an ISO member.
by Anti-Capitalist
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 8:51 PM
This defense of the conference is standard spin from the ISO, which correctly understands that criticism in public forums will hurt their secret agenda. It even comes with the standard language urgin people to be optimistic and stay with the group "despite the warts." Well, we're talking about a cancer here that has infested national student activism. That cancer is the ISO. Two years ago they were busy consolidating their control of the student anti-sweatshop movement. Then they tried to tap the student anti-globalization movement through teach-ins. Now anti-war activism is hot, so the ISO steps in to do what they do best.

Slander? Why is the ISO so afraid of public criticism? Is it because they can't control the debate like they do in meetings?
by kim
Tuesday Nov 13th, 2001 9:52 PM
I would like to say that regardless of intent,
the problematic process points discussed in earlier posts must be addressed, analyzed, and discussed.

The problems with process led to a feeling of distrust, hesitation, and confusion -leaving many with the feeling that they had no say in the process. Why should they stay? I felt I had no reason to stay. I wonder how many other people felt this way and did leave, there were a considerable amount of people leaving and 10 of the delegates that came with my school left after the first proposal had been voted on, as the manner in which it was voted on was both hurried and alienating.

Regardless of intent this is greatly problematic when the basic groundrules of voting are not discussed with the voting body. Even I, with two years of experience with robert's rules, felt completely alienated from the process of decision making. Especially when I was among the the first to raise my card on numerous occaisions but was never called on, though I had been pointed at and placed on stack, (this would leave one to believe that the stack process would have to be reworked in the future, as there was obviously some great misunderstanding) I felt disregarded in my attempts to call for clarification and was surprised at how trunctated the "argument" process had become, with only one pro and con allowed at many points. There was not even an acceptance of agenda, which I feel would have helped a lot of delegates understand what was expected of them.

When I approached the moderator, he replied that he felt his job was to move things along "as quickly as possible" and that is a direct quote. In my experience both as a moderator and as a member of a voting board, the job of the moderator is to observe the rules of order and ensure a fair voting process.

When the concept of consensus was introduced, the moderator put it to a quick vote, prefaced with a sassy comment to the effect of "I have the feeling that this won't take long to decide." A moderator should never place his personal opinion in the preface to a vote like that!

My concern is that an experience like this has taken what was originally a great momentum and stalled it with uncertainty and suspicion. I understand the amount of work and time that went into the conference was overwhelming.
I do not write this with any other motivation than to build a movement that is sustainable and that will have effective actions that will be effective. Regardless of the intent of the organizers, this alienation is something we must avoid at all costs in the future if we are to build a sustainable movement. We must take this lesson and act accordingly!

With love and in solidarity,

Kim
by Bill Neal (isbilln [at] sbcglobal.net)
Wednesday Nov 14th, 2001 1:56 AM
What happened in Berkley.
Bill Neal

Anti-war activists,

Tecumseh struggled hard to unite the various indigenous peoples of the continent against the invaders. Some communities saw the wisdom in this and others did not. Either way, the continent was divided and conquered. Not without generations of heroic resistance and brilliant strategies of different groups, but the pillage and murder swept the land like an unstoppable wave. It seems like it has been difficult to unite the struggle against the forces of imperialism and oppression ever since.

To create a tone of extreme hostility (rather than useful criticism) of the conference in Berkley seems to me to be incredibly destructive and self-defeating. The circumstances of the war have dramatically shifted over the last 48 hours, and yet there is NO discussion about this and how it affects us. Instead we are consumed with a poisonous flurry of denouncements of a group that clearly does not have the numbers or authority to do all that it is accused of. The evidence ranges from speculation to anecdote, and in the case of people that weren't there, simply slander. Not only does it forget the real enemy, but it forgets what a positive start Bekley was.

I am an ISO member in Los Angeles, and unlike some people that feel emboldened to comment on the CSAW Conference, I was there. I didn't do a lot to actually organize it, so I can't speak to all the details of Berkley organizing. I also thought there were things that could have been better (which I'll say something about later). But my over-all feeling was that 1). given the level of support for the war, the turn-out (almost 600 people) and spirit of the event was great, 2). the degree of unity and commitment, despite the range of politics, was impressive, 3). I was thankful that the event was at Berkley because I don't know many places that could have hosted it at this stage of the war, and it went very well until toward the end. 4). and finally, that our generation may just be up to a task that hasn't been as great since the Vietnam war.

The opening plenary was amazing, with a Palestinian professor, a lesbian professor, two Middle Eastern women and the famous Back poet, Amiri Baraka. Although the politics were very different, it set a tone of conviction and determination. It was about as diverse as could be, and a perfect way to start the conference.

It seems like the workshops varied. The one I went to on imperialism was dominated by abstract theory, and some good questions got overlooked. I had a good opportunity to talk to a couple other people after that felt the same. The one on art and culture was fantastic, very useful, but rushed. Neither of these were organized by ISO members or "dominated" by them. Several people said that the best session that they went to was on the CIA and Afghanistan, which was coincidentally presented by an ISO member. It was not a talk about socialism. I was told the topic did come up in discussion, because when you talk about the depravity that capitalism is capable of, it seems only natural that a discussion of alternatives comes up. Not everyone agrees, but I hope the movement is mature enough to discuss and debate political solutions in a workshop. Judging by how many people wanted to get a copy of the talk in print, others must have found this a stimulating discussion.

I think some of the decision making mistakes were made in the agenda setting meeting on that Saturday night. I wasn't there, and I don't know if I would have had any better ideas. As an aside, there were two ISO delegates from my school (a rare occurrence at the conference), and a man who is in another organization wanted to go, so no one blocked him. The main problem with this meeting was that too many proposals were submitted, and an entirely unrealistic agenda was set for the following day. IT IS THAT WHICH CREATED THE RUSHED ATMOSPHERE, CONFUSING SOME, AND CREATING A HURRIED TONE FROM THE ORGANIZERS. Because it wasn't explained in advance, people, especially inexperienced activists, got a bad feeling and jumped to some very speculative conclusions, as evidenced by the IMC postings.

