For over a year now, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FightBack!) (FRSO) has refused to address allegations of sexual assault and rape cover-up. As former members of the organization, we recognize the need to publicly self-criticize for upholding FRSO’s line on these allegations.
We self-criticize for: upholding an anti-people political line, distorting democratic centralism, and expressing misogyny. At the heart of FRSO’s mishandling of sexual assault allegations lies an anti-people political line, which we upheld. This line views the organization as something which stands over and above the masses, and is not held accountable to them. By equating FRSO with the revolution and party building in the US, we failed to view the people as the makers of history and ignored their concerns. As former members, we viewed Democratic Centralism incorrectly, emphasizing the centralism of the organization itself over democracy and connecting with the masses. This bureaucratic distortion caused us to submit to the decisions of higher bodies regarding the allegations, even when they were clearly incorrect, divorced from the reality of the situation, and misogynist. We viewed the organization as the most important thing, and all other concerns as secondary. Misogyny is a major factor in this position, which specifically ignores the concerns of women and queer people. It is inherently misogynist to not address allegations of sexual assault because they “derail the work of an organization.” So-called revolutionary groups and revolutionaries are not exempt from misogyny. We assumed that because our organization was paying lip service to women’s and queer liberation we could not be misogynist. This is a form of identity politics and liberalism which is absolutely incorrect.
Whenever people or organizations publicly disagree with FRSO’s handling of the allegations, the internal response is almost always to snitchjacket, denouncing them as either cops or wreckers. Additionally, the organization extends its policy of snitchjacketing into its mass organizations. Not only do FRSO cadre participate, they also dominate the discussion with mass activists by insisting that you either side with FRSO or are a cop. This is another expression of anti-people politics which views FRSO as the only thing that matters in the United States. As FRSO cadre organizing in the mass organization Students for a Democratic Society, we applied this reactionary political line. Whenever the accusations were mentioned, we insisted that they were designed to destroy the organization and were part of a plot against the FRSO. Snitchjacketing is unacceptable in any groups which claim to be revolutionary, and as cadre of the Tampa Maoist Collective, we will actively oppose snitchjacketing in all its forms.
We — the former members of FRSO — were not exempt from the organization’s absolutely reactionary, vile behavior. It is therefore our duty to publicly expose and denounce our own involvement in this deplorable trend of opportunism, victim blaming, and misogyny for which we are self-criticizing. By going along with the actions of Freedom Road, we helped to legitimize this policy. Our behavior funneled people into the circles of the organization who otherwise would have avoided it due to the allegations. Internally, we failed to challenge the official line that the allegations were handled correctly and were meant only to destroy the organization. We also failed to investigate the allegations independently of FRSO, and took their word as truth. This caused our membership with FRSO to act as a barrier between ourselves and the masses. Our willingness to accept the words of friends for the sake of peace was an expression of liberalism which actively endangered the well-being of the people. These errors are expressions of our primary one, which was to ignore the concerns of the people and focus only on the organization.
FRSO’s failure to address the allegations is counter-revolutionary. Communist organizations must be actively proletarian feminist, and are obligated to hold themselves accountable to the masses, and take issues of sexual assault as a matter of life-and-death for the organization. The Marxist-Leninist movement has a long history of failure in addressing the struggles of women and queer people. The Maoist movement must rectify these errors in practice, and engage in organizing for the liberation of women and queer people. We the former members of FRSO intend to rectify these errors in practice by upholding proletarian feminism and recognizing that we are ultimately responsible to the people alone. This will be done by using the mass line and proletarian feminism as key links in our organizing. Any and all instances of misogyny, anti-people behavior, or bureaucracy will be ruthlessly criticized and rectified by our collective. We will work to internalize democracy within our organization and put it in service to the people. We will recognize that our organization is not one which has fallen from the heavens, but which is growing out of the people themselves. Any individuals or organizations which fail to uphold the principles of proletarian feminism and the mass line must necessarily be swept away in a tide of revolutionary justice.