Inside the New Alliance Party
(aka Rainbow Alliance aka Rainbow Lobby aka the Organization a/k/a)by Dennis L. Serrette
I write after much thought and some distance from the New Alliance Party (NAP). When I broke ties with NAP after my 1984 presidential race, I felt I needed some time to evaluate the hodgepodge of contradictions, racism, sexism, and cultism that so revealed itself during the course of my campaign.
I knew when I joined NAP that it was not black-led, and I knew when I left it was not black-led. It took longer to understand that NAP was not even a progressive organization as it also pretends.
Be that as it may, I probably still would not take the time to write about the organization. However, as a long-time activist who made the mistake of joining NAP, and who served on the organization’s “Central Committee,” I believe I have a responsibility to reveal the intense psychological control and millions of dollars Fred Newman employs to get well-meaning individuals in our communities (they target the black community), to viciously attack black leaders, black institutions, and progressive organizations for purposes of building Newman’s power base.
What follows is a relatively brief narrative on Fred Newman’s operations, NAP being but one front.’ I have interchangeably used the names NAP, the organization, the International Workers Party (IWP), etc., for they are all run by, and consist of the same people. NAP is Newman’s public electoral tactic, so it has many “members” (mostly people who have been stopped on the street who paid a dollar for a paper, or some other come-on, who rarely actively participate, and often don’t even know they joined (who are not a part of “the organization/IWP,” i.e., Newman’s followers.
At the outset, I want to answer the frequently asked question: “Is Newman associated with LaRouche?” I simply do not know. I understand that Newman originally completely denied having joined with LaRouche, claiming, instead, that it was his followers who had, but that he was forced to retract the denial in the face of overwhelming evidence. The story told to all organization members who were not with Newman at the time was that Newman and his followers were with LaRouche when he was “a leftist.” ‘‘a split from SDS,’’ pre-Operation Mop-up. I have since learned that this was a lie, that they joined after LaRouche had made a decisive right shift, and participated in the campaign to destroy the Left. I did not see any direct evidence of a LaRouche connection while I was in NAP. But, I was never privy to what was going on at the top—Newman’s household. Newman often bragged about how much he learned from LaRouche, and, as noted below, the reported organizational operations of LaRouche’s group are frighteningly similar to those of Newman’s group.
Like LaRouche’s National Caucus of Labor Committees, Newman runs a very tightly controlled organization. Like LaRouche, Newman has created numerous organizations (most only 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 (e.g., Rainbow Alliance and Rainbow Lobby, which have no connection to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition; the Unemployed and Welfare Council, which attacked the National Welfare Rights Organization, etc.).
Newman controlled all the resources, personnel, and policies of the organizations. When I left in 1984, he was living with three “wives.” One was in charge of all the organization’s finances, which Newman boasted well-surpassed $1 million; another controlled all personnel/members; and the third was in charge of all “national operations.”
The organization has set up its own internal caste system. Rank and file members worked 14-plus hours a day, often out on street corners, raising money. Newman, on the other hand, spent most mornings reading in his large upper Westside apartment and jogging in Riverside Park. His workday began with his afternoon therapy sessions in his luxury Westside offices.
Newman and his chosen lieutenants often met and relaxed at his seaside mansion. The mansion was supported by a mandatory tax placed on members of the organization. Rank and file members were always taken along on trips to the mansion for the “honor” of cooking for and cleaning up after Newman and his chosen ones.
Newman’s/NAP’s political positions vary according to what he believes he can best capitalize on at the time. I personally witnessed this opportunism on a number of occasions. Quite notably, before it became obvious that Jesse Jackson’s campaign would move grassroots folks nationwide, Newman harshly attacked Jackson. When it seemed as though Newman could exploit Jackson’s movement, he used Jesse’s name endlessly, in literature and elsewhere, and created the “Rainbow Alliance” and “Rainbow Lobby.” Similarly, Newman strongly maintained that Louis Farrakhan was an insignificant right-winger. When it looked as though he could opportunize from Minister Farrakhan’s popularity in the black community, Newman’s line took a 180-degree turn.