Two people brought up the need to get more Arab and Muslim students involved. This is an important discussion. One was in the breakout with me where we talked about how many Islamic organizations and individuals were fearful of publicly take a stand against the war, making it more difficult to get participation. We talked about how the Day of Action around the humanitarian crisis could help us forge some links if done correctly. That is about wanting to honestly strategize about solutions.

The other activist knows about these difficulties as well, because we've spoken about it. But she felt completely comfortable accusing everyone in the room for not trying to get those forces more involved. What was the basis for this attack on the participants? Shaming anyone who is not Middle Eastern? Accusing hundreds of activists at an anti-war conference of being racist across the board? How is that in accord with principals of 'non-hierarchical,' anti-authoritarian efforts to build a more cooperative society.

Now, I think we do have a big task to involve more people of Middle Eastern dissent. But I also think part of being sensitive to what is happening around us means recognizing the real fear that exists, reaching out persistently, and building a large enough movement that people feel safer coming out in support. But that is a CONSTRUCTIVE WAY to bring the issue up.

It was possible, if difficult, to speak. There are many instances where the chair of the decision making session did his best to include as many people as possible and respond to suggestions as they came up. He pointed out that some people were manipulating the process and argued against it, he opened the floor for a vote on process, moved to prioritize female speakers of color, etc.

The reason why most people don't want to facilitate large meetings is because is very difficult, and you always piss somebody off. Personally, I think nothing would have solved the fundamental problem of having too much to do, although better explanation at the beginning may have reduced tensions. I think Snehal did everything humanly possible, has proven himself to be an asset to the movement in general, and is a tireless opponent of imperialism. People should really give each other the benefit of the doubt about the intentions of the Berkley organizers.

Only if you buy grand and unsupported conspiracy theories could it be said that the ISO organized, ran, dominated, or "hijacked" the conference. It is simply untrue. We were there in numbers that accurately reflect our size, and we were delegates only where our schoolmates thought it made sense that we be delegates. If some schools complain about the way delegates were selected, it was up to them, not the Berkley organizers, to determine a fair process. The issue of how to recall a delegate, same thing. And it is actually a more democratic way to do it.

It is possible that a productive document could have come out with criticisms of the event. I think there are real reasons why some were upset. But I think others simply have an ax to grind and helped foster a hostile environment with the arrows all pointing one way. Ridiculous and dishonest comment from those like SIUHIN [at] aol.com are an example. Moreover it completely forgets all the good things that happened.

The truth is we are at the beginning of an undertaking that will challenge us all more than we have ever been before. It will not be a straight or easy road. Some political tendencies will appear to dominate at some times, and others later. After a similar incident last year an LA peace activist told me, "don't worry about it, the most visible group always takes the heat after any event." The stakes are now very high. Those that walk away with their concerns really only serve the interests of the 'unstoppable wave’ of capitalism and war. By arguing criticisms as if we are on the same side, we can have a stronger movement, AND find out in practice what strategies are useful to all. If there is a better way to organize the next SAW conference, fight for it, don't walk away.

This is one of the best starts to one of the biggest fights activists on this continent have faced. The struggle is with the Bush's of the world, not other revolutionaries, individuals or groups. We have a world to win.

Bill Neal
Los Angeles
by Theresa (crumpet [at] ziplip.com)
Wednesday Nov 14th, 2001 11:37 AM
Dear all,

I am Theresa. I go to school at UC Santa Barbara and was the delegate who stood before you, alongside Chantel of UC Irvine, to communicate the grievances behind the growing tensions of Sunday’s working session.

Carmenita noted that there were many young activists without much experience in attendance. I will admit that I am fairly new to political activity and explanation of process would have made a fundamental difference that day. T come to this as someone new and to see what I saw as un-democracy unraveling before my eyes was certainly disheartening yet our immediate attempts to rectify the situation on both coasts (no less!) is a very hopeful start. As a movement with a transient student population that is refreshed every quarter/semester/year, it should be our imperative to educate new activists and invite and involve them to become active members of a movement wherein all can share a sense of ownership.

“love” writes, “Did the ISO really hijack the CSAW conference? If so, let's say why and how, and what it means, and how we can work through it without letting splintering and infighting weaken what we are trying to do” (November 12 2001, Mon, 5:19pm).

As a newcomer, I am very concerned about tactics used by the ISO to recruit and gain control at various campuses. But since my actual knowledge of the ISO is limited, my post here will be centered around what went wrong and how we might be able to address these grievances. Yet, before I continue, we should be conscientious about how we frame dissent and critique. By framing them as “splintering and infighting” you have already revealed how you might approach the concerns and this is surely not a healthy starting point for discussion.

My general sentiments have been expressed by Carmenita (November 12 2001, Mon, 3:18pm) so I will respond to previous posts and clarify where necessary.

The following is a portion from Raj’s account (November 12 2001, Mon, 10:26pm):
“Here are some key points:
We DID vote on the process point, this was not ignored, but the majority voted to continue as we had been continuing.
Usually when discussion was curtailed, it was because somebody ‘called the question’, and the majority VOTED to call the question – the moderator did not curtail discussion without asking for a vote first.
The moderator only told people to stop speaking BECAUSE they were speaking outside the speaking order – so they were cut off in order to help the more soft-spoken people voice their concerns, as they were often times stuck at the back of the speakers list while the loud people kept talking. So her accusation that minorities couldn’t speak, coupled with her accusation that the moderator cut people off, are contradictory – if people speaking out of the speaking order had not been cut off, then less soft-spoken people would have been able to speak.
.
.
.
The other important proposals were not brought up because, once again, the majority VOTED that they would not in the interest of time.”

All this reaffirms my position that Sunday’s lack of success is due to a structural problem. The details you have given us here all point to how a more consensus decision-making process with ground rules and explanation beforehand might have addressed issues that impelled so many to walk out so early on. This way, more inexperienced activists are on board, all arguments are considered, and the delegation can make more fully-informed choices. (n.b.: The consensus decision-making model depends upon a representative body.)

