Lair Of A Squirrel Red


Trotskyist Scandal by korakious
April 24, 2007, 8:12 pm
Filed under: sectariana, Trotskyists

Those who read my post on Venezuela a couple of days ago, will have probably understood that I am not too fond of the sectlet known as the Socialist Equality Party, better known for running the World Socialist Website. For all my dislike of them however, I never could have possibly imagined what I read about them today while browsing a marxist community on Live Journal. While I am not entirely sure of the original source’s credibility, it just makes too much fucking sense to ignore.

Enjoy:

http://community.livejournal.com/marxism/300825.html

WSWS/SEP
From alt.politics.socialism.trotsky

EXHIBIT 1

http://www.grpinc.com/grandriver-people.html

EXHIBIT 2

http://www.irisolutions.com/pressroom/best-places/2003_Crains.BPTW.pdf

(see page 2)

EXHIBIT 3

http://www.weandrews.com/wwwAndrews/Docs/RRD_piworld_1.pdf

(see page 9 of 14)

Some years ago, the communist political cult to which I used to be a
member
for one year (then known as the Workers League, now known as the
Socialist
Equality Party) made an interesting “turn” in its political line.
According to SEPtic,
the unions were no longer organizations of the working class.

I found this “turn” to be quite startling. Upon further thought,
however, it sorta
made sense. David W. Green (“North”), the cult leader of SEPtic,
having run
the cult since the mid 1970s, had been a complete ineffectual. He and
his cult
never organized any workers, ever gained any influence in the labor
movement,
never accomplished anything. So, in a strange way, it made quite a
bit of sense
that “North” was now writing off the unions altogether.

Still, I wondered, how was it that “North” managed to keep control
over a dedicated
cluster in the top leadership.

Today, playing around on the web, I found a possible answer. It seems
that David
W. Green is CEO of the 241st largest printing company in the USA.
EXHIBIT 1
is a link to the company’s site. EXHIBIT 3 show that in 2005 the
company generated
$21mm in sales. EXHIBIT 2 has pictures of “David North” and his wife
in Crain’s,
touting them as some of the best employers in the city.

The “puzzle” now makes sense.

Question: why does the North cult solicit members for donations when
they run
a profitable enterprise that could conceivably fund the SEPtic web
page activities?
Is there any sort of democracy in SEPtic? Were a faction to take over
the cult,
what would be the impact of the North crew vis-a-vis the company
activities?

It’s interesting that CEO North now tells workers that unions are no
longer organizations
of the working class. This same “line” is probably echoed by CEOs at
all unorganized
companies.

I’m not posting this for the sake of “exposure and denunciation” for sectarianism’s sake. I do feel ashamed when certain con artists perpetrate massive frauds on wide sections of the hard left and the youth.
Based on anecdotal evidence (which is unfalsifiable yet will make sense to anyone who has been involved in similar groups) members of the “SEPtic” were expected to empty their pockets to fund their local chapters, while the Good Ship WSWSEP was run rather brusquely, and undemocratically, by Cap’n Green/North.
Already the “Friedrich Engels, too, was a capitalist” defense is being brandished by SEP internet agents, as well as “Don’t believe everything you hear on the internet [WSWS notwithstanding]”, and “[non-SEP]Splitters are the FBI/CoIntelPro’s best tools”.
This scandal ranks up there with the Ukrainian fraud (http://www.internationalist.org/ukraineimpostors0803.html) in the US Trotskyist hall of bloopers, and rivals the transgressions of SEP/Workers League’s former guru Gerry Healy. Marxists and working-class militants must regroup beyond the scope of sterile orthodox commentaries, academia, and abstentionism. For every David North, Bob Avakian, and James Robertson there are hundreds of disillusioned youths and workers –
Down with MLM [Multi-Level Marketing]!

Wait, there’s more!

http://community.livejournal.com/trotskyism/3890.html

A Tale of Two Men
By Joe Hargrave

Here is a story you might find interesting:

I know of two men. One of them is the leader of a small Trotskyist political party in the United States. He is known as David North. The other is the CEO of Grand River Printing & Imaging, a company that earns 25 million dollars a year according to its website. They call him David W. Green.

For nearly 30 years, Mr. North ran his political party and Mr. Green ran his business. Mr. North gave speeches about the exploitation of the working class. Mr. Green exploited his workers, deriving surplus value from their unpaid labor. Mr. North thundered against the corporations that dominate American political life. Mr. Green sought those corporations out as clients, and probably did lunch with some of their executives. Mr. North would talk about the disgusting climate of corporate greed that pervaded the American cultural atmosphere. Mr. Green helped actualize that corporate greed by printing advertisements to help them push their products on consumers.

Of course Mr. Green was no black-hearted tycoon. No, surely Mr. North would have to exempt from his tirades against the corporations that dominate American politics and exploit the entire world certain capitalist leaders who stood out as genuine pillars of their community. Why, Mr. Green had gone to great lengths to make his workers as comfortable as possible. He invested in their training and education, he included them as part of his “larger vision”. But surely Mr. North, who understood Marxism very well, would point out the absence of democratic control of the workplace, or the usual separation of the worker from the instrument of production that is the requisite of capitalist production. After all, his party published in statement after statement that the aim of socialism was to create a democratic economy. Yet none of the reports on Grand River suggested anything about “democracy” or “worker ownership” – Mr. Green may have been a nice man who saw the value in keeping his work horses happy, but he was also a businessman. So surely, should Mr. Green and Mr. North ever meet one another, they would disagree on a great many things.

Unless, of course, they were the same man.

