Posted by: exiwp | August 9, 1988

“Opportunists of the World, Unite!” (Next, 1988)

he Many Faces of NAP
By Nina Reyes
Next Magazine, August 31-September 6, 1988

“For the past year … we have been asked by progressive activists to provide information on the New Alliance Party because of concern over its past ties to Lyndon LaRouche and because of the appearance of an internal authoritarian structure within the organization. [Our report] is a response to those concerns—concerns which we feel are justified and which have obliged us to depart from our usual pattern of researching only explicitly right wing organizations.”
Chip Berlet
Author of “Clouds Blur the Rainbow
The Other Side of the New Alliance Party”
Political Research Associates
Cambridge, MA

The New Alliance Party (NAP), established in New York City in 1979, describes itself as a “Black-led, woman-led, multiracial, pro-gay independent political party,” that is posing a substantial threat to the traditional course of politics in the United States. Its candidate for President, Dr. Lenora B. Fulani, has attracted media attention nationwide. Its political rhetoric apparently appeals to enough voters to put Fulani on the ballot in all 50 states.

But serious questions have been raised by researchers and activists about the history, ideology and methodology of the party, and investigations into the operations of NAP have revealed compelling reasons to view the party with caution and suspicion. To date, awareness of the party’s tactics seems to be the best defense against its unsettling incursions into various communities. The following is an abbreviated history of the party, and a brief overview of criticisms that have been brought against it.

The Chronology

The New Alliance Party was established ten years after Dr. Fred Newman’s Maoist oriented Centers for Change (CFC) had been incorporated. Newman, a 53-year-old political theorist with a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science from Stanford, had been at the center or at the head of NAP’s predecessor organizations, and is currently acting as Fulani’s campaign manager.

Newman and his associates from the CFC merged their organization briefly with Lyndon LaRouche and his National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC) in 1974, precisely the time at which LaRouche’s political ideology was moving to the far right. Although NAP consistently disputes critical assessments of the nature and depth of Newman and his followers’ involvement with LaRouche and NCLC the affiliation has haunted Newman and, consequently, NAP.

The “LaRouche connection” is the most commonly cited example of NAP’s peculiar political evolution, although Mary Fridley, NAP’s candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Edward Kennedy, defended the association with the statement that “there were some things to gain” from the close association with LaRouche back in 1974, “especially their economic analysis.” The reason that questions regarding Newman and other founders’ association with LaRouche still dog NAP is that there are lingering operative similarities between the two organizations.

Berlet cites nine instances of congruence between NAP and the LaRouchites, and concludes that “these similarities do not change the fact that LaRouchite philosophy is apparently neo-fascist while Newmanite philosophy is apparently left-progressive, but it does mean that internally both groups have an authoritarian hierarchy whose existence is denied, and both groups rely on psychologically manipulative theories to control core members.”

In the interim between the disbanding of the various centers associated with CFC and the foundation of NAP, it seems clear that the structural vision of CFC remained basically intact. Like NAP and its affiliated organizations, the CFC operation consisted of a mixture of community organizing and community-based service centers, and, according to Village Voice reporter Joe Conason, CFC emphasized the need for therapy and mental health services within a community as NAP does currently. However, using their experiences during the remainder of the 1970s, Newman and his colleagues were able to create in NAP a far more sophisticated implementation of the ideas and community organization tactics than the CFC had generated.

Following their withdrawal from NCLC in 1974, Newman and his group formed the International Workers Party (IWP), which one NAP researcher has called “a splinter group modeled in spirit and practice on the National Caucus of Labor Committees.” Other sources say that the IWP was a “proletarian vanguard” party that focused its actions primarily on running candidates for president and publishing a newspaper entitled the International Worker. In his Voice article, Conason cites passages from documents published by IWP which stated that in 1975, when Boston’s dramatic and violent resistance to busing was garnering national attention, the party was “opposed to busing because it divides the classes.”

Ken Lawrence, writing for the Jackson Advocate, revealed that the IWP party line of the time, as it appeared in the International Worker, termed community movements, including Black nationalism, feminism, gay pride and the struggles for affirmative action, “fascist.”

The IWP was eventually disbanded. In 1976, following the dissolution of IWP, Newman and his colleagues began to organize welfare recipients into the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council (NYCUWC). Fridley, who became active with the group of people who ultimately founded NAP when she got involved with NYCUWC through the Coalition of Grass Roots Women, stated that the NYCUWC was “a union of about 10,000 welfare recipients, mostly women of color.” Furthermore, Fridley added, this loose organization of people used the candidacy of Joseph Galiber, who was running for Bronx borough president to “test the waters” for the formation of a viable third party in the bipartisan electoral field.