You bring up ‘for and against’ speeches as a way of fixing the ‘calling the question’ “problem” (“3) People in the audience abused ‘calling the question’ to curtail discussion – but this was addressed by the moderator, when ‘for and against’ speeches were introduced”). First off, the format of ‘for and against’ speeches sets up a binary and presumes that there are no other arguments. Secondly, ‘for and against’ speeches privilege certain individuals as spokespeople for the rest of us who might just vaguely share the opinion.

“Had we spent the whole time talking about process points, I’m sure these 59 people would have been less disgruntled, but everyone else, all the people who EXPECT SOMETHING TO GET DONE out of CSAW (the majority of the CSAW non-delegate attendees in my opinion), would be pissed and would have never returned” (Raj’s account, November 12 2001, Mon, 10:26pm).

So I read your post and dutifully noted your use of [Caps] to stress something urgent. I feel your urgency yet I will not vote or act without first understanding the ramifications of my actions. In threatening that, according to you, the majority of CSAW attendees would leave had we not appeased them, you have made your decision about who is more important. In your blatant prioritization of needs, I ask only, will it be worth it to fight the good fight knowing you left behind so many others who wanted to be allies?

I mostly concur with Anne’s account of what happened but would add a further explanation of the points I had brought before the voting body. While the threat of ISO manipulation may be very valid concerns, I do not feel I am mistaken in bringing issues of sexism and racism to the fore. It was clear in that room Sunday that we privilege particular ways of communicating and what does this mean for the rest of us who do not adhere to this methodology? When women, people of color, or queer people speak, do we assign a different set of value to their ideas because method of communication can sometimes muddle the way we hear and understand? The environment Sunday was a hostile one that pushed many people away. I will stress again the importance of representation, need for outreach, and inclusion of communities most affected in the movement – who are we fighting for? In whose name are we organizing? What does it mean to try and uplift oppressed peoples anywhere and everywhere when they do not have a say in how their liberation will take shape? Liberation on whose terms?

Raj (djentrpy [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu) writes, “As far as 59 people walking out, let me clarify: most of those 59 people did not walk out, but joined up AFTER the meeting during the committee breakouts to discuss the process point, as many, including myself, were interested in seeing how the system could be improved” (November 13 2001, Tue, 5:14pm)

Regardless of the criticism you may have of our dissent, the bottom line is that we stayed until the very end when there were only a handful of people left, and we – given last priority for report-backs – passed along our suggestions. All this to keep a movement that is just starting to take shape but has wound on life support a chance to live.

Raj continues, “It's people like you guys that really scare people away from the whole 'activist scene', with your endless categorizing and slamming down on every event that you didn't get your way in. You alienate most of the people involved with this ridiculous talk of two movements: one anarchy the other socialist. NEWSFLASH: MOST MEMBERS OF THE MOVEMENT ARE NEITHER ONE!!! I can't believe some of you, who weren't even at the conference, are calling it a 'fiasco.' You're putting blind faith in Carmentia's words, words that are more biased than CNNs broadcasts of the war.”

I do not appreciate feeble attempts to minimize and invalidate our concerns about process. I have been accused of causing disunity in a movement that is struggling to organize and save lives. Why is it that I must subjugate my concerns and let others decide things in my name? Why should I allow anyone to minimize my role in the decision-making process? I will continue my work in the anti-war movement; the only question that remains is, will we be able to work together? How much do you value me as an equal?

Overall, the post lends itself a very hostile tone. The mood in that lecture hall on Sunday was no different. If you could encapsulate the tension and hostility directed toward people who wanted to be critical of the process on Sunday and turn it into an Internet post, it would look exactly like this. Then we might wonder how it is that people came to feel so completely disempowered and alienated that they could walk away in protest.

Snehal reminds us that “it took almost 5 years of the U.S. war in Viet Nam before the first big anti-war protests started in 1965. I think the West Coast Conference helped play an important role in laying the basis for a serious, nation-wide movement” (November 13 2001, Tue, 7:56pm). We should also remind ourselves that in the interest of a certain “serious, nation-wide movement” in 1965, the interests, concerns, and critiques of particular groups were categorically pre-empted. Issues that caused internal rifts in the movement were put on the backburner and people who tried to assert themselves were accused to trying to break up the movement. Sound familiar? We are indeed on very familiar territory. (n.b.: One of the things that came out of the anti-war movement of the 1960s was the women’s movement. Women whose concerns had been pre-empted organized to address their cries of sexism that had previously gone unaddressed.) There is much to be learned from this movement as well as the Civil Rights movement.

We are at a very fragile juncture in which we can either fully address these critical issues that threaten to split the movement or decide these things don’t amount to anything when there is a greater cause at hand, that these concerns are unimportant and ought to be shelved – in the interest of fighting a war. Then, what sort of movement and community would we be building? Simply put, then are we not just replicating the societal ills we are organizing against?

Snehal continues, “Now, were there some short-comings? Sure. We (CSAW) only scheduled one day (Sunday) for decision making; we learned that we need to give this more time. Any suggestions about how to do this in a two day conference are welcome. With over 180 delegates, it is not possible to have everyone speak to every question they would like to speak to (for instance, if every delegate simply spoke once for two minutes that would be 6 hours!). Necessarily, some people didn't get to speak as much as they wanted to, and some people spoke too much. We could have better explained the voting procedures that were agreed on at the preliminary CSAW conference of 20 schools on September 29th, that would have helped clarify the process. Also, after the meeting on Saturday night, when reps from every campus met to discuss the agenda, it was clear that there were way too many proposals to deal with in one day. We didn't come up with a good solution, so many good ideas got tabled.”

From the meeting that took place Saturday night, it looks as though we had a very ambitious agenda to pursue in the working session. Secondly, September 29 might have been a problematic date because communities all across the country had planned actions to educate and protest in solidarity with one another. Those of us in Santa Barbara held a rally to condemn the hate crimes and racial profiling that have occurred in our community. Had we 1) known about the meeting and 2) not been so busy with our own event, we would have gladly been in attendance.

