Frank proposes that Ben be banned|
from public SAIC meetings
Introductory Note by Ben, July 2008:
As SAIC was being organized in 2005, I refused to become a member
because I did not want to give the organization that level
of endorsement unless it was committed to political
I attended meetings of the organization and
I supported it in various ways but I made clear
that I would not help distribute its leaflets unless
(1) posted the leaflets on its website in a form
where activists could post public comments
a blog) and
(2) announced this on the bottom of its
Frank's response, when he heard about this, was to propose
that I be banned from all SAIC meetings (including public
Frank later retreated from his proposal when I posted
news of it on Indymedia and presented my
argument for why it would be stupid to ban me from
SAIC meetings. At that point it became clear to Frank
that it would be difficult to give activists a
"convincing explanation" for why it was supposedly necessary
to ban me.
And, about a year later, SAIC met my "demand" and
created a blog
where readers of its leaflets could post comments. Since that
time I have assisted SAIC in leaflet distribution on occasions
(such as large mass actions) where my help would actually make a difference.
However, since that time there has been a dispute concerning
whether it is true that Frank proposed banning me from public SAIC meetings.
Because of this dispute, and because Frank's letter was
circulated to a number of activists, I am taking the
unusual step of making public the relevant excerpt (see below) from
It is a rare event for me to made public excerpts from a non-public
email without first asking permission. Because I am a strong advocate
of "political transparency",
and because some people are confused concerning what is
meant by this phrase--I thought it would be useful to
explain that political transparency has nothing to do
with posting private emails.
I have added (see below) color emphasis.
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: Draft leaflet
I think that we all want the SAIC to be a pretty loose
grouping, i.e., one generally agrees with its politics,
and works to build the movement around them. To do this,
some people will be enthused to pass out its leaflets, put
up posters, give speeches, etc., whereas others may confine
their activities to bringing people to events mainly through
verbal agitation, letters to contacts, Internet work, etc.
But (if I have it right) Ben absolutely refuses to pass out
the committee's literature because it's not signed in a way
that pleases him, that is, it doesn't list the membership
and/or point to some kind of interactive website. Until
this is done, no Ben. He calls this standing for principle,
but I think the principle is sectarian and anarchist---
especially since the SAIC hasn't yet discussed what
membership consists of. His way or he takes his ball and
threatens to go home.
Now I think Ben has the capability of contributing to the
building of a grouping like SAIC. He played a good role in
the first meeting, and our SAIA experience with him is that
he can often make valuable comments when leaflets are being
written, etc. But our own integrity demands that the present
situation not go on. If he refuses to distribute our
literature and considers himself an "informal" member, he's
no member and shouldn't be allowed into meetings of members
(i.e., working meetings), or meetings of members and people
looking to perhaps be members (publicly-announced meetings).
He can make his contributions from the outside.