Could it be a case of multipule personality disorder? Not exactly. You see, David Green, alias David North, is a fraud. He is the biggest fraud to hit the socialist movement since James Robertson of the Sparticist Leauge or “Chairman” Bob Avakian of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He owns a multi-million dollar corporation, and the upper echelons of his political cult and members of their family occupy key executive positions.

The rank and file members of the party are completely unaware of the existence of North/Green’s corporate empire, which includes Grand River Printing, Merhing Books, and who knows what else. They assume that the party sustains itself through the donations that it begs for on its website and at its conferences, as well as the regular contributions that members are expected to “pledge” every month. I was exempt from this particular requirement only after I reminded one of its leaders of the considerable amounts of money I had invested in my own local branch. How nice of them. I can only imagine the giddy internal glee that North/Green must have felt every time some naive sucker wrote the SEP a check for a few thousand dollars. To North/Green, and the other party leaders, such donations were in fact chump change.

I can also only begin to imagine the difficult decisions that had to be made on a daily basis, such as, “how little can we put into this whole socialist thing to keep it viable while we live in the lap of luxury?”, and, “should I use a 50 dollar bill or a 100 dollar bill to do this next line of cocaine?” All kidding aside, anyone who is serious about building a revolutionary movement, and who also happened to own a multi-million dollar company, would invest the maximum amount of profits into the former.

What I mean to say is, I could accept the fact that North/Green exploits the labor-power of his workers if the surplus value created by their unpaid labor was being used to build a movement that would one day end all exploitation. The ends, as I generally believe, justify the means if the ends themselves are justified. But this is obviously not taking place. The SEP has full branches in three cities – LA, NY, and Detroit. With the profit margins we can assume a 25 million a year company is capable of, there should be a fully-staffed branch in every major city in the United States. There should be an SEP radio station, a public access program on television, etc., etc., etc. Those profits, in sum, should be used to promote the movement, to expose not tens of thousands but millions of people to socialism.

What could possibly account for a failure to do these things? There is only one inescapable conclusion – that North/Green and his cronies enjoy the good life more than they do the revolutionary life. And they enjoy that life at the expense of the wage-laborers they employ. To dance around these uncomfortable realities they invent all sorts of paternalistic schemes where they provide top quality education and training for their workers – while, of course, “keeping wages competitive”. To read the website of Grand River Publishing & Imaging is to be sickened. Every line is infused with phony corporate enthusiasm and politeness, in order to impress the equally phony corporate clients looking to get their ads published and printed. Contrast that to what you normally read on the WSWS. How can these people sleep at night? They might respond like the fictional Renier Wolfcastle: “On top of piles of money with lots of beautiful ladies”.

It seems that every other week brings some new revelation about this political cult that I could have only wished I had known earlier. I tell you these things so that you can avoid my mistakes.

David North bio

Fucking hell. I was never under the illusion that the SEP(s) consisted of proletarians, as an organization numbering less than a thousand people globally could hardly be able to sustain a daily updated website like the WSWS if its members lived on an ordinary worker’s wage. Also, actual workers hardly ever walk up to people who have given decades of their lives to the socialist movement calling them “middle class radicals”.

But this?

Their sectarian ultra leftism, their sickening arrogance and first world chauvinism suddenly make perfect sense. Not in the manner implied by the author of the above articles, namely, that North/Green whatever his name is doesn’t really give a flying fuck about the socialist movement – which might very well be true – but in that this pitiful excuse for socialist politics held by the SEP is exactly the kind you would expect from a… CEO’s revolutionary consciousness.

Advertisements

28 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I returned the favor, and linked back to you.

I was a friend of the late comrade from Workers League Bill Brust. Whatever you think of WSWS the Brusts were great revolutionaries.

I’m a supporter of the IMT.

Comment by Renegade Eye

I am completely unfamiliar with Bill Brust and his tendency.

As for the IMT, while I think the history of Militant is a positive one (and indeed, my party is descended from them) I believe that making a principle out of entryism as they have done is a huge tactical blunder. While there are gains to be made from entryism in countries like Russia, I think that entryism in the UK labour party is a complete dead end. The Labour party is no longer a mass workers’ social democratic party. It cannot, under any circumstances, be reconquered, as all its democratic structures have been pretty much dismantled. Also, the labour party’s economic platform is now to the right of the Liberal Democrats. Calling for workers to vote Labour, especially when credible anti capitalist alternatives are being built, especially in Scotland, is little more than political capitulation to the bourgeoisie.

Comment by Korakious

So – behind David North’s mask of socialist intellectual, of erudite, incisive and humane commentator on culture, history and politics, we find …

… a charlatan?
… a spouse-beater?
… a substance abuser?
… a swindler?

No! It’s worse! Worse I tell you! He is … my fingers tremble at the shocking truth …

… a successful businessman and decent employer!

At least, that’s all that the evidence you’ve linked to shows. I disagree with the politics of WSWS too, but there’s no scandal in its running a commercial printshop. How do you think most Trot groups pay their bills? Bank robberies?

Comment by Ken

Bill Brust and his wife Jean Brust were not “great revolutionaries.”

Bill was involved in some labor struggles in the ’40s.

As a member of the Dave North cult, he translated articles from German and was basically a newspaper boy. He stood outside the Ford credit union every Friday selling perhaps 50 newspapers or so, but he never made any significant inroads in the union local.

Vis-a-vis North’s real identity (i.e., David W. Green, CEO of Grand River Printing and Imaging), the point is not that it’s “bad” to run a company. However, in the context of running a political cult and a company, there are some very serious issues that arise.