“Of over 180 delegates, I think 16 or 17 were members of the ISO (actually two of them weren't there on Sunday, so let's say 15 could vote). Out of 36 work shops, three had ISO members speak at them (unfortunately, in one of them the other speaker went so over time, that the ISO speaker - me - had only about 5 minutes). None of the speakers at the morning or evening panels were ISO members. ISO members voted with the near unanimous majority on some proposals (National Conference, Coordinating Committee, endorse International Solidarity with Palestine Day, continuing with majority voting as opposed to opening up a debate on process, etc) and voted in the minority on others (Feb 7th day of action, numerous procedural votes) and voted on different sides of the questions at other times (March on DC, for example). In other words, the ISO votes didn't determine a single decision of the conference” (Snehal, November 13 2001, Tue, 7:56pm).

This is an interesting attempt to make transparent the details of ISO’s involvement in the conference in the wake of accusations of non-transparency. For me, and I won’t speak for anyone else, the mistrust has already taken root. I felt used this weekend for big turnout and possible inclusion in the formation of something of a United West Coast Front of Schools Against the War. Frankly, we are not united. And there won’t be a West Coast Front if a group of us continue to push forward in the face of dissention and concerns over representation and power imbalance and manipulation. Is it not in the interest of a strong movement that we make sure we do not alienate people and instead take measures to include people in the process? What sort of movement is it when a small group of people can claim to be fighting for all peoples?

“Third, I did facilitate the Sunday session, along with several other members of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition (not ISO members) who helped run the speakers' list and keep time. For anyone who has done it before, it is a hard job (one that I don't particularly relish) and we definitely need to get more people who feel comfortable doing it for the future, but the reality is, I was asked to do it by the Berkeley Stop the War conference planning committee and I tried my best to do a good job. The notion that I prioritized ISO speakers to "hijack" the debate is factually untrue. Did I make mistakes? Of course, do I deserve to be accused of manipulation, etc.? I believe those charges are unfair” (Snehal, November 13 2001, Tue, 7:56pm).

While we appreciate efforts by the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition to organize this conference, it is also our duty to be critical of the process. I want to make clear that my critique has never been and is not at this time personal. My grievances concern structural shortcomings, lack of representation, and power imbalance.

Snehal, I am deeply sorry about how you have been treated because of the way you look, what you wear, and how you choose to engage politically. You know better than I the increasingly hostile climate in this country. When we organize, this is why representation is so important. The inclusion of people most affected as well as groups who have been traditionally marginalized will 1) help to inform us about the ramifications of our actions and 2) address issues that privilege (white, college-educated, etc) might overlook.

Kim’s writes (November 13 2001, Tue, 9:52pm), “When I approached the moderator, he replied that he felt his job was to move things along "as quickly as possible" and that is a direct quote. In my experience both as a moderator and as a member of a voting board, the job of the moderator is to observe the rules of order and ensure a fair voting process.”

I was also told the same thing. One thing that would have helped matters is a moderator who could be fair and conscientious of process. We needed desperately that Sunday a moderator who would allow due process and time for thorough discussion.

Snehal, as I told you then, I will say again here: I will not vote simply to vote. We should not for the sake of voting to pass proposals that would turn into actions that would in turn create in us the false sense that we are indeed working toward something real because our restlessness demands we do something and forget the ramifications of manhandling process. Who gets left behind? What have we swept under the carpet, put on the back burners, tried to wish away? What have we ignored because we have pretended doesn’t exist? What are you willing to sacrifice for false unity? What price will you pay for a piece of justice that reeks of oppression?

Bill Neal writes, “The main problem with this meeting was that too many proposals were submitted, and an entirely unrealistic agenda was set for the following day. IT IS THAT WHICH CREATED THE RUSHED ATMOSPHERE, CONFUSING SOME, AND CREATING A HURRIED TONE FROM THE ORGANIZERS” (November 14 2001, Wed, 1:56am).

The problem of an unrealistic agenda might have been addressed if we could bring it before the delegation for discussion before formal decision-making commenced.

Bill continues: “It was possible, if difficult, to speak. There are many instances where the chair of the decision making session did his best to include as many people as possible and respond to suggestions as they came up.”

Were you one of the “as many people as possible” that the facilitator called on to participate? I certainly was not. I am not alone in pointing out that I first tried to comply with a process that I have been forced to work within: I raised by delegate card, was noted on the stack, and waited patiently for my turn. I did this three times. Because my turn never came, I had to call it for what it was and demand a process point.

“He pointed out that some people were manipulating the process and argued against it, he opened the floor for a vote on process, moved to prioritize female speakers of color, etc.”

As far as I am concerned, this was a crumb thrown at us women of color (as it was to request a facilitator to help with report-backs when the ordering of committee report-backs was already set and she was essentially asked to read from a notebook). But if your cookie looks like a democratic-voting process that turned out to be grossly undemocratic, I guess that’s that way it’s gonna crumble.

The post by “Sp” regarding the Northeast Campus Anti-War Coalition conference (November 13 2001, Tue, 3:17pm) relays an eerie replication of what went wrong in Berkeley in the same weekend. Yet the fact that efforts to undermine a truly fair process were exposed by people were courageous enough to speak up gives me hope. Thank you again for sharing this report with us. My hope is to address this juncture fully and adequately. If we can’t do so, let the rest of us work together to create a space where we can share power and say in the decision-making process.


by Afreen (amalim [at] uci.edu)
Wednesday Nov 14th, 2001 12:47 PM
Hi,

I am very new to the activist community (as recent as sep.11). I feel disheartened and discouraged in my circle of friends who are mostly supporting the war. I attended the Berkeley conference with hopes of being empowered in fighting for the right cause. At the end of it all, i feel that the goal was achieved. I returned home with a better understanding of the intersectionality of several issues that are perpetrating this war. I was also among the people who left the sunday meeting to meet with the group of people outside. We were frustrated by the structure of the conference and the decision making process. However, no doubt there were great lessons coming out of this too. I tried to skim through all the criticisms and defenses of conflict we faced on sunday. Some points are very valid arguments and others I admit are exaggerated and blown out of proportion.

