Posted by: exiwp | January 25, 1993

Open Letter to Fred Newman (Pleasant, 1993)

Dear Fred:

How are you? I hope you are well. You never responded to the report I gave you about the GREENS. Did you receive it? I left it for you at the 72nd St. office in mid-September. I also left several notes for you at Castillo asking if you had gotten it and requesting your feedback. I received no response from you. So it goes… Thanks for the late review of BROADWAY MELODY 1492. I see that I was given no credit in the article for adapting or designing the show, but that’s okay. Why give credit to a Black communist when you can fawn over an Austrian fascist, especially one who has her hand in the cashbox of the Austrian government. Maybe she can pluck out a few pfennings for you, old buddy. That’s what counts in the end, right?

I have come to the end of my patience with you, Fred. I can no longer accept your contemptuous treatment of me and my work. I have consistently informed you on what I was doing. I turned over scripts to you. I confided in you as I have done with no one else. The impression you have communicated to many people that I somehow was off doing my own thing, was a complete fabrication on your part. I deeply resent it. Moreover, I take great offense to the way that you related to my work in BROADWAY MELODY 1492.

I considered you my friend. But you have gone out of your way to treat me like a sack of shit. I am very saddened by you now. I really believed in you as a comrade and a leader. I have taken out your work and defended you on three continents. I don’t regret a minute of it. I did it because you were my hope for a revolution in this stinking country. I loved you, man. Even though I disagreed with you on many things, I still respected you. But now things have changed.

To be blunt, effendi, you fucked up. You punked out on history. You had the left–and I’m not talking about the micro-sectarians, but the radical movement in toto–in this country in the palm of your hand, and you threw it away. I believe you just got scared. Fred, you are a coward. I am not necessarily an emotive individual, but at our 1989 plenum I cried with joy at the prospect that we, as a party, were poised to bring down the house–here and abroad. But then I watched you step-by-step sell us out.

You substituted your ego for Marxism/Leninism. You opted to tail–Pedro Espada, Sandra Love, Al Sharpton, Farrakhan and worse, Ross Perot–rather than lead. You turned a political party into your own personal business. Your conservative and incompetent leadership wrecked NAP and reduced Fulani to a pandering political crank, a talk-show novelty. She has become an ignorant puppet that you manipulate by constantly reminding her that: (1) she is not good or white enough to be one of your consorts, (2) her activities are insufficiently informed by Marxism/Leninism, and (3) her ability to mobilize any element of the party is mediated and controlled by you.

Fulani has been reduced to a babbling wreck, desperately attempting to use the fact that her skin is Black to sell your liberal racism to people of color. Lenora Fulani, above all else, is a decent working-class Black woman who always wants to do right by the people that she knows and loves. You, like a cheap pimp, manipulated her around that. In the end, she will extract her pound of flesh from you. I can say no more.

Lawfully, the poor and oppressed reject you in hordes, because YOU deliberately took us from being a leadership combat organization into being a popular front left cover for democrats, nationalists and other assorted scum. As we have said over and over again, everybody knew that we were communists. We were supposed to have been the revolutionaries. Subjectively, nobody respects the sell-out of revolutionaries. Objectively, the Democrats and their lice can always cut a better deal. Patronage is patronage. You are no Richard Daley.

We were once powerful and now we are weak. You are rich ($5M) and the people are defenseless. Your ONLY relationship to the Black and Latino population is a talent show which is sold to the liberal white strata as a hedge against the little bugaboos snatching their purses–let them rap, dance and clown instead–shame on you.

You destroyed the National Alliance as a leadership publication rooted in the communities of the oppressed, reducing it to your in-house advertising flyer–catalogue for the Fred Newman line of liberal pathetic products. You surrounded yourself with sycophants and hustlers. You ruthlessly mind-fucked your most devoted followers in the name of a revolution that I am convinced now you don’t even believe in. How sad. You had everything. You had me too, Fred.