When progressive newspapers and individuals fail to support Newman, they become legitimate targets for destruction, even those he previously acclaimed. In my particular case, when I was promoting NAP, both the public and internal presentation of me was that of the leading black progressive. When I raised issues of Newman~ s racism and exploitation of blacks, I was labeled a nationalist (i.e., not a leftist). When I spoke honestly about NAP to persons outside the organization, articles began to appear in the National Alliance that would have made J. Edgar Hoover proud. I even received calls from friends that NAP was calling up women friends of mine from years past to see if they could contribute “sexual” dirt to a paper about me. When they couldn’t find the dirt, Lenora Fulani authored the article under the auspices of the ‘‘Women’s Caucus, another paper committee. Theodore (Ted) Taylor, who NAP vociferously praised as a leading black trade unionist when he associated with NAP, was attacked as a rank opportunist when he joined with SEIU. Gerena Valentine was lauded as New York’s premier progressive elected official when he ran with a NAP affiliation, and harshly criticized when he broke with NAP.
Newman has brought a million-dollar-plus lawsuit against The Jackson Advocate, Jackson, Mississippi’s only black newspaper, and its black activist editor, Charles Tisdale. Why? When Newman saw the broad support Jesse Jackson received in the South, he decided to target some resources there. He assigned several New Yorkers to Mississippi. Tisdale, having knowledge about the Alliance, did not support NAP’s claim on his community. Knowing the time and resources required to publish a newspaper, and the time and resources required to defend a law suit, Newman had his lawyer slap a major law suit on Tisdale. It does not matter if NAP loses the case. NAP almost always loses. The suit serves its purpose of inflicting injury.
NAP had the audacity to ask me to testify against Tisdale. I told them that their request was outrageous. Next thing I knew, I too was in court, and receiving calls threatening to have the Sheriff come to my home at night to arrest me. (The Court dismissed their action against me.)
The Main Enemy
In short, Newman operates in total Opposition to the movement. Both “the Left” and “the movement” are considered enemies by Newman. Newman has labeled his suit against Tisdale a suit against the Left, as though attacks on progressive institutions are a good thing. In fact, a review of the National ~4Iliance will reveal far more venomous assaults on progressives than on reactionaries.
Newman uses left rhetoric well, and organizes with a left front. He appeals to what is good and progressive in people, and uses that to build his base. He will as quickly embrace as he will attack a movement, a progressive, an organization, a principle – based on how he can best opportunize from it. His [members], almost all of whom have absolutely no history in the movement, have few other ways to see the issues.
Most members join “the organization~~ via politics or therapy. Once an individual has been drawn close, s/he is met by two lieutenants and told that there is a secret underground organization, the International Working Party (IWP), allegedly a left party organization. Membership in the organization requires that you reveal all your resources, and that you turn over everything to the organization. (Even personal relationships are said to belong to the organization, so it is common for a member to report on his/her partner.) Mandatory bimonthly dues are assessed, and anything may be demanded at any time.
The IWP has been chaired by Newman since its inception. As far as I know, no one else has ever been considered as an alternative. The Central Committee members are all chosen by Newman. During the entire 2½ years I sat on the Central Committee, there was never a single policy debate by the CC once Newman made his position known.
There is an enormous amount of secret ritual surrounding the IWP which, like most rituals, entices the members. Unlike most left organizations where the party is public and the membership is underground, Newman has created the reverse, and has used it as one of many isolating factors that maintain the membership.
Social therapy, Newman’s creation, is considered the “backbone of the tendency.” Every member is required to attend at least one social therapy (i.e., psychotherapy) session weekly, led by Newman’s hand-picked, hand-trained therapists. (In most cases, Newman’s top therapists are also his top spokespersons.) Although the therapy is mandatory, members must still pay for the sessions.
What is Therapy
Therapy, NAP style, is a method for recruiting innocent, vulnerable people, exploiting their vulnerabilities, and controlling their behavior.
As noted earlier, all members were required to attend therapy at least once a week. Some attend twice a week or, at times, even daily. Particular ‘patients” were targeted in sessions. The entire group then generally converged on the victim who generally broke down in tears. They are then forgiven, accepted, and praised. Topics range from the most personal aspects of one’s life to the failure to give enough of oneself to the organization.
According to the tenets of ‘‘social therapy,~~ private time, private thoughts, “critical faculties” are all bourgeois. One can only be cured of their bourgeois ideology in social therapy. If you disagree at all with one of Newman’s black lieutenants, the entire therapy group attacks you for being racist. If you disagree with a woman therapist, the entire group attacks you for being sexist, If you question the opinions of the therapist, you are resorting to your bourgeois critical faculties.
Members are kept busy from sun-up, way past sun-down. Members no longer have time to call family, to visit, even to attend funerals, holidays, or other special events. When members do visit their families, more often than not another IWP member accompanies them. (Generally, members have alienated themselves from all their other friends and all their close relationships are with fellow lWPers.) Members generally share apartments, living communally, and often invite new recruits to move in with them. Members and potential members were often encouraged to quit their pre-IWP job, unless their job position could be exploited.
Any problems that arose from this extreme regimentation were dealt with in therapy. Bourgeois thinking, problems with “giving it all for the revolution” were dealt with by the group that had become the member’s entire world; that knew their every vulnerability; that shaped their thinking and understanding of people, events, history.
These few pages offer but an overview of a complex, and, in my opinion, dangerous organization. Dangerous, not only to the innocent, well-intentioned people who are caught in its grasp, but to the many it will try to exploit. Dangerous, because it uses a very progressive line, and untold millions of dollars, to prey on black communities, to attack black leaders and institutions, and to assault progressive organizations at whim. Dangerous because it can lie outright—lie about being black-led when blacks do not sit on the top, do not control the resources, do not control personnel; lie to its members about its participation with LaRouche; lie about Charles Tisdale; lie about me; lie about whatever serves Newman’s interests, and put forth spokespersons who come to believe these lies. Dangerous because many members will do whatever they are told to do without ever evaluating what they have been told.
In conclusion, while I believe it is important that NAP be exposed for what it truly is, it is our job not to dwell on the organization, which craves controversy, but to concentrate our energies in our communities and organize, organize, organize. It is a vacuum that has been left open that allows NAP and other oppressive organizations to abuse our communities. We must fill that vacuum with genuinely progressive, community-controlled organizations.
1. Others include New York Institute of Social Therapy and Research, Rainbow Alliance, East Side Center for Short Term Therapy, the Harlem Institute, Association of Better Communities, the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council, George Jackson-Rosa Luxemberg Cultural Center, the National Alliance Newspaper, the New Black Alliance, Coalition of Grass Roots Women, the International Workers Party, and more. All are created and put to rest by Newman, according to the group or person he is targeting (e.g., when they decide to go after me, they created the New Black Alliance (NBA)). Once I agreed to be the presidential candidate, the NBA was disbanded. Similarly, Newman created the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council to pull in some welfare activists and attack the National Welfare Rights Organization. When Newman decided to switch the focus to electoral politics, he disbanded the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council, deeply disappointing many of the “leaders who had no say in the matter. James Scott, Alma Brooks, and Neter Brooks, whose names Newman continues to use, all left the organization. Newman creates the organization, chooses who among the inner circle will ‘‘lead’’ it, how it will run, what it will do, and when it is no longer needed.
2. It is relatively common for Newman’s people to attack black newspapers wherever they go if NAP isn’t given extensive coverage.
Dennis Serrette is an ex-member
of NAP and, in 1984, was their presidential candidate.
(This Article Was Originally Published in Radical America, Vol. 21, No. 5)
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