I did not drive hundreds of miles up to Berkley in order to be recruited by a bunch of desperate political groups who are turning the crisis of war into their opportunity of expanding their organizations. I am sorry for sounding blunt, but some of the groups up there were like cults and scared the heck out of me. On the other hand, i met some folks who stunned me with their intelligence and passion to fight injustice. The workshops were awesome, but the people with their personal political agendas were able to fill in their contribution of a sour taste to the amazing workshops too. The ISO was not the only organization guilty of this. However, as a newcomer i was still able to notice the tactics of certain power-hungry ISO members (not ALL). I totally agree with the points that Kim made in an earlier post. The facilitator, Snehal took on a gigantic responsibility and undoubtedly it was difficult to handle. (did he have to be up there for the entire 6 hours??? cuz i dont see how anybody can endure and lead such a large task). He was working with the "interest of time" and once again i agree as Kim mentioned that the priority should be encouraging a fair discussion not a speedy one. When we had proposals put forth, why did we hear only one argument for/against it? I bet there were other credible arguments on either sides. After all, I was there to hear perspectives different from the mainstream. The very first discussion itself (coordinating committee) set a bad taste to the rest of the meeting. When people made suggestions to add/remove something from the original proposal, why was that not added to the proposal and voted on? So many things were left up in the air and totally vague. Does that mean nothing great came out of this? Hell no!!! The caravan/march on DC sounds like an amazing idea that i am totally looking forward to working on. There were divisions and points of disagreements in the whole group, but let's not forget that we as individuals bring in our personal experiences and opinions which sometimes oppose those of others. Although this was true during the conference, let us not lose sight of our common goal, which is to end oppression and try everything in our power to save the lives of millions in Afhanistan!!! I heard a lot of bitching in that hall on sunday, but i also heard an awesome spirit of humanity ringing in our cheers and applause on saturday. I think the power trip of some of the ISO representatives as well as other groups has been addressed which only makes us better capable of handling such a situation in the future. We all have a lesson to learn from this and move forward in solidarity. I dont think we should divide into different coalitions, because i have so much more to contribute and to learn from C-SAW. An important reality check: the millions dying and suffering in Afghanistan, Palestine, in our own country and around the world cannot afford to have people like us, who stand as their hope for life, divided in our agendas. Let us stand together in solidarity, learn from our mistakes, and remember that failure is only the first step to success! The success in our common mission is way too crucial for history of mankind during this time of crisis.

PS. A very very important lesson i learned this weekend: As a liberal individual (+ being a colored, indian-american female with a past as a muslim) i thought that racism and sexism are evils that i am alien to. This is because i always compared my beliefs to those around me, which is only a relative comparison. Racism and sexism are engraved such deeply in our societies that a complete escape from them is close to impossible. This is only a reason to work towards this issue with even more determination and objectivity. It was a pity that the issue of hearing voices of minorities and females was brought up during the conference when we had just a little over an hour left. This goes to show how easily we can be blinded in fighting against racism and sexism.
by Raj (djentrpy [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu)
Wednesday Nov 14th, 2001 1:29 PM
I apologize for the hostile tone in my second post - I got a little carried away. I appreciate that constructive things are now being said, and I'm hoping that people realize that, as many have said, the problems with the conference meeting were a result of trying to get too much done in too little time, not a result of some "ISO-conspiracy." Clearly, the first step in a solution is to allot more time for this decision-making process.

PS. And I still stand strongly by my condemnation of the idea of two groups (one socialist one anarchist) as I still feel that would slice the movement in half and then some.



Raj
by Amy
Friday Nov 16th, 2001 1:09 AM
I have to give you props girl. That was THE best analysis of the conference. The process was doomed to fail from the start. out of the woodwork comes the ISO to defend the purpose and cause of the group. This conference was not "hijacked" by the ISO, it was their circrus from the start, we were just lied to so that we could come up there.
Oh I also love it how that guy Bill put down that middle eastern girl who spoke out for middle eastern people. The funny thing is I talked to her after the walk out, here name is Chantel I think, and she told me how she was friends with those ISO people in LA, how she's been at their house and has hung out with them, but that she just couldn't take their crap anymore. She said it was never personal until they made it personal.
She is actually really motivating, and I think we can organize a stronger activist/progressive/radical/TRUE democracic process away from all this vanguard shit. Lets get it on the road and show these people what democracy looks like, as she said.
by Amber
Friday Nov 16th, 2001 1:46 AM
you are not listening. it's not anarchist vs. Socialist. It's Vanguard/liberal groups vs. progressive/radical/anti-authoritarians.
you keep talking about solidarity, unity but the fact remains the two groups I mentioned above are totally different. like democrats and republicans. Instead of being productive and instead of working towards a cause they will spend hours upon hours fighting over consensus or a majority vote process, and nothing will get done. Why not work with people who have somewhat basic views that you do so at least you are on the same page about outreach, organizing, media, etc. etc.
Obviously we saw this weekend that an anarchist will stand aside and allow a socialist process to work the ENTIRE time, but do you really think that a socialist will stand aside and let anarchist have any say or direction in what is going on? were you at the DNC or RNC? did you see what the ISO did to the black block in the name of security?
I have picked to work with the anti-authoritarian group because I know that's where I can spend my time fighting against the war and working better on organizing skills and less time in trying to defend my views and less time being attacked, and less time wasting on this type of garbage back and forth. After this conference I can never and will never again work with the ISO.
We talked to students who were part of the UCB coalition who were communist and anarchist and over and over they told us how they were shut down by the domination of the ISO or people who support the ISO, do you think that all of us are pulling this out of our ass?
why are we not attacking the RCP? or the PLP? the Sparts? they were also present at the conference, so why is nobody attacking them? do you think the ISO is such a big deal that WE all have a conspiracy against them?
Open your eyes and see things for what they are, the same exact thing that happned this weekend in Berkeley happned in Boston and in Chicago during the east coast and midwest anti-war schools conference, do you think that's a conicidence? WAKE UP! OPEN YOUR EYES!
by Jim (not in the ISO, never have been) (jfung79 [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu)
Saturday Nov 17th, 2001 12:32 AM
Friday night, we had the first general meeting of the BSTWC after the C-SAW conference (and thus also our first meeting after the major shift in the war).

Over 60 people were there (only about 5 of them from the ISO). Another 10 or so BSTWC members (not in the ISO either) were not there because they are currently at another conference in New York.