Though I feel betrayed by you, Fred, I don’t hate you. A number of years back, I spoke with Jackie Salit about you. I said then that I really cared for you and I wanted to support you in being a revolutionary leader. But I would not support you in being a middle-aged, Jewish asshole. Every movement and every party has its time, its moment to transform itself and transform the world. Leaders have upper bounds too, a place on the historical landscape where they must correctly reorganize themselves or pass into the dustbin. You have been to that place; you saw it and you ran away, straight into the arms of the bourgeoisie. Naively, perhaps, I believed that you had guts. That is that.

Fred, you have everything you wanted now; a nice chauffeured limo, all the liquor and food you can stuff into yourself, a nice home, a never-ending supply of young white women and millions of dollars at your fingertips. Our “rank-n-file” comrades tend to go hungry and they sleep on floors-sometimes my own. You have grown rich and powerful at the expense of people whose only weakness was that they wanted to do something decent with their lives. You have disorganized scores of Black and Latino activists who looked to you for COMMUNIST leadership. Instead, you gave them the brush-off and hid behind a curtain of parasites who stroked your ego. You can never be taken seriously again. I will see to it. Lee Iacocca–and Stalin–would envy you, comrade. You are accountable to no one, except your ego.

By the sheer weight of your accumulation, you can have no interest whatsoever in revolution. Your main concern is in keeping the “business” going, maintaining your privilege and political patronage. Cynically, you have laughed at the hundreds of activists, our party members, who have put everything on the line to please you.

By your own decrees, the interests of the party were equated with your own personal gratification. They trusted that what you had to say had something to do with making revolution. It did not. It had everything to do with insuring that you, your harem and your sycophants would enjoy an upper-middle-class lifestyle.

A businessman is a businessman. I don’t fault you for that. I only oppose you when you mislead our people into believing that making you rich will make them proud, pleased or even powerful. Your corruption makes it difficult, if not impossible, for new communists to build from. Your liberal middle class racism is a scourge on the poor and oppressed, it feeds their cynicism. Over the last two years, you have made all the right business decisions for yourself and your flunkies, and all the wrong revolutionary political decisions. That is why I can no longer support you. Our people don’t need marketers, they need Marxists.

I don’t believe that you are sinister. I don’t cry that you are some sort of guru or cult leader. I was never tricked by you or brainwashed. I willingly followed you when you were right, and when you were wrong I was one of the first to tell you to kiss my ass. That is how I expressed my love and loyalty to you. I always took you seriously as a revolutionary leader, a Marxist and a Leninist. I was always one of the people who actually gave to you. Most of your followers simply sit passively around you and suck you dry.

They hate you and they give you nothing, not even a response to what you have said and taught. They don’t take you seriously. If you are right or wrong, if you make an utter fool of yourself, they don’t care. They are only concerned with you punching their emotional or financial tickets. They go along to get along. Most of them resent that they-by virtue of their failures in life–are forced to kowtow to a Jew, not to mention a Jew from the gutter. You have learned how to skillfully exploit that for your own ends, but, sadly, making revolution got swept under the rug in the process. You forgot who you were.

Since 1990, you have pursued political tactics and strategies that have failed at every turn–nationally and internationally. Your declaration of a grand coalition is merely a cover for the fact that what little political capital we had managed to accumulate was squandered by you following the 1988 Fulani campaign. There is no “coalition,” no “independent movement,” only your phone book and a fistful of failed and corrupt bourgeois politicians who are so desperate that they will answer your calls. You have fully retreated from the Black and Latino communities and found your true audience, the moneyed elements of the white liberal petit-bourgeoisie. Actually, you don’t need a base in the communities of the oppressed anymore. They are not cost effective–i.e., poor people don’t have money to give you. Good business sense, traitorous revolutionary leadership.

You have lied to our people and they have responded by turning their backs on you. The problem is that, in your stupidity and arrogance, you have compromised the political integrity of many activists who took you at your word and believed in you. As you tool through the city in your big black car, think of the scores of people who had their most radical political aspirations ground into the dirt by you. Think of all of the people who were disorganized by you and ultimately disillusioned with class politics by YOU. As you guzzle your next diet coke, thinking of your next cruise or Caribbean vacation with your chippie, remember that a lot of people–including myself–shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to promote you and defend you. I won’t do it anymore. As you swim with the “big fish–par ex: Tsesekedi is not only a CIA operative, but an executioner of African communists–know that you swim in the blood of our people.

Now the political chickens have come home to roost for you. A true revolutionary enjoys intellectual and political challenge, and I think that you did so too for a while. You grew because of that. But now that you are the CEO of a small corporation, you have no use for it. Marxism does nothing to enhance your marketing strategy. You definitely have no use for me. The means have become the ends for you, Fred. I never thought for a moment that this would happen to you.

You may ask why I choose now to relate these thoughts to you. I haven’t seen you since August and then I raised none of these objections. The answer isn’t that I am having a tantrum because you cut off my salary at Castillo Canter–I had expected that to happen for months because I refused to participate in the revisionist politics and bad art at the center. Predictably, you have told people that I am hostile because I don’t get any money from you. First of all, I am not hostile to comrades. I simply oppose you and your political corruption. Secondly, for some time I have not been dependent on my Castillo salary. I used it to support my writing and political projects. This might come as a shock to your white supremacist mentality, but there are some Black communists who can live without your patronage. I don’t need you to punch my ticket, especially when the price is to collaborate in your exploitation of the comrades and our communities. As I have told you before, I never needed a father substitute or anyone to rationalize and re-rationalize the world for me.

I waited because I stupidly held my breath hoping that you would come to your senses. I could not imagine that you were a traitor. But I eventually realized, from a business point of view, Al Sharpton is a better buy than me. He’s an anticommunist, Black Democratic Party operative, who goes out of his way to disrespect NAP and Fulani. He’s an easy sell, I am not. I’m a communist; I don’t fit into your marketing strategy for tailism–if mind-fucking middle-class whites out of their money and labor can be honored with such a term. Fred, Gus Hall should be proud of you. Maybe now is the time for you two to form an alliance. There are certainly no political principles that the both of you won’t sell out.

No, I was moved to write to you because I ran into Hazel Darren on my block. I really like Hazel, though I can’t say that I have spent a great deal of time with her. I guess I have loved her from afar. She is a very strong, big-hearted woman. I took a look at her, how she hobbled along, the way she avoided looking me in my eyes as we exchanged pleasantries. I looked at Hazel, a woman who has devoted her youth to you and saw a shame and pain that no revolutionary should carry. She was not proud. She was a mumbling wreck, a casualty of your egotism. As for the past three years I was not proud of whom I was. From that point a little while ago, I resolved to regain my pride. The first step was this letter. I needed to give you a piece of my mind, once and for all. The next step will be to take many of the lessons that you taught me when you were a Marxist and apply them to organizing a revolutionary communist press. That is something that I know I can do.

Just for the record, I DO NOT RESIGN FROM THE IWP. I do, nonetheless, reject your political leadership as revisionist and incompetent. I urge you to resign as chairman and retire to make room for new leaders and developments. The movement can no longer grow with you in a position of authority over its personnel and financial resources. Lawfully, you and your ideas have become tired. It’s time for a vacation. No one will think any less of you if you make a gracious exit.

An episode in both our lives has come to an end. I saw us walking into a revolutionary horizon together. I still hold to my assessment of you in 1985–I said it at your 50th birthday party. Remember? I said that you had made the most significant breakthroughs in Marxist science in the latter 20th century. That is still true. Unfortunately, you refused to believe it and to believe in yourself. I really dug you, Fred. You broke my heart.

William Pleasant

1/25/93 NYC

cc: Central Committee IWP

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