The case of “Comrade Daniel”

What follows is an account written by the person described by the Steering Committee in Preconvention Bulletin 19 as “a member of a different socialist organization…extremely hostile to the ISO.” This individual, who has asked to remain anonymous, is close friends with the woman who accused “Comrade Daniel” of attempted rape. In the following, the author disputes some elements of the account presented in PCB 19, or at least what he feels are some glaring omissions. Slight grammatical edits have been made, but have been reviewed and accepted by the author as conveying its original substance unchanged.

My only editorial comment is that what is at issue here is not whether the alleged incident mentioned at the outset actually occurred. This may seem a provocative position to take to some, but I do not think anyone reading this is in a position to weigh in on the guilt or innocence of “Comrade Daniel,” especially as no details of the event in question appear. (Indeed, the accuser prefers that such details be withheld). What is at issue, however, is the International Socialist Organization’s response to these allegations. Or, more accurately, its lack of a response. As the author of the following makes clear, cases like this are hardly exclusive to the ISO.

We were out drinking with a friend when she started telling myself and two other friends that she was having some problems with her boyfriend. She shared her story, and while Document 19 takes great pains to inform the reader that the majority of the [city name redacted] branch and at least some members in national leadership think that while it was obviously a violation of consent, it didn’t amount to attempted rape. However, I’m confident that if the reader was aware of what happened they would characterize it correctly.

I would also hope that the reader is understanding with the position I’m placed in as someone who is outside of the ISO, knows the story, and yet didn’t have the event happen to them, making me unwilling to share it with the world. Because of the leak of Document 19 however, I have decided that I will share my side of what happened, especially as the Document saw fit to mention me, and generally obscured the matter more than it revealed.

Anyway, she said she wanted the ISO to know what happened since the perpetrator was elected leadership in the branch and was carrying himself as a strong anti-sexist. That’s how their relationship started and she was worried he would use that as a predatory tool. We discussed it and decided the first thing to do would be to have the woman who was with us talk to a female friend in the branch. We figured that would lead to a report to leadership, as she was part of the leadership herself, there’d be some form of disciplinary hearing, and the perpetrator would be expelled.

Unfortunately that didn’t go as planned. The ISO member we informed, herself a longtime friend of the perpetrator, said that it didn’t amount to attempted rape — because “if he really wanted to, he would have” — and she refused to report it. I was stunned when I heard her say this, but the woman who spoke to her said while she was disappointed as well, she had actually expected that response. As a former member of the ISO herself, she said that complaints with the party, political or personal in nature, are usually viewed with hostility due to the party’s siege mentality.

Some time later, maybe a little under a year, someone on my Facebook feed shared a new article written by the perpetrator [later dubbed “Comrade Daniel”] in Socialist Worker about the importance for men to stand with women against sexism. At the time the SWP-UK thing was still pretty fresh, but out for long enough that everyone who was curious about it could look it up and see what had happened. The Left in general seemed to be more on edge and vigilant about this sort of thing.

But as far as I was concerned, the victim’s worst fears were coming true before my very eyes. The perpetrator was continuing to build a reputation for his anti-sexism work. Furious, I reposted the article, adding that its author liked to prey on women. Continue reading

Know your enemy

Image: Pierre-Paul Prud’hon
Nemesis and crime (1808)

It would appear that the International Socialist Organization has launched a defamatory campaign intended to discredit me. Various members of the ISO have been gunning for me ever since I leaked a number of embarrassing internal bulletins from their organization last week. These were sent to me by several different members and former members of the ISO who were troubled by some of the developments taking shape within the organization of late. Some of these documents revealed their leadership’s inaction in resolving an incident concerning a member who had been accused of rape. Apparently this went unreported to the rest of the organization’s membership for more than seven months, until accidentally being brought to light by a few errant statements made in public regarding “Comrade Daniel” (the ISO’s rough equivalent to “Comrade Delta” across the pond).

