SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Repressive Hand of MORE

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Repressive Hand of MORE

The Purge at MORE continues.

This email came into me into this afternoon.


Dear Steering - 

The two of us would like to request that steering implement some form of sanction on Peter Zucker for publishing the Contract Strategy document that was sent to the email list. 

We requested specifically that the proposal not be republished on the blogs, and we feel that the publication is direct violation of our trust and a violation of our norms ("Speak for yourself unless you have permission to speak for others.").  

Our caucus should have the right to decide when and how to publish its strategies for the union membership and leadership to see. 

We should implement some guidelines for bloggers and academics. XXXXX X. has shared some model guidelines from Teachers Unite that might be useful.

Thank you, 

XXXXX XXXXXXX and X. XXXXX


Let's examine this.


MORE is f****** losing it's mind.

Not only was this "document" created in secret, but some of the signatories were not truly aware of what they were adding their names to. Secondly, this was voted on and passed at the last general meeting. Why the secrecy still? Don't think for a moment that others at the meeting have shared this either verbally or by email. Plus, no one had a problem when I posted this back on March 29. But why this time, with this "document"?

Where I come from you put your name to something, you believe in something, you stand by that. If you don't then you have a problem with what you put your name to or what you signed. It's called being a man. To man up to something. Not slithering away like a snake.

I was inundated with email, demanding that I take the blog post down immediately. One signatory was beside themselves and didn't wish to have their name attached to such a document (even though I redacted all names).

So what rule(s) did I break?
"Speak for yourself unless you have permission to speak for others."

The blog post of April 29 I was speaking for myself. I did not criticize nor endorse the "document." But if one looks at the bylaws, this is what falls under "Norms."

Article III-Norms
a. Assume good intentions.
b. Our time together is valuable. Remember to speak with purpose and WAIT (ask
yourself: “Why Am I Talking?”). Please make sure your comments and questions are
concise, address the issue at hand, and add something new to the discussion.
c. Listen actively when others are speaking.
d. Raise questions, disagreements and problems directly and as soon as possible.
Speak to the issue, not the person.
e. Speak for yourself unless you have permission to speak for others. Be clear when
representing a position on behalf of an individual or a group.
f. When representing MORE publicly, be clear as to whether or not you are representing
yourself as a member of MORE or MORE as a group. If representing MORE as a
group, make sure you have the authority to do so, and respect our collective
agreements.
g. Respect all viewpoints, perspectives and social identities.
h. If there are conflicts regarding adherence to these norms, individuals should inform the
chair during the meeting or the Steering Committee immediately afterwards for
follow-up.

Now if a reasonable person were to be reading Article III one can reasonably assume that the above mentioned "Norms" pertain to MORE general and steering meetings. If not, then what MORE is doing is not just what happens inside of MORE, but speech outside of MORE as well.

As for the "sanctions" that have been suggested against me, chances are it will be a one month punishment of suspension from the Steering Committee as wells as suspension from the Steering ListServ where Barry and Tony have been exiled to. Though I would prefer either a) The car taken away from me for a month, b) that when I come home from school I must not leave my room, or c) no dessert after dinner.

Sadly, this is what MORE is turning into. No dissent, no disagreements, no thinking for yourself. Rules are not made to be broken, but rather rules are created at the whim of a few, who see what they want to see when they want to see it.

What would those in MORE do if a principal or the DOE, or even the UFT behaved in such a way as MORE has done of late. No freedom. No free speech. Rules thrown created from on high at a whim? This is Union Thugism at its worst!

The rank and file is beginning to become a speck in the rear view of MORE. Up ahead though the road will become quite barren and lonely.

There is a Silent Majority in MORE that is not happy and will become more docile and afraid as more purges occur. MORE is ceasing being a Caucus. It's turning into something much, much darker.

What's next for MORE? Loyalty Oaths? Will that be to the Caucus or to a person?



