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Sherry Wolf to speak on Occupy Wall Street next Monday at GVSU

January 19, 2012

Author and activist Sherry Wolf will be in Grand Rapids next week speaking on the campus of GVSU.

Wolf who is the author of the book Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and the Theory of LGBT Liberation, will be speaking on a topic she has been writing about a great deal lately……..the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Wolf, who is a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been participating in the Occupy Wall Street Movement in New York City where she lives and has visited numerous other Occupy sites across the country. GRIID plans on interviewing here on Monday before she gives her lecture.

Occupy Wall Street: Lessons from the Front Lines – Lecture by Sherry Wolf

Monday, January 23


Grand River Room – Kirkhof Center

GVSU Allendale Campus

This event is free and open to the public.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. kronstadt permalink
    January 20, 2012 6:22 am

    The ISO? Really!?!

    The ISO just rehashes outdated Leninist approaches that were discredited during the Russian Revolution and puts them in a snazzy package to appeal to their largely college-age target audience. The vanguard? The workers party? Paper sales? Participating in “the struggle” to gain recruits? Give me a break!

    Why support and promote that? The historical record on Leninism is pretty clear, as is the record on the ISO. Countless times over the years they’ve pushed their own agenda (be it recruiting, co-opting, limiting independent actions) to the exclusion of all others.

    Look it up, the information’s definitely out there. For starters, this article is really thorough as it is basically a case study of one ISO chapter’s work on a college campus:

  2. January 20, 2012 6:33 am

    I have hear Sherry Wolf on several occasions and found her not to be ideological and just rehashing Leninist approaches. I have read her book Sexuality and Socialism and she brings a much needed class analysis to the history of the LGBT movement. This is what we are promoting. You should come to her talk instead of just relying on ideological responses. At least then you will know what she has to say before you make her out to be just a mouth piece for the ISO.

  3. Una huelga permalink
    January 20, 2012 8:02 am

    “Pushing their own agenda?” The ISO’s platform is one that denounces racism, sexism, and homophobia. It brings back a class perspective to understanding how our system works. This is a perspective that needs to be engaged with and I agree with Jeff that you should come hear her speak and find out if her perspective and experience as an occupier reinforces interests of ruling people, or does her perspective and experience work to fight the very system you are ALSO looking to dismantle. ?

    The stuff you listed off “The vanguard? The workers party? Paper sales? Participating in “the struggle” to gain recruits?” have been main components of not just the ISO but numerous organizations throughout history that have done great work. For example, like the Blank Panther Party, an organization that identified with a lot of “Leninist” principles of a “vanguard,” they sold a newspaper, and yes they hoped to advance their agenda of targeting racism and economic inequality amongst black communities by participating in struggle and gaining recruits to the Black Panther Party. Do your criticisms apply to ALL organized leftists who ever identified with Leninism? Was Huey P. Newton wrong for seeing socialism, communism, marxism, and leninism as guiding ideologies for his political actions?

    Your criticism is very welcome, but so too is your solidarity.

  4. kronstadt permalink
    January 20, 2012 3:22 pm

    Nice response about the Black Panther Party, was that out of the “New Member Packet”? I think I saw something about that with regard to explaining why the ISO needs to sell newspapers (2 per week isn’t it?).

    As for the criticism of Leftist organizing that identifies with Leninism, that’s a tough question that probably can’t be answered as easy as your response seems to want it to be answered (either I support Leninism in all cases or that Huey P, Newton is automatically “wrong” in all cases). I would say that generally I have no love for Leninist organizations and that their history is disastrous. Your comments do nothing to convince me otherwise.

    I think it’s important to ask ourselves what are we fighting for, what is our ultimate goal? It’s not enough to just say that a group is fighting for the same thing in order to diffuse criticism. Nor is it enough to bring up a group like the Black Panther Party in order to diffuse that same criticism. The vanguard, the worker’s party, and the worker’s state — all of those have been shown to be failures. And the theory that informs groups like the ISO doesn’t any better results. There is a long history of the ISO manipulating movements, participating in “struggles”, and doing things to to push movements in “socialist” direction (i.e. trying to fit them into outdated historical models) to the exclusion of others.

