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Socialist Equality Party a crock!

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The Socialist Equality Party is a small group that some people in Wellington will be familiar with. They had a talk at the Victoria University Law school in September of last year. They did another one earlier this year during orientation. They are also the owners of the World Socialist Website.

Turns out their leader one David North, lives a double life. In one he is the leader of a Trotskyist group. In the other is known as David Green the CEO of a printing company with a turnover of $US21 million a year.

A former member writes:

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, never 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.

Related

http://www.wsws.org

Comments

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

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

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

Engels owned a textile buisness complete with factory enploying dozens of workers.
Marx subsisted, paretly on the income thus generated and donated by to him by Engels.
Workers spend every day compromising their values to subsist in a capitalist culture.
Where do you draw the line?

Does North/Green really have a major cocaine habit draining funds otherwise useful for the revolution as implied? Are their really piles of "beautiful ladies" as implied?
SEP membership will have to answer these questions for themselves.

More importantly for the rest of us - the SEP's practice is as sectarian as claimed. Everything is a conspiracy to them . This nutty non-materialist view of reality is an anathema to most workers - thus SEP remains a small insignificant current. They seem more concerned with "exposing" other leftists as agents of the state (mark curtis /Militant springs to mind)than organising real working class campaigns that draw in workers and build independent working class vehicles.

This circle the wagons mentality is not theirs alone. Other embattled leftists ofetn fall into the same conspiracy view of history.

They like the SEP need to take a long hard looks at their practice.

A Unionist

I disagree

You need money to compete with the mainstream media. The WSWS are some of the best writers in the world. Very informative and with all the facts required to prove a case against despotism.

Trust me they are on your side if you're a peasant. They're anti-corporate, and anti-capital. If the truth were known in Australia Unions are no longer organizations of the working class.

They pander to the major political parties like the politicians do.

Why they do that is that they have a prestige issue to deal with and they take up the offer of a well-paid job.

You should be thankful we have them.

Parrot Press

Re: I disagree

WSWS is run by the Socialist Equality Party, which is a political cult.

Recent ex-members describe the regime: the party doesn't even have a constitution! It's the most politically backward situation. If you want to have a taste for how incredibly backward their recruits are nowadays, have a look at the Soviet Empire discussion board where someone posted the David W. Green info. One of the SEP members posting compares a call for a party constitution to a praising the murder of Leon Trotsky.

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

WSWS have produced some very good up to date well researched socialist arguments that help our class.

When I met some of them in person at a Wellington public meeting of theirs their attitude was sectarian to beat the band.

Now they are accused of two faced stuff around the business practices of some of them.

Human behaviour is, probably to our ultimate advantange, strange.

Today, down in the engine room, where we need to get on with the basics, low paid workers need to take WSWS stuff, however impressive looking, with a pinch of salt. This is a class war and after all the fancy words have been written and said, we can only trust those on our side of the big fence.

Don Franks

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

"He and his cult never organized any workers, never gained any influence in the labor
movement, never accomplished anything."

But they had plenty of political rhetoric and spurting ideology on tap? Now doesn't that just sound like most other political groups in this country?

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

Most of the other left groups in the country are alienated from the working class and their (bureacratised) unions and their (social democratic) political leadership.

Lacking empathy with workers current conciousness, they are subsequently unable to engage with them and unable to assume a leadership role.

Where there are exceptions (the late CP , now SWP would have been one) who have had good worker support, they squandered their opportunities with ridiculous political lines (pro-stalin, then pro-mao then pro hoxa), burecratic party practice (expel any dissidents at every turn) and sectarian practise (excluding working with members of other parties who they considered competitors).

The collapse of the NZ left was the ultimate result. The collapse of any real opposition in the NZ union movement the logical outcome.

Socialists in this country are at the crossroads: build united fronts for common action, to maximise our (miniscule) impact or continue down the road of irrelevancy.

Anonymous (" Now doesn't that just sound like most other political groups in this country?") makes a cheap shot, the question is how to move beyond the rhetoric. That is the question of leadership. That is the question remaining to be answered.

A Unionist.

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

Its a bit harsh to judge the SEP on the strength of its leader North/Green running a business. Most of the larger political parties have set up private companies so they could run bookshops and printshops. This would be public knowledge, like Gerry Healy's WRP printshop in Clapham in London. If North/Green kept this setup secret from the membership that would be fundamentally undemocratic.

As for the SEPs sectarianism, I would say its their ultraleft program which misreads Trotsky to write off the unions as part of the state apparatus, by failing to recognise the contradiction between the statised bureaucracy and the potential power of the rank and file membership, that explains this, and not the North/Green printshop.

This is no worse, in fact it is better, than other left groups who are opportunist in their dealings with the union bureaucracy, and opportunistic in relation to populist leaders like Chavez and Morales. At least people know where the SEP stands on unions and populism. To be ultraleft is better then to be a left cover for the bureaucracy and populist leaders.

As Lenin said, ultraleftism is an infantile disease of over-idealistic youth that can be cured. Opportunism, however is the cynical betrayal of privileged bureaucrats that cannot be cured and has to be eliminated.

As for the weakness of the left in NZ. It is the result of the great moving right show of the last 20 years. The battle to revive revolutionary socialism in NZ is the battle to revive Marxism as a science of society around fundamental questions such as what is capitalism, imperialism, socialism etc.

This cannot happen unless Marxism is fought for in the working class. For example, the CTUs 'Workplace Productivity Challenge' is a cynical opportunist excuse for increasing the exploitation of wage labour. The CTUs opportunism is from a Marxist standpoint, anti-worker. Therefore revolutionary Marxists in the unions have to constantly expose the fundamentally anti-worker interests of the union bureaucracy and champion rank and file democracy.

In that sense, the SEPs inability to do this makes this Party a Crock.

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

Forgot to sign the above
Dave Brown

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

This is the height of foolishness.

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

I have little sympathy for the whining of the original post. Everyone who has spent any serious time in left politics will know this type, which, when they realise that being a revolutionary involves more work than posturing, cover their retreat into apathy (or rightward shift) with invective against their erstwhile idols.

Any serious Marxist, who has helped publish working class newspapers, websites, or magazines, will have been long aware that wsws.org were punching well above their weight in media terms.

When I worked as a full-time journalist I struggled to keep up with their news and analysis, let alone try to match it. Wsws must have a large number of full-time staff. I always assumed the money came from the middle-class radicals that wsws so often inveighs against. It appears that it may come from a business.

Whatever the case may be, anyone with a bit of nouse would have realised this and, as Don said, taken their stuff with a grain of salt.

Re: Socialist Equality Party a crock!

I have little sympathy for the whining of the original post. Everyone who has spent any serious time in left politics will know this type, which, when they realise that being a revolutionary involves more work than posturing, cover their retreat into apathy (or rightward shift) with invective against their erstwhile idols.

Any serious Marxist, who has helped publish working class newspapers, websites, or magazines, will have been long aware that wsws.org were punching well above their weight in media terms.

When I worked as a full-time journalist I struggled to keep up with their news and analysis, let alone try to match it. Wsws must have a large number of full-time staff. I always assumed the money came from the middle-class radicals that wsws so often inveighs against. It appears that it may come from a business.

Whatever the case may be, anyone with a bit of nouse would have realised this and, as Don said, taken their stuff with a grain of salt.
Mike Tait
international socialists
www.iso.org.nz