Preconvention Bulletin 19 — which was only released a couple weeks ago — explained the sequence of events as follows:

During the investigation, it was revealed that two members of the current (2013) XVBC [Xville Branch Committee] had known a year prior that an accusation had been made, one of whom was also on the SDBC with “Daniel” at the time of the incident (July 2012). As of July 2013, no one had spoken to the victim, no disciplinary action had been taken against “Daniel,” no fewer than five Xville comrades knew that there was an accusation, including two members of the (2012) SDBC, and the ISOSC [ISO Steering Committee] was also aware.

Who knows if it would have ever been disclosed to the general membership if someone hadn’t posted about it on Facebook? How embarrassing. No wonder they’re so upset.

Anyway, enough about what the ISO mishandled or got wrong. There’s a clearly established protocol for how to deal with such leaks. If they don’t like the message that someone is spreading, the easiest way to resolve the matter is to kill the messenger. So let’s what calumnies they’ve concocted to convince people that I am untrustworthy. Right now this is the message they’ve decided to circulate:

Anyone who considers defending or associating with Ross Wolfe should always have this reposted, a defense of the FBI arrests of Palestine solidarity activists, as a reminder of what he is. Not just an utterly racist, elitist, sexist troll with a creepy, nasty obsession with wanting Muslim women unveiled. But also an utter scumbag and danger to the Left, ready to call for a state crackdown on activists, no matter what their background. Know your enemy.

Pretty boring stuff, really. The only problem with this kind of rhetoric is that it loses a lot of its effect when such accusations (“racist,” “sexist,” “troll”) are so routinely and casually made. Indeed, these all come from the ISO’s standard repertoire of abuse, terms used to tar anyone who crosses their path. When articles written by a few former members of the ISO critical of the leadership were published on Counterpunch a few months back — on “The Merchants of Shame” and “The Theory and Practice of Idealism in Trotskyism and the ISO” — the response was to dismiss the criticisms out of hand based simply on the venue where the articles had appeared. Sofia Arias wrote up this neat bit of guilt-by-association in an article hilariously titled “Contributing to a Constructive Debate”:

[The Renewal faction has] definitely found a new home at Counterpunch. Counterpunch is literally the last dwelling place that anyone with principled anti-oppression politics would ever go. And I take you to be sophisticated enough to know this, which is why I’m saying it. It has a dwindling readership of the old (white) (male) left. Why? Because it continuously repeatedly uses sexism and misogyny to attract readers (“Angelina Jolie Under the Knife: Of Privilege, Health Care, and Tits”), anti-Semitism (defense of Gilad Atzmon against a campaign initiated by Omar Barghouti, Ali Abunimah, and other BDS activists), out-and-out transphobia (initiating a series of “debates” sympathetic to Trans Exclusionary Rad Fems).

Counterpunch was called out by Jacobin magazine this past summer for its transphobia, and was subsequently threatened with a lawsuit by the vile trans-misogynist Cathy Brennan, who locks arms with the state to destroy trans leftists. Which publication, Counterpunch or Socialist Worker, republished Jacobin‘s call for solidarity? You can take a wild guess.

No one needs to lecture me about some of the truly odious material Counterpunch has been known to publish. With regard to anti-Semitism, one can look not only to Gilad Atzmon but also to Israel Shamir, an apologist for Pol-Pot and Holocaust denier. Should the former ISO members’ decision to have an article published on a site like this be considered an excommunicable offense? I really could care less what someone chooses to publish an article. But evidently the ISO prefers quasi-Stalinist tactics of “amalgamation,” guilt-by-proximity. Continue reading

Herr Naphta


Image: A recent photo
of Herr Naphta


“Herr Naphta” somehow manages to outdo even Herr Vogt in terms of his sheer buffoonery.

Striking the gravest pose of which such a buffoon is capable, Herr Naphta gleefully announces:

I don’t get denounced by pompous racist asshats every day, but when I do, I buy a bunch of beers and celebrate. [italics mine]

Those unfamiliar with Herr Naphta’s collected works might at first mistake this for a just a passing counter-denunciation, improvised on the spot. Looks can be deceiving, though. “Pompous racist asshats” has a precise — nay, a scientific — meaning within his sublimely banal blog of Marxist marginalia. Continue reading