International Socialist Network releases statement distancing itself from Richard Seymour

Above: Richard Seymour’s
Twitter profile photo

It would appear that the IS Network Steering Committee is already looking to dissociate itself publicly from Richard Seymour, the group’s most visible supporter and recognizable member. After
a tumultuous feud erupted on Facebook a couple days ago over the ideological implications of “race play,” the organization’s chief governing body is now taking steps to publicize and officially rebuke Seymour (along with Magpie Corvid, who actually holds a position on the Steering Committee) for expressing views deemed unacceptable by its leadership. These seem to represent a move to discredit or anathematize Seymour, in order to save face with the Network’s core supporters. Once again, the irony here is that Seymour has made an entire career out of “no platform”-ing and otherwise excommunicating various groups and individuals. (Mark Fisher once dubbed him, quite fittingly, “excommunicator-in-chief”).

Here’s the message the IS Network Steering Committee just e-mailed out:


Writ of excommunication

Statement by the IS Network Steering Committee on the recent controversy


Dear comrades,

Some of you may have seen, on Facebook and elsewhere, that there has been a serious disagreement breaking out in some parts of the Network recently. Three members, including a steering committee member, engaged in a long argument with a number of people, including a number of black RS21 and IS Network members regarding “race play,” and many felt, including an overwhelming majority of steering committee members, that their opinions on the subject were deeply problematic with regards to racial and gender politics, and further than their tone and method of handling criticism was not in keeping with the spirit of allowing people to challenge their own oppression.

Furthermore, you may have seen circulating among RS21 and IS Network members a discussion between some IS Network members, including two steering committee members, about plans to leave the Network and join RS21. While this is a pity, and a failure on our part in some respects (given that we have a responsibility to all our members), we hope that any such a move can be done in as amicable and fraternal way as possible. Charlotte B., one of those steering committee members, has resigned already, so we felt the need to inform members as we don’t want to hide such disagreements.

To be clear, Charlotte was not involved in any of the arguments about race-play referred to above, but this was the context in which these divisions came to light. We remain committed to full transparency, and the right of minorities in the Network to express disagreements. We hope that other participants in that discussion will remain in the Network, and we welcome a recent platform document which hopefully will allow these discussions and debates to be conducted openly and in a serious and comradely manner.

IS Network Steering Committee
(Magpie C. dissented from
above message and did
support its circulation)

Initial responses from ISN members to the statement’s posting on Facebook:

26 thoughts on “International Socialist Network releases statement distancing itself from Richard Seymour

  1. This is the most ridiculous, petty, and outrageously tempest-in-a-teapot political strife I’ve ever seen. This group does nothing but linguistic hunger games and linguistic policing. They have rendered themselves of absolutely no consequence.

  2. there is a sad inevitability about this.

    They broke from the SWP without developing anything resembling a critique of the reasons for the rottenness of its internal life and so have created their very own confessional sect.

    He, for all his ability to build a career through the internet, has failed to note the toxic combination of ‘intersectionality’ and social media.

    There is no irony in this – just yet more confirmation, as if we needed it, of the state of what calls itself “the left”

  3. Shanice McBean, a consenting participant in the original 43-page fb political discussion, was during the SWP crisis a prominent of the ‘Party’ at Callinicos’ workplace, King’s College, London University. She was in the three oppositions before each of the SWP National Conferences in 2013; she spoke at ISN events but was never disciplined, partly because the Central Cttee had changed tack in the summer & was less heavy-handed. She resigned in December & is now in RS21.

    The signposts organising this fb discussion gripping the British far left this week are on show here.

    The ISN statement follows the pattern of both the majority & minority groupings talking indirectly about the split in the network, an organization that has never tried to have any discipline concerning majority decisions: it is an information network, with individuals getting together on whatever they want. Seymour, China, & Walker lost in the votes at the October national conference & have been on the back foot ever since. One more step backwards & they’ll fall over. Where they’ll end up is Left Unity, & for some of them the sort of academic conferences that enthuse the likes of Ross. Perhaps the Principal will end up on an intersectionality panel with Edna Krabappel.

    • Shanice was the author of this gem:

      Lesbian “race play” BDSM can only be progressive if it’s the black woman dominating the white woman.

      Yeah, this was about the point where I tuned out. Like, really?

  4. A certain kind of sex is acceptable on if one kind of essentialized person dominates another kind of essentialized person. The constant is domination. A political body enforces domination. Not just any political body, but one whose mission is social justice. Grasp that. They tell you what kind of sex you can or can’t engage. Just like the right wing, but more effective.

    • There’s nothing to grasp, it’s just in-crowd language games with a tenuous grasp on society at large. It’s utterly meaningless and won’t stop anybody fucking anybody in whatever way.

  5. Pingback: Economia » The oppression ouroboros: intersectionality will eat itself

  6. Reblogged this on defytheeconomy and commented:
    The left continue to fall apart as they realise people have noticed they are sexist, racist, authoritarian arseholes with no connection to anyone, anything, or anywhere. Lefty Big Brother would be so amazing. Day 456464654 The left still have not realised they are on their own….

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  8. There’s something gratifying about two groups of such awful people tearing each other apart, but on the other hand I wish so much of the left hadn’t lost the plot.

  9. Pingback: The oppression ouroboros: Intersectionality eats itself | The Charnel-House

  10. China Mieville has himself been outed as an abusive man by one of his victims, a very credible human rights journalist from the UK who is not associated with any active left movement (on one hand) or groupie kink thing (on the other) but who works for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on global health. A trigger warning for sexual exploitation should be issued here:

  11. Pingback: “Race-play” and BDSM revisited: Looking back at the ISN split | The Charnel-House

  12. Just one question: does any of these people actually engage in trying to save, say, transgender people from sexual trafficking, or try to do something concrete about rampant hate murders against LGBT people in developing countries?

  13. Pingback: Against Richard Seymour | The Charnel-House

  14. Pingback: Wages for masturbation? Burning questions of our movement | The Charnel-House

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