One might imagine, for example, that an opposing faction might garner enough support to oust the North leadership crew in a national convention. This really isn’t an issue for the North cult since word has it that a national meeting has been continually postponed (again this year so North can “lead a school” dedicated to the life and works of Leon Trotsky).

But suppose the Northites became less cultish and there were actually some individuals in the groupo with their own ideas. Suppose they won the top leadership positions in a party election?

What would happen vis-a-vis the company? I can’t really see the North team walking away from a company they spent 30 years building. The fact that the North group controls the money means they will always control the party. That’s not democratic centralism. It’s centralism centralism.

Comment by scott_p_solomon

Ken,

Don’t you think there’s something inherently contradictory in being the leader of a “vanguard of the proletariat” while simultaneously being a boss? Don’t you think that, from a Marxist perspective, an (not small) employer’s consciousness is not exactly “proletarian”?

Don’t you see a little bit of hypocrisy in someone being a CEO while going around telling other people that they are middle class radicals?

I am not a class purist socialist. I do not mind non workers being in a socialist party. But, at least as I understand the facts here, David North is not a small business owner, or some other kind of petty bourgeois, but an actual capitalist, a member of the ruling class and what is more, it appears that the profits of his company are not being used in their entirety to support the ICFI.

I mean, last time I checked, the emancipation of the working class was supposed to be the business of the working class, not the bourgeoisie.

Comment by Korakious

From the figures it seems that it is sales that are $20 million per year, not protit. So it is a £10 million per annum turn over company, not the big bourgeoisie, but a small business.

print is a notoriously competitve industry, so on that turnover David North is perhaps drawing a good salary, but will hardly be rich.

And as Ken says it has been quite customary for the left groups to subsidise their operations through commercial print shops.

I am not convinced there is any real scandal here.

Comment by AN

I used “scandal” in tongue in cheek kind of way.

The point remains however that the SEPites are entirely hypocritical in referring to the politics of others as middle class radicalism, given their own class background.


And as Ken says it has been quite customary for the left groups to subsidise their operations through commercial print shops.

Perhaps then the reason why Trot sects have such shitey politics is that they have no real base in the working class.

Again, what bothers me is not really the fact that North is an employer per se. It’s the hypocrisy that’s bugging me.

Comment by Korakious

It’s funny.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Comment by Darren

Agreed.

Funny, in the a bit annoying kind of way.

Comment by Korakious

Korakious, I’ll take two of your questions in reverse order, because the first one may help to take a little heat out of the matter.

Don’t you see a little bit of hypocrisy in someone being a CEO while going around telling other people that they are middle class radicals?

I would, if I thought the SEP was class-baiting, but it isn’t. ‘Middle class radical’ is the expression that tendency has used for the other Trot sects since the 1960s (at least). It’s directed at the (alleged) petit-bourgeois character of their opponents’ programme and politics, not their class origins. I can well understand why this is annoying when you encounter it in the flesh, but characterising one’s opponents politics as ‘petit-bourgeois’ has a long and not especially helpful record on the Marxist left.

Don’t you think there’s something inherently contradictory in being the leader of a “vanguard of the proletariat” while simultaneously being a boss? Don’t you think that, from a Marxist perspective, an (not small) employer’s consciousness is not exactly “proletarian”?

No, I don’t think either of these things. ‘Social being determines consciousness’ is true (if it is true) only in general, and not necessarily in every individual case. The first Marxist in Britain, H. M. Hyndman, was a capitalist who (if I recall the tale correctly) used to stand on a soapbox in top hat and tailcoat and call on the workers to overthrow ‘the parasitic class to which I belong’ or words to that effect. Another, and much sounder, early British Marxist was William Morris, who was a rentier as well as an entrepreneur. I’m sure there have been others, and a Marxist should surely wish there were more!

Of course the case we’re discussing is different, in that it’s not a case of an established business person becoming a socialist, but of a socialist running a business. But I don’t see that as unusual or problematic in itself. Almost every left party has a publishing outfit of some kind, and quite often they take on commercial work. And for obvious reasons, it’s often a good idea for the commercial side of the business to kept at arm’s length from the political side, and to be legally separate from the party.

And just to finish: no matter how wrong we may think the SEP are (and I do think they are wrong on lots of things), I don’t think attacking them on this is a good idea, because (a) it isn’t a scandal and (b) this is just the sort of irrelevant, diversionary issue that the enemies of the whole left love to raise or (better yet) have the left arguing with each other about.

Comment by Ken

No, I don’t think either of these things. ‘Social being determines consciousness’ is true (if it is true) only in general, and not necessarily in every individual case. The first Marxist in Britain, H. M. Hyndman, was a capitalist who (if I recall the tale correctly) used to stand on a soapbox in top hat and tailcoat and call on the workers to overthrow ‘the parasitic class to which I belong’ or words to that effect. Another, and much sounder, early British Marxist was William Morris, who was a rentier as well as an entrepreneur. I’m sure there have been others, and a Marxist should surely wish there were more!

This is not the point. I am not doubting the capability of an employed to comprehend dialectical materialism. I am very much doubting their capability of being leaders of their socialist movement.

“CEOs of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but… everything”?


No, I don’t think either of these things. ‘Social being determines consciousness’ is true (if it is true) only in general, and not necessarily in every individual case. The first Marxist in Britain, H. M. Hyndman, was a capitalist who (if I recall the tale correctly) used to stand on a soapbox in top hat and tailcoat and call on the workers to overthrow ‘the parasitic class to which I belong’ or words to that effect

How does the fact that “others have done it too” make it in any way ok? Again, how effective was said person in organizing the working class and overthrowing … himself?