    It’s not about whether Sherry Wolf is a nice person or not or whether her talk will or won’t say the ISO’s ideology (after all, you like to keep that on the down-low a bit to not turn off workers right?), but why is this site and why are you promoting Leninism? What is it about the theory that makes it attractive? I think the burden of proof lies with Leninism’s defenders, as the history — the bodies (be they the anarchists murdered at Kronstadt or the countless others imprisoned by Leninists seeking to consolidate their control in countries other than Russia) or the numbers of people have who have quit radical organizations after they’ve been manipulated by the ISO — is pretty clear: it doesn’t work.

    Finally, for clarity, does GRIID find Leninism to be credible political theory?

  5. January 20, 2012 3:58 pm

    Does it really matter what GRIID thinks about Leninism? You have already determined that is what we support, much the same way that Zionists will conclude GRIID promotes anti-semitism, since we will be posting an event announcement for Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Grand Rapids at the end of the month.

  6. kronstandt permalink
    January 21, 2012 5:30 pm

    Yes, it does matter to me, that’s why I asked. I assume you don’t have a problem with it since you mentioned uncritically that Sherry Wolf is part of the ISO, but I don’t know for sure, hence the question. I think it’s relevant because Leninism is so utterly discredited historically and because of the ISO’s behavior over the years.

    I also think it is important because it leads us towards the question of what kind of world we want to see. We know everything is bad, but what do we envision in its place? Do we want to replace the elites with the vanguard? The democratic party with the workers party? The pigs with the communist pigs? It’s important.

    I don’t find the Finklestein argument to be particularly relevant because he’s not an anti-semite and doesn’t claim to be one. On the other hand, the ISO are Leninists and are at least somewhat clear about that (if you look at their membership literature).

    I just think that the history is pretty readily accessible and the ISO is pretty darn reprehensible and you should probably be aware of that. It’s fine if you didn’t know — they tend to be pretty underhanded. It’s also not as simple as just promoting their event because they are talking about Occupy Wall Street, the ISO always has another goal in mind and that’s something to be aware of. THey don’t just do things because they want to talk about a relevant topic, they want to recruit folks to their authoritarian brand of socialism.

    That said, I do want to know what you think of Leninism.

  7. January 25, 2012 2:55 am

    kronstandt: The event was not an ISO event, it was put on by GVSU and the LGBT Resource center. If you don’t like what Ms. Wolf has to say, or don’t support her simply because of the organizations that she’s a part of, then don’t attend the event. Why waste your time railing against GRIID for announcing it, questioning their “political beliefs”?

    In other words, no one else cares what GRIID thinks of Leninism, and to think the posting of this event suggests an endorsement of such politics is ridiculous. Sherry Wolf is more than her membership in the ISO and it’s “history of” whatever. Further, your horizontal aggression is in no way helpful to bringing down the capitalist class. Once the hierarchy has crumbled we’ll have time to debate this nonsense. In the meantime, I’ll be doing the work that needs to be done. You keep trolling the web, finding sites to criticize for suggesting they might sympathize with someone who sympathizes with something you don’t completely agree with.

  8. kronstadt permalink
    January 26, 2012 1:04 am

    Oh yeah, after “the hierarchy has crumbled”… that’s what they said in 1917, right?

    Also, love the argument about “doing the work that needs to be done”… as if you have any idea what I do with my time.

    But in all seriousness, this stuff does matter. While Sherry Wolf is more than her membership in the ISO (obviously) it’s still important to figure out what we are fighting for/against. Just as I wouldn’t make alliances with right-wing elements who are against capitalism, I’m not part of a “movement” that makes apologies for authoritarian socialism.

    The purpose of the comments were to generate discussion about something I think is important, not “trolling.”

  9. January 26, 2012 1:34 am

    Yes, everyone needs to figure out what they’re for or against, sure great whatever. But you started attacking GRIID because they announced Sherry Wolf was speaking at GVSU. You admit she’s more than her membership there, but you obviously don’t see it that way if her simply being announced prompts you to get all worked up over the faults of Leninism. I’m not impressed by your “that’s what they said in 1917” line either, because it doesn’t change the fact that the right need not spend any time worrying about the radical left so long as they spend all their time bickering amongst themselves about political theories that are not being implemented anywhere because (not a coincidence here) the right wing is still in control. All the radical left needs to unite and focus on the problems at hand RIGHT NOW. Again, we can have the debates about whose radical politics are more viable later, once that debate is relevant. Right now it’s irrelevant, especially on this page about this announcement. Which is precisely why I won’t be responding again.