“We got about 25,000 votes, which said to us, although the media did not cover it at all, that there was sentiment for third-party politics. It wasn’t crazy, that we had ultimately put out a pro-gay, Black-led, multi-racial, people-instead-of-profits politic, which was a very radical campaign in the Bronx, which is certainly not someplace that is historically known for its militant and radical politics.” These organizations, according to Fridley, under the umbrella group, the Labor Community Alliance for Change, became the New Alliance Party.

The results of Conason’s investigation into the origins of NAP conflict with Fridley’s account of the NAP’s formalization. His research shows that NYCUWC was embroiled in a struggle “with another, more-legitimate welfare rights organization,” while the Coalition of Grass Roots Women, which he calls “yet another Newmanite front” was accused by a feminist paper of “attempting to ‘trash’ an international women’s conference.” A number of papers and journals came out, “most or all under the rubric of United Struggle Press,” the Institute for Social Therapy and Research opened, and “the Labor Community Alliance for Change announced that it had become the New Alliance Party.” It was after these occurrences, Conason wrote, that “NAP as NAP became involved with the Galiber, whose record as a Bronx state senator was undistinguished to say the least; he was and is the most conservative member of the Black Caucus, and had always been a regular [Democratic] party hack … Even worse, perhaps, were his business connections with organized crime figures and poverty program exploiters.”

The Politics

Since its foundation as a “Black-led, woman-led, multi-racial, pro-gay independent political party,” NAP has grown dramatically in terms of membership, financial stability, and especially in terms of its ability to affect the political landscape of the United States. In 1988, NAP’s Presidential candidate, 38-year-old Lenora Fulani, has qualified for federal matching funds and will probably be on the ballot in all 50 states. The two goals of her campaign—the formation of a viable third party in the U.S., and ensuring that the Democrats will not be elected to the White House—seem within NAP’s grasp.

Although Fulani’s campaign is not the first indication that NAP may well be reaching for and attaining its goal of capturing national attention, it is the most powerful. A mere four years ago, in 1984, NAP ran Dennis Serrette, a Black trade unionist, as its Presidential candidate on the ballots of 33 states. Even if he had been phenomenally successful, which he was not, retrospective wisdom suggests that votes for his candidacy could not have been billed as a way to teach the Democrats a lesson, nor would the relative scale of his success have treated his supporters to the opportunity to declare a “mandate from the people.”

In fact, Serrette left NAP in late 1984, and has since become one of its most vocal critics. Called as a witness in a lawsuit NAP filed against the Jackson Advocate, Berlet reports, Serrette accused NAP of using Blacks within the party to strengthen its credibility with minority communities by putting Blacks in visible positions within the party while failing to give them substantive influence over policy or resources within the organization. “I don’t understand [Black control] as just having a Black face in a high place,” Serrette stated in the Advocate case. “That’s nothing more than racism and nothing more than window dressing.”

In 1984, NAP attempted to win California’s socialist Peace and Freedom Party’s Presidential nomination in a way that Emma Mar, the convention organizer and the departing state chair of the party, termed “disruptive.”

“They brought 50 people in buses,” who demanded to be seated as delegates, Mar recalled, “and proceeded to wreck our convention.” In support of their bid for the nomination, Mar related, the NAP people “were shouting and stomping and they had a bullhorn. They turned out many of them to be registered Democrats,” which disqualified them from delegate status.

In 1986, the Boston branch of NAP ran a well-funded campaign against progressive State Representative John McDonough. In a letter to Bay Windows, John Kyper, who worked as a precinct captain for McDonough, wrote that the NAP candidate, Cathy Stewart, distributed campaign literature entitled “A Woman and the Rainbow.”

“I spoke to some voters who had thusly come to the erroneous conclusion that the Rainbow Coalition had endorsed her,” Kyper related, and “a Stewart campaign worker at Green Street station was heard to accuse [McDonough] of being ‘bad on women’s issues’—a charge that his record clearly demonstrates is false.”