We had an honest and open discussion about the conference, and about the discussion that is taking place here on Indymedia. The legitimate issues being raised by some people from other schools, were treated seriously.

However, the people at the meeting (and there was no drop-off from the previous 2 weeks) agreed that many of the criticisms of the conference have been too personal.

Theresa (who I know; hi Theresa) has not made any personal attacks that I am aware of -- but some others have done so in this discussion. For instance, Snehal and Todd have been singled out several times. How do personal attacks, and speculative attacks on an organization, address the issues that have been raised?

Let's continue this discussion. If some folks feel that they need to create another anti-war coalition -- I personally will be saddened, and I urge you to reconsider. Are you sure that this is the best way? It was a general consensus at the BSTWC meeting that we still want to be as inclusive as possible, regardless of what happens in terms of a split.

We even talked about moving to an affinity group structure.

But let me make something clear. As one of the many many non-ISO members of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition, I urge everyone reading this to please separate the legitimate concerns about process, representation, transparency, and democracy -- from the question of the ISO. Please, let's not trivialize and over-simplify these issues by making them the fault of just one organization.

Also, like Raj, I can personally testify that ISO members have never locked me out of decision-making and organizing opportunities and responsibilities. If anything, Snehal has been one of the main people to insist that skills be spread around. He is always encouraging new people to speak.

BSTWC meetings have been facilitated by many, many different people from a variety of groups. None of our six elected spokespeople (five of whom are people of color) are members of the ISO.

If Berkeley Stop the War contributed to some faults in the C-SAW conference, criticize that, and let's all learn from our mistakes. But please let's not continue this sectarian, speculative "bash the ISO" fest.

In solidarity,
Jim Fung
by Jim (jfung79 [at] uclink4.berkeley.edu)
Saturday Nov 17th, 2001 12:42 AM
I won't presume to tell you that you're wrong in choosing to be part of a new "anti-authoritarian" anti-war group --

but your comment about Democrats and Republicans is definitely news to me. Was that just a slip? The Democrats and the Republicans both back this war, and they both voted to curtail civil liberties.

Or are you uncosciously unacknowledging that the vanguard/liberal and progressive/radical/anti-authoritarian groups (as you put it somewhat polarizingly) actually have everything in common after all?

in solidarity,
Jim (a Green)
by Julie
Monday Nov 19th, 2001 12:15 PM
First of all, the ISO has no "secret agenda." I believe we are very forthcoming with our agenda, and our goals. We call for a socialist revolution, and the only way to do that it through an uprising and an organising of ordinary people like you and I.

The ISO is the most democratic organization I have ever seen, and to say that we run things through hierarchy is complete bullshit. ISO is also one of the most active organizations in the nation, meaning we work our asses off to get shit done. We believe that recruiting members is the most effective way to achieve a socialist revolution. Those of you that imply that ISO organizes a lot of events just in the interest of recruiting members, rather than to be active in fighting for a cause like gay liberation, abortion rights and workers' rights are highly disillusioned. We do see it as an excellent way to promote socialism and recruit people but it is not our main objective, by far.

For those who have written in in defense of the ISO (ISO members, or not) I really appreciate your use of logical thinking. A lot of people base their own suspicions of the ISO on internet gossip...a very unreliable source. I would recommend actually talking to a member. They're probably going to the best source of actual happenings, agendas, and opinions within the ISO.

I congratulate those of you who made a huge sucess out of the Berkely conference...all coordinators and people attending.

We had an student anti-war conference here in North Carolina on UNCG campus about a couple of weeks ago. It was a huge success, also. About 120 people came out and there were a lot of speakers. The ISO had a dominant presence there, but it was not "dominated" at all. There were a few ISO members and a few Triad Anti-war committee members (and a few who were involved in both, like myself) that helped organize the event.

I'm just making the point that the reason the ISO has a large presence in a lot of these events is because it's such an active organization, not because it seeks to dominate everything!
by Frank Little
Tuesday Nov 20th, 2001 4:44 AM
Authoritarians and anti-authoritarians have nothing in common!

What we are ultimately fighting is centralized power. This is true no matter what form the centralized power takes. When we live in a theocracy, we fight theocracy. When we live in a bureaucracy, we fight the bureaucracy. When we live in a plutocracy, we fight the plutocracy. Just because some authoritarians are anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist does not make them our friends, it makes them the "enemy of my enemy". History has been littered with the corpses of anti-authoritarians who failed to make this distinction, because the authoritarians have never similarly failed.

Authoritarians, largely due to their experience in the power struggles that takes place within their own organizations, clearly see opportunities to take positions of power and have no qualms about doing so. We must be similarly committed to the destruction of any positions of power that might allow vanguardist minorities to seize control of revolutionary organizations. This commitment has been decried as "sectarianism" by the vanguardists, predictably, but, as history has clearly written in anti-authoritarian blood, this commitment is necessary as a preventative measure. To do otherwise would be not only naive but, frankly, insane, as it implies "doing the same old damned thing and expecting diferent results".

People at demonstrations often scream something to the effect of my grandfather's frequent question: "You damned people are against everything! What are you for?!" Anti-authoritarians have an obvious answer to this question that clearly distinguishes us from the alphabet soup of authoritarians: "We are for a world without bosses!"

No more bosses! No capitalist bosses, no mob bosses, no church bosses, and no damned Party bosses either!
by Frank Little
Tuesday Nov 20th, 2001 8:56 PM
"Wrong, wrong, wrong"?

Wow. Contentless denunciation .... VERY impressive.


As to us all being "potential victims of this war", we are also all "potential victims" of the hanta virus, meteors from outer space, and the monsters who live under your bed. Such things a basis of unity do not make.

Your suggestion, though, does bring to mind a hypothetical, macabrely humorous situation: As the authoritarians are marching the anarchists and the left-libertarians out to the train yards of St. Petersburg in 1919 (Ammunition was too valuable to waste on just shooting them outright, of course. Only "troublemakers" who resisted were killed immediately.), the captive anti-authoritarians plead with the Bolsheviks, "Please, please, don't send us to die in Siberia. Don't you see, we're all brothers, we are united by our common potential victimization at the hands of influenza!" Or, better yet, when the Stalinists started to disarm the anarchists and the POUM in Spain (and to murder any of them who resisted) after outlawing their organizations, the anti-authoritarians could have pleaded, "Please, Mr. Stalinist, don't shoot me, I too am a potential victim of shark attack!"

Yeah ... if this issue wasn't so damned important and the consequences so dire, this bullshit would be fucking hilarious. As it is, its really just sickening.

For a world without bosses!

by .
Monday Dec 3rd, 2001 10:38 AM
The point of posting criticism is to really look at it, find out what is true in it and what is false in it. This is not happening in this discussion. People are doing exactly what the government wants, encourages and may be part of on this page. DIVIDING PEOPLE WHO HAVE A COMMON BEEF WITH THIS GOVERNMENT AND THIS UNJUST WAR.I'm not sayng anorchists and social-democrats like the ISO need to agree or organize tgether, I am saying that they DO AGREE about at least one thing. THIS WAR MUST END AND THERE MUST BE RESISTANCE. I am not a member of the ISO, I hate Trotsky and his counter-revolutionary shit, but people I know in the ISO do want a better world and are not the enemy. All the anarchists I know, (a lot) all want a better world as well.

I could talk shit about the anarchists and the social-democrats till I am blue in the face. BUT I WON'T!!!

Anarchists ( and I don't mean to categorize you sisters and brothers) are combative and sick of this system. THIS IS GREAT AND NEEDED!
Social-democrats are dedicated to a better world and take the right side on many issues. WE NEED TO UNITE ALL WHO CAN BE UNITED AGAINST A COMMON ENEMY!!

One more thing, there are genuine communists out there that are NOT liberal in any sense, but are some of the most radical fighters out there. They fight in cities across the countries at the side of black bloc people and anarchists. Stop dissing on these people by lumping all so-called social-democrat groupings with them.

People keep talking about this so-called SPLIT in the anti-war movement. This will be an obstacle setback if WE make it one.
by bol
Monday Dec 3rd, 2001 10:46 AM
you comments are 1: bullshit fucking lies
2: divisive
3: BULLSHIT BECAUSE PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THIS WORLD, RADICALS INCLUDED, ARE COMING UNDER SCRUTINY AND ATTACK. PEOPLE ARE LITERALLY BEING DISAPPEARED RIGHT HERE IN THE US

SO SHUT THE FUCK UP
by radical-green-anarcho-commy bastard (ienjoyfreshair [at] yahoo.com)
Monday Dec 10th, 2001 11:18 AM
first off, the ISO is clearly doing things to piss people off, but we are wise to realize that bickering is not the answer as we are faced with a great common enemy. my suggestion is this: do not go along with anything that feels wrong to you. if you do not operate well with centralized authority or don't like "said" process, then start affiliate groups, do your own things, dont be afraid to follow your own individuality. this does not mean the ISO is an enemy, they can only be an enemy if you let them be. maybe some people "need" that kind of organization to start off with... but i believe in the long run, only through the radicalizing of the individual spirit can we change this world. no "party" is going to carry us through. let them set up their events, let them do what they know how to do, dont get caught up in shit that doesnt sit well with you. it seems clear to me that ISO-types think they are doing good, so let them do it their way, and you do it your way. nobody likes a control freak, so any such strategy is bound to fail... in the end those who are superior communicators will help open the golden path. i believe that the anarchist spirit is the best way to communicate the real message of freedom, love, and reason to people. we can only be controlled if we want to be, viva la revolucion!
Hi,

Part of the problem, as people have pointed out is that the left 'party' types are really well organized. This has been a good thing in many ways, here in Canada, as they are first out when something like the war in Afghanistan happens. It also means that they acquire significant amount of control of platforms and organizations.

The real problem is that they see 'peace' organizations and the like as a forum for them to push their view and their organization. This means that they do not want to see the evolution of 'extra-party' organization, such as peace organizations, with any kind of sophisticated ideological analysis because they feel that their organization has the correct ideological analysis. They see other organizations as compedative.

Frankly however, this is very hard to avoid, and these organizations must be worked with as best as possible. It sounds like the real problem at Berkley was that the rest of the left was not organized to deal with the problem. It sounds as if their were too many people, from too many small groups, and individuals trying to vie for far to little time to approach all of the various perspectives. On the other hand the ISO was trying to push forward an action plan, which they see as obvious, but others are not prepared to deal with.

In the end the best way to deal with left party organizations is to deal with them as individuals! There are many people in these organizations who are fringe elements, working in these organizations who are there simply because they see no other way to effectively organize. In the end, even groups like the ISO must sustain the support of it members and they need to be approached not as a mass, but one by one.

It is frustrating, but only through long term consistent organizing can people hope to claim ownership of the Peace Movement. Walking away may be the best thing for now, but go back and fight the battle with friends and people who you are sympathetic too. In the end organizations like the ISO will bend to a broader perspective.

Steve Smith
Toronto
you bunch of know it all school kids.
do you think human exsistance started at your birth?
do you think you have all the answers and you all have some sort of special insight that the rest of humanity hasnt already tried?
do you think the answers to the problems that plague humanity lie in a form of government? give me a break.

how about doin something that could at least benefit one human being instead of bitchin and protesting about how fucked up this country is. youll be surprised of the feelin of empowerment youll get by helping your fellow man.
do you think the people we are fighting wouldnt hesitate to butcher you, regardless if you are against the 'imperialist/capitalist heathen"?
my advice; get a little wisdom from OUTSIDE your university/world/library , ie go to a fucked up country as see how fortunate we really are.
you'll see the answer to our problems are not as easy as you might think.
dave
ps USA#1

you bunch of know it all school kids.
do you think human exsistance started at your birth?
do you think you have all the answers and you all have some sort of special insight that the rest of humanity hasnt already tried?
do you think the answers to the problems that plague humanity lie in a form of government? give me a break.

how about doin something that could at least benefit one human being instead of bitchin and protesting about how fucked up this country is. youll be surprised of the feelin of empowerment youll get by helping your fellow man.
do you think the people we are fighting wouldnt hesitate to butcher you, regardless if you are against the 'imperialist/capitalist heathen"?
my advice; get a little wisdom from OUTSIDE your university/world/library , ie go to a fucked up country as see how fortunate we really are.
you'll see the answer to our problems are not as easy as you might think.
dave
ps USA#1

by Concerned Anarchist Punk
Friday Feb 22nd, 2002 1:19 PM
I live in Burlingon, Vermont, and I can vouch that the ISO here are a bunch of secretive cult freaks. The leadership is anyway; they've got a bunch of followers convinced the'yre all about peace and justice.

They're always bashing anarchists for having "nowhere politics" and they churn out the most turgid propaganda. Luckily, we just leave any meetings they show up at; but they're always giving speeches at rallies talking about how together everyone is then they have their secret meetings and stab everyone else in the back. I bet half of them are FBI plants, especially these days.

As Jello Biafra said, you're not hardcores cuz you spike your hair/when the jock still lives inside your head.
by Jep
Sunday Mar 17th, 2002 10:26 AM
A tragic schism in the class struggle has always existed between the anarchists on one side and their 'authoritarian' co-fighters on the other side. Frank Little and (other) anarchists understandably hate false authorities. They had bad early experiences at home and/or later in their political lives saw that any political party / society is inclined to be governed by the very worst - i.e. the very most power-hungry - elements of the society. And this is true for ANY political party / society, capitalist or socialist. So at the PERSONAL level, Frank's statement ' We are for a world without bosses ' should be agreeable to everybody. The problem is that the anarchists hate the false power-hungry authorities so badly that they miss the big picture and identify the persons with the systems they represent. They don't distinguish between a good (socialist) system operated by bad guys and an evil (capitalist) system operated by bad guys. But a revolution requires firm organisation and a common appropriate strategy. If we fight individually in all directions we will never get rid of the corporate rule. The conclusion that should be able to satisfy anarchists as well as non-anarchists therefore is that we need 1) a cultural revolution, because the bad power-hungry bosses are breeded by parents that do not give their children unlimited and unconditional love, respect, security and freedom to natural unfolding and 2) a political revolution to transfer the economic and political power from the transnational corporations, their mass media monopoly and their governments, to the peoples. See http://www.unitedpeoples.net
by Jep
Sunday Mar 17th, 2002 10:40 AM
A tragic schism in the class struggle has always existed between the anarchists on one side and their 'authoritarian' co-fighters on the other side. Frank Little and (other) anarchists understandably hate false authorities. They had bad early experiences at home and/or later in their political lives saw that any political party / society is inclined to be governed by the very worst - i.e. the very most power-hungry - elements of the society. And this is true for ANY political party / society, capitalist or socialist. So at the PERSONAL level, Frank's statement ' We are for a world without bosses ' should be agreeable to everybody. The problem is that the anarchists hate the false power-hungry authorities so badly that they miss the big picture and identify the persons with the systems they represent. They don't distinguish between a good (socialist) system operated by bad guys and an evil (capitalist) system operated by bad guys. But a revolution requires firm organisation and a common appropriate strategy. If we fight individually in all directions we will never get rid of the corporate rule. The conclusion that should be able to satisfy anarchists as well as non-anarchists therefore is that we need 1) a cultural revolution, because the bad power-hungry bosses are breeded by parents that do not give their children unlimited and unconditional love, respect, security and freedom to natural unfolding and 2) a political revolution to transfer the economic and political power from the transnational corporations, their mass media monopoly and their governments, to the peoples. See http://www.unitedpeoples.net
by Jep
Sunday Mar 17th, 2002 2:08 PM
A tragic schism in the class struggle has always existed between the anarchists on one side and their 'authoritarian' co-fighters on the other side. Frank Little and (other) anarchists understandably hate false authorities. They had bad early experiences at home and/or later in their political lives saw that any political party / society is inclined to be governed by the very worst - i.e. the very most power-hungry - elements of the society. And this is true for ANY political party / society, capitalist or socialist. So at the PERSONAL level, Frank's statement ' We are for a world without bosses ' should be agreeable to everybody. The problem is that the anarchists hate the false power-hungry authorities so badly that they miss the big picture and identify the persons with the systems they represent. They don't distinguish between a good (socialist) system operated by bad guys and an evil (capitalist) system operated by bad guys. But a revolution requires firm organisation and a common appropriate strategy. If we fight individually in all directions we will never get rid of the corporate rule. The conclusion that should be able to satisfy anarchists as well as non-anarchists therefore is that we need 1) a cultural revolution, because the bad power-hungry bosses are breeded by parents that do not give their children unlimited and unconditional love, respect, security and freedom to natural unfolding and 2) a political revolution to transfer the economic and political power from the transnational corporations, their mass media monopoly and their governments, to the peoples. See http://www.unitedpeoples.net
by Andrew R. Highsmith
Wednesday May 22nd, 2002 11:40 PM
Dear group,
I am dismayed by some of the postings that I have read regarding the CA conference against the war. Is it not significant that 600 people from so many campuses turned up to organize against the war so soon after the 9-11 disaster? Perhaps we are losing sight of the conferences many achievements and, more importantly, of the greater objectives in an anti-war coalition. Don't we have more important things to discuss, as the US continues to bomb Afghanistan, imprison innocent individuals, etc.? I am utterly amazed at the absurdity of so many postings here, particularly the one to which I am responding. I am not a member of the ISO, but I nonetheless suspect that some of these critiques are authored by cranks, those who consistently snipe at all organizing efforts. Many of them are irrelevant diletantes, who have the privelege of abstaining from coalition building and political organizing.

Many have called for consensus voting in anti-war coalitions. I am deeply troubled by this suggestion. Does anyone honestly think that so many delegates could reach consensus over the course of a weekend on such complex political and strategic issues? I suspect that more than a few on this list would happily destroy this nascent anti-war coalition on just those grounds. This isn't democracy, it's tyranny. This will most certainly be my last posting on this silly list. I hope, however, that we can overcome the sectarianism that permeates this list and move forward against the US war machine.

Best,
Andrew
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