Almost every left party has a publishing outfit of some kind, and quite often they take on commercial work. And for obvious reasons, it’s often a good idea for the commercial side of the business to kept at arm’s length from the political side, and to be legally separate from the party.

Is that the case here? It appears that SEP members were not really aware of the existence of said enterprise. Was there any control over it by the party? Do we know that the profits were used to help the party grow?

I don’t think so. It’s more likely that Dear Leader Green/North has sole control over the company and in case he somehow loses the position of Cultmaster he can very well pull the plug. I would find it much more acceptable if the business was managed collectively by the SEP and owned by the SEP rather than by Sun God North.

Aren’t Bolsheviks supposed to be on a worker’s wage anyway?

Comment by Korakious

employer*

Comment by Korakious

While I think the SEP worldwide are political poison with or without Gerry Healey — it is a matter of some difficulty for far left formations to acquire and protect property during the long haul of a marginal political existence. While there are ways and means to do that, the SEP ‘solution’ does seem a bit careless in the instance of the leader deciding to take his bat and ball and going elsewhere. Perfectly legal of course, but politically suspect.

I’d love to see the end of these sectarian maddies but the long bow being drawn here isn’t all that salient and it would be up to the SEP membership to intervene and develop a better system of asset protection and ownership IF it was simply held by this one individual.But the point needs to be emphasized that all outfits in the end have to place their assets in the hands of somebody — a board, society, etc — that has legal incorporation.

The problem is that at times of major splits it is so often the assets that decide who are the victors.

The SEP it seems, has resolved that issue rather …um…imaginatively…by resolving the problem in advance perhaps and whoever goes North goes with the assets.

Comment by Dave Riley

Just a couple of quick points in reply to Korakious.

You ask how effective was Hyndman – well, there were severe problems with Hyndman’s leadership but he did found the first Marxist party in Britain, the SDF. The antiwar majority of that party became the BSP, and the majority of the BSP became the CP.

Re David North – I seriously doubt that North’s politics are affected by his position as CEO of a printing company. In fact it’s perfectly obvious that his politics are formed by his decades in the Healyite and ex-Healyite movement.

We don’t know that this company, whatever the formal ownership, in any way represents a source of private wealth or income for North.

Comment by Ken

Wow. That’s rather surprising. Funny indeed.

The problem isn’t that North/Green is running a business, or that the SEP has a printshop.

The issue is that they dont! It seems to be a private company run by Green and his wife. Maybe they hire their fellow high-level party members to desk jobs? Can’t do manual labor, of course.

$25m a year in revenue isn’t a huge business, but one would assume if its been in business for a long while that its profitable enough. Even if it made $1m in profit, the SEP should get the majority of that to be true to..uh…BEING THE HEAD OF A SUPPOSEDLY REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST PARTY. Pay themselves the average wage of their employees!

Furthermore, I wonder if the average SEP member even knows of this business’ existence. I’d imagine the printshops of other left parties are somehow owned by the party itself, and subsequently the employees are party members. That being the case, one would hope that the business would be run democratically by the employees themselves!

Mr. North/Green, however, have no worries. They cant lose control of their party, because they control the strings. If they did, somehow, they could truly just shut down the whole operation and continue on with their business, nobody the wiser.

I’d imagine there is a printshop workers union, as well. What sort of wacky socialist doesn’t support unionization? Especially in the USA where unionization is so damn low? I’m lucky to actually work in a unionized industry, for the most part. Hiding behind “oh the unions aren’t working class organizations anymore!” is just his employer’s rational, I bet.

Kind of like how “new age” sorts of companies operate. They are virulently anti-union. They cover it up with nonsense about how they arent hierarchial command structures and that Everyone Has A Voice. When in reality they just pay you a couple of dollars more an hour above the usual wage of that industry so that you would never,ever organize in your own interests. All because your employer is Great and Good! Capitalism As It Should Be, etc. etc. Barf.

Comment by feer

I HIGHLY doubt Grand River is unionized. The Healy printing operation in the UK was not unionized.

Also, I’m sure SEPtic members are doing manual labor there as well as desk jobs. It’s not just North’s private affair: the “People” list is a Who’s Who of the inner circle.

Money raised for decades from members, former members, and “international comrades” went into building that business. Without a doubt.

Comment by scott_p_solomon

I was wondering how the SEPtics were funding their forays into Scottish and Welsh politics. Now we know.

Comment by Phil BC

I think feer has pretty much covered me.

Comment by Korakious

Sorry, but I didn’t read all of that. I gave up on the leftwing faction thing over a decade ago. I was in the anti-poll tax movement, way back then. I was left wing Labour party, but we were close to Militant, SWP, anarchists, and many others. I have seen more factions of factions than a squirrel has seen nuts.

And then, early 1990s, the left finally exhausted itself. There is no meaningful left anymore and we have to look beyond all that.

So left wing faction shock! It’s a historical reflex twitch of a dead ideology.

Comment by beatroot

Good, proper, political blog, by the way.

Comment by beatroot

“Wow. That’s rather surprising. Funny indeed.

The problem isn’t that North/Green is running a business, or that the SEP has a printshop.

The issue is that they dont!”

{cough} well I was forwarded this email and at any rate, Mehring books is the publishing arm of the WSWS.

“It seems to be a private company run by Green and his wife. Maybe they hire their fellow high-level party members to desk jobs? Can’t do manual labor, of course.”