  10. kronstadt permalink
    January 26, 2012 2:09 pm

    So we can never debate strategy, tactics, or theory as long as “the right” is in control? There is no room to discuss any of that? How the heck are we supposed to “unite” if we can’t talk about what it is that we’re doing?

    I’d wager that the left’s failures owe more to the constant demand for unity which results in watered down approaches that are vague and confusing (see the occupy phenomenon as an example), but to each their own.

  11. Una huelga permalink
    January 28, 2012 9:43 pm

    About a year ago the Bloom Collective organized an event around the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) – A “Leninist” organization. it seems to ME that that maybe GRIID doesnt have an extremely hard stance when it comes to Leninism, rather griid highlights radicals of all sorts (anarchists, socialist, communist, feminists) who are often written out of history, or whose analysis is rarely engaged with.

    From the Black Panther Party (BPP), to the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, to the Young Lords (Puerto Rican counterpart to BPP), (to just name a few have) have all seen Leninism, socialism, and communism as a guiding principles for fighting racism under a relentless racist system – and somehow you see this as “disatrous?”

    Organizing black workers, black nationalism, taking on the racist system, challenging black poverty are all “disatrous,” simply because they come from Leninist organizations?? and you even go on to call all these Leninist minorities “communist pigs” as if to equate them to the police!!!

    When you said – “I also think it is important because it leads us towards the question of what kind of world we want to see.” I dont know what kind of world you would like to see but numerous Communist Black Revolutionaries hoped to see – maybe a society without racism?? A classless society where working class people (of all sorts) run every level of society in their own interests?

    Have you ever asked yourself – WHY would thousands upon thousands of black workers and oppressed minority communities look to Leninism for fighting racism?? WERE these black and minority workers wanting “to recruit folks to their authoritarian brand of socialism?

    I wouldnt be surprised if you were an undercover right-winger like the ones on Fox News who say stuff like gays and socialists having a “secret agenda,” and writing off everything because it doesnt sit right in your head.

  12. kronstadt permalink
    January 29, 2012 3:32 am

    The comment from Una Huelga about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Black Panther Party, etc is one of the most dishonest things I have ever read. Nowhere did I say anything minimizing the struggle of people of color nor did I refer to “minorities” as “communists”. My hunch is that you are well aware of that, but that you just want to manipulate my words to justify your position.

    But honestly, I’m not at all surprising because this is the same kind of nonsense that folks from the ISO (and other similar groups) spout all the time.

    Also, not everyone who is critical of your politics is a right-winger or an ally of ruling-class. That’s a pretty simple view of the world, not to mention rather assuming of the identity of someone posting a comment on a stupid website.

    I think too that it’s pretty ridiculous to conflate Leninism, Communism, Socialism and all these different organizations when I think we both know (based on what seems to be your knowledge of the subject) that it isn’t that simple. That would probably be an interesting discussion to have, but clearly folks in this comment thread don’t seem to be particularly interested in having a discussion and have a whatever goes kind of an attitude. I’ve got no time for that.

    There’s 0 point in engaging with this any further because comments don’t show up on the side of the website and I doubt anyone is going to go back to keep checking in on this argument. I just hope that if anyone does see this, that this comment helps them realize (if wasn’t obvious enough already) how ridiculous your response was.

    sous les paves, le plage!

  13. Down with Sectarianism! Up with Solidarity! permalink
    January 31, 2012 2:20 am

    You denounced Leninism and Leninist organization, which means you are indirectly denouncing all the minority groups who have historically identified with Leninism. Why would a Leninist organization of color not fall under your denunciation of Leninist organizations? You said “all” Leninist organizations are disastrous

  14. Down with Sectarianism! Up with Solidarity! permalink
    January 31, 2012 2:25 am

    I am a person of color AND a Leninist. So when you denounce Leninism you are denouncing ME. When I use Leninism, like so many other minorities, as a guiding principle to fighting racism – you are denouncing the work of minorities.

  15. Down with Sectarianism! Up with Solidarity! permalink
    January 31, 2012 2:54 am

    To quote you “Leninism is so utterly discredited historically”

    Even after Lenin’s death, black radicals in America during the 60s put Leninism at the heart of their theoretical framework. Did these black radicals discredit Leninism?

    If the Bolsheviks discredited Leninism then why would black revolutionaries in the 1960s (decades after Lenin) identify with something that’s discredited???


  1. Sherry Wolf @ GVSU 1-23-2012 | Move To Amend; Grand Rapids, MI

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