From the Ashes of the Old

We are pleased to announce the re-launch of, a forum for the left voices in Rhode Island. We intend to report, analyze, and promote class and social struggles in and around our state. While our touchstone is revolutionary Marxism, we welcome contributions from all radical left and revolutionary perspectives. We are staunchly opposed to the Democratic Party from the left, and we see it as the major barrier to the development of an independent expression of working-class politics in Rhode Island and throughout the U.S.

Beyond this basic political task, we have another goal, namely to assess our experiences and develop our ideas on the question of socialist and revolutionary organization. The members of our editorial collective were all members of the International Socialist Organization (Providence Branch) until earlier this year. We do not wish to rehash the past or dwell on bitter lessons—the details of the dénouement of that situation can be found on our sister site, But we do feel an obligation to engage in dialogue on the question, to analyze what has gone wrong with past attempts, to explore other models in other places, and to advance discussion of the question in a comradely and non-sectarian fashion. is run by an Editorial Collective which oversees the general direction of the site and is ultimately responsible for all aspects of its operation. Its decisions are made by majority vote. Managing Editors are chosen from Editorial Collective and manage the day-to-day operation of the website, including the formatting and posting of articles, with assistance from other editors as needed. They are recallable by the Editorial Collective. Submissions to must be approved by two editors, at least one of whom must be a Managing Editor, prior to publication. Submissions of a potentially controversial nature will be reviewed and approved by the Editorial Collective at its regular meetings.

All submissions for publication should be sent to

Editorial Collective:

Brian C
Chris Ma
Chris Mu
Greg M
Jim D
Josh K
Mary R
Paul H
Renae C
Susan O

Brown ISO: Statement of Resignation

It is with the greatest regret that the Brown Branch of the International Socialist Organization announces its unanimous decision to collectively resign. This was not a decision we made lightly. We realize it will mean the loss of access to many of the resources that the ISO provides and that it will greatly hinder our work to no longer be part of a national organization. It is therefore only because things have gotten to a point where it is no longer possible to envision our work with the ISO as productive to furthering the cause of socialism that we have resigned. We remain as committed as ever to the cause of revolutionary socialism but we have been forced to organize independently of the ISO.

The main reason for this is that the Organization has shown itself to be undemocratic. This has mainly been revealed by the expulsion of the ISO Renewal faction at this past convention. While we recognize that the majority of the delegates were opposed to the proposals of the faction, this does not give them the right to expel them. Nor does it give them the right to subject them to the profanities, jeering and shaming that they were exposed to in the convention. To vote down the faction proposals is one thing, but to expel the faction for being an organized group of people who propose alternative perspectives to the leadership is quite another. If we accept this we are accepting an organization in which disagreement is only permitted if it is not organized. And as we all know as socialists and activists, unorganized dissent is virtually powerless.

We are not defending all of the actions of the faction. Since the one faction member who was a part of our Branch was expelled with the rest, this decision was made by non-faction members. We do in fact think that many of the arguments of the faction revolved too much around the case of Shaun Joseph and other individual and personal problems. They did also make certain mistakes as a faction. However, the leadership of the ISO used these mistakes and this focus on personal cases to attempt to discredit the faction instead of the organizational and political perspectives of the faction. As such these were not addressed and the faction was expelled from the Organization before being able to participate in the voting section of the convention.

Strategies and perspectives are supposed to center around trial and error. If they do not work, we should assess them and and adjust accordingly. In a healthy organization they should be the subject of comradely debate. There is a distressing lack of such debate in the organization right now. For instance this can be seen in the post-convention bulletin, which we did not receive directly by the way even though we are still a branch in good standing and have a current member on the mailing list for such documents. All of the Steering Committee’s proposals were voted for unanimously or almost unanimously and those opposing it in most cases did not even receive seconds. This has been the case at every other convention that we have been to.

These undemocratic elements would have been acceptable if they could be changed. Having parts of an organization that one disagrees with is almost always part of any collective project. If we could have organized and fought to change these problematic elements within the ISO we would have stayed and tried to do so. However, the faction attempted to bring some of these problems to the fore and were expelled for it. We are left with no other alternative than to believe that such change cannot be effected within the ISO and so we are forced to leave it.

Our decision to leave the ISO is also based upon the impracticable position that the Convention’s decision put us in. Both the faction member within our branch and those within the city branch were key to our organizing. Without them, the bulk of our comrades in the area are gone, and we lose a leading member in our branch. Splitting from the faction members would dramatically reduce our ability to organize around Brown University and Providence, and will create a schism among Rhode Island socialists. Such conditions are not reasonable if we aim to do meaningful organizing.

Furthermore, if we remain in the ISO, we would be forced to justify to our allies in struggle the fact that very respected and reliable comrades were expelled for opposing the national leadership in an organized manner. Not only do we disagree with the expulsion of the faction and other comrades; we also feel that to justify the expulsion of our comrades would undermine our integrity and our credibility on campus and in the city.

We remain optimistic that we will be able to continue to do good work as socialists. Our branch has grown both qualitatively and quantitatively in the past few years. We have a vibrant branch that is independent from the city branch, that holds regular tablings and public forums, that holds monthly internal education discussions and looks poised to expand even further as we develop a broader left on campus. We are doing great work with our SJP and Divest Coal chapters and are a respected presence on the left. Of course, socialism cannot be created in Brown or Rhode Island alone and so we will collaborate with socialists across the country and the world. This includes members of the ISO, for in spite of the problems we have mentioned, we know that comrades in the ISO are firmly dedicated to socialism. Our main challenge now is to help rebuild the left and this will be the focus of our activity.

Luke L-S
Sarah-Eve D
Josue C
Layne F
David K
Antoine B
Tim L

Revolution: How the Working Class Can Change Society

Paul Hubbard writes on the revolutionary power of the working class.

Revolution is the motive force of history. All the great epoch-changing progress of human society has been accomplished by revolutionary upheavals that transform not only human relations, but economic relations, and society as a whole. This was true during the great French Revolution of 1789-1793, the English a century earlier around the Protestant Reformation and the Cromwell rebellion, and the 1776-1789 American War of Independence against the British crown. The revolutions of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries laid the basis for the development of modern capitalist society. That is, they elevated that class of merchants, bankers, landlords, and factory owners into the rulers of society. Starting with the events in Paris in 1871 known as the Paris Commune, the character of revolutions changed, a change that has continued into the 21st century. The assault by the Paris workers on the French bourgeoisie that resulted in the formation of the Paris Commune became a living historical laboratory for Karl Marx and his close collaborator, Frederick Engels. It confirmed all of the ideas they had laid out 24 years earlier in the Communist Manifesto. Continue reading

The Face of Police Brutality

joshua_robinson2.sm_bA young Black man has been brutally beaten by the police – and not only have his attackers gone unpunished, but their victim has been sent to jail instead.

On the evening of March 5, Joshua Robinson was stopped by police, allegedly for a traffic violation, while driving home from his girlfriend’s house on Providence’s South Side. By the police department’s own account, officers began beating the 21-year-old Joshua while he was still behind the wheel of his car, first striking him in the forehead with a flashlight, then choking him, dragging him out and throwing him to the ground, punching him repeatedly in the face, kneeing him in the ribs, and pepper-spraying him.

In mug shot photos which have circulated on social media, the extent of the police abuse is painfully apparent: Joshua’s left eye is swollen shut, dark bruises spread over both cheeks, and lacerations run above his eyes and across his forehead. And yet it was Joshua who was arrested that night, charged with – and later in district court, convicted of – assault and resisting arrest.
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The epidemic of rape and rape culture in the United States

Paul Hubbard comments on the crisis of rape culture in Steubenville, the Catholic Church, and throughout capitalist society.

On March 8th, we celebrated International Women’s Day, a day that highlights not only the progress of women in society, but most importantly how far we still have to go to achieve real emancipation.

On March 17th, two Steubenville, Ohio football players, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were found delinquent and sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail for the rape of a 16 year old young woman at a party last summer. The two teenagers could also be held until they are 21 years old. Only massive pressure and outrage forced the authorities to prosecute. Attorney general Mike DeWine has now announced the convening of a grand jury to further investigate the circumstances of the crime.
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The Death and Legacy of Hugo Chávez

Paul Hubbard comments on the passing of the Venezuelan president, the meaning of his legacy, and the significance of the Bolivarian Revolution.

While the vultures on Wall Street and in the US State Department celebrated the death of Hugo Chávez, millions of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, and the poor stood for hours in lines that stretched for miles to mourn, pay their respects, and honor their beloved leader.

We stand in solidarity with the masses of Venezuela and Latin America and say clearly at the start: the death of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is a blow, not only to the working classes and poor of Venezuela, but to working people and poor across Latin America and the World. We have to state this unequivocally and without reservation. Yes, Chávez was full of contradictions, his project of “socialism for the 21st century” had many problems, but at heart, Hugo Chávez was a true, honest, and genuine man of the people.
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Mourning Becomes Elections: Rhode Island’s Progressive Democrats in the Midterms

Brian Chidester and Shaun Joseph assess progressive strategy in Rhode Island.

As summer slouches into fall in these United States, most of the nation is wondering whether, come November, it will be thrown under the control of claque of racist wackadoos. Excitement! And indeed, the kind of organic excitement that you can’t get at the movies, because it can’t be reproduced in explosions or even IMAX 3D.

Still, as mentally stimulating as the prospect of Tea Party America is, it is at the same time the cause of some anxiety. From this angle, the politics of Rhode Island must seem like a refreshing oasis; its GOP is vile, no doubt, but also so superlatively disorganized that it is sure to capture not a single statewide office, and a mere handful of seats in the General Assembly. (You may need more than two hands to count them, but certainly not all your digits. Male readers can keep their shoes on in any event.) Sunk well in the deep blue “D,” Rhode Island is thus delivered in advance from the depredations of teabag rule—right?

Slow down.

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What Happened to the Progressive Democrats?

Shaun Joseph tracks the fate of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

I think the usual approach when a left-wing socialist talks about the Democratic Party is to explain that the Party is a critical part of the political defense system of American big business–in Kevin Phillips’s apt phrase, “history’s second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.” This is proved quite easily through an examination of the typically awful reactionary policies of the Democratic “mainstream” throughout the ages–pro-war, anti-labor, against oppressed people–and by noting the many influential racists and dinosaurs in the Party’s right wing.

Now I completely agree with all that, but that’s not what I’m going to write about here, or not quite. When progressives or activists gravitate toward the Democratic Party, it’s generally not because of the panache of people like Joe Lieberman or Frank Caprio–it’s because of Dennis Kucinich or David Segal. That is, when people pin their hopes on the donkey, they pin it to the left flank. Therefore, an analysis of the progressive Democrats is of particular importance to those of us who want to build a non-sectarian yet independent political left.

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