That quite the suggestive paragraph, but you have not educated us on your higher knowledge of how a socialist can operate a printing company in a capitalist world, nor does this paragraph even ring true with the evidence you did provide, quoting the 2nd link(!)
“_ Does large amount of internal
company training to yield lower
turnover.
_ Company works hard to create
an employee-centered work environment.
Grand River Printing is the lowturnover
exception in a highturnover
industry.
Through extensive internal
training, Grand River Printing has
managed to retain many of its employees,
IRI Managing Partner
Frank Wydra said. It has done far
better at it than many other companies.
For instance, when the company
bought a new, high-tech printing
press, few people inside the company
knew how to operate it. Instead
of hiring outside the company,
Grand River Printing spent a significant
amount of money on
internal training to retain employees.
In addition, Grand River Printing
places heavy emphasis on
what an employee has to deal with
day to day, including personal
and social responsibilities, and accommodates
accordingly. The
company firmly believes it and
employees must work together to
survive.”

This sounds like a good place to work, sounds much better then walmart or any other place I have worked at so far….

“$25m a year in revenue isn’t a huge business, but one would assume if its been in business for a long while that its profitable enough. Even if it made $1m in profit, the SEP should get the majority of that to be true to..uh…BEING THE HEAD OF A SUPPOSEDLY REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST PARTY. Pay themselves the average wage of their employees!”

So you dont know how much money goes into organising the SEP, maintaining its web site, helping lessen the cost for its members at party conferences, what losses it makes on publishing quality literature , running election campaighns ect, ect
On top of this you dont know his wage so in fact you dont even know if he makes a workers wage or not, you have merely worded your sentence like he doesnt!
Lets move on shall we….

“Furthermore, I wonder if the average SEP member even knows of this business’ existence. I’d imagine the printshops of other left parties are somehow owned by the party itself, and subsequently the employees are party members. That being the case, one would hope that the business would be run democratically by the employees themselves!”

Well if it means anything I am an aspiring member of the SEP and I was informed about this fact before I was ever forwarded the link here, not only this you have shown a complete lack of knowledge on the history of how leaders of communist movements have been privvy to running capitalist buisineses, the most obvious being Engels, as we most likely wouldnt of had any volumes of Capital as the labour to produce sucha comprehensive work ment that Marx was only able to complete any of the works thanks to funding provided by Engels (not to mention that Engels himself had to assemble #3 himself).
Also on top of Engels, we also have Rakovsky who inherited a large estate of land that he used to support revolutionary organisation, Ironically it was Stalin who brought Rakovsky under the crime of using the money from his inheritence….
http://www.marxists.org/archive/rakovsky/biog/biog5.htm

“The court said he had been a capitalist before the revolution and a spy after it.

Vyshinsky: Hence it was not only your father who was a landlord, but you also were a landlord, an exploiter.

Rakovsky: Well, of course. I was an exploiter. The fact is, I lived on an income, and income, as is well known, accrues from surplus value.

Vyshinsky: Well, now. It was important for me to establish whence you received your income.

Rakovsky: But it is important for me to say what that income was spent for …

Vyshinsky: This is a different matter. [106]

Everyone knew that Rakovsky had spent everything he had on the revolutionary movement in Rumania, Russia and elsewhere. Provoked enough to draw attention to this fact, he was instantly silenced. Time and time again we find here the affirmation of truth in the midst of denial. “

“Mr. North/Green, however, have no worries. They cant lose control of their party, because they control the strings. If they did, somehow, they could truly just shut down the whole operation and continue on with their business, nobody the wiser.”

Again nothing very informative, if their was a sect in the SEP that was so organised to start their own company to support, there is nothings stopping them- again their is no proof that David North could just walk away from the SEP, their is no evidence that he is the ONLY shareholder, just assertions by Joe.

“I’d imagine there is a printshop workers union, as well. What sort of wacky socialist doesn’t support unionization? Especially in the USA where unionization is so damn low? I’m lucky to actually work in a unionized industry, for the most part. Hiding behind “oh the unions aren’t working class organizations anymore!” is just his employer’s rational, I bet.

Kind of like how “new age” sorts of companies operate. They are virulently anti-union. They cover it up with nonsense about how they arent hierarchial command structures and that Everyone Has A Voice. When in reality they just pay you a couple of dollars more an hour above the usual wage of that industry so that you would never,ever organize in your own interests. All because your employer is Great and Good! Capitalism As It Should Be, etc. etc. Barf.”

Again the link provided allows us to see in much more detail what it might be to work at this printing company then your hypothetical details that provide no proof.
Though if your wondering why the unionisation rate is so low in the U.S, you might want to read up on the history on the labour movement in the world, Marx, Engels, Lenin and of course the SEPs works that sheds a great deal of lighth on the decline of unionism world wide as well as the US.
Lastly you havent shown any proof that their is no form of workers organisation in this plant or the SEP itself to determine the heiarchy, which unlike new age pseudo anarchist buisnesses, any self respecting Marxist Organisation are up front in the need for heiarchical decision making.

Personally this has made me more committed to the SEP as ever; it shows that this organisation has a very strong organisational backbone in maintaining a corporation(in which the quality of the WSWS website article also is representative of this as well and the initial attraction for me) and as a former member of the CPC you wouldnt beleive how many time workers interested in the party were demoralised that your membership dues were by in large the only sums you had to organise with!

Comment by Jonathan

Jonathan,

You seem to have created blogger account just now to post this comment. OK, some comments on your post..

(1) If SEP gave you all the facts before you joined why don’t they do the same in their website? I mean when they rant and rave and accuse everyone on left as sellouts and petty bourgeoisie It would have been instructive if we know their leader runs a business on capitalist lines, That he seems to be a multimillionaire etc.

They never so much as mention Grand River Printing on WSWS. Quite an interesting case of transparency.