In 1988, NAP again attempted to win the Presidential nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party by disrupting the proceedings of the party’s convention. This time the NAP candidate, Fulani, walked out of the convention with approximately one third of the party’s delegates, and declared the opening of a new Peace and Freedom Party convention. Both the original convention and the NAP/Peace and Freedom Party convention filed the names of their nominees with California’s secretary of state. After conducting an investigation into the matter, the secretary of state “was unable to ascertain who the duly elected party officials and nominee were,” which means that the Peace and Freedom Party’s ballot space will be blank in November unless the party holds “a new state-wide convention before September 5, with only properly selected delegates seated.”

NAP’s stated objective in the 1988 Presidential contest is to cost the Democrats the election. Fulani estimates that a million votes for her will in fact keep Michael Dukakis from reaching the White House. NAP representatives state that the Democrats have taken the votes of politically disempowered communities—Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, gays and lesbians—for granted, that Dukakis’ choice of a running mate slaps his progressive constituency in the face, and that the majority of Democrats, while dissatisfied with Dukakis, feels that it has no means of holding the “Democratic machine” accountable. To these disenchanted voters, Fulani offers her candidacy as a way “to send the Democrats a message.”

Sue Hyde of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sent copies of Berlet’s report on NAP with a cover letter detailing her own experiences with NAP to a number of gay and lesbian publications. Her letter warned that although “NAP’s platform, insofar as it is articulated on paper, is very appealing to me and not antithetical to many of our own movement’s goals … I do not believe that the party’s methodology or structure make it an appropriate or trustworthy organization for achieving these goals.” Her experience of being misled into participating in one of the NAP forums, which was in fact a thinly veiled recruitment meeting, has been echoed again and again in various forms by activists.

Certainly many gay and lesbian voters across the nation are torn by the choice between what the Gay and Lesbian Defense Committee and Mass ACT OUT have termed “the evil of two lessers.” At the same time, NAP offers gay and lesbian voters the option of helping to ensure that the Republicans keep control of the executive office, which is hardly a desirable political consequence for the vengeful pleasure of giving Dukakis back what he has given to our community.

In addition, there is a side to the New Alliance Party that voters should examine thoroughly before casting ballots in support of the “Rainbow Slate.”

The Practice

Numerous investigators, and, in fact, many community activists and organizers who have not conducted extensive research, have independently concluded that NAP and its therapeutic branch, the Institutes for Social Therapy and Research, show the classic hallmarks of a cult.

The Institutes for Social Therapy—founded in 1978—pre-date the formalization of NAP as it exists now. “Unlike what many people say, NAP did not start the Institute,” said Fridley. “There was a request from the community to figure out how to address the mental health crisis in New York at the time,” which convinced Newman and his colleagues, who were attempting to organize communities in New York City, to resuscitate some of their old ideas from the days of CFC.

Conason’s research into CFC shows that “internal CFC documents from November 1972 through February 1973 show that ‘therapy’ sometimes in week-long marathon sessions, was the top priority of the group,” although CFC also operated a dental and therapeutic clinic in the Bronx and a school for young children.

But over the course of the 1970s, Newman’s interest in social therapy, coupled with the metamorphosis of his political ideology, qualitatively changed his implementation of the therapy model for mobilization of a community.

For example, in a paper entitled Homophobia and the Rise of Neo-Fascism in the United States, Fridley explains the rationale behind social therapy, and attempts to demonstrate its efficacy in regards to the politicization of the gay community. The main thrust of social therapy is to teach the individual that a sense of being “maladjusted” in society is actually evidence of mental fitness, because the society itself is unsound, corrupt and morally bankrupt. Referring to NAP’s historical roots in CFC, Fridley remarked, “You can’t just provide services for people if you’re interested in bringing the community into a power relationship with the powers-that-be.” The way to bring about the change, according to Fridley, is to empower communities in areas where they have previously been disempowered—by providing, for example, therapy in poor, working class, and minority communities, where traditional therapies have historically been either withheld from the people, or used to keep them in place.

Because social therapy contains within its prescription for healing the necessity of empowerment through action, patients of social therapy are urged to become politically involved. At this point, NAP, with whom the Institutes’ therapists are closely allied, stands ready to receive contributions of time, solicitation and action to “assist” the patients in their “healing process.”

Not coincidentally, NAP’s political platform appeals specifically to “Afro-American, Latino, Native American, Asian, Women, Lesbian and Gay, poor and working people … oppressed nationalities, farmers, trade unionists and the unemployed.” The tenets of the party offer a political balm to these and other communities, whose political self image have been “injured” by the inattention of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Additionally, according to Serrette, being involved with therapy is a prerequisite for involvement, in any significant sense, with NAP. “If you want to be part of this organization, you will have to take therapy because it is the backbone of our tendency,” Serrette reports he was told.