FREE THE MORE DUO (SOON TO BECOME TRIO!!!)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is insane. Why is the caucus obsessed with secrecy? Has MORE devolved into a cult?

Anonymous said...

If this group is as crazy as you seem to think, why write this.

David Suker said...

ISO, be afraid, be very afraid!

Anonymous said...

Bet your life that the redacted signatures are ISO and a fellow traveler.

https://victortoils.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/does-the-tail-wag-the-dog-the-iso-in-practice/

Does the tail wag the dog? The ISO in practice.

Dees the ISO’s (strong) desire for recruitment shape its work in a detrimental way?

Has ISO reshaped MORE to make it more attractive to potential recruits for ISO which has to replenish its ranks due to so many people who leave or become inactive. Google ISO critics and read former ISO member comments. MORE is completely under the control of ISO now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:31; ALL of the above is correct. Did you know that because you're in New York? or because you know the ISO? I'm asking this because Victortoils doesn't seem to be a New York based blog.

Michael Fiorillo said...

It's all about Building The Party...

ISO has no interest whatsoever in talking to actual teachers, or building a caucus that listens to them, takes them where they are and tries to facilitate their union awareness - which teachers are supposed to with their students, no? - but instead seeks a pol of like-minded activists to recruit from And it will not hesitate to resort to character assassination, subterfuge and manipulation against anyone who pushes back against that, as we're seeing with MORE.

Rule or ruin.

They don't want a caucus; they want a club, one that often resembles a cult.

Anonymous said...

'Most people think of a sect as being a lot like a cult, though not as bad. A common comment is that sect-members may act “cultish” or like zombies, which may have some truth but it doesn’t tell us much. The real problem is, why do they “act like zombies?”'

Anonymous said...

Why is it that whenever ICE loses a vote or doesn’t get their way in more, they run to the blogs and scream “ISO,“ “ISO!”? Is the ISO magic? Are they able to wave a wand and get everyone to vote the way they want? For two people here whining about the ISO have an even been to more meetings lately so I don’t know why you think magical ISO is able to hocus-pocus make everyone vote against you. I know it’s sad when you don’t get your way – you can stomp your feet, post five blogs in six days, and maybe even post something snarky on the listserv. That would be easier than being productive and going to meetings to try to convince people of your ideas… Or forming your own group if you are too sad when you lose vote.

Bronx Teacher said...

Anon 1:21:
Here’s my question. There are members of the UFT suffering everyday. So why then are some in MORE have other priorities? Why haven’t we heard any outrage from MORE concerning a para being suspended for yawning? Why does MORE decide to suspend two upstanding members with “rules” that are enforced retroactively? Why In the “secret document” is there not one mention of what teachers are going through? What teachers want? What teachers need?

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Anonymous said...

Is any of this familiar to you people in MORE?

"there are many problems with how the ISO develops perspectives–that is, how they assess the mood of struggle for a period of months and develop a plan of action for the organization. Often, these perspectives seem incredibly short-sighted, focusing on an immediate opportunity while watering down a deeper analysis of the problems in various struggles and containing a certain triumphalism. Any whiff of pessimism by ISO members is quickly denounced as a barrier to reaching out to a layer of new, young radicalizing people who are excited by some new event.

The ISO positions itself as the “best fighters for reform” with the goal being to show that their ideas lead to a successful practice and people will join based on seeing that success. Ideally, victorious struggles led by the ISO will show in practice the tactics needed to win various battles, thus leading people to join based on their agreement with those tactics.

But it needs to be asked: Does the tail wag the dog? That is, does the ISO steer their protest activity not toward threatening the status quo but merely toward creating an audience from which it can recruit instead?

Low-hanging fruit

Historically, the ISO has succeeded in building a base on campuses and in fact has succeeded while the rest of the socialist left has utterly floundered and disintegrated. College students are young, idealistic and looking for new ideas and the ISO has successfully created an organization largely–though not entirely–from this base. The other benefit of campus work has been that it is free from the squabbles of sectarian left groups. College students can be recruited largely in the absence of sectarian attacks and denunciations sometimes found in city-wide organizing.