And why your leader David North goes by the name David Green in business? Is he affraid of CIA and FBI. I mean they can easily find out who he is. It is solely to misguide the public.
Their ludicrous sectarianism, revolting attacks on all leftists suddenly makes sense to me.
They are a hypocritical nutty cult and if you are a member of this cult , pity on you.
What a disgusting bunch this SEP is?

Comment by Ajit RK

Joe Hargrave, the fellow following this on the myspace.com Socialism discussion board, who was in the Socialist Equality Party for three years, claims he had never heard of Grand River Printing and Imaging during three years of being in the party.

I’ve posted links on alt.politics.socialism.trotsky with Joe’s description of the cult like atmosphere in SEP as well as the resignation letter of a SEP cult ex-member from Pittsburgh (18 years old, living off minimum wages and food stamps) who describes what it was like to scrape enough money together to attend an SEP conference in Michigan, only to be told, once he arrived in the city for the conference, that he would not be allowed to attend.

Comment by scott_p_solomon

“That quite the suggestive paragraph, but you have not educated us on your higher knowledge of how a socialist can operate a printing company in a capitalist world, nor does this paragraph even ring true with the evidence you did provide, quoting the 2nd link(!)

[…]

This sounds like a good place to work, sounds much better then walmart or any other place I have worked at so far….”

John,

I would like to point out something that I’ve recently noticed about the SEP. Alex Steiner, an ex-SEP member (whom I have some political differences with), makes an interesting observation when he states, “…on crucial occasions, the International Committee has blurred the distinction between liberalism and revolutionary socialism. I believe this political confusion is announced in a statement issued by the Socialist Equality Party launching the Presidential election campaign. There one reads that,

‘The necessity for a scientific and socially-motivated utilization of mankind’s productive forces and technology – the absence of which threatens the very physical survival of human civilization – poses the historic task of consciously subordinating the profit motive to the principle of humane, democratic and intelligent social planning – that is, replacing capitalism with socialism.’ (htttp://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/jan2004/stat-j27_prn.shtml)

Rather than characterizing socialism as it has been historically conceived within the Marxist movement as the new society of associated producers standing on the foundations thrown up by the overthrow of the law of value, this formulation portrays socialism as ‘subordinating the profit motive’. In other words, socialism is seen as a kind of capitalism whose excesses have been reigned in, i.e. ‘subordinated’, to ‘the principle of humane, democratic and intelligent social planning.’ If any statement ever expressed a theoretical and political muddle, surely this one qualifies. ”

It seems to me, though, this may not be a muddle at all. Consider the rave reviews of Grand River, the grand speeches given by North about important it is to do this and that for the workers. Also consider how any talk of worker ownership is derided as “anarcho-syndicalism”. What exactly is the SEP fighting for anyway?

Steiner is correct about the party’s “soft” stance on liberalism and its watering down of the essential nature of socialism. Perhaps I am gravely mistaken in this, but I see such conceptions rooted in the practical life and activities of the party leadership, which doubles as board of corporate executives and managers. If you ever go to the company website, you will find speeches that North has given in his capacity as the CEO. They are illuminating in a number of respects. What is he going for? Is this capitalist gig truly only a matter of necessity, or does he see it as an inherently good situation given that the workers are treated well enough? I’m willing to accept that no one is really making a lot of money off of this business, and that North & Co. have pretty much pushed the limit of what is possible within a capitalist firm, investing heavily in the education of the workers, retaining a loyal workforce, etc. But if such wonderful feats are possible under capitalism, why even bother with socialism? Why not merely agitate for a more humane, kinder capitalism, as the statements Steiner highlighted in the 2004 program seem to do? When all is said and done North and his business partners are benevolent capitalists – they treat their workers very well, but ultimately there are no plans to encourage them to transcend their status as highly-priced instruments of production. I can’t help but see the political manifestation of this activity in the passages from the program Steiner calls attention to. How seriously are we to take the basic Marxian assumption that our thoughts and ideas arise from our practical activity, our material existence? Does that apply only to the uneducated masses as a sort of default cause/effect relationship, while those educated in the science of history, in Marxism, may comfortably partake in capitalist ventures without any danger to their revolutionary consciousness?

“So you dont know how much money goes into organising the SEP, maintaining its web site, helping lessen the cost for its members at party conferences, what losses it makes on publishing quality literature , running election campaighns ect, ect
On top of this you dont know his wage so in fact you dont even know if he makes a workers wage or not, you have merely worded your sentence like he doesnt!
Lets move on shall we….”

It is obvious that Grand River and the SEP have absolutely no connection, besides David North and the minions who he introduces to the company. Websites are not horribly expensive to run – I know because I’m in the process of creating one. The SEP sells books — which are most of the time compilations of 5 or 6 articles available on the World Socialist Web Site – for $25. I also happen to know that the SEP tries to gather enough signatures in order to bypass a lot of the election costs – but I won’t deny that there are costs involved there. The SEP doesn’t send money to ISSE branches, at least not that I’m aware of. The members are left to their own devices to fund their branch, and they’re still expected to pay dues on top of that. I wasn’t aware that capitalists made wages?

