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International Socialist Tendency

The International Socialist Tendency is an international grouping of organisations around the ideas of Tony Cliff, founder of the Socialist Workers Party in the UK. It has sections across the world, however its strongest presence is in Europe, especially in the UK and Ireland.

The politics of the IST are similar to the politics of many Trotskyist Internationals. Where it differs with many is on the question of Soviet Union, the IST adopting the position that it was state capitalist, rather than a degenerate worker's state, and the theories of the permanent arms economy and deflected permanent revolution.

Unlike many international tendencies the IST has no formal organisational structures and has only ever made one publically known decision, which was to expell the American ISO from its ranks. However the antecedents of the ISt go back to the 1950s when the founders of the British Socialist Review Group, around Tony Cliff, were expelled from The Club and thus from the Fourth International.

Through the 1950s the SRG had a loose relationship with the American ISL until it dissolved in 1958. It then retained links with comrades coming out of that group and with other individuals in the international Trotskyist movement. But there was no significant growth in support for its ideas until the late 1960s.

In the 1960s the International Socialists established links with militants in a number of countries which led to the formation of IS groups in their countries. Perhaps the first such group was the Irish IS group founded in 1971, there then followed groups in Australia, Canada and Germany. Meanwhile links were built with the Independent Socialists, later International Socialists, in the USA. These links led to a split in the ISUS in 1978 and the formation of the ISO a group more closely linked to the IS Britain.

Despite this growth there was no formal organisation. However International Meetings of the leaderships of the IS tendency did develop, usually held in conjunction with the SWP's Marxism Summer School, which is held in London. This was the foundation of the IST which at some point in the 1990s came to be refered to thus with capitalisation.

Through the 1980s the IST grew internationally, in part as other revolutionary socialist tendencies entered into crisis thus removing competitors. New IS groups appeared in France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and in Greece the Socialist Revolution Organisation which had been loosely linked to IS in the 1970s rejoined the tendency. A group of Turkish comrades was also recruited in exile during this period its members living in Germany and Britain.

The 1990s saw more international growth for the IST as groups were founded in yet more countries including Austria, Cyprus, Spain, Aotearoa/New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Korea. Groups were also founded in the former Stalinist states as contact could be sustained in those countries for the first time, this led to the foundation of IS groups in Poland and the Czech Republic. A group linked to the IST existed in Russia but collapsed.

But the 1990s also saw the beginning of serious problems for the IST. While there was a great deal of geographical expansion there were also losses and fragementation. On the negative side there were a number of splits which were unrelated to each other but seem to have common causes. Those causes were a concern among some members of the groups concerned that the internal regime of their own group had become bureaucratised and lacked in democratic accountability. Sometimes this was associated with the involvement in internal affairs of the group concerned of representatives of the SWP. And the political orientation of the group. Among the groups affected by such splits were the those based in Germany, South Africa, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Canada, France and in Belgium the group simply disappeared. (See entries on individual groups for details).

The last few years have seen contradictory developments for the IST. New groups have been formed in a number of countries for the first time as in Austria, Uruguay, Finland, Sweden and Ghana. However the largest groups in the ISt outside britain have both split and sections of them have left the ISt. Thius in the USA the International Socialist Organisations leadership entered into a dispyute with the leadership of the SWP as to the significance of the anti-capitalist or anti-globalisation movement following a demonstartion in Seattle. This led to the ISO being expelled from the IST and a small faction leaving it to form Left turn. ironically Left Turn also left the IST later. Menwhile in Greece the OSE, which had renemaed itself the Socialist Workers Party (SEK), split on similar lines with a sunbstantial minority forming the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA).

Note that the Socialist Workers Party in the United States has no formal connection to the IST nor ever has done.

Table of contents
1 Affiliated Parties
2 See also
3 External Link

Affiliated Parties

The International Socialist Organization in the United States is a former member.

See also

External Link