Regardless of anything else happening in the world, the ISO has always been able to “fall back” on campus work because it is relatively easy to recruit from this base. It takes a lot of work, but it usually pays off. While many of the recruits are very smart and thoughtful activists, there is such pressure to recruit in the organization that the ISO often goes after the “low-hanging fruit”–young people who are not the leading activists but are participating more passively. For them, the ISO offers a group with interesting ideas and seemingly sane strategy and tactics in a safe, easy and interesting space to be political with a low likelihood of arrest.

to the victor go the toils blog

https://victortoils.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/a-critique-of-the-international-socialist-organization/

A critique of the International Socialist Organization

Anonymous said...

what are the tactics which appeal to this base? Demands should be kept minimal in order to encourage the largest participation in the movement.

Of course, all of this makes perfect sense on the face of it.

Who could possibly oppose this? Young people who are newly radicalizing are especially open to this argument, especially those who have not yet been jaded by failed struggles and internal bickering. By positioning itself thusly, the ISO succeeds quite well at recruiting where others fail. More importantly, while it may look like a cynical maneuver it is, in fact, completely honest. ISO members believe in this strategy to their core.

They see no contradiction toward building a mass movement in this way and recruiting from it. Most of them were recruited in this way themselves. In fact, it seems crazy to them that anybody would think otherwise, a feeling that is only increased by grandstanding sectarians who offer seemingly little other than loud denunciations.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

And yet there is plenty wrong with this approach. Rather than engage in complex discussions about the actual state of consciousness among the American working-class and its diverse subpopulations, or the nature of actual revolutionary struggles and their challenges, the ISO emphasizes the need to build a “big, broad movement.” One leading ISO member even described the problem with the theory behind this approach in what he called “The Big Bang Theory.” That is, it was always assumed by the ISO, almost explicitly, that at some point the American working-class would explode as it did in 1934–with three mass strike in three different cities, all led by radicals–and then newly-radicalized workers would flood the organization, especially since the Stalinists were no longer an alternative. Therefore, it was necessary to urgently build and recruit and grow to meet this future challenge.

Anonymous said...

There is a regular hailing of some movement or event as the way forward, “The Next Big Thing”–or “The New Civil Rights Movement”–and regardless of how many times ISO members continuously assert that “we are not just moving onward and upward,” this same triumphal attitude seems to occur over and over again. The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 was supposed to create a new political environment, and yet the 1990s saw a new stabilization of capitalism in spite of the LA Rebellion early on. The UPS Strike in 1997 was to usher in a new mood in labor, but that seemed to stop after a year or so. For over a decade, the movement around the first Iraq War of the early 1990s was hailed as a prescription for growth, but mass protests in the anti-globalization movement and even larger ones during the 2003 invasion of Iraq came and went.

Finally, the election of Barack Obama and the factory occupation of Republic Windows and Doors seemed to open a new era in struggle from which we would never go back. In fact, there have been countless moments after which the world would never be the same, although, eventually it always is. The Republic battle–as inspiring as it was–produced not a single similar example in the months following. Yet, leading members of the ISO literally predicted that there would be an explosion of labor struggles in 2009 and those who disagreed with this optimistic assessment were browbeaten and labelled as pessimistic cynics and driven out of the organization.

In early 2011, as labor occupied the Wisconsin capital and teachers struck against a proposed anti-labor law, the ISO declared “The End of the One-Sided Class War.” Technically, many in the ISO would argue that this simply means that workers are fighting back at some level and not simply taking defeats without a battle, but this triumphal proclamation is clearly code for “the decisive labor struggle that we have been waiting for.” In other words, “The Big Bang.” But the Wisconsin battle went down in defeat–out-maneuvered by Republican Governor Scott Walker and then demobilized by the Democratic Party and the labor unions. While there have been continued labor struggles–such as the longshore workers in Longview, WA, and the Chicago teachers–this triumphal proclamation seems to have come a bit too early. On the other hand, it was recently suggested that the one-sided class war may be ending yet again.

The ISO’s formal analysis of the labor movement is that it will not succeed until there are a sufficient number of rank-and-file radicals and militants who can challenge the conservative union leadership. It will need to challenge anti-labor laws and risk having people go to jail, in spite of injunctions against picketing, not to mention actually shutting down production. And yet this analysis goes out the window once there is a sufficiently large strike, as evidenced by their proclamation around the Democratic Party-led battle in Wisconsin. Suddenly, the turning point is here, even though a radical, rank-and-file alternative has not yet been built.

Why does this analysis go out the window? The answer is that internally the ISO needs to rally the morale of its membership and these battles are a convenient propaganda tool for recruiting the uninitiated. “Look,” they say, “workers can fight can back!” With the troops rallied, a whole new wave of recruitment is expected and sometimes achieved. Those who disagree with this starry-eyed assessment are labelled as cynics who do not see the new opportunities. But once the “opportunities” slip away, the cynics are never given credit for predicting how limited the opportunities really were.
TO BE CONTINUED

Anonymous said...

If, as they say, economists have predicted nine of the last five recessions, the ISO has predicted ten of the last zero decisive turning points in working-class struggle. They may have been mistaken, but the mistakes were methodical, and since the method never changes the “mistakes” will predictably continue. They are not mistakes but rather an organized consequence of the method. They will predict the next several “turning points” as well, in spite of the objective conditions and very thoughtful analytic skills of many of their leading members, but will do so because of the needs of the organization to send their comrades into recruitment mode.

In this way, the tail clearly wags the dog. The ISO is so desperate for a mass struggle to break out–and why shouldn’t they be?–that their analysis ends up being filtered through the lens of the needs of the organization. Is it a problem that the Wisconsin capitol occupation was led by the Democratic Party? No, goes the unspoken logic, these events show that struggle is possible and that is all that matters. The analysis of current events flows from there–rather than relying on an understanding of liberalism and union leaders as playing a role that will consistently sell out the movement, the ISO constantly falls back on simply using these events merely to excite its base. The problems with this approach should be obvious, although the fact that this occurrs is completely unconscious to ISO members. They are not trying to provide cover for these liberal forces, but this sort of uncritical triumphalism inevitably does.

Anonymous said...

It is this strategy of declaring “opportunities” that is cynical, not the “cynics” who refuse to lie to their own comrades year after year and refuse to be browbeaten into going along with a message that experience has taught them not to believe. It is this strategy which is, in fact, training people to be cynical, not the tendencies of these comrades who simply want to look reality in the face.

But year after year, these same issues arise. Why? Because it is inherent in the ISO’s recruitment strategy, which is the lifeblood of the organization, and it works. A few people will eventually join and all the discord will fall by the wayside.

If the ISO does not grow it will shrink. Members will–and have–become disillusioned by the infeasibility of the project and stagnation will–and does–lead to members leaving. Such stagnation/regression makes the project even more unlikely. But a few good meetings and a few new recruits does wonders for morale–or at least help some pretend to temporarily boost their morale–and of course the best way to do this is by appealing to young people and college students.

The low-level of political sophistication–and even lower level of tactical movement experience–is a result of the fact that sophisticated political analysis and strategic thinking is not necessary in order to build the ISO. What is necessary is some movement work and a decent understanding of the basic politics in order to bring in the next layer of young people, who will be expected to do the same as well.

Anonymous said...

The members who are recruited, all too often, are not the leading activists in struggles and, in fact, all too often the ISO finds itself at odds with other radical activists. The contradiction of this–building a vanguard by recruiting the new people–is rarely considered. The work of building the ISO is very difficult and just recruiting anybody is a big morale boost. The inconvenient fact that they are not the leaders in movement work is swept aside in favor of endless fawning over a new member whose questions and comments show no hint of “jaded” long-term radicalism–or the militancy and sophistication that comes with that experience.

Yet, it is precisely those experienced activists who would need to be recruited in order to create a vanguard organization–or something approaching it, considering the current circumstances. Yet the posture of the ISO is all too often to recruit less sophisticated people away from other radical activists, who are often hostile toward the ISO’s practices, which only reinforces the ISO’s assumption about them as “anti-Leninist” or “sectarians.”

The ISO has organized along these lines for so long that it has shaped every facet of the organization, from the level of political discussion in meetings to the knee-jerk reactions to other activists. Most importantly, though, is its role in building movements.

The ISO’s movement-building method has a strong preference toward symbolic protest. The idea of building a broad movement fits very well into the strategy of recruiting the uninitiated who have not yet been disillusioned by symbolic protest. A series of well-organized marches and rallies not only can improve the morale of ISO members but can put them into contact with people who are not experienced–and “jaded”–radicals. This cycle can continue indefinitely–a march introduces the ISO to new people, a few of them join, they help build other rallies to meet more new people, etc.

Anonymous said...

The members who are recruited, all too often, are not the leading activists in struggles and, in fact, all too often the ISO finds itself at odds with other radical activists. The contradiction of this–building a vanguard by recruiting the new people–is rarely considered. The work of building the ISO is very difficult and just recruiting anybody is a big morale boost. The inconvenient fact that they are not the leaders in movement work is swept aside in favor of endless fawning over a new member whose questions and comments show no hint of “jaded” long-term radicalism–or the militancy and sophistication that comes with that experience.

Yet, it is precisely those experienced activists who would need to be recruited in order to create a vanguard organization–or something approaching it, considering the current circumstances. Yet the posture of the ISO is all too often to recruit less sophisticated people away from other radical activists, who are often hostile toward the ISO’s practices, which only reinforces the ISO’s assumption about them as “anti-Leninist” or “sectarians.”

The ISO has organized along these lines for so long that it has shaped every facet of the organization, from the level of political discussion in meetings to the knee-jerk reactions to other activists. Most importantly, though, is its role in building movements.

The ISO’s movement-building method has a strong preference toward symbolic protest. The idea of building a broad movement fits very well into the strategy of recruiting the uninitiated who have not yet been disillusioned by symbolic protest.

A series of well-organized marches and rallies not only can improve the morale of ISO members but can put them into contact with people who are not experienced–and “jaded”–radicals. This cycle can continue indefinitely–a march introduces the ISO to new people, a few of them join, they help build other rallies to meet more new people, etc.

Symbolic protests and mass days of action and even top-down marches pose absolutely no problem for the ISO. These are not problems, they are solutions, opportunities to show people that “struggle is possible,” to meet an audience new to radical ideas and to give the members something to be excited about. The problems with the actions are largely irrelevant to the ISO.


Anonymous said...

If you have read all of the above on ISO, your homework is to analyze the MORE proposal around the contract South Bronx posted the other day and see how well it falls right into classic ISO strategy.

The current next big thing are the teacher strikes. Looking at the proposal there is a lot of symbolic actions directed at getting potential recruits to ISO not the general union membership. They know that the union leadership and most members will ignore them. But they aren't the real target. Bet your money that the people who came up with that proposal are connected to ISO.

Anonymous said...

And one more thing. In order to make your caucus an instrument of ISO policy without internal opposition, potential opponents must be removed one way or another. It looks like that process has started. ISO has also been known to foment divisions and even disband a union organization and reform it leaving out the unwanted and only with safe people, most likely young people. They don't want experienced fighters around other than their own because people who know the score also know the reality and see right through them and often expose them, thus creating doubts in the target audience. Eventually you will see very few older people included and even in ISO as people age they also see through the bullshit.