“Well if it means anything I am an aspiring member of the SEP and I was informed about this fact before I was ever forwarded the link here, not only this you have shown a complete lack of knowledge on the history of how leaders of communist movements have been privvy to running capitalist buisineses, the most obvious being Engels, as we most likely wouldnt of had any volumes of Capital as the labour to produce sucha comprehensive work ment that Marx was only able to complete any of the works thanks to funding provided by Engels (not to mention that Engels himself had to assemble #3 himself).
Also on top of Engels, we also have Rakovsky who inherited a large estate of land that he used to support revolutionary organisation, Ironically it was Stalin who brought Rakovsky under the crime of using the money from his inheritence….
http://www.marxists.org/archive/rakovsky/biog/biog5.htm”

Let’s get something straight: if it wasn’t made public, the SEP would have never mentioned any of this to you. They are shaking in their shoes because their organization is done for. Your examples of Engels, Rakovsky, Axelrod, Joffe, or whomever you would like to mention are not applicable to this situation. Engels, for instance, was born a capitalist – everyone on the earth was aware that he was the son of a capitalist. He did not try to purposefully mislead the working class. David North, on the other hand, kept his position — a dirty little secret — hidden from the working class. He leads a double life. He is corporate CEO David Green in real life, but in the realm of socialist politics, he is David North, National secretary of the SEP. Do you deny that socialists and capitalists have interests directly at odds with each other? David North hasn’t contributed a single work that can be comparable to Marx’s capital. The Heritage We Defend is not that great of a work:it is one-sided and ignores many of the more important questions that came out of the Trotskyist struggles. David North has contributed some speeches that any Marxist worth his weight could have wrote, some articles for the website, and that’s about it. And again, there is absolutely no evidence that David North’s business is in anyway financially connected with the WSWS or SEP. The fact that David North was a capitalist was kept secret from me for the whole 2 years that I was in contact with the SEP.

“Personally this has made me more committed to the SEP as ever; it shows that this organisation has a very strong organisational backbone in maintaining a corporation(in which the quality of the WSWS website article also is representative of this as well and the initial attraction for me) and as a former member of the CPC you wouldnt beleive how many time workers interested in the party were demoralised that your membership dues were by in large the only sums you had to organise with!”

No offense, but how far are you willing to delude yourself? Maybe you aren’t aware, but 5 or 6 people are leaving the party because of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if others do too when they find out about it. The SEP doesn’t abide by Democratic Centralism and they don’t have a constitution which outlines their principles. The antediluvian Workers League constitution is so out-of-date that it doesn’t even matter. If you want to join the party, the only thing you have to do is agree with the leaders. That’s what they mean by “being principled.” The only people who are not leaving are those who are tied up in the business (the leadership), and the David North androids who repeat every mantra the SEP feeds them without critical thought.

Scott,

You stated, “as well as the resignation letter of a SEP cult ex-member from Pittsburgh (18 years old, living off minimum wages and food stamps) who describes what it was like to scrape enough money together to attend an SEP conference in Michigan, only to be told, once he arrived in the city for the conference, that he would not be allowed to attend.”

Maybe it wasn’t clear, but I would like to rectify your misunderstanding. But first off, I don’t particularly enjoy being called a cult-member. I didn’t travel to the city where the conference was being held. I was told not to attend when I was at my house, and after that I didn’t waste my time going. They probably would have called the cops on me and had me removed – even if I wouldn’t have said a word, but sat and observed their presentations.

— Phillip Gioan

Comment by phillip

Phill — sorry if I misunderstood. If one re-reads the post you made describing the events you experienced leading up to the conference, I believe there is sufficient ambiguity to justify my having misinterpreted events that you made the trip.

Re: 5 or 6 people quitting the party over GRPI revelations, I would point out that the GRPI info needs to be chalked up to “straw that broke a few camel’s backs”. If there was internal democracy, a constitution, and if North actually accomplished anything to justify sacrifices and time people put in to be members of SEPtic, I highly doubt the GRPI “revelations” would have been very damaging.

Re: the existence or non-existence of a SEPtic constitution, I was re-reading Wohlforth’s _The Prophet’s Children_. Page 104: “By rights, we were also entitled to a National Committee alternate, a position we did not get. I protested to Jim Cannon, who bluntly said, “You are not entitled to anything. We give you what we want to give you.” Cannon’s attitude did not jibe with my reading of the party constitution, nor did I feel it was consistent with the Trotskyist tradition on minority rights. Oh well, it was his party, so I guessed he ought to know.”

The existence of a SEPtic constitution might contribute to a greater degree of professionalism. It’s rather politically backwards that one does not exist at all. But “at the end of the day,” the way things are set up, and in keeping with A LOT of precendent with Trots, it’s Dave North’s Party.

The SEPtic members are apparently happy living under the North regime. Granted, there are not many members, and Dave has “organized” maybe negative one hundred people in thirty years. But that’s their choice to “enjoy” the experience, just in the same way one might “enjoy” sniffing glue or grabbing onto NY subway cars after the doors have closed and riding through the tunnels.

This is the age of the World Wide Web, where anyone with the slightest intellectual curiosity can research ex-WRP member descriptions under the Healy (North’s mentor) regime, read the ex-cult leader Wohlforth’s account of the groupthink and abuse prior to Dave.

Vis-a-vis the great work conditions at Grand River, I spoke with Rob Frantz, and ex-WL’er last night, and he suggested SEPtic members who work at Grand River are expected to “kick back” part of the salary to the Party. So my guess is there is quite a bit of shabbiness involved with this enterprise, as there is with every North activity.

Comment by scott_p_solomon

Thanks very much for this major revelation! It is of historical significance in its own, regardless of any differences in opinion that we who read this might have.

I myself have a story to contribute about the unprincipled behaviour of SEP. Obviously there are many more people with similar experience, so that it is about time to become organized! Therefore, I have an initiative and hope for your response. I suggest we discuss several different topics on different discussion groups of a new forum devoted to the WSWS and ICFI. I am new to this so if anyone can take the lead and create the forums. I’d also be glad to receive mails from you with any suggestions how could we make a permanent paralel site to provide a medium for democratic debate and control of the ICFI.

