Fred Newman and the Historical Roots of the Newmanites

The history of the Newmanites starts with a history of its primary theoretician, Dr. Fred Newman. In 1968 Newman and several followers formed "IF....THEN", a political collective in New York City." IF....THEN" prided itself on its anarchistic and confrontational approach to organizing and consciousnessraising. During the early 1970's Newman and his followers established a group called Centers for Change in New York City. Centers for Change (CFC) was characterized by a more introspective approach to political organizing. CFC described itself as:

"...a collective of liberation centers including; a school for children, ages 3 to 7; a community oriented therapeutic and dental clinic located in the Bronx; and a press (CFC Press) operating out of the CFC offices....Also, the Community Media Project; (an) information service for the people of the upper west side...."

While involved with CFC, Newman and others in his circle began developing a unique perspective within the evolving theory of radical psychology. This movement attracted attention and debate in progressive circles; Newman, however, soon branched off from the mainstream of the radical psychology movement and eventually developed a theory of "social therapy". By 1973 CFC was offering therapy and counseling at its drop-in center.

At the same time, another New York political organizer, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., was also espousing controversial psychological theories, and Newman began to examine LaRouche's writings on psychology and economics which were appearing in published collections of Marxist analysis.

Lyndon LaRouche in 1973 was the leader of the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC), a Marxist political organization based in New York City. LaRouche, using the name Lyn Marcus, had led the Labor Caucus of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) until SDS voted to expel LaRouche and his followers in 1969. The controversy inside SDS arose when the SDS Labor Caucus under LaRouche called for support of striking members of New York City's teacher's union. A key union issue was opposition to community control of schools in New York City--a demand of community leaders which had the support of many Black parents. The union's opposition to community control of schools was widely perceived in the progressive political community as having racist overtones. After being expelled from SDS, LaRouche created the National Caucus of Labor Comittees, which in 1973 had at least 1,000 members nationwide.

Newman says he first made contact with Lyndon LaRouche's forces within the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC) in October of 1973. In January of 1974 Newman's organization, Centers for Change (CFC), published a newsletter <Right On Time> which called for the organization of leftist political cadres and relied heavily on psychoanalytic terminology. LaRouche's theories were in many ways similar to those espoused by Newman, and in June of 1974, Newman led almost 40 CFC members into an official political alliance with LaRouche and the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC).

Newman's Alliance with LaRouche

Even NAP supporters concede that Newman and some of his followers worked for a time under the political leadership of LaRouche. What keeps this aspect of the controversy alive is what critics feel are misrepresentations regarding the character of the relationship and the nature of the LaRouche organization at the time of the alliance. NAP's position is stated in a letter circulated by its supporters under the name "The Committee to Set the Record Straight:"

"Five years prior to NAP's founding, a handful of activists, five of whom now sit on NAP's 40-member national Executive Board, joined the National Caucus of Labor Committees, then a left organization founded by LaRouche. At the time, it was attracting many organic progressive leaders from the welfare, trade union, and electoral arenas. Dr. Newman was one of those who joined. He and his colleagues' membership in the NCLC lasted approximately two months."

"Following their departure in the summer of 1974, they began an extensive political and methodological critique of LaRouche and the NCLC and by 1975 became among the first on the Left to explicitly identify LaRouche as a neo-fascist."

This characterization of the Newman/LaRouche relationship is at best self-serving and at worst largely fictional. With some ten percent of the current NAP executive board comprised of persons who at one time chose to put themselves under the political leadership of Lyndon LaRouche, it becomes crucial to examine the relationship carefully.

During most of 1974, the NCLC under LaRouche was primarily attracting middleclass and upper-class white intellectual students from prestigious eastern and mid-western college campuses--hardly a core of trade unionists and welfare recipients as characterized by Newman's supporters.

A former member of LaRouche's NCLC remembers the arrival in 1974 of what were called the "Newmanites:"

"They put themselves under the actual political leadership of LaRouche for a few months, and we came to believe that what Newman really wanted during that period was to act as an understudy to LaRouche--to learn his methods and techniques of controlling persons in an organization."

"The individuals in Newman's group seemed to lack clarity and political focus and were obsessed with psychology and sexuality. Newman was clearly the leader and it was obvious that LaRouche's ego and Newman's ego were too big to allow them to work together in the same organization for long."

While actual membership by New Alliance Party executive board members in LaRouche's NCLC may have lasted only a few months, the working alliance between groups led by LaRouche, Newman and a third New York political leader named Gino Parente lasted far longer. Some activists from New York remember the three groups working in a loose alliance around issues such as welfare reform, farm labor, and organizing the working class for a period as long as one year. One internal NCLC discussion of the Newmanites describes "ten months of serious political discussion" before several months of actual membership." Joint forums" between the Newmanites and the LaRouchites were held in November and December, 1973, and the Newmanite split took place in late August, 1974.

Even after officially leaving NCLC in August, 1974, Newman and his followers continued to debate and criticize LaRouche and the NCLC over issues of shared political ideology as if it represented legitimate leftist theory long after the rest of the American Left had denounced NCLC as either proto-Nazi Brownshirts, a sick political cult, or outright police agents.

Fred Newman insists his group was not sophisticated about the American Left when it joined with LaRouche, yet when the Newmanites split from NCLC, they announced the formation of a "vanguard" Marxist-Leninist political party. In the resignation letter signed by Newman and 38 of his followers, there is a significant use of Marxist-Leninist terminology which suggests a far greater degree of political sophistication than admitted. Announcing that Newman's International Workers Party (IWP) had "now become the vanguard party of the working class," the letter went on to say:

"The organization of the vanguard party is, as Marx makes clear, the organization of the class. The formation of the IWP has grown from our attempt to organize the [NCLC] from within that it might move from a position of left hegemony to a position of leadership of the class."

When joining the NCLC, Newman announced he was putting himself and his followers under the political "hegemony" of LaRouche. After leading his followers out of the NCLC, Newman continued to struggle with LaRouche over theory within the principles of criticism among friends. None of this indicates a casual, naive or short-lived relationship.

The Nature of NCLC During the Newmanite Alliance

Still, Newman's merger and split with LaRouche would have little merit as a criticism of NAP (after all it is a sign of political maturity to recognize mistakes) were it not for how supporters of Newman relentlessly misrepresent the nature of LaRouche and the NCLC in late 1973 and 1974--the period when Newman grew close to NCLC and then put himself and his followers under the political leadership of LaRouche.In 1974 NCLC was not attracting "organic progressive leaders " from the welfare rights movement, as claimed by the Newmanites. In fact, it was having trouble attracting significant Black support at all, since it was leading a successful attempt to destroy the Black-led National Welfare Rights Organization and defame its popular leader, the late George Wiley.

During the same period, LaRouche also propounded ideas which were widely perceived to represent outright racism. LaRouche, for instance, offended the Hispanic community in a November, 1973 essay (published in both English and Spanish) titled "The Male Impotence of the Puerto-Rican Socialist Party." An internal memo by LaRouche asked "Can we imagine anything more viciously sadistic than the Black Ghetto mother?" He described the majority of the Chinese people as "approximating the lower animal species" by manifesting a "paranoid personality....a parallel general form of fundamental distinction from actual human personalities."

As early as the spring of 1973 LaRouche had begun to articulate a psychosexual theory of political organizing and began descending into a paranoid style of historical analysis that stressed not Marxist dialectical materialism and class analysis, but macabre conspiracy theories and a subjective egocentric analysis. LaRouche warned of a global plot by the CIA/KGB to kidnap and program his membership to assassinate him. His homophobia became a central theme of the organization's conspiracy theories. He said women's feelings of degradation in modern society could be traced to the physical placement of sexual organs near the anus which caused them to confuse sex with excretion.

A September, 1973 editorial in the NCLC ideological journal <Campaigner> charged that "Concretely, all across the USA., there are workers who are prepared to fight. They are held back, most immediately, by pressure from their wives...." Writing in an August, 1973 memo, LaRouche propounded the startling and sexist psychological theory that "the principle source of impotence, both male and female, is the mother." LaRouche claimed only he could cure the political and sexual impotence of his followers. NCLC members were forced into what was called psychological therapy and "deprogramming" but were what former members call "brainwashing" and "egostripping" sessions. The NCLC rapidly became totalitarian in style, with a peculiar obsession with sexuality and homophobia used as a weapon against internal dissent." To the extent that my physical powers do not prevent me," LaRouche told his followers in August, 1973, "I am now confident and capable of ending your political--and sexual-impotence; the two are interconnected aspects of the same problem."

By 1974 LaRouche had started his swing toward fascist economic and political principles--well before Newman and his followers joined NCLC and announced that they would place themselves under LaRouche's political leadership and "hegemony." It was during this period that LaRouche began talking of the need for rapid industrialization to build the working class. He talked of a historic tactical alliance between revolutionaries, the working class and the forces of industrial capital against the forces of finance capital. He began developing an authoritarian world view with a glorification of historic mission, metaphysical commitment and physical confrontation. He told reporters that only he was capable of bringing revolution and socialism to the United States, and his speeches began to take on the tone and style of a demagogue. LaRouche, in short, began to adopt the same ideas and styles which had formed the basis of National Socialism, a political tendency that historically became part of the European fascist movement and eventually played a key role in Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany. In fact, LaRouche was denounced as a Nazi by U.S. Communists following physical attacks on them in 1973 by NCLC members who were likened to Hitler's violent Brownshirts.

From May to September of 1973, LaRouche followers engaged in "Operation Mop-up" which consisted of NCLC members brutally assaulting rivals such as members of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). NCLC thugs used bats, chains, and martial arts weapons (<numchukas>) in their campaign to control and establish "hegemony" over the American revolutionary movement. There were many injuries and some persons required hospitalization.

"Operation Mop-up" was front-page news in virtually every American progressive newspaper during 1973, and it is difficult to believe it was not known to Newman and his followers when they first contacted NCLC a few weeks after Operation Mop-Up was declared a success by LaRouche. Furthermore, physical assaults by NCLC members against critics were reported regularly well into 1976, and periodic assaults by LaRouche fundraisers still occur. In 1974, many former NCLC members report, they were still required to take paramilitary training classes led by fellow members.

The trigger for Operation Mop Up was a March, 1973 warning by NCLC to the Communist Party, USA. to stop opposing the creation by LaRouche of an alternative to the Black-led National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) which LaRouche denounced as being part of a "union-busting slave-labor" alliance. LaRouche set up an alternative, the National Unemployed and Welfare Rights Organization (NUWRO), and, according to LaRouche, NCLC then sent delegations into public Communist Party meetings, "demanding that this criminal behavior of the CP leadership"--that is, support for the original NWRO--"be openly discussed and voted down by the body assembled."

Eyewitnesses recall this "discussion" usually consisted of primarily-white and young NCLC members standing up and disrupting meetings of the primarilyBlack and older NWRO with calls for a debate on LaRouche's charges against NWRO leaders until members of the audience were forced to physically drag the NCLC members out of the meeting. These confrontations became formalized under Operation Mop-Up.

When the Socialist Workers Party joined in supporting the original Black-led NWRO, they too were attacked by the predominantly white NCLC supporters. While the Operation Mop-Up attacks were officially ended in late 1973 or early 1974, another campaign of assaults was launched in 1974 against local rank-andfile leaders of the United Autoworkers and other industrial unions. Reports of these assaults continued through 1976, and NCLC members have continued until recently to assist in assaults on members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union and another rank-and-file Teamster reform group, PROD.

In 1974, according to former NCLC members, LaRouche first began to seek contact with extremist and anti-Semitic right-wing groups and individuals around the idea of tactical unity in opposing imperialism and the ruling class in general, and the Rockefellers in particular. LaRouche's obsession with conspiracy theories blossomed in 1974, and during this period he began expounding a view linking certain Jewish institutions to a plot to destroy Western civilization and usher in a "New Dark Age".

This is the character of the NCLC that attracted Newman and his followers in early 1974. In his 1974 book <Power and Authority>, Newman wrote that his followers would "organize in the spirit outlined" by LaRouche. The question is not how long the Newmanites worked under the political leadership of Lyndon LaRouche, but how they can explain what attracted Newman and his followers to LaRouche in the first place. To this day NAP leadership has refused to renounce or to deal candidly or accurately with the fact that the Newmanites at one time joined an organization which was at best a collection of paranoid sexist homophobic thugs and at worst a nascent fascist political movement.

Using the FBI to Harass Dissidents

It was during the period that the Newmanites were involved with NCLC that NCLC began to collect and disseminate intelligence on progressive groups. It is well documented that NCLC went on to provide intelligence to domestic and foreign government agencies. While documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that U.S. government agencies frequently dismissed the material provided by the NCLC, it was provided nonetheless. As early as February, 1974, NCLC representatives met with an official in the U.S. Department of Commerce to "provide substantial evidence which would exonerate President Nixon from Watergate charges," according to a Commerce Department memorandum released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Newmanites were at the center of the first documented instance of NCLC collaboration with U.S. intelligence agencies. In 1974, several Newmanites in NCLC attempted to use the FBI to locate and spy on a former Newmanite who had left at the time of the NCLC/Newmanite merger and taken his child with him. Jim Retherford had left the Newmanites citing psychological manipulation among other reasons. His spouse, Ann Green, remained in the organization and quite reasonably sought access to their child. Green and Newmanite Harry Kresky, an attorney, contacted the FBI and suggested that Retherford was a former member of the Weatherman faction of SDS, had harbored Weather Underground fugitives, and was in contact with Jane Alpert, a fugitive the FBI was particularly keen on locating.

Supporters of Newman claim he was unaware of the contact with the FBI. However, a former member of Newman's Centers for Change who joined and left NCLC with Newman, and then later split with the Newmanites, recalls the FBI incident was widely known within NCLC and the Newmanite faction." The CFC [Centers for Change/Newmanite] people for the most part stuck together while in the NCLC....denying Fred Newman knew about the communications with the FBI is utterly absurd."

Clouds Blur the Rainbow:

More on the Newmanites:

Online Articles:

Spotlight On

Browse Topics | Site Guide | Multimedia Bookstore | Magazine | Publications | Activists Resources

Political Research Associates

Copyright Information, Terms, and Conditions

Please read our Terms and Conditions for copyright information regarding downloading, copying, printing, and linking material on this site; our disclaimer about links present on this website; and our privacy policy.

Updates and Corrections