International Socialist Organization

International Socialist Organization

:"This article is about the International Socialist Organization in the United States. There is also the International Socialist Organisation (Australia), the International Socialist Organization (New Zealand), and the International Socialist Organization (Zimbabwe)."

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is a revolutionary socialist organization in the United States. The group identifies with the politics of International Socialism and the Marxist political tradition that American socialist writer and activist Hal Draper called "socialism from below". [Hal Draper: " [ The Two Souls of Socialism] ", 1966.]


The organization publishes an online and print newspaper, "Socialist Worker" with a bi-monthly Spanish language supplement, "Obrero Socialista", and a bi-monthly magazine, the "International Socialist Review." For much of the ISO's history "Socialist Worker" was printed weekly, but in February 2008 the organization announced a change to a biweekly print schedule with more regular updates to the website. [ [ "A new era for "Socialist Worker"] , on the "Socialsit Worker" website.] The ISO also has a publishing house, Haymarket Books started in the year 2000, which publishes both new titles and classics from the socialist tradition. Haymarket Books collaborates with many other independent publishers on common publishing projects and events. [ [ Consortium Book Sales & Distribution | Publisher Information] . (accessed 2008-06-26)]


The ISO originated in 1977 when members of the International Socialists (IS) criticized the leadership of that organization for abandoning its strategy of rank and file work in the trade unions, and developed a different position regarding the 1974 revolution in Portugal. This led the dissident group to form a faction of the IS, called the "Left Faction". As a result, the IS moved to expel the group from its organization, which led the Left Faction to start its own political organization.cite book
url =
title = Socialism From Below in the US: Origins of the ISO
first = Milton
last = Fisk
year = 1977
publisher = Hera Press
accessdate = 2008-02-12

The new group took the name "International Socialist Organization" and began publication of "Socialist Worker" as a focus for organizing. [cite news
title=Celebrating our 500th
publisher="Socialist Worker"
] The ISO adopted the political theories developed by members of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP), including the theory of state capitalism. State capitalist theory identifies the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc as exploitative class societies driven by military competition with private Western capitalism rather than as deformed workers' states, as Trotsky describes in his "The Revolution Betrayed".cite book
url =
title = State Capitalism in Russia
first = Tony
last = Cliff
year = 1974
publisher = Bookmarks
accessdate = 2008-02-12

Having a small membership in the 1980s, the ISO found that its primary organizing efforts toward rank and file work in the unions was unsustainable. From the early 1980s, the group began organizing and recruiting on university campuses. The decision to focus primarily on students was regarded as a necessary retreat, given the conservative nature of the Reagan era.cite web
url =
title = "ISO: The Joy of Sects"
first = John
last = Lacny
year = 2003
publisher = "What Next?"
accessdate = 2008-02-12

In the 1990s the ISO expandedFact|date=February 2008 and participated in a series of movements and campaigns, including the movement against the first Gulf WarFact|date=February 2008 and other US military interventions,Fact|date=February 2008 against racism,cite news
author=DeNeen Brown
coauthors=Amy Argetsinger
title = Klan Taunts, Is Taunted in Dueling Rallies in Annapolis
publisher="The Washington Post"
Accessed via Lexis-Nexis.] and for abortion rights.cite news
title=Abortion protesters face off at clinic
publisher="The Boston Globe"
Accessed via Lexis-Nexis.] The group was involved in building a number of the major protests against corporate globalization in the late 1990s,cite news
author=Angela Couloumbis
coauthors=Maria Panaritis and Diane Mastrull
title=With no warning, clashes begin; police chase roving bands through city
publisher="The Philadelphia Inquirer"
Accessed via Lexis-Nexis.] and has been active in opposing what it refers to as "US imperialism" connected with the "war on terror" in the wake of September 11th, including the invasion of Afghanistan as well as the Iraq War.cite news
first= Arian
last= Campo-Flores
title= A New Peace Movement, Too
publisher= "Newsweek"
page= 60
date= 2001-10-01
Accessed via Lexis-Nexis.] The group has also been active in opposing Israel's occupation of Palestine.cite news
first= Liza
title= The Mideast War Breaks Out on Campus
publisher= "The Nation"
date= 2002-05-30

In 2001 the ISO was expelled from the International Socialist Tendency (IST) after a dispute between the British SWP and the leadership of the ISO. This dispute was framed by the SWP as a critique of the ISO's conservative approach to the anti-corporate/anti-capitalist movement. [Ted Crawford, [ "Split in the IST"] , "What Next?", No. 19, 2001. (accessed 2008-06-26)] The ISO disputed this claim and criticized the SWP for maintaining what the ISO viewed as an exaggerated perspective for the 1990s, which the SWP termed 'the 1930s in slow motion.' [SWP Central committee, [ "Statement on Relations Between the SWP (GB) and the ISO (US)"] , "What Next?", No. 19, 2001. (accessed 2008-06-26)]


The ISO has involved itself in a number of local and national activist efforts. These include the antiwar movement, [ [ "SF State Students Hold Rally, Counter Marine Recruiters"] , October 26, 2006, Campus Antiwar Netwok website.(accessed 2008-06-26)] ending the death penalty, [ [ "Protesting Bush's Execution Machine"] , "The New Abolitionist", Issue 20, July 2001. (accessed 2008-06-26)] support for gay marriageFact|date=February 2008 and abortion rights,Fact|date=February 2008 the struggle for immigration rights,Fact|date=February 2008 among others.Fact|date=February 2008 Today the ISO is involved in grassroots efforts across the country,Fact|date=February 2008 including opposition to the United States war on terror.

The ISO does not support either the Republican or Democratic party, which it views as representatives of corporate power and empire. The group has however, actively campaigned for the Green Party in various races and assisted Ralph Nader's presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.Fact|date=February 2008 In 2006, one of the ISO's leading members in California, Todd Chretien, challenged Diane Feinstein for Senator on the Green Party ticket, receiving 1.8 percent of the vote. [California Secretary of State, [ Supplement to Statement of Vote - United States Senator - Statewide Summary"] , "Statement of Vote, 2006 General Election", at website. (accessed 2008-06-26), [ "United States Senator; Green Party Election Information June 6, 2006 Election"] , at website. (accessed 2008-06-26)]

ee also

* Socialism
* Marxism
* Trotskyism
* List of Trotskyist internationals
* Workers' Councils
* International Socialists


External links

* [ Official Website of ISO]
* [ "Socialist Worker"] - Paper of the ISO
* [ "International Socialist Review"] - Magazine of the ISO
* [ World Socialist Web Site critique of the politics of the ISO]
* [ "ISO: The Joy of Sects"] , by John Lacny
* [ "ISO's Right Turn to Labor"] , from "Proletarian Revolution" No. 51, published by the Communist Organization for the Fourth International (COFI)]

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