But first, I want to make clear my motivation. Like many here I consider the WSWS to be an excellent, by far the best and most promising asset. My concern is that it is, nevertheless, not achieveing the purpose fast and efficient enough. I don’t have programatic differences with WSWS. I might say that I am, for all intents and purposes, in 100% agreement and am willing to contribute a lot in many ways, selflessly and with no favor of any kind to expect in return. Why then people like me cannot find their way to the SEP? That is the key concern that deserves to be examined. This is an abuse and privatization, in my opinion. It is a kind of sabotagge of a movement on whom many depend for survival. Another matter is that it is unjust. To deprive a sincere comrade from the movement is a very cruel and serious brichment in my eyes. This is my motivation and I hope of many more.

Allow me one friendly note of caution. I honestly sympathize with comrades that have had bad experience in SEP. Whatever their mistakes might be, and we all (except ‘model’ members of ICFI) make mistakes, they should be watched as mistakes of ordinary members and are of much lesser degree than mistakes of leadership. When individual is provoked by a monopolistic behaviour of a powerfull organization, he naturally might at a time being say even what he does not mean, and in general behave in a way that he would not, had he not been provoked first by the powers may be. So, my advice is to try to calm down and channel this in the most rational and principled fashion, let the other side show who they are.

First forum I suggest to be the discussion of the program and articles on the WSWS. From what I see there is no true disagreement. We were all attracted to WSWS by its high quality. I hope no one should in anger (which is humane) artificially produce disagreements, which only plays into the hands of provokators. On the other hands, we could make transparent what each of us stands for, so that anyone can judge what kind of people are confronted with the Chinese Wall in SEP.

Second and directly linked to the revelation of the true identity of Mr. David North/Green. I propose a workers inquiry on Internet forum to document for the history and current and future readers of WSWS the abuses and malpractises of the ICFI and WSWS thus far (in hope that these practices will be reversed). I suggest someone like Brian and others who entirely share the program and admire the work of WSWS to chair the inquiry. Also welcomed are members of SEP who defend North on this forume. Let them be confronted with some exact cases and evidence and let them express their judgement.

Is it for example correct to open Internet forum in election campaigne, state on the website that the forum will be the major tool of the campaign, post by moderator questions and comments, inform contributor that shortly there will be a reply, and then suddenly, after several weeks and weeks before the election, shut-down the forum and delete the sentence from the website in which it is stated that the forum will be a major tool of the campaign. Is this Trotskyst way dear comrades memebers of SEP? I have in mind the case of German section of ICFI few years ago. I will report to the comission of inquiry my entire experience, and there is a lot of it.

We own to present and future readers of WSWS to make a detailed record.

Let us catalogue precissely the evidence and all the details of the revelations about North. Enumertaivelly, and then discuss the significance. I think the significance is that material independence allows stuff of WSWS to behave like aristocracy. I have first hand experience that this influences their work. They would behave differntly if they would like we be subject to job interviews.

This to beggin with. If there is feedback I hope we continue this forum. One day, if nothing else helps, it can lead to an establishing of an alternative website, called for exampel the Left Opposition (to North and likes).

Dejan Popov

P.S. This is intended to be reposted on different forums in which this topic is discussed.

Comment by Dejan

I met North once when I was working on News Line (in the days when North was Gerry Healy’s man and conducting the so-called Security and the Fourth International investigation together with a journo called Alex Mitchell. I tried putting to them some thoughts I had about Mark Zborowski and his later activities, but got the feeling North wasn’t interested or did not have time for people he considered unimportant (and believe me I was a nobody in the organisation).
Later when the WRP blew up North was mainly concerned with pulling his own supporters away from any connection and pretending the row with Healy was unimportant. Maybe he had stuff to hide such as ignoring what had happened to some Workers League members. But later his supporters seem to have fed stuff to the capitalist press about Healy and the WRP supposedly “spying” on Jewish people for Colonel Gaddafi. Oddly, though I had been a bit of an expert on Zionism I never got enlisted for that, nor alas did I see any of the Colonel’s money.
Getting back to that Security business, though, one of its starting points was an allegation that Nancy Fields, Tim Wohlforth’s partner, had concealed stuff about her uncle who brought her up working for the CIA’s computer operation. Wohlforth’s downfall eventually opened the way for North, so I guess the leader knows something about the duty to declare everything openly to the party, and movement, eh?
By the 1990s the Northites were not only denouncing the “privileged background” of all and sundry, but uncovered the “well-known fact” that Workers Aid for Bosnia was carrying sophisticated weaponry on its convoys under contract to mysterious european interests (and presumably with the connivance of the UN troops who searched all the vehicles. Why these powerful interests entrusted expensive gear to a bunch of amateurs (with one or two experienced truckers) in clapped out second hand vehicles I never figured out, must have been a clever ruse. One of North’s stooges also announced that our main contact in Tuzla was a “banker”. Well, he had been manager of the local bank though he lived in a tower block (I stayed there once) and I’ll wager his income even when the bank was functioning was considerably less than that of Mr. North/Green.
Engels may have managed his father’s mill, but he picked up politics from Chartists like Harney, and he did not rubbish trades unionists the way North has taught his supporters to. Hyndman was no great Marxist, he accepted money from the Tories and became a watchword for chauvinism and prejudice (read what Connolly said about him). If you want an example of a socialist from privileged background and manufacturer who sided with the workers, take Owen at one end and William Morris at the other. Dave North does not strike me as coming anywhere near either of them.

Comment by Charlie Pottins

All lies!

Comment by Karl Marx




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: