Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste statement on sexual assault and gender discrimination

Socialist Action Canada / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste has become aware of a troubling wave of incidents of sexual assault and gender violence within leftist organizations across the so-called Canadian state, and abroad. The SA/LAS leadership body, its Central Committee, is united in condemning in the strongest possible terms the occurrence and apparent mishandling of these situations where leaders routinely failed to protect, address, or even inform comrades within their ranks. Patterns that have emerged include a mere slap on the wrist as discipline for the perpetrator despite repeated allegations against the same individuals, while persons under investigation were placed in the same settings with those they abused while survivors were denied requests for reasonable accommodation and non-biased investigation. Consequently, needless re-traumatizing occurred while a failure to inform local comrades continued to put other folks at risk. We take no pleasure in reporting such horrendous incidents.  Indeed, we are pained by the evident suffering and trauma experienced by the victims of predators, by all others negatively affected, and by the failings of certain leaders.

This is a dark episode for leftists across the so-called Canadian state.  It is also a necessary moment of reckoning. Socialist Action takes very seriously the responsibility to empower and to protect its members against sexual harassment and gender discrimination. It is incumbent on all who claim to fight for social justice to apply an egalitarian standard and to advocate for the equitable protection and empowerment of vulnerable and oppressed populations.  To do any less not only leaves individuals at risk of experiencing life-altering trauma (an inexcusable offense), it imperils the project to build an international working class movement for human liberation. 

There is no place for sexual or gender discrimination (such as misogyny and transphobia), for harassment, or violence of any kind in leftist organizing. It is not acceptable to ask comrades to place themselves at risk of abuse under any circumstance “for the cause”.  The movement is the membership.  It will disintegrate if organizers are reckless or dismissive of members’ safety. It is imperative that all who participate in the struggle feel confident in their organization’s ability to act swiftly and justly in accordance with its own protocols and principles should such incidents occur. 

Socialist Action Canada believes that failing to treat gender discrimination and sexual harassment seriously is a betrayal of Marxist principles and is an indictment of leaders succumbing to calcified bureaucratic notions and practices within their structures. In contrast, genuine revolutionary work requires agility, discipline, and a capacity for self-criticism and change.  Required is a dynamic approach in order to mobilize the working class and the oppressed NOW against the increasing depredations of capitalist rule.  While it is impossible escape entirely the toxic forces that emanate from capitalist alienation, we are not here to reproduce or entrench varieties of extant oppression within our ranks; we are engaged in the struggle for revolutionary social transformation and the liberation of all oppressed people. 

The SA/LAS leadership finds a dismissive or casual approach to incidents of discrimination, assault and violence unacceptable and it takes the safety and dignity of members as a matter of the highest priority. SA is and will continue to be a safe and welcoming organization for comrades of all genders and sexual orientations. We continue to develop organizational practices that anchor our commitment to this principle. We do not take reports of recent events lightly.  Rather, it strengthens our resolve to remain vigilant against corrosive forces on the Left and across society as a whole.

In solidarity,

Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste Central Committee