Dennis King, who has studied the evolution of NAP from its earliest incarnation as the Centers for Change, through its affiliation with LaRouche and NCLC, and the formation and dissolution of IWP, said “The New Alliance Party is a therapy cult and a political cult.” Its ideological leadership is all former patients of Newman and two other members of the organization, Hazel Daren and Gail Elberg. However, King warned, “You can’t dismiss them as a pure and simple cult,” because the term is used too frequently in reference to small and relatively harmless religious fanatical organizations that have become fixtures in many urban centers and rural areas. “That [kind of a label] discounts the fact that they’re having a political effect on the world,” considering that Fulani’s campaign may in fact keep the Republicans in the Oval Office, King added.

Of note, also, is that the Cult Awareness Network keeps information on NAP with its extensive files on LaRouche.

Playing it Straight?

Even if it weren’t for the strange and apparently coercive connection between therapy and politics, NAP is still an extremely difficult organization to deal with on a political level. Its members’ tactics are abrasive and disruptive in group settings, even when the NAP people claim that their agenda coincides with that of the meeting. On occasions when NAP is criticized for its methodology or questioned closely about its history, NAP respondents verge into hysterical personal attacks that distort and over-blow the impact of the critique in an attempt to undercut the credibility or expose hidden motivations of the critic.

For example, responding to Sue Hyde’s memorandum to the gay press, National Alliance editors Dan Friedman and Freda Rosen stated that Sue Hyde’s letter “white-baits, straight-baits and cult-baits the New Alliance Party.” Following a bizarre line of reasoning to refute Hyde’s comments, they remarked that “Fulani believes that the circulation of the [NGLTF] letter is an attempt by the establishment leadership of the gay movement to subvert the independence of the rank and file.”

Upon publication and dissemination of Berlet’s report, NAP called the results of Berlet’s research “a diatribe of racist disinformation,” categorically dismissing, with insults and denunciations, his extensive research and the questions it posed. Berlet emerged unscathed, although NAP previously has attempted to punish, harass and annoy their detractors publicly. For example, a gay newspaper was recently unable to find a reporter willing to cover NAP because the party has a reputation for suing journalists who say things it does not like.

Furthermore, NAP continually misrepresents itself and its history, committing errors of omission or creating an atmosphere of innuendo in lieu of fact. In other cases, NAP lies outright.

Occasionally canvassers in Boston introduce their organization as the “Alliance.” At other times, referring to NAP’s Rainbow Alliance or Rainbow Lobby, NAP workers solicit donations by identifying themselves as the “Rainbow,” which many people automatically associate with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. They refer to their field of 24 candidates nationwide as “the Rainbow Slate,” and the prevalence of Fulani’s picture spliced with photos of Reverend Jackson insinuate a connection that the Rainbow Coalition says does not exist. One Rainbow Coalition member recalls with anger that NAP went about publicly announcing that Jackson was urging his supporters to switch their allegiance to the NAP candidate, Serrette, after Jackson himself dropped out of the race. “That’s just wrong,” says Pat Cusick, the Rainbow Coalition’s media secretary in Boston. “Jesse backed the Democratic ticket after he left the race through to November.”

Lawrence’s research shows that Serrette, in a report entitled “Inside the New Alliance Party,” wrote “Like LaRouche, Newman has created numerous organizations (most only on paper) with divergent names; some to attract particular individuals, some solely to make money, many with names so similar to true left organizations that unknowing individuals are often fooled.”

In their earlier years, the confusing similarity of names among NAP predecessor the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council, the NCLC’s National Unemployed and Welfare Rights Organization, and the legitimate National Welfare Rights Organization served to give the impression of credibility to the two organizations that were badly in need of both money and members if they were to achieve their ambitious goals. Because the tactic seemed to be so effective, NAP apparently has not given it up, although it dismisses questions regarding the purposefulness of some similarities in name.

Given the unexplained and unexplorable vagrancies of NAP’s political past, its inextricable connection to the Institutes for Social Therapy and Research, and its history of harassing and disrupting other progressive organizations in the effort to assert it own organizational and political hegemony on the Left, NAP as an organization is not what its literature makes it out to be. While NAP professes support for and willingness to work with a number of progressive movements according to Paul Sprecher, a member of People Against Cult Therapy, “cult-like organizations’ ability to cooperate with other political groups is practically nil, except in the most opportunistic fashion.”

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