Communist Workers’ Organisation Statement on the Resignation of MS and the Crisis in the GIO

We have been asked by other affiliates of the ICT, as well as sympathisers, to clarify our position on the resignation of MS and his comments on the problems in the Canadian affiliate of the ICT, the Groupe Internationaliste Ouvrier (GIO).

MS cites two reasons for resigning. One is the real reason, which is his refusal to recognise the difference between negative sniping and comradely criticism. But this was hardly a serious or heroic position on which to base a resignation. As a result he has chosen to pre-empt any statement the ICT was preparing on the problem of the GIO by pretending that it was our inaction on that issue which prompted him to resign. This is less than convincing. Within half an hour of the CWO discussion over what we would recommend to the ICT’s International Bureau (IB) on the situation in Canada he asked to become a full member of the CWO! Contrary to his invented account, there was no shouting down of his opinion that we should expel the GIO from the ICT. In fact this is a view shared by others and which had already been voiced at our April meeting not attended by MS. So his opinion was by no means a lone one.

Indeed that would be the easy solution but the issue with the GIO, as MS well knows, is much more complex. The ICT is not a centralised organisation. Our Canadian affiliate has taken the decisions internally with regard to these events. However the ICT does not take such matters lightly and has attempted to advise the GIO rather than expel them. The brief history of events which follows clarifies what has occurred and our own attitude to what has happened.

In March 2013 the GIO (which at the time was effectively 2 people) admitted a comrade (A) who confessed to having been accused of rape in 2011 when he was 17 years old but the police had not pursued the charge as the young woman who he admits he “hurt” had gone to bed with him and not specifically withdrawn her consent. Whatever the truth of the matter we know who would have been more traumatised by the event and our sympathies are with her.

Comrade V, who admitted him into the group, told no-one at the time but because he had a well-deserved reputation as a defender of women from violent men in Montreal, assumed he could also defend this comrade from the rumours that pursued him. Comrade V at no time informed the ICT of this decision. Neither were we told when A came to the UK and we arranged a speaking tour for him. We were not even told when a CWO comrade went to Canada to give three talks in June 2014 although apparently all members who joined the GIO at that time had been informed. At that time the group had many women sympathisers and not one of them gave the slightest hint of A’s reputation.

We only found out about A’s past in November 2015 at the International Bureau (IB) meeting in Rome when he himself briefly announced that he had done something in his past which had “hurt” a woman and that he now regretted. He apologised for not informing us previously but said that this was because he was ashamed. He had however told the GIO before his entry into the group.

In Rome, realising we were only getting one side of the story, our immediate response was to delegate a French-speaking comrade of the IB to write to V asking for details of both past and present accusations. He wrote three times via email to him but the comrade did not reply to anything. In February 2015 Comrade V then went on Facebook and, again without previously informing anyone, announced his resignation from the GIO denouncing A as a serial “rapist” and attacking another comrade for refusing to accept his point of view.

This triggered the next response of the ICT which was to ask the GIO to suspend A as a member pending investigation of any new information V might furnish. The GIO and A himself agreed to this. In the event V admitted he had no proof that A had in fact done anything further after 2011and could not even come up with a specific accusation we could investigate. The limbo situation for both the ICT and A has been unnecessarily prolonged by our waiting for the promised "dossier" which would be ready at the latest by September. By then we had long since realised that no document would be forthcoming. We had begun our own investigation via Skype with female sympathisers of the GIO. They substantially confirmed the picture that, as the GIO still maintain, A has not committed any new act against women since 2011 but also that the weight of opinion against him because of his past was so great that A’s presence in the GIO was untenable. Communists stand for the liberation of all the class and the small nuclei which do exist cannot credibly maintain they stand for all of the class under such a burden.

However, the new comrades of the GIO who had not been party to the original decision decided to stand by it with the aim of clearing his name and not bowing to what they call the “rough justice” of the local rumour machine. In June they issued a statement in French which we have translated to sit alongside this one. The ICT delayed its publication because we considered it was not robust enough and hoped to get it further amended. It is a brief announcement of where they currently stand.

Neither the ICT nor the CWO had any intention of letting this episode be quietly swept under the carpet but, as the chronology of the last 10 months demonstrates, we have been faced with a continually shifting issue which is now reaching its dénouement. The purpose of the CWO discussion in September was to prepare our delegate to contribute to a final statement in November. We discussed the effect of this crisis for the ICT and what it means for our organisations. We are currently a political tendency of affiliated organisations united by the key political positions we have in common. Each affiliate has its own way of working in the geographical area they live in. That means the International Bureau is a coordinating body and cannot instruct an affiliate on how to act. The CWO has advised the GIO that their position would be stronger if A was permanently suspended or expelled. We are not the state and this is not about legal crime and punishment. It is about the seriousness of our aims and whether his presence is compatible with them.

This is especially true in the current world situation where violence against women is rising dramatically everywhere. Whether it is in US colleges where a quarter of all women are “sexually assaulted” in their first term, or via the codified violence of states like Saudi Arabia and Iran who blame the victim for rape, there has been a culture of violence against women which we have to fight. The global crisis amplifies that violence over and over again. The breakdown of many states under the pressure of economic collapse and imperialist proxy wars in places like the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, the Central African Republic (the list goes on and on) means that rape has become a policy of war. This is also true for Boko Haram and IS who use rape against those they regard as unbelievers when they are not forcing them into “marriage” with their fighters as a perk of the job. As the feminist slogan from the 1980s has it “on war, men make it but women take it”. The same goes for female refugees and migrants fleeing the brutality and chaos of Syria, Somalia and Eritrea etc many of whom are raped before they even reach the Mediterranean.

Our basic position on the issue is quite clear.

The struggle against the oppression of women is for us no “affair purely for women”, but, on the contrary, equally a means and a pre-condition for the production of class unity. The revolutionary organisation must take all requisite steps to ensure the full participation of as many women as possible in the communist movement. There is no

socialism without the liberation of women. [For Communism: An Introduction to the Politics of the ICT]

In the CWO (and ICT) there is certainly a sense that we have to prevent the repetition of an affair where another affiliate can take such an important and damaging decision not only without consulting us, but without even telling us for over 2 years. To this end our comrades also called for new statutes common to all members in all affiliates (to ensure no affiliate ever again takes any decision like this without knowing they have to inform the ICT). This inevitably will mean a further step in the centralisation of the ICT and has already been welcomed by other ICT affiliates.

This prolonged series of events has been partially a result of the way we have organised but at the end of the day it is much more about the failures of individual revolutionaries to recognise their responsibilities to the organisations they are supposed to be developing. There has been too much of an individualistic pattern to the behaviours we have seen but we are determined not to let it deflect us from the tasks we have set ourselves. This not only means resolving this crisis in a manner that revolutionaries should, but also putting our theory that

The emancipation of women is directly connected with the creation of a socialist society and the liberation of the working class as a whole. Nevertheless, the struggle against sexist discrimination cannot be postponed until day X after the revolution. [For Communism]

into more of our practice. This statement is not the end of the affair but simply to put the whole issue in its true context. There will be more to come.

Communist Workers’ Organisation

October 2016

Statement of the Internationalist Workers Group

Sexual assaults in our group

Our group is facing a serious problem. One of our members faces accusations which date back to 2011. These were charges of sexual assault, which seemed to us to have been resolved. This was not the case. Some actions have been carried out against our group and against one member in particular. The following statement is intended to clarify the situation.

We have already expelled a member for a case of domestic violence in the past. We did not make a public statement about it at the time. It was a mistake because we want to make clear to everyone that the establishment of communism is a collective act of the whole class to abolish all forms of exploitation and oppression. Thus a communist organization cannot tolerate any form of sexist or racist behavior and especially those that involve acts of violence.

The other comrade that we kept in our ranks had been accused of sexual assault, mainly for having physically hurt a woman during sex. The charges were rejected by the police.

However, at the time of these acts, the comrade was a minor who repented his actions and took therapy to monitor his behavior. A diagnosis of many mental health specialists stated it was a medical issue, the comrade not being, according to these specialists, responsible for his actions at the time. There has been no recurrence since. The comrade committed these acts before entering the group and was honest enough to declare us all his actions before wanting to join. We accepted him knowingly.

However his reputation for violence against women persisted in the militant milieu of Montreal and Toronto. A covering letter by him was also sent in 2014 to members of a political group in Ontario (Common Cause) to try to clarify the matter.

Our comrade spokesperson (who has since resigned) began to denounce the concerned member, thereby changing his original position. A meeting about these old allegations took place in our group in September 2015, a meeting that ended to the satisfaction of the members present. However, after the end of the meeting the comrade spokesperson said he had new facts that he had not brought up and would produce a text on the subject.

A year later, we still do not have the promised text and he is circulating new charges which nobody can verify.

Analysis

We believe now that it was a mistake not to publicly declare the inclusion of a member who was an assailant in the past but had since shown repentance, at least among activists in Montreal. We now believe it is a mistake to have put on the member in question the responsibility to disclose his troubled past to each militant and activist he met, or to any other person.

Would it have changed anything? We do not know, but we would have known at that time if there were criticisms. And the debate on how to solve the problem instead of going on behind closed doors would have taken place in public. We may well be talking of the actions of abusers and militant groups but we will one day find solutions to solve a problem that undermines the struggle of the working class.

The GIO by this publication intends to resume where the problem arises: can we accept as members past aggressors against women, however repentant and if so, under what conditions? Should we create a feminist court to resolve these cases? With what rules? What about the concept of "restorative / transformative justice" advanced by feminists? In addition, our group had already begun a study on the oppression of women; we are continuing. We undertake discussions with feminists. This study should lead us to take a political position as well as methods and practices for our activity.

Groupe Internationaliste Ouvrier

August 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Comments

what are differences between affiliates and sympathizers? Are they member of organization?

in addation ,what you mean by centralised organization? is ICC centralised organization or it is same as your organization?

Amir

Affiliates refers to groups. E.g the CWO is the UK affiliate of the ICT. Sympathisers are individuals who agree with us a lot but who are not members.

The ICC was founded as a centralised organisation in the 1970s and it has sections in various countries who have to follow the direction of its International Secretariat. The ICT aims to be part of the process which leads to the formation of an international revolutionary party but does not claim to be that party. To this end we are politically centralised but each local affiliate is left ot organise itself in the locality they live. We think that centralisation of a future party will only grow organically with the rise of a conscious class and we don't want to artificially impose a practice which still has to be worked out in a working class which faces new and different conditions from that of the past. As it happens though we are being pushed down the road to greater coordination. In 2009 we set up an International Bureau made up of delegates from each affiliate and this co-ordinates the work of the whole tendency although at the moment has no power to instruct an affiliate what it should do. This affair has led us to consider various ideas which we hope will ensure that one affiliate does not take a significant decision which could affect the whole tendency without informing the IB.

OK, sympathisers are individuals who agree with ICT and affiliate CWO but are not members. Can you give us some idea as to how many actual members there are in CWO ? Hopefully that is not a secret.

It is in our statutes that no member is allowed to reveal such information.

As it happens though we are being pushed down the road to greater coordination.

would you please tell me more about it? it is mean organization which constructed on centrallization dose not work properly? or it is difficulties and differences of opinion about question of centrallization? is it the problem of monlistic or non- monlistic org?

You tell us that no MEMBER is ALLOWED to REVEAL such information, yet you want the whole of the world proletariat to know as much as possible about ICT. How can you be secretive and close off such information, and yet be wide open to workers everywhere ? !

Amir

We have to stress we are politically centralised around a common platform and we are developing in line with the growth of the ICT. When we moved from 2 affiliates to 4 in the early 2000s we could no longer rely on the direct coordination between 2 people representing both halves of the ICT (or IBRP as it was then). Since then we have continued to acquire individual members around the globe and they are not in any affiliate (although we hope one day they will be part of one they help create). What we have found recently though is what we thought was commonsense for an affiliate turns out not to be the case and we realise we need to add to our common platform a common set of statutes for all the ICT (at the moment each affiliate has its own statutes). This is all the comment about being pushed down the road to greater centralisation means and we are quite comfortable with that. Otherwise we don't think the model is wrong. We don't want to just establish clones of the ICT in different places but see these groups grow organically from the class struggle where they are. Three people defending the platform of an international organisation in one place is a start but it needs to engage with the real context where it is and feed back that experience to the rest of the ICT. This is how we hope to become a real international organisation and not just one on paper.

At least that is a serious enquiry but KLZ obviously has no conception of how a real political organisation works. We have to have a space for members to discuss with eacah other key issues internally (otherwise why have an organisation at all). And all individuals in the organisation have to respect that. We also have to guard their privacy. We have had enough members victimised over the years. However the kind of detail he is asking is what the forces of the state spend a great deal of time and money "researching" and has nothing to do with our propaganda and public work to get the communist message out to as many people as possible. Where will his enquiries stop? How many members have you in Bristol, for example? What's the name and address of all your members perhaps? Excuse us for considering the question frivolous.

with apologize,

when you are politically centralized around a common platform, then, why have a different set of statutes? what is the relation between platform and statutes? is statutes depend on situation of local area?

Amir

The platform is the common political basis for all the groups (we have a "popular version" called For Communism which you can find on the site but the original Platform is also up too).

Statutes are the rules that govern how an organisation operates and indicates how members should act and behave inside and outside the organisation but all 4 of the main groups in the ICT existed as groups BEFORE coming into the ICT so they brought their own statutes with them. The IBRP used to have statutes the whole organisation (when we had just 2 groups) but since we formed the ICT we have not operated them. In a sense what we will now do is look at them again, revise them in the light of our recent experience and present them as the new over-arching statutes for the ICT.

Oh dear, you want my enquiries to stop because others seek the same information ! As for a 'conception of how a real political organisation works', whether or not you regard the Labour Party as a 'real' political organisation, it has recently declared some figures as to its membership, Having over the years enquired about a number of allegedly Marxist organisations in the UK, there seems to me to be hardly any difference between their tight 'democratic centralism' and what you require of CWO/ICT members. Even news of an approximate extent of the number of members is banned by you, so it remains unclear as to any extent of effective influence your organisations might now have. All political organisations are more or less equal on the web, give or take technical features, but how do they compare beyond keyboards and screens ?

as far as i know , all communist left groups have same platform in whole. is it true?

Stalinist, Maoist,Trotskyist , are left wing of bourgeois party

have you different platform with ICC ?

The Communist Left (descended from the Italian Left) is broadly divided into 3 broad traditions. The ICC, the ICT and the Bordigists (who don't like to be called Bordigists). There are several Bordigist groups and most go under the name The International Communist Party (each refusing to recognise the existence of the others or, for that matter ourselves and the ICC). All three traditions have quite different platforms but an outsider would say that the ICT and the ICC platforms are closer to each other than to the Bordigist Platforms. In an article on this site there is an explanation of the differences between us all. I'll try to find it for you.

Its here. Click on this link leftcom.org

What are the most urgent problems which the working class of the world needs to solve ? Of course a list of them are combined in the knowledge of all that capitalism inflicts. There is a great deal of ongoing chattering about political platforms, each saying that only by removing the underlying causes of wars, imperialism, can war be prevented. But does the world, as now known by workers, have sufficient time to get rid of capitalism before another major war breaks out ? Activity by very large numbers of workers, and by any genuine allies of them/us, will be needed to step in to halt the escalating likelihood of new wars being unleashed. Workers' organisations will need to be known now and seen to be effective now in blocking the war machines, however much the argument is promoted about ultimate solutions of revolutionary communist rule. Therefore, however great the disagreements between them on big and small issues, large numbers of all anti-war people need to be organised. The vast majority of workers of the world do not want any more wars, whereas the political leaders of governments keep talking of other such leaders being responsible for all manner of war crimes and deserving to be attacked sooner or later. So how many organised workers are thought to be available for such necessary action for peace, if some sort of peace can precede world communism ?

one more,

up till now ,I did not know your platform with ICC is different! so please would you refer me ICT platform.

what about German-Dutch, left, I believe they are " the Communist left "as well?

I am looking for ICT platform to read , could you helpe me to find it

Amir

The old IBRP Platform is here. leftcom.org

It has since been revised and renamed the ICT Platform but we don't seem to have replaced the version above (another job you have given us!). The above will give you a good idea anyway.

A good start....

libcom.org

But does the world, as now known by workers, have sufficient time to get rid of capitalism before another major war breaks out?

And we could add the question of unstoppable climate crisis.

The answer can only come from the attempt.

A large scale (all out) imperialist is hardly a solution to the problems of either of capitalism's main classes, but the threat is real and as the crisis progresses, more probable. But so destructive that it will not be lightly unleashed so chances are we have a sufficient timeframe for a successful outcome.

The key point is if you want that change, it's no good waiting for others like you to move. Without the efforts of a minority today, the development of a political reference point, the majority will remain trapped in capitalist snares tomorrow.