The Ad “The Socialist” Didn’t Want You to See

Posted: November 28, 2010 by revunity in Problems of Organization

The Revolutionary Unity Group attempted to purchase the following ad in “The Socialist.” The quote is from the SPUSA Statement of Principles. At first, “The Socialist” refused to run the ad, only weeks later agreeing to allow us to run it at 1/4 page, though it was designed as, and we had agreed to pay for, an half page. “The Socialist” has become so hostile to socialist politics now that even quoting the SPUSA’s Statement of Principles is not allowed.

The Ad “The Socialist” Didn’t Want You to See (pdf, 203K)

  1. Darius Engel says:

    The situation with “the socialist” and how it presents itself, and by osmosis, the party as a whole.

  2. Darius Engel says:

    I meant to add it’s intolerable, and unsustainable.

  3. sally says:

    To say that this ad was not printed due to its content is unprincipled and alarmist.

    There were issues with the tendency ads (there were two ads from two tendencies) because there was no prior policy put in place. One Editorial Board member is opposed to running any tendency ads in The Socialist because he feels they are better suited for Hammer & Tongs, the Party’s internal discussion/debate publication. The other clear position was that tendencies should have a free, equal, designated space in TS to run their ads, so as not to commodify political speech.

    Because the democratic process is slow and it takes time for everyone on the EB to have a say in the matter and make up their minds, a few people from the RU Tendency became impatient and accusatory. While I absolutely thought the ads should be printed, disagreed strongly with arguments to the contrary and disagreed with the modifications (I eventually agreed to the 1/4 size ad as a compromise to help build consensus), this type of one-sided and inflammatory rhetoric serves no purpose but to create further division and distrust among comrades. This type of sensationalist nonsense belongs in the tabloids or on FOX News. I believe in the principles of the SP 100%, including the RU Tendency ad, but actions like this disgust me.

    It is a shame that those who could be using their positions on the EB to endorse their politics instead choose to resign so that they may stand in opposition against their own comrades by defaming the EB. I will never understand this choice.

  4. I resigned from the EB because I could no longer support the liberal trajectory it has taken. By remaining on the EB, I would have had to accept responsibility for that politics. Nor could I continue to work in a project that allowed the Editor to use tricks to keep articles by comrades like Eric Chester and Matt Andrews out of the paper (first saying that they weren’t topical and then later saying that they were too old after he’ kept them out before hand).

    The EB’s job is not to set policy. That’s the National Committee’s job. The EB’s job is to ensure that that Editor is running the paper according to NC policy, so the NC does not have to micromanage every aspect of the Party. So far, the EB has failed to do so. The Socialist no longer reflects the politics of the SPUSA. The EB has allowed the editor to turn the Party’s paper into his own personal vehicle for self-promotion.

    If the EB and NC will not do their job to protect the Party from unprincipled opportunists like Billy Wharton, it falls to the regular membership to stand up for their rights and for the Party.

    Finally, it doesn’t take three weeks to decide to approve an ad or not. If it was late, it should have been turned down as being late. At a time when the SPUSA is bleeding money (it is over budget by almost $15,000) and when the Party needs $3,500 to make it through the end of the year and has only raised $500, it is gross misconduct to have turned down $125.

  5. sally says:

    There was no policy for tendency ads. Because the submissions were late, it was up to our discretion to decide whether to run them or not, and because there was no policy, we needed to make a decision about how to treat tendency ads (yes, it took a long time). It is ridiculous to say that the EB has no discretion to make decisions–we make basically all decisions about the day-to-day processes. This one had no precedent, but that does not mean it is outside our responsibilities. It is the NC’s job now to set a policy for the tendency ads. As you said, they cannot micromanage the day-to-day functioning of the EB.

    “Gross misconduct” for turning down the $55 difference between a 1/4 page and 1/2 page ad for the purpose of evening out the playing field of tendency ad speech, and so we wouldn’t have to cut more content from the issue? Interesting.

    You imply that TS censored your ad because it contains language from the Statement of Principles. This is untrue. You do have some fair grievances regarding this ad, and it would be disingenuous not to be clear about them: Three weeks is too long for the EB to make a decision, it’s not fair to have to make the ad smaller, and the Party needs the money. But I guess that’s not as sexy as accusing us of censorship. Good luck on this crusade, Marc. It hope it is fulfilling.

  6. Why should there be a different policy for tendency ads as opposed to any other kind of ads from comrades in the Party? If we had run it as an ad from the SE Florida local, how would this have been different.

    Regardless of whether the ads were late or not, the EB still has to decide whether or not to approve it. If the problem was that the ad was late, it should simply have been rejected as late. I can’t speak for everyone else, but it was a last minute thing, and we knew it was going in late. But to take three weeks and then approve it in a format which we had not agreed to, BECAUSE it is a political ad, that’s a serious problem.

    Obviously, the EB not being a government body, it’s incapable of committing censorship, which is why we didn’t use the word.

  7. Steve says:

    Sally has some interesting things to say, it’s unfortunate that none of it can be substantiated as no one will let the NC read their list. I guess it’s easy to make claims when you don’t have to prove them.

    Even funnier is after they cut the size of the ad (and the RUG ad was not designed to run at 1/4 page and would have looked like crap) But the one ad they did print was much less than the 1/4 page that was paid for. At best, 1/6th, which means that some comrade who paid for the ad was defrauded by the EB. They should receive a full refund as they did not get what they paid for. We are never going to get advertisers if we can’t even deliver what we charge them for.

  8. David Gaines says:

    Ay yi yi. Apparently nobody in the Socialist Party, with two or three notable exceptions, has learned anything from its own history. No wonder we have hardly any members and a huge chunk of the ones who are left haven’t renewed. Snipe, carp, backbite, he said, she said, whine, moan, accuse……enough already. You people are all supposed to be on the same side. When are you going to start acting like it? If SPUSA isn’t revolutionary enough for you, too bad. If SPUSA is too accommodating to Trotskyists for you, too bad. This puerile infighting is wearing me out and making it very hard to build locals and focus on what we all claim to be in favor of (pop quiz: what might that be, or have you forgotten?).

    The word “comrade” seems hilariously ironic in the context of this endless sniping that seems to take over every SPUSA avenue of communication. It’s bad enough on the mailing lists and message boards. Imagine someone who is curious about socialism arriving at a public website like this (and Facebook, where this same stuff takes place) and seeing how “comrades” treat each other.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  9. The issue isn’t whether or not the SPUSA isn’t revolutionary enough for us. It is. The issue is that a handful of social democrats are undemocratically suppressing all points of view but their own and ignoring votes to the contrary, and the NC refuses to do anything about it. The issue is not about disagreeing with points of view, but undemocratic actions by officers of the Party whose job it is to uphold democracy.

  10. David Gaines says:

    OK, let me try this again:

    {{ a handful of social democrats }}

    You’re using that term in a pejorative sense, an all too common occurrence around here, and with a very wide brush to boot. It’s not helping your argument. There’s nothing about the people to whom you’re referring that leads me to believe that they’re social democrats (or that they have leprosy, which you and others whose opinions I’ve read in SPUSA media apparently think is the same thing).

    {{ the NC refuses to do anything about it. }}

    I think Sally, who always strikes me as levelheaded, has explained this rather thoroughly.

    {{ The issue is not about disagreeing with points of view }}

    Of course it is. And focusing on it — in the context of one comparatively trivial occurrence — to such an extent that no energy is directed externally; it is all focused internally on the same things it has always been focused on in this party for over a hundred years, as if there were a sinister ultraconservative cabal taking place behind the scenes, is “the issue” as I addressed it above. I understand disagreements with SPUSA financial practice or with decisions that the editor makes once in awhile. But this endless spat revolving around one quarter-page advertisement costing….what, fifty or sixty dollars?……. is inane, particularly in a public forum.

  11. Jim Marra says:

    I visited the RUG site as you suggest.
    One thing that struck me was the rather hysterical banner “The Ad “The Socialist” Didn’t Want You to See.” It reminded me of Jessie “The Body” Ventura’s “Conspiracy Theory” TV program, or at least, one of those headlines one sees on the cover of National Enquirer (“What the Government Doesn’t Want You To Know About Elvis and Flying Saucers.”)
    In any event, I don’t understand how the RUG website could present such patently untrue content. All information concerning the Editorial Board’s deliberations on the RUG ad matter are in the hands of the NC and that information is free for anyone to review. It is my understanding that the email communications on the EB list are open to party-member review. If they are not they should be made public to party members immediately. The EB has absolutely nothing to hide from their Comrades. I personally would welcome anyone who has concerns to review all the information and the email communications as well.
    I personally provided the NC with an Executive Summary of the entire debate, along with a status report containing recommendations for improvement and EB meeting minutes. Those documents indicate that the EB deliberations centered on six issues of concern. The first involved the flexibility with which the EB “Late Submission” policy may be applied (The RUG ad was submitted after the submission deadline. This was my fault as I failed in my task to monitor the ad solicitation step of the EB Publication Schedule. The reasons for that and a recommendation for correcting the problem are cited in the documentation.). Second, there were concerns involving the impact that including the two late submissions received in the current issue would have on content, structure and composition. Third, the EB was unclear on whether ads from tendencies were to be treated as commission statements. Fourth, there was no agreement concerning whether the ad would be more appropriately placed in Hammer and Tongs versus The Socialist. Generally, content concerning internal party matters is easily recognized and passed on to H&T. But, the RUG ad really provided a challenge to the informal process the EB uses to determine the correct publication vehicle. Fifth, the Board was very concerned about the voting deadlock that prevailed throughout the extended debate. The EB was operating under strength and the Board was very uncomfortable with the fact that an important, albeit temporary and one-time, decision might hang on a single vote majority. Finally, there were concerns that unless a level playing field was established concerning the size of tendency ads, tendencies with more available funds might monopolize magazine space to the disservice of the open and fair democratic forum that the Board was charged to maintain.
    The Board carefully debated the issues. Throughout the challenging deliberations, the Editor and the Board consistently displayed a deep commitment to the principles of democratic socialism and the SPUSA. No one on the Editorial Board ever proposed, and therefore, the EB never voted that, the RUG Ad should not be seen by its readership. The Editorial Board did not “refuse” to run that ad. It voted, by a very slim margin (the vote was qualitatively a dead heat), to recommend that the two tendency ads received be run as ¼ page ads. The Editorial Board does not have the power to make summary and permanent decisions on significant and controversial matters of policy, such as was the case with the RUG ad. The EB offered a very hesitant recommendation to the Editor and the NC, in open communication with both Billy Wharton and Greg Pason. The RUG ad was not run because the RUG grouped refused to accept the temporary recommendation of the EB.
    I would recommend that the RUG folks review the public information on the matter that is currently in the hands of the NC. If the EB email communications are not available to the party public, I would be happy to support a recommendation that they be made so. By doing so, the RUG website can insure that it complies with its desire to offer factual content, free of innuendo and personal recrimination, and to remain faithful to the high moral challenge